The Free Market
By David Glenn Cox
I recently walked to a grocery store; I entered from the darkness into this brightly lit arena, like a pilgrim entering Mecca. Shelves brightly decorated with bright, colorful displays of potato chips, nacho chips, Cheetos, cookies and candy, frozen pizza, frozen lasagna, TV dinners, Hungry man or big fat ass TV dinners. In the back, a factory meat counter which delivers meats straight from where god only knows, and he ain’t saying. Lustrous colorful vegetables, straight from America’s heartland--Mexico, picked by the poor and the indigent.
This is what Capitalism offers us, rather than a food store, a candy store, a junk food store. We have a choice, this is what we are told, Capitalism offers us variety and in that variety is said, opportunity. Take for example our choice in soft drinks, if we don’t like Coke we can have… Pepsi. If we don’t like either of those choices, we have Fanta soft drinks, but Fanta is owned by Coca-cola. Over 3,500 products are offered by Coca – cola, diet and sparkling beverages to beverages such as 100 percent fruit juices and fruit drinks, waters, sports and energy drinks, teas and coffees, and milk-and soy-based beverages. Pepsi, offers us over 22 brands each generating a billion dollars in revenue such as, Frito Lay, Quaker, Tropicana and Gatorade brands, but what is this really?
What does it mean, when our grocery stores are filled with, dare I say it, shit? Thousands of products all owned by a handful of mega corporations, Jell-O, Capri Sun, Oscar Myer, Philly Cream cheese, brands all owned by Kraft Foods. Duncan Hines cake mix is Pinnacle Foods, and Pinnacle foods includes, Vlassic pickles, Aunt Jemima pancakes, Bird’s Eye frozen foods and Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks. So, as you stand there in the grocery aisle trying to decide between Log Cabin syrup or Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup remember, they’re both made by Pinnacle Foods. Pinnacle claims on its website that its products are in 85 percent of American households and I don’t doubt that fact for a minute.
Thirty percent of all groceries in the United States are sold by… anyone? It’s Wal-Mart, the largest grocery retailer in the country with 3,016 stores plus, 167 Wal-Mart Neighborhood Stores, not to mention the 600 Sam’s Club stores.
Kroger Foods operates – 2,460 stores under various names such as Bakers, City Markets, Dillon’s, Food 4 Less, Fred Myers, Fry’s Food and Drugs, Gerbes, Jay C Food Stores, King Soopers, Owen’s Market, Pay Less Food Markets, Quality Food Centers, Ralph’s, Scott’s Food and Pharmacy and Smith’s food and Drugs.
Supervalu Inc. – 2,398 stores including, Save-A-Lot, Acme Markets, Albertsons, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh Food and Pharmacy, Hornbacher’s, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Shaw’s, Shop ‘n Save, Shopper’s Food & Pharmacy and Star Market.
Safeway Inc, - 1,458 stores also operating as Carr’s, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Pavilion’s, Randall’s and Von’s
Delhaize Group- with 1,300 stores including, Bottom Dollar Foods, Food Lion, Hannaford, Harvey’s and Sweet Bay Super Markets, do you see the hand of the free market at work here?
Five or six major grocery chains working with five or six giant mega corporations producing the food found in 95 percent of all grocery stores. There are also regional grocery chains which when the opportunity arises, will be bought up or pushed out. The big fish eat the little fish, that’s the way things works here in the free market.
If you own a cell phone, it was most likely manufactured by Nokia, 23.8 % (2011), Samsung, 17.7% (2011), Apple, 5% (2011) or other 33.7%. Three companies controlling nearly fifty percent of the world’s cell phone market. Yet that is only the manufacturing end, when it comes to retailing it breaks down as follows, Verizon Wireless, 102 million subscribers or one third of the market, AT&T follows with 95 million subscribers. AT&T’s attempt to purchase T-Mobile with their 34 million subscribers would have made AT&T the largest provider in the US and along with Sprint - Nextel would have created a troika of companies controlling the US cell phone market
AT&T consolidated profit 2011, $32.5 billion
Verizon – Fourth quarter earnings 2011, $18.5 billion
Sprint – Nextel earnings 2011, $33.7 billion
T-Mobile generated revenues of $4.67 billion in the third quarter of 2011, the last before becoming an AT&T target. Adding T-Mobile quarterly profits to AT&T’s bottom line would have created an unstoppable behemoth.
