Unfair Advantage: In The Sun Stacy Mitchell Discuses Amazon and the Future of Local Economies
Charlie Thaxton | October 25, 2018
ILSR Co-Director Stacy Mitchell is the subject of The Sun magazine’s featured interview this month
. Stacy sat down with writer Tracy Frisch for an extended Q&A. They discuss Amazon’s growing monopoly position, its effect on the labor market and retail sector, and how the company plays the long game to bleed competitors dry.
Amazon is part of a broader trend toward economic consolidation, which has far-ranging implications:
“It’s troubling how many places in this country have been left behind…Corporate mergers have shuttered local plants. Small businesses have disappeared. Farmers are giving up and retiring because they can’t make money in a system controlled by big agribusiness. Banking is no longer local but is consolidated on Wall Street.”
Read More of Stacy's Interview Here
In Videos for Bernie Sanders, ILSR's Stacy Mitchell Explains Amazon's Monopoly Power
Zach Freed | October 5, 2018
But local communities also have the power to reign in Amazon's dominance, and foster investment in place:
“The true value of having a vibrant local economy isn’t just in the bottom line of small businesses and the specific jobs they create. It’s also the notion that place matters. A community can nurture active citizens and help people realize their dreams and potential."
In September, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders invited ILSR’s Stacy Mitchell to script and narrate two videos about Amazon for his social media channels. These videos have drawn more than 2 million views across several platforms. In the first, Stacy explains how the problem with the company is far deeper than its wages alone. The larger issue is Amazon’s unrivaled monopoly power.
Not long after the videos were published, Amazon raised pay in its warehouses to a minimum of $15 an hour. Sanders praised the move, but also told the New York Times
that Amazon may still raise antitrust concerns. The issue, he said, was “to what degree they control significant segments of the economy.”
Watch the Videos Here
States Take On the Middlemen Preying On Local Pharmacies
Zach Freed | September 19, 2018
Independent pharmacies are going out of business. It’s not that they can’t compete. It’s that CVS Health and other pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are taking advantage of their position as middlemen to cut prescription reimbursement rates for local drugstores, while steering patients to their own chain and mail-order pharmacies. The Federal Trade Commission, which should be stopping this predatory behavior, has been sitting on the sidelines, and worse. Earlier this month, it gave CVS the okay to buy the health insurer Aetna.
Fortunately, states are acting to curb the power of PBMs and ensure local pharmacies can serve their communities. We’ve added a new section
to our Policy Guide
that rounds up these state policies.
In FTC Hearings, a Few Bright Spots Amid a Pro-Monopoly Status Quo
Zach Freed | November 2, 2018
For the first time in more than 20 years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is holding a series of public hearings on the state of antitrust policy. With corporate concentration at an all-time high, the questions at issue in these hearings could not be more important and urgent.
News Stories We’re Following
With a few notable exceptions, the hearings themselves have been largely disappointing. Many of the experts invited to testify have financial ties to large companies, or advocate for the status quo of limited enforcement of our antimonopoly laws.
But there have been bright spots, including a lively panel about how and why antitrust policy needs to move away from its exclusive focus on consumer welfare.
- Facing a tight labor market and hoping to appease its liberal critics, Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour. Here’s our take on the move.
- More than a thousand politicians, ambassadors, and executives gathered in a D.C. ballroom to hear Jeff Bezos speak. Meanwhile, speculation mounts that Bezos will plant Amazon’s HQ2 in or near the nation’s capital.
- To fight Amazon, we need to stop thinking like consumers and start acting like citizens.
- Another local pharmacy is becoming a CVS — after CVS’s insurance division slashed the pharmacy’s reimbursement rates.
- Rather than stopping CVS’s predatory behavior, the Federal Trade Commission gave it the go-ahead to buy the health insurance giant Aetna. Here’s why this deal is so dangerous.
- How vulture capitalists ate Sears.
- "What we thought was disruption worked more like extraction—of our data, our attention, our time, our creativity…” writes Nitasha Tiku on the growing disillusionment with Big Tech.
- A Boise bookstore owner penned a lovely column about what locally owned retailers do for communities.
- Economic concentration has a geography, and it’s devastating.
- Having destroyed thousands of real downtowns, Walmart plans to turn its parking lots into “Town Centers.”
- Denied bank loans, black-owned businesses rely more on home equity — a vulnerability that forced many to close during the financial crisis, new data show.
- On Tuesday, voters in cities across Wisconsin will consider whether the state should close the “dark store” tax loophole — a tool big-box retailers are using to slash their tax bills across the Midwest.
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