As I noted recently, tech monopolies are a growing concern in Europe, though not in the United States. (Blog 8/10/17). American consumers are content because: 1) a variety of merchandise is available with a mouse click; 2) purchases arrive at the speed of light; and 3) those purchases appear to be bargains.
Amazon accounts for 52% of all U. S. book sales, 43% of all on-line commerce and 45 % of cloud-computing. Their sales are 6 times greater than Walmart, Target, Best Buys, Nordstrom, Home Depot, Macy’s, Kohl’s and Costco combined.(“The New Monopolies,” The Week, Aug 4, 2017, pg. 13.)
Each day, we trade off our privacy for lower prices and convenience. That tech giants track our purchases, our habits, our social interaction doesn’t seem to bother us. We believe that in the exchange, we get more than we give.
“Oh, that thinking minds can think so wrongly,” as the saying goes. We give up much more than our privacy to the tech giants. We give up our way of life. We give up our culture.
Consider the number of industries that have died or are dying because of these monopolies exist. Shopping may be at our finger tips, but department stores and shopping malls are disappearing and their employees with them. Consider, too, the damage downtown centers sustain when they no longer serve as the hub of civic activity. As they disappear, so does a sense of community.
Newspapers aren’t faring much better. “…Facebook and Google control 70% of the advertising market that once fed print media.” (Ibid pg. 13.) Even electronic versions of these publications struggle because the tech giants devour so much of their former revenue. And again, jobs are disappearing, most importantly, investigative journalism.
We may think unregulated tech monopolies represent a bargain in service and price. But the undisclosed cost goes much deeper. As they say, “Buyer, beware.”