Saturday, July 08, 2017 by Ethan Huff
It’s not just that the e-commerce monopoly known as Amazon wants to control every element of the retail market, both online and off. The true aim of Jeff Bezos’ digital Frankenstein is to control every element of the entire economy, a sinister aspiration that, if consumers don’t start taking a stand with their wallets – and politicians with enforcing antitrust laws – could soon result in Amazon controlling virtually every transaction involving the buying and selling of goods.
Americans already spend nearly half of their online dollars at Amazon, even though the multinational corporation is hardly the most cost-effective option for purchasing consumer products. Apparently too lazy and/or shortsighted to consider the impact this is having on competition, Americans and their online buying habits are what’s driving Amazon to godlike status, the long-term implications of which are nothing short of deeply disturbing.
As recently as 2015, the majority of people looking to purchase something online now go straight to Amazon’s website rather than search for that item via a search engine. Further, nearly half of all online e-commerce now takes place through Amazon’s “Web Services” platform, including other companies like Netflix that rely on its cloud computing technology to distribute their offerings to customers.
So even when it seems like a customer is shopping online from an Amazon competitor, there’s a good chance that that competitor uses some type of Amazon product to conduct its business. The result of this is that Amazon is essentially seizing control over the entire market in some form or another, pushing true competitors out of the market and driving all consumer purchases to itself.
“With commerce rapidly moving online, Amazon has positioned itself as lord of the realm, which means that online commerce is no longer a market in any meaningful sense of the word,” writes Stacy Mitchell for VICE.
“It’s now a privately controlled arena where a single company sets the terms by which we may exchange goods with one another and decides which products – which new authors, which new innovations – get to find an audience.”
Almost immediately after putting in a bid to purchase Whole Foods Market, Amazon filed a patent for a ‘Big Brother’ technology that would not only allow it to keep digital tabs on consumers, but also block consumers from visiting competitors’ websites while inside one of its stores. This would include Whole Foods stores, should federal regulators grant Amazon’s request to acquire the grocery retailer.
All of this amounts to gross abuse of the system by Amazon, of course, and something that the people’s representatives should be fighting against in accordance with antitrust laws meant to protect healthy competition. What Amazon is essentially doing is creeping in on every facet of the infrastructure of the American economy, though often in ways that aren’t overtly obvious at first. But like the frog that’s slowly boiling in the pot as the heat gets turned up, Americans will soon realize the dire consequences of this hostile takeover, should they continue down the path of least resistance.
Adds Mitchell about the growing threat of Amazon’s commerce dominance:
Amazon’s bid to buy Whole Foods should be a wake-up call. Our anti-monopoly policies have fallen into disuse and today’s big tech monopolies have used that opening to seize too much power. As Senator John Sherman, co-author of the Sherman Antitrust Act, declared as his bill came up for a vote in 1890, “If we will not endure a king as a political power, we should not endure a king over the production, transportation, and sale of any of the necessaries of life.”
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