You probably learned in high school that monopolies are bad for consumers; they eliminate the field of competition in the marketplace, leaving people with fewer options and higher prices. Mega-mergers in the food and energy markets are allowing a handful of corporations to dominate market sectors. Their market dominance means that when it comes to influencing public policy, politically powerful companies call the shots.
After the too-big-to-fail-banks crashed the economy in 2008, a merger wave started that created too-big-to-fail insurance and drug companies. This most recent wave of mergers is creating too-big-to-fail petrochemical companies.
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Congress put US taxpayers on the hook for $20 plus trillion in various bank bailout schemes. How much will Congress screw taxpayers for when all these other too-big-to-fail companies present their extortion demands to Congress ?
Extortion demands... good way to put it...
The steady movement towards monopoly, aided by almost routine approval of mega-mergers, is one of the results and symptoms of the conversion of democracy to a klepto-plutocracy. Our government, as well as others, turn a blind eye to this phenomenon, though the many harmful impacts are well understood.
When I directed a rural community-organizing non profit, some 20+ years ago, one of its focus areas was the steady consolidation within the meat packing industry, and I learned that both vertical and horizontal consolidation were driving out all competition and consumer choice, making farming, an already economically challenging life, unsustainable for most.
Thanks to inaction by regulatory agencies, It's gotten steadily worse. Today, for example:
* 3 Companies Control 90% of the global corn / grain market.
* 3 Companies Control 90% of the Beef Industry.
* 4 Companies Control 66% of the Pork Industry.
* Cargill is in each of the above groups.
* The dairy industry is dominated by 3 players, including Dean Foods which controls the majority of fluid milk markets (up to 100% in parts of the country);
(Meanwhile, farmers in many places have only 1 dairy cooperative they can sell their milk to: Dairy Farmers of America. DFA collaborates with Dean Foods & others to manipulate milk prices, ensuring farmers get stiffed even as consumer prices are kept high.) - Source: National Family Farm Coalition.
The pattern is repeated in every agricultural / food segment. Predatory practices (like "captive supply" in the livestock industry - with its requirements for forward contracting by producers - have reduced many farmers and ranchers to virtual hired hands on their own land, all the while reducing the numbers of actual farmers and ranchers as the land itself is consolidated into larger & larger parcels by fewer and fewer owners.
This is the natural outcome of an unbridled capitalism that is not balanced by democratic governance, but which in fact controls the latter.
Neither side of the duopoly cares, on the whole, both being corporate lackeys (I refrain, with great difficulty, from accusing them of whoring); but in any case, thus the problem steadily worsens regardless of which Party has the White House or Congress.
There's no easy answer to this, though one obvious one is that unless a clear path exists to kicking out the rotten apples of the DP (which would be most of it, IMO- and I don't think that will work), we need to begin building a progressive populist party. Another is that we must be committed to voting with our dollars; not only by shifting all our purchases from these conglomerates to local small producers but also initiating & joining boycotts of such companies.