As regular readers know, one of the first things learned by beginning economics students is that monopolies and oligopolies are unmitigated evils in any free-market economy. They are (by definition) non-competitive and totally parasitic; and in the rare instances when one of these abominations is perceived to be a necessary evil, that inherently parasitic nature demands that they be securely restrained in a regulatory straitjacket.
Sadly, this appears to also be one of the first lessons forgotten by economics graduates, apparently moments after accepting their degrees. For what do we see in the global economy today? A world which is not only saturated with these mega-monstrosities, but where much, most, and in some cases all regulation has simply been put through a paper-shredder - and all with the complete blessing of the intellectual zombies in the economics community.
After a quarter-century of allowing these corporate oligopolies to rampage out of control, the carnage is plain to see. The worst revenue-crisis in the history of Western democracy threatens to bankrupt most if not all of these economies. Our tax-base continues to wither and die. We see on the one hand Big Business and the ultra-wealthy refusing to be taxed (while parasitically enriching themselves at the fastest rate in history). Meanwhile everyone else simply has nothing left to tax.
Forty, solid years of declining wages (in real dollars) combined with forty, solid years of rising structural unemployment has not only caused our poverty rates to more than double (and created millions of homeless), but has transformed most of our former middle-class into a brand-new class: the "working poor" - drones who exist merely to service the Corporate Oligarchs. The result of this forty-year slide in our standard of living is that it now takes two incomes in a household to provide the same standard of living as was formerly provided by one-income families a mere generation ago.
However, you would never know of this crisis by reading/viewing any of the outlets of the Oligarch-controlled, mainstream media. In the world of Big Media, our governments are being bankrupted by "too much spending". The disconnect with the real world only intensifies when Big Media tells us what it thinks we "can afford" and what we "cannot afford".
We can afford to spend $trillions invading nations halfway around the world. Apparently no price is too high when it comes to preserving the money-laundering profits of the Banking Oligarchs (the "War for Drugs" in Afghanistan), or hijacking the oil resources of other nations for the Oil Oligarchs (the "War for Oil" in Iraq).
We can afford to dole out $trillions more every year in corporate welfare (i.e. "subsidies") for these deadbeat Oligarchs - who take about $10 in hand-outs for every $1 they pay in taxes. You "do the math" here, because no one in Big Media will ever do it for you.
We can afford to pay $trillions in interest every year to the bond parasites, interest on paper which these bankers literally conjured out of thin air (and at no cost to themselves). This is despite the fact that much of this debt, and the interest payments on it are a direct result of either fraud in the interest-rate swaps market or fraud in the credit default swaps market (by the same cabal of bankers).
At the same time, Big Media isn't shy about telling us what we cannot afford. We cannot afford healthcare, education, aid to the poor, pensions, or any other basic government service - at least not in the same quantity/quality which our parents enjoyed only a generation earlier.
Even talk about lighting a match to $trillions in fraudulent bond-debt (or their own outrageous "bonuses") and the Banking Oligarchs will howl in outrage about "the sanctity of contracts". Yet when it comes to tearing-up the pension obligations, health benefits, or even wages of ordinary workers, "sanctity" is a word nowhere to be seen - at least nowhere in the world of Big Media.
Complain about the $trillions that have been squandered in the War for Drugs and the War for Oil over the past decade, and first Big Media tells us that it was all to "fight terrorism". Today (at least if you're an American) protest about the $trillions being squandered in the War for Drugs and the War for Oil and you are "a terrorist."
Question the $trillions being wasted every year in corporate welfare, and this is where the propaganda of Big Media becomes especially loathsome. It was Big Media which sold "too big to fail" to the sheep: that we were somehow better off providing $15+ trillions in assorted hand-outs and "guarantees" to the Banking Oligarchs, so that they could continue their Empire of Fraud for at least a few years longer.
While this was the most blatant pimping which Big Media has done for its fellow Corporate Oligarchs, it is far from being the only form of such pandering. Indeed, the more subtle (but equally important) way in which Big Media solicits $trillions for these corporate deadbeats has been so low-key that (until now) it hasn't even had a name.
Let me introduce readers to "too big to shrink."
