Sep 13, 2020Liked by Matt Stoller

The section 'Political Exhaustion and Monopolies' really hit home for me - I live in New Brunswick, Canada, where one of the country's wealthiest families has been a controlling interest for decades. The Irvings have effectively co-opted or subverted much of the workings of government, and the current Premier and his Chief of Staff are former employees. We are in the middle of an election at the moment, called by the Premier likely looking to use the perceived success of his leadership during Covid-19 to secure a majority government.

Every time a news article pops up outside of their own media monopoly with any hint of critique of the uncontested power of the Irvings, the comments sections are inevitably populated with apologists claiming the necessity of the conglomerate for broad societal prosperity.

If you've not already looked into it, it's a pretty glaring example of the kind of power you discuss in this newsletter.


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Sep 13, 2020Liked by Matt Stoller

Regarding NYC, I live there and when I first moved to New York (from Seattle) 19 years ago I was so happy to find an American city that was still thickly populated with mom & pop stores. It seems like chain store takeover had not yet occurred (it has since).

Credit rating scores seem to have destroyed my chances of obtaining safe housing here (student loans), although I couldn't say for certain whether or not that is directly related to monopoly. I do know that wrongly reported credit "errors" are nearly impossible to remove, apparently because there are a number of private credit check businesses and correcting the record for one agency has no effect on all of the others. It just seems like as long as the GWB student debt laws are in effect (it used to be that a decade of indigence would result in a clean credit slate, as far as government-issued student loans were concerned) it should be illegal for potential landlords to do a credit check at all. Plenty of us can't recover from 2008 in part because we can't get safe housing. It's a vicious cycle.

Today my most vexing NYC monopoly is the farmers market system. Unique, as far as I know, to NYC. GrowNYC absolutely has a monopoly on the farmers' markets in the city.

GrowNYC sometimes targets farmers and bans them from markets. One farmer I spoke with, who had set up a guerilla booth on the street one day, told me about how the GrowNYC inspector had not seen his baby ducks in the tall grass one day in early spring and then accused him later of purchasing and reselling the ducks when they were ready for market. He was banned from selling at all the markets and was in danger of losing his farm. He said the inspector who falsely accused him was promoted rather than reprimanded and that the appeal system was a joke.

Whenever I speak with farmers about the one (ONE!) market I am aware of that is not GrowNYC affiliated, they get so excited and want to know to know everything about it, how they can sell there, etc. That one market is has a whole unique set of farms/sellers and a very different character from the corporate-feeling homogeny of GrowNYC.

Another problem with GrowNYC is that prices vary wildly depending on market location. If you live near or travel to Union Square, you can just about always find a good price. If you go to the small market nearby, particularly in lower income areas, you are faced with a tiny selection and extreme price gouging.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Farmers and shoppers both suffer under the GrowNYC monopoly.

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I live in New York City. Mount Sinai has taken over most of the hospital system here, resulting in higher prices and worse service. I've observed dust bunnies on the floor. During a recent visit to Mount Sinai West, former Roosevelt, the door handle to a restroom broke. I had to rattle the door to be let out. I could go on...

This is my third attempt to post a response. The Log In link just takes me back to your site.

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I voted for R. Reagan. It was my first election at the tender age of 18 and I was excited. Unfortunetly, Reagan was another supporter in a line of unrestrained capitalism and greed which had permeated into our society since the early 70's. It's evidence is clear now since greed has only emboldened a moral code of selfish character. It's this code of ruthless capitalism that has been slowly killing the entrepreneurial possibilities and culture in america.

The greed is prominently displayed in how monopolies have been so culpable in commercializing our Democracy. Driving it into a caste' like society that I've seen in many underdeveloped countries traveling outside of the US over the last 25 years. We are cementing a culture and country of haves and have nots due in large part to the greed and self centered behavior of the what I would refer to as: those weak and morally corrupt corporate monopolists.

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Hi! I’m another New Brunswick Canadian!

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the buyout of MEC, a canadian outdoors equipment co-op.

You can read about if here:


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Price gouging for drugs has been a problem in the UK too. Supply of some off patent generics has been monopolised (including removal of branded version) and price charged to UK National Health Service ramped up. (NHS indirectly buys the vast majority of prescription medicine by volume in UK through pharmacy subsidy for out of hospital use, and directly buys for NHS hospital use). In certain situations patient/health insurance pays the full price instead (where patients have elected for private treatment or the condition is not covered by NHS, e.g. most IVF cycles).