The Cable TV market has become a market of sharks and of chum, Media outlets have been blacked out or threatening to black out including, the Academy Awards and the World Series. It is nothing short of extortion, as media outlets demand additional payments from cable providers. In the end, it is the customer who must pay the ransom through the additional costs.
Comcast- in 2011, had revenues of $55.8 billion which they used to purchase NBC Universal from General Electric. Included in this purchase were twenty four television stations, Telemundo, USA Network, SyFy Network; CNBC; MSNBC; Bravo; Oxygen; Chiller; CNBC World; E!; The Golf Channel; Sleuth; Mun2; Universal HD; G4; Versus; Style and Comcast Sports Net.
The irony of conservatives arguing about the liberal bias of MSNBC or the conservative bias of CNBC when they’re no different than Log Cabin pancake syrup or Mrs. Butterworth’s, both made in the same crock. Imagine, Joe Scarborough dancing with Rachel Maddow at the office Christmas party.
Cablevision Inc., had 2011 revenues of $6.7 billion, they serve (serve?) over 3.3 million subscribers and own the following, News 12 Networks, MSG Varsity, Newsday Media Group, AMC; We TV; IFC ; Sundance Channel; Rainbow Media Holdings; IFC Entertainment; Rush HD and Bresnan Cable. They also own, AM New York; Star Community Publishing as well as, Clearview Cinemas.
The Walt Disney Company had 2011 revenues of over $40 billion dollars; Disney owns the ABC television network. They own cable networks including ESPN; The Disney Channel; Soapnet; A&E and Lifetime in addition to 277 radio stations, book and music publishing concerns and the ABC Family Network. They own eight television stations and partial ownership of the following, The History Channel (42%), Biography Network (42%); History International (42%); Lifetime Real Women (42%).
Did you see a good review of the latest Spiderman movie on ABC’s Good Morning America? Disney owns Marvel Entertainment; Disney owns ABC studios, Pixar Studios; Walt Disney Pictures; Walt Disney Records; Mammoth Records; Buena Vista Records and Lyric Street Records. The list goes on virtually forever, Interactive Games; Buena Vista Concerts; the theme parks and of course that damn mouse.
It is clear; Disney can produce a motion picture or teen heart throb and pump the publicity through its own network of companies. ABC says it’s a good movie or a sportscaster on Monday Night Football merely mentions it by name, yet by current standards, Disney & Company are the laggards in the media game.
Last year, CBS in all of its incarnation earned revenues of $14.1 billion dollars. Now, in dollar standards alone they stand in Disney’s shadow, but as a wise man once explained, “It’s not the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.” CBS broadcast television; Showtime; Smithsonian Network; CBS Sports; CBS television and syndication; CBS Radio; CBS Studio’s International; CBS Out door, out of home advertising (billboards) and Simon and Shuster Publishing.
CBS owns twenty nine television stations; CBS News; CBS College Sports and Publishing. The CMT music awards where held in June of this year and who owns CMT? That’s right, CBS. Carrie Underwood won Country Music video of the year and Ms. Underwood is under contract to…RCA. Surprised, well in 2004 there was this merger, Sony entertainment merged with BMG, the old RCA records is now Sony entertainment and it is owned by the same record company formally known as CBS Records. The director for Underwood’s award winning video was Theresa Wingert who has a long career making TV commercials for giants such as Proctor & Gamble, Hyundai and … Showtime!
So who owns Country Music Television? Country Music Television is owned by MTV Networks and who owns MTV networks? Would you be surprised if I said, CBS? No, you’re not surprised by this, are you? Since CMT’s acquisition by the MTV Networks CMT viewer ship has increased by more than five million homes.
