16 Corporations Control Nearly Everything You Buy Or See
It is amazing to find out 10 corporations control nearly everything we buy at the supermarket, as illustrated in this infographic. No matter what we buy, the profit ends up in the hands of either Coca-Cola, Pepsico, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars, Unilever, Nestle, Procter and Gamble, Johnson and Johnson, or Kraft. This goes against the principles of a truly free economy according to none other than the father of modern capitalism, Adam Smith. In his classic The Wealth of Nations, Smith’s ideal was a market of little guys acting as buyers and sellers, not a market of corporate goliaths bent on world domination controlling everything and everybody.
The CEOs of these goliaths and the government officials whose campaigns they finance regularly get together to discuss what is best for them, just as you would expect in an oligarchy. The corporations even help write law, as was the case with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This fact means the text book definition of oligarchy is met: it is defined as a small group of people having control of a country or organization. A group of 16 CEOs and a few hundred elected government officials is a small group. The results from such a cabal of special interests are destructive to the ideals of a free society. As pointed out in by journalist Charles Pierce, TPP provides provisions for corporations the result in excessive copyright and investor protections and even allow a corporation to sue a country for raising its minimum wage!
It gets worse. The Atlantic reports:
Today, the biggest companies have upwards of 100 lobbyists representing them, allowing them to be everywhere, all the time. For every dollar spent on lobbying by labor unions and public-interest groups together, large corporations and their associations now spend $34. Of the 100 organizations that spend the most on lobbying, 95 consistently represent business.
This allows corporations to overwhelm any other force that might operate against their interests. This godlike power is the result of a corruption of a true free market, capitalist system.
Adam Smith Would Not Approve
David Korten’s Bestseller When Corporations Rule the World discusses how this collusion of interests go against Smith’s free market philosophy, telling us Smith had a strong dislike for both governments and corporations. A market open to virtually anyone, without artifical barriers to entry and red tape was what Smith said worked best.
He showed how the workings of such a market would tend toward a price that provides a fair return to land, labor, and capital, produce a satisfactory outcome for both buyers and sellers, and result in an optimal outcome for society in terms of the allocation of its resources. He made clear, however, that this outcome can result only when no buyer or seller is sufficiently large to influence the market price—a point many who invoke his name prefer not to mention. Such a market implicitly assumes a significant degree of equality in the distribution of economic power—another widely neglected point.
It is obvious when 1% of the population controls over half the wealth of a nation, there is no true measure of equality in society. Ownership in the hands of so few people also represents an issue. However, rather than institute socialism as the left is calling for, a better solution is to end the monopoly power of such large corporations. Korten continues:
Indeed, Smith was almost fanatical in his opposition to any kind of monopoly power, which he defined as the power of a seller to maintain a price for an indefinite time above its natural price. Indeed, he asserted that trade secrets confer a monopoly advantage and are contrary to the principles of a free market. He would surely have strongly opposed current efforts by market libertarians to strengthen corporate monopoly control of intellectual property rights through the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The idea that a major corporation might have exclusive control over a lifesaving drug or device and thereby be able to charge whatever the market will bear would have been anathema to him.
Greed is at the root of this type of mentality. More than being one of the seven deadly sins, it is engrained into the way corporations operate. There is literally never enough money for the corporate mentality.
Furthermore, Smith did not advocate a market system based on unrestrained greed. He was talking about small farmers and artisans trying to get the best price for their products to provide for themselves and their families. That is self-interest—but it is not greed. Greed is a high paid corporate executive firing 10,000 employees and then rewarding himself with a multimillion dollar bonus for having saved the company so much money. Greed is what the economic system being constructed by the corporate libertarians encourages and rewards.
Not being able to buy something without the money funneling back to one of 10 corporations is the anathema of a free economy. It focuses power in the hands of an elite and disenfranchises those who would form their own businesses. The next piece of the puzzle of the Sweet 16 of corporate control comes in the form of the corporate-controlled media and the marionettes they employ to put out propaganda.
Media ownership has rapidly consolidated in the last 30 years. The media has gone from being 90% owned by 50 companies to now being controlled by 6 corporations. This is why the news, whether it be CNN or Fox News is devoid of originality and substance. As a former media employee, I can tell you that just as in the rest of corporate America employees are increasingly treated like profit-making cogs in a wheel instead of journalists who are supposed to hold the public trust and protect the First Amendment.
Entire staffs of experienced, hard-nosed journalists have been wiped out (fired or forced out) in the last decade and replaced with kids barely out of college. At most local stations, a top-down micromanagement scheme prevents out of the box thinking and has turned the news industry into a cookie-cutter product.
As in big media, at the local level controversies are often created out of whole cloth to gin up ratings. The truth is the first agenda item to get abandoned with a mentality that seeks to “break through the clutter” at any cost. The days of responsible journalism died a long time ago, and in both big media and small media sensationalism rules.
Employees often must relocate to cities they are not familiar with, where they have no friends and family, work for low pay, and give up any personal life they might have had when they become fish in a bowl. There is a dirty underbelly to this seemingly glamourous industry. More on that another time.
Corporations Patronize Government
In total there are 16 corporations controlling virtually everything we see and everything we buy at the supermarket in America. It is hard to even know where to begin with what’s wrong with this picture.
Just imagine for a minute – a collusion of 16 corporations with infinitely deep pockets and sociopathic CEOs buying off a few hundred professional liars and thieves in the U.S. Congress and Senate. Who do you our representatives listen to? The “rabble” or the people who finance their campaigns and have enough money to buy and sell representatives and senators like the cheap prostitutes most of them are?
This is why when policy is made, whether it written by the Demicans or Republicrats it benefits idle corporate shareholders more than the general population. This is why borders are being erased and the world’s cultures are being lost at the alter of consumerism and its people are being tossed into a big ethnic blender. It’s good for the bottom line, but not good for the society. As Carl Sagan put it in Traveler’s Tales:
The unrestrained pursuit of profit poses serious threats to the soul of a nation.
Large corporations, even more so than the monolithic federal government, are the root of mankind’s ills. Moneyed interests control the government, just as Spengler predicted would happen. There are increasing barriers to entry to small business ownership which means the population increasingly has no choice but to go work for a corporation or the government. This means they are working to enrich someone else other than themselves because they are reduced to cogs in a wheel instead of people who own a stake in the society.
This is also why there is so much effort put into polarizing the left and the right – so both sides don’t realize they both share a common enemy. That enemy is centralized power in the hands of a small elite, whether it be a socialistic government promising free goodies or a giant corporate monopoly.
What results is definitely not a free market and definitely not a free government of the people, by the people, and for the people. It’s a government of the CEOs, by the CEOs, and for the CEOs.
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