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I find myself frequently confused about the philosophies of tech workers and tech companies surrounding questions of power. The EFF, ideologically, appears to promote a free internet, but would also appear easy to weaponize by way of a quick influx of cash and marching orders. Have the principles been lost? Is the desire to protect the perceived beauty in the contraptions technologists create blinding the better judgement of these institutions? I need someone to do a comparative study of Silicon Valley’s genesis and its evolution in order to understand if any real principles endure, or if, on the other hand, ad-hoc decisions have rendered the philosophical concerns mere shadows. Can forces making this much money and commanding this much power go through a Renaissance?

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This is all "de ja vue, all over again Yogi" for me. In my youth as the g'son of former head of Hon. Wright Patman's Subcommittee on USG extensions of electrical power into rural TX, I often had lunch with late Congressman Patman who ALWAYS warned my gen must protect 2 things or we WOULD revisit greater depression for same reasons as his did, eg, 1) Glass-Stegall and 2) SEC 15 of USCC where 100% of USSA AntiTrust Laws reside!

The Rs have now placed, with nary a whimper from Dims, Brett Kavanaugh onto USSC Bench to "Put hte Brakes on USCC Sec 15". JustUS Kavanaugh's own words!

I get it. BUT, I think states are required and my home state of TX is likely the WORST OFFENDER. The Rs have been horrific with TORT Reform that only served to subsidize the Medical, Insurance and Legal Fields instead of intentionally mistated goals of reducing premiums; and Citizens United at Fed Level fully supported by TX juris<un>prudence.

Take the TX Railroad Commission for example. It's an Administrative Agency that serves as a Bureaucratic cudgel to separate plaintiffs in TX from their USConstitutional right to Trial by Jury of Peers and then when one recieves a bad decision from this purely bought-and-paid-for by BIG MONOPOLY Corps, (s)he can not even appeal to District Court except under an impossible "Arbitrary & Capricious Ruling" standard!

AND YET, we here in Tejas <falsely> claim we adamantly protect personal property rights. Yeah, those of the monopolists (ONLY) who've successfully stacked the deck with venues for arbiters of JustUS.

And i could go on and on wrt the ubiquitously granted "Pre-Pkged Bankruptcies" that JustUS Jones (SDTX) and Chapman (SDNY) have granted to literally hundreds of WS IPOd PUBLIC Corps whereby they exit BK Court with even moar unpayable, Blw-Mkt Rates, USTxpyr-Bkd Debt having liquidated not a single asset for needed PD after 15Yrs of Feral Res obfuscating prices of everything, prior s/h recieving 5 cents on USD to then find Phantom Ekwity that JustUS never even questions should have gone to priro S/Hs instead of petitioner's collateral for moar unpayable debt upon exit!

Thanks Again Matt for your work!

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"And all of this for a site that everyone knew was guilty of facilitating child sex trafficking; it’s very much like Shkreli’s price-gouging from jail. They were not investigating nuns"

Not really the point of the article, I know, but this is just callous and lazy writing. Nuns are quite literally representatives/members of the largest child rape organization in the history of the world. Nobody talks about it, but it's not just the pope, cardinals, bishops, priests, etc. raping children and/or covering it up. A fair number of the children who were raped in their organization become rapists themselves.

I ought to know. I grew up with two aunts who were nuns and two uncles who were priests. Trust me, the Catholics are WAY more guilty and complicit, just in terms of sheer volume of child rapes, than Backpage could ever be.

Besides that, keep up the good work. I've been discussing "Facebook is a damaging product" with people and watching lightbulbs go off.

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I am so grateful to you for exposing all this; I don't think the public is exhausted, or uninterested, as much as starved for insight into what is going on. You are more generous than I feel, that Congress' slow walk is about powerlessness; I say it's about them all being in bed with the very corporations they are claiming to investigate. And the media is in bed as well, so not given to exposing the worst perps. In the meantime, we have to settle for the one purveyor of internet service in our area; accept infuriating policies by the one airline that has "rights" to our airspace; pay for outrageous health insurance costs because big Pharma, hospital corporations and insurance companies are all in bed together; and there is no restriction on money in politics. And stupid Americans still believe that socialism is worse than nazism. I am not confused, I am enraged.

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Please consider audio versions of your great thoughtful work. For time constraints many of us can consume in transit.

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