Amazon.com is not a Monopoly

A monopoly raises prices and provides mediocre service in a market with no competition. Amazon is fighting for sales, profits, and market share. It is competing against Walmart, Alibaba, and hundreds of e-commerce sites that specialize/focus on particular market segments, such as CB radios for off-road vehicles operates by small business owners.

Business Wire:

Amazon is offering a sneak peek of its plans for Black Friday and, with deals across 30 categories, there is something for everyone this holiday. Now through Black Friday, customers will find deals on items including toys, electronics, fashion, beauty, kitchen, sporting goods, and more, in addition to Amazon Devices and products from small businesses and entrepreneurs, at amazon.com/blackfriday. Customers can expect to find incredible deals across a wide selection of top holiday products throughout the duration of the “Turkey 5” – those five popular shopping days starting at midnight PT on Thanksgiving and continuing through Cyber Monday. Black Friday will feature more than 30 Deals of the Day and thousands of Lightning Deals. Customers will find new deals every day, all season long.

Discover all of the great Amazon Black Friday deals at amazon.com/blackfriday or shop anytime, anywhere with the Amazon App (to download, visit amazon.com/mobileapps from your mobile browser). Customers shopping with the Amazon App can also set Watch a Deal alerts to ensure they never miss out on a hot holiday product, and even use AR view, a new augmented reality feature, to view thousands of items in their space before they buy. Voice Shoppers can shop select Black Friday deals, starting as early as 5pm PT, Wednesday, Nov. 22 – just ask Alexa.

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Obamacare was Not Designed to Fail

A conservative critique of ACA, aka Obamacare, is that it was designed to fail so Democrats could instead implement a single-payer health care “system”. Here’s a column by the respected Larry Elder.

I disagree with that view. ACA was the Democrats’ attempt at using government bureaucracy to administer health insurance and resulting health care. Democrats, following progressive ideology, do not trust the market process. Progressives believe they are smarter than the rest of us and can allocate resources better and fairer than market processes. Note also some conservatives believe this as well. People in government, whether (modern) liberal, conservative, or middle-of-the-road take simply cannot give up the power and control that government provides them. They could be in an elected or appointed capacity.

The market process consists of individuals making decisions, voluntarily interacting with one another in commercial transactions, trial-and-error, competition, choice, and experimentation. You can see from this description how some failures will occur with market processes. But it also allows for many more successes, inventions, and improvements.

If health care cannot be administered by government bureaucracy while letting some limited individual decision-making as the ACA allows, it certainly cannot be distributed by freed market processes. Its too important. Government has to completely take over.

But the Democrats have been pushing, with some Republican help, for bureaucratic administration, which consists of unelected government employees issuing rules and regulations that do not have to be implemented legislatively. Adding language in legislation gives the appropriate government agency the rule-making power.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is one such agency. It reports into the unelected bankers at the Federal Reserve.

 

Prez Trump clears way for ObamaCare ‘alternatives’ in new executive order

Fox:

President Trump on Thursday took executive action on health care, calling for a plan that could let employers band together and offer coverage across state lines as Congress stalls on efforts to overhaul ObamaCare.

. . .

Trump said he will direct the secretary of labor to consider expanding access to Association Health Plans, which could allow employers to form groups across state lines offering coverage. The White House says these plans could offer lower rates.

. . .

It’s unlikely to reverse the trend of insurers exiting state markets. About half of U.S. counties will have only one ObamaCare insurer next year, although it appears that no counties will be left without a carrier as was initially feared.

Also:

Don’t expect to notice a difference in the insurance market immediately; parts of the plan will have to go through the arduous agency rule-making process, which could take months, according to The Associated Press. And experts have said that the order probably won’t greatly impact premiums for 2018 – which are already expected to rise.

 

This, to the Democrats, undermines Obamacare. But the Democrats want to sacrifice Americans’ well-being to maintain a government program. Contrast this sacrifice to a market process, where producers and providers serve their customers. Both sides get what they want.

 

The Misguided Attacks on Amazon.com

Its happening again. A firm grows from a darling, often mentioned glowingly in the media, that benefits consumers into a large corporation that is harming employees and communities, etc. If you want a lower standard of living, stagnant economy, no new jobs, and no new products then have the government try to fix the problem. It will stifle the dynamism a prosperous society needs.

