Economic Update: Are Mega-Corporations Ruining Our World?

[S13 E09] New

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In this week's show, Prof. Wolff presents a critique of monopoly and oligopoly; past efforts and success in popular control over mega-corporations - in US and abroad; the fight back by mega-corporations to nullify reforms and regulations. Finally, some real solutions to the social problem and costs of an economy dominated by mega-corporations.


  • 00:00 - 01:11 - Introduction
  • 01:12 - 04:30 - Monopolies
  • 04:31 - 05:08 - Oligopolies
  • 05:09 - 07:15 - Unfair competition
  • 07:16 - 08:54 - Vertical integration
  • 08:55 - 10:01 - 19th 20th century responses to monopoly power
  • 10:02 - 10:22 - Sherman Antitrust Act
  • 10:23 - 11:00 - Clayton Antitrust act
  • 11:01 - 11:27 - Govt breaks up AT&T
  • 11:28 - 13:29 - Small Business Administration formation
  • 13:30 - 13:59 - Regulatory Capture
  • 14:00 - 15:21 - Announcements
  • 15:22 - 18:21 - Utility and Insurance Commissions
  • 18:22 - 20:07 - Small business response in France
  • 20:08 - 21:10 - Germany's response 50% seats on Board by workers
  • 21:11 - 29:46 - Solutions/Alternatives

Economic Update with Richard D. Wolff is a Democracy at Work production. We make it a point to provide the show free of ads. Please consider supporting our work. Learn about all the ways to support our work on our Donate page, and help us spread Prof. Wolff's message to a larger audience. Every donation counts! A special thank you to our devoted monthly donors (via both our website and Patreon) whose recurring contributions enable us to plan for the future.

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Showing 4 comments

  • Edward Dodson
    commented 2023-03-01 20:37:30 -0500
    One part of the solution to the enormous power of corporations is participatory democracy in replacement of delegated or representative democracy. Rather than holding elections of our legislators (at all levels of government), we should move to selection of legislators by lottery.

    Anyone willing to serve the public in a legislative capacity would take and pass what amounts to a civil service examination that evaluates a person’s competency to serve. The potential for qualified citizens to step forward would be dramatically increased IF all young persons were required to take a thorough program of civics education and government operation over a period of years (covering grades 7 thru 12).

    Those who are willing to serve first take and pass this civil service examination, then their name is entered into the lottery from which legislators are selected to serve one term in office after which they return to their private life.

    Gone would be the dominating importance of political parties. Gone would be political campaigns that drag on for a year or longer. Gone would be the influence of those with the financial means to fund political campaigns. Here for the first time in our history would be something approaching participatory democracy.
  • Sonny Wiehe
    commented 2023-03-01 20:34:55 -0500
    @Philip Wood

    It’s not that corporations are no longer accountable to its citizenry. They have NEVER been accountable. Nor should they be. They are accountable to their share holders and their customers. That’s it…and the way it is supposed to be. Only government should be accountable to its citizenry. I do agree that is no longer (if ever) the case. The citizenry in the U.S. has always been either too ignorant, too lazy, and too apathetic (or any combination of the three) to demand it.
  • Philip Wood
    commented 2023-03-01 13:20:57 -0500
    You are correct in that mega corporations and govenment have grown too large and are no longer accountable to our citizenry. Corporations are the most democratic enities. They are governed by a board of directors elected by the owners (stockholders). All stockholders have an equal vote per share as to how the company is run. If you own one share you have one vote and if you have a thousand shares you have a thousand votes. The unique thing about US corporations is that your liability is limited to your investment making it attractive to invest your money. Anyone can buy stock or sell stock no matter who your are. If you have a 401 type of retirement account or you just have a regular investment account, you participate in our economy. It does not mattter if you make $30k or $1,000,000 a year, you are treated exactly the same. No so with our government. Our free enterprise (capitalist) system has taken more people out of poverty than any known system in spite of its obvious flaws. You may want to live in a nanny state but I do not. In a nanny state you have to get permission (by a government employee) to do anything. New technology or more effective ways of doing things are slowed down to a crawl. Yes, you can “save” jobs but these jobs generally go away anyway. If you try to stop progress, you get left in the dust. Just like the old style manufacturing did in the US. Too much taxation and lack of modernizing equals moving to a better business environment-ie: moving to Mexico or elsewhere. In spite what companies say, it is usually not wages that casue a company to move.
  • Sonny Wiehe
    commented 2023-02-28 22:40:11 -0500
    No solutions were offered in this most basic of business lectures. The biggest “behemoth” out there that is we are in DIRE need of reigning in is government—on all levels. The corporations have captured the interests of government officials (by buying elected offiicals off and controlling the election process to get them (or appointed successors re-elected) and have expanded to dangerous degree. All that talk of the success of commissions and regulatory agencies is bullshit and have become a moot point. it never worked. In fact, Government is now handing out “special exceptions” to Big Corp. on virtually any zoning or environmental issue out there. But one recent example is the proliferation of “data” centers being built in the Washington D.C. area with massive diesel power back up systems that fail to meet EPA standards if operated. But they’ve been built, and installed anyhow. Under a special exception basis. In my opinion, not only are these “data centers” (which I suspect are bit coin mining operations) energy intensive and straining existing power grids for virtually no public benefit whatsoever, they represent an environmental disaster in the making.

    The professor also talks of reigning in Big Corp. Right. There is no way folks will demand anything of a private corporation. These corporations do not have to listen to anybody but board members. The irony of his “lesson” is that these mega corporations are so inherently unprofitable at this point that they have had to buy government influence in order to get bail out funding on a regular basis in order to continue to operate. To these corporations, these continuous bailouts are pulled from the backs of future earnings of U.S. workers (and thus, taxes) and represent the core of their guaranteed profits.This guaranteed income stream comes in the form of “quantitative easing”, “Inflation Reduction Acts”, Economic Recovery Acts", etc. The bottom line is the fiat currency (AKA economic crack supply) pipeline has to end. The $31.6T federal net operation debt is costing the U.S. tax payer over a billion dollars a day to finance. That is way more than any single corporation is costing the U.S. citizen. The answer to this insanity is a demand for the passage of a federal balanced budget amendment. Now. I believe Big Corp would then quickly die on the grapevine.

    Why the professor continues to ignore this bigger picture with his grade school economic lessons is a mystery to me. Or is it?

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