Those who spend any time following the world of international trade know that there is a "war" going on: a war of subsidies. How is this war fought? One government (bought-and-paid-for by the Oligarchs) hands out a fat subsidy to one Corporate Oligarch. Then another government (also bought-and-paid-for by the Oligarchs) offers a bigger hand-out to a supposedly "competing" fellow Corporate Oligarch, and the "war" is on.
The Oligarchs have discovered that they can be much more effective parasites by remaining as oligopolies rather than becoming simple monopolies, because as oligopolies they can play this endless/infinite game of "subsidies blackmail". If one government refuses to match (or exceed) the welfare anted-up by another government, the "competing" Oligarch throws a tantrum - and begins making threats to that government. Thus each group of political lackeys simply continue to raise the level of corporate welfare.
What is the threat these extortionists use for this endless game of escalating corporate welfare? If one group of political lackeys fails to match (or exceed) the corporate welfare handed out by another group of political lackeys to "their" Oligarch then that Oligarch will start laying off workers.
In our global economy now completely saturated by these oligopolies workers have become hostages: give me everything I want, or the workers "get it". Through this game of corporate extortion these oligopolies (with the aid of the Corporate Media propaganda machine) have now all pronounced themselves "too big to shrink."
The pretensions by both the political lackeys and the Corporate Oligarchs that they actually care about the jobs of the drones ( i.e. the Little People) would be comical if it weren't so revoltingly hypocritical. It is the same Corporate Oligarchs who have been ruthlessly slashing employment (and wages) for these past several decades - all the while promising us that they were bringing us prosperity. In reality all they ever gave us was the Working Poor.
The politicians are even worse hypocrites. Our massive, structural unemployment problem (the worst in history) could be ended tomorrow if the Oligarchs pulling the strings of these puppets didn't want massive unemployment as a means of permanently depressing wages for the Little People.
How? The same way that structural unemployment has been eliminated in our economies ever since the Dawn of the Industrial Revolution: through regularly shortening the work week. How did we go from working seven days a week, twelve hours a day (an 80+ hour week) to an official 40-hour work week? We certainly didn't get there by extending the length of the work week - as was recently done by France's Nicolas Sarkozy.
Sarkozy fans may recall that this is the same man-of-the-people who wants to force all of the unemployed to undergo "mandatory job-training". So first Sarkozy lengthens the work week - to throw more ordinary workers out of work. Then he forces all of the unemployed to get more "job training", so that in the rare instances when one of the Corporate Oligarchs actually creates a job (rather than just destroying them) that instead of there only being ten people lining-up hoping to get that job that there will be thirty or fifty people instead. The inevitable result of the combination of these two policies is to drive wages down even faster, even lower.
Note that the blackmail of these "too big to shrink" oligopolies goes well beyond endlessly soliciting more welfare. The corrupt lackeys in our government rarely utter a peep when even after all of this welfare, the Oligarchs again put a gun to the heads of their workers and say: "take our unilateral demands of wage/benefit/security cuts, or we'll shut down, move somewhere else - and begin blood-sucking that government, and their workers." As with all parasites, once they have blood-sucked the government and the workers for as much as they can get they simply abandon the dried-up husk and look for a new host.
When it comes to ridding ourselves of these corporate parasites, examples are all around us with respect to ending unhealthy dependencies - and they all involve some pain and sacrifice over the short-term so that we can recover over the longer term. Alcoholics go through withdrawal to conquer their addiction. However these Corporate Oligarchs are far worse than an addiction, as they have thoroughly entrenched themselves in our governments; in our societies; in our lives.
They are a cancer, and as with all cancers the alternatives are unpleasant: radiation treatment, chemotherapy, even surgery. Once diagnosed with cancer we willingly undergo this pain and sacrifice because we fully understand the explicit choice we have been given. Kill the cancer, or the cancer will kill us.
None of these oligopolies is (or was ever) "too big to shrink", and it was even more absurd to suggest that any of them was "too big fail". In fact, in any rational world only the parasites see themselves as too big to fail or shrink. In any rational world, there is only one rational response to parasites: extermination.
It is only after we have rid ourselves of the parasitic Oligarchs, and their $trillions for wars; $trillions in welfare; and $trillions in interest payments that we will ever have the possibility of returning to economic health. Alternately we can continue to wear the yokes of economic slavery which the Oligarchs have forged for us. The choice is clear.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.