Some critics call low pricing ‘predatory pricing’, supposedly to conjure scary images of a ravenous wild animal looking for its next prey.

Take this article by a writer who trades for a living.

New firms often use low prices to build market share and to get their products into more hands. They burn through investor’s cash, pay their employees with some cash and either shares of stock or products or some other way to save the cash for investing in business growth. Amazon never changed course.

People made a similar case against Walmart years ago when it was taking market share from other retailers: its harming other retailers, killing jobs, putting mom-and-pop shops out of business, etc.

Well guess what? Now Walmart is competing against Amazon and other brick-and-mortar retailers and other e-commerce sites. No government action against Walmart was needed. Indeed, it would have been harmful to consumers, its suppliers, and its employees.

The people who work at Walmart and now Amazon are doing something extraordinarily well. They have a successful strategy and business model and are executing. Don’t get in the way. Its up to others to figure out how to leap-frog over them in the marketplace. Other business models and strategies will emerge even though we cannot foresee what that will be. In fact, that success only becomes known after the fact because the growth of the firm will make the news. It will have survived the initial response by Amazon, Walmart and other competitors.

Yet we benefit from their low prices. It makes our family budgets go farther. The employees of the firms harmed by these super successful firms need to turn inward to management to demand they get their act together, or welcome outside investors to maybe buy the firm and install new management with new ideas. Its new ideas, new management, new/outside capital, new strategy, new business model that leads to dynamic growth.

Now, if Amazon is using the government to enact specific laws that benefit it, like, say, Net Neutrality, then that law or regulation should be eliminated.

If you want to help these firms, stop encouraging politicians and regulators to take sides and trying  to solve this problem. Its not a solve-able problem and government is a poor mechanism to solve problems.

UPDATE: Amazon May Be the Next Tech Giant Muscling Into Health Care. That’s what American health care needs. Smart, successful people in the private sector to figure out how to improve a highly government-controlled industry.

Trump vows to protect ‘Made in America’ products

President Trump:

Trump did not give details about what his administration would do to protect manufacturers, but he railed against tariffs charged by other countries and unfair trade practices.

“That includes cracking down on the predatory online sales of foreign goods, which is absolutely killing our shoppers and our shopping centers,” he said.

“Killing our shoppers”. Really? Shoppers enjoy shopping online, that’s why they do it. If they didn’t find it beneficial they’d shop in shopping centers. So its up to the shopper where to shop, not politicians. Shopping centers have to step up their game to compete with online. The heavy hand of government will stifle innovation, disadvantage their competitors, and freeze the current situation. Improvements will cease. That’s why the country of Cuba is stuck in the 1950’s.

That’s not sustainable. What is sustainable is free market competition that will continually produce what’s best for consumers and producers. That’s what he and Republicans claim to want in health care, so the same principle applies to retail.

Here.

Draining the Swamp Update

The WSJ has a report by James Freeman (behind firewall) on the progress the Trump Administration is making reducing the power of Washington’s permanent bureaucracy, aka the Swamp.

At the State Department:

the State Department is one federal agency that was actually contemplated by America’s founders. Conducting foreign policy is an important and necessary task for our central government. But like so much of the Beltway bureaucracy State has been overfunded and undermanaged for years. Now, despite what you may have read about untouchable bureaucrats unaccountable to the public they are supposed to serve, Mr. Tillerson has found ways to clean house. . .

Furniture from now-closed offices crowded the hallways. Dropping in on one of my old offices, I expected to see a former colleague—a career senior foreign service officer—but was stunned to find out she had been abruptly forced into retirement and had departed the previous week. This office, once bustling, had just one person present, keeping on the lights. . . .

[Sec. of State] Tillerson is not reorganizing, he’s downsizing.

Yes, even constitutionally approved functions need reorganizing, and reorganizing can involve downsizing people and functionality. If ever there were monopolies, government is it. And government monopolies are susceptible to the same abuses as other monopolies. The people there become arrogant, careless, insular, lazy, corrupt. Absent competition, its inevitable no matter how well-intentioned.

There’s movement at the EPA:

Meanwhile over at the Environmental Protection Agency, new boss Scott Pruitt is not just draining the bureaucratic swamp in Washington, he’s taking away the agency’s power to oversee swamps nationwide. . . .

to dismantle another piece of the Obama administration’s environmental legacy, the rule that sought to protect clean drinking