Amazon only this week acknowledged the storm it raised earlier this month when it made it much harder for consumers to buy books by Hachette, a major French publisher, in order to extract better contract terms.
Today, given that the central players in the Internet economy are middlemen – platforms that connect buyers and sellers – pricing laws will determine how the spoils get split. Internet platforms enjoy significant benefits, due to network effects and their collection of troves of data, which means producers are often dependent on a very small number of companies (or even one) to get to market. Leaving the right to price with the makers of goods – like authors and publishers – can help level the playing field between makers and middlemen.
Lina Khan, a policy at the New America Foundation, published a Washington Post article in June entitled “How the United States became uncompetitive and unequal.” She described how the Republicans and Democrats separately and together, over the last 30 years, destroyed the competition and antitrust revolution in America that had begun a century ago under Teddy Roosevelt, William Taft and Woodrow Wilson.
As the New America Foundation’s Barry Lynn has described, “Walmart ... has told Coca-Cola what artificial sweetener to use in a diet soda, it has told Disney what scenes to cut from a DVD, it has told Levi’s what grade of cotton to use in its jeans, and it has told lawn mower makers what grade of steel to buy.”
The letter to the Justice Department is being written by Barry C. Lynn, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and author of “Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction.” Mr. Lynn said the letter, which is being prepared with the help of several antitrust specialists, would be ready at the end of the week.
On Monday, The New York Times reported that the group will also lobby the Department of Justice to investigate Amazon for illegal monopoly tactics. That letter, written by Barry C. Lynn, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, will be sent later this week.
In another recent conversation occurring on Salon with Thomas Frank, Barry Lynn of the New America Foundation pointed out that the Democratic Party, which has been serving as home for the left, suffers from a schism.
Since the early 1980s, executives and financiers have consolidated control over dozens of industries across the U.S. economy. From cable companies and hospitals to airlines, grocery stores and meatpackers, where once many small and mid-size businesses competed, today we see a few giants dominate.
Last week President Obama urged businesses to “give America a raise.” But even if the minimum wage were raised, it wouldn’t necessarily help a huge class of low-wage employees.
Retailers don’t really talk about how to compete with Amazon—they talk about how to avoid being decimated by it.
A year ago, Hurricane Sandy revealed harrowing realities about the basic systems New Yorkers rely on every day.