November 8, 2011: Who will win Entertainer of the year? – CBS News
November 9, 2011: CMA 2011 Taylor Swift wins entertainer of the year – CBS News
CBS Radio Stations with Country format; KMLE Country 108 – Phoenix; KFRG 95.1 & KXFG 92.8 New Country- Orange County California; KNCI – New Country 105.1 Sacramento; WQYK 99.5 Commercial Country, Tampa; WUSN Classic Country 99.5 Chicago; WYCD – New Country 99.5 Detroit; KMNB 102.9 Buz’n Country- Minneapolis – St. Paul; WFOC 96.9 The Cat – Charlotte; WDSY 107.9 Pittsburgh’s Best Country; KILT 100.3 nominated by CMA (best large market station) Houston; KMPS 94.1 – Seattle.
KNX – (AM) Los Angeles, CBS News & Clear Channel schedule
WTIC (AM) Hartford CT. CBS News & Clear Channel schedule
WSCR – (AM) Chicago, CBS News & Clear Channel
KMOX- (AM) St. Louis, Rush Limbaugh 11AM–2PM
KXNT- (AM & FM) Las Vegas, CBS News & Clear Channel schedule
WBCN- Charlotte – (AM) Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingram
WHPT- Philadelphia – (AM) Conservative talk radio
KDKA- Pittsburgh – (AM) Local talk radio
KPTK – Seattle - (AM) Seattle’s Progressive Talk
KMJ - Fresno – (FM) KMJ Now, conservative talk radio
I saved the best for last because, who cares if recording artist’s are created and produced like cheese doodles. It was Joni Mitchell, who said it,
“I was a free man in Paris
I felt unfettered and alive
There was nobody calling me up for favors
And no one's future to decide
You know I'd go back there tomorrow
But for the work I've taken on
Stoking the star maker machinery
Behind the popular song”
Big deal, so what, if the song and the video, the record company, the radio station and the distribution network are all co-mingled. So what, if there will never be another Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash or Waylon Jennings, and so what if executives in suits an ties decide who makes music for the masses and so what, if an artist imbued with talent and gifted with insight, languishes in obscurity because they’re too tall or too short, too fat or doesn’t fit the marketing plan. Putting a corporation in charge of art is like putting cannibals in charge of children.
This is nothing, really, in the grand scheme of everything, your food, your media and the entertainment for millions, all in the hands of a scant few. It is the illusion of a free market, what free market? Why the one owned and operated by huge corporations, the same ones who own the newspapers, the magazines, the radio and TV stations. It is all controlled, every aspect of it. Women buy most of the groceries in this country; women’s magazines published by mega corporations fill their pages with recipes and advertisements for brownies and cookies. Good mothers feed their families, Jell-O or Bird’s Eye or Mrs. Paul’s. To lose weight, try Crystal Light or drink bottled water bottled by…”
This is what Capitalism does, it feeds us crap then it blames us for it. Why are thirty percent of adults obese in America? Gee, I just don’t know? Why is there an epidemic of juvenile diabetes? Gee, I just can’t figure that one out, can you? Hundreds of millions of dollars spent to sell products which are for the most part junk, with the message, “Buy some today” reinforced over and over and over again.
One more, you’ll like this one, I promise. Clear Channel Communications earned over $6.2 billion last year, half of those revenues came directly from radio broadcasting. Clear channel owns 866 radio stations, it syndicates over 90 radio programs including, the Rush Limbaugh Show, Glenn Beck and the Sean Hannity Show. These syndicated shows air on 5,800 radio stations and reach an audience of over 200 million. Many, if not most of us, are already well aware of Clear Channel’s philosophy and its reputation. I didn’t mention Clear Channel just to kick around right wing Bozos, there is another reason, a much darker and even more astounding reason than the fat ass and big mouth shows.
I will give you a shiny nickel if you can tell me without looking, who owns Clear Channel? I’ll even give you a hint, There won’t be any Mormon or Mitt Romney jokes on the Billy Bob and Booger head show on Clear Channel programming, because Clear Channel is owned by none other than Bain Capital. No kidding, no shit, a free market, yeah right!
“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it's profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.” â Frank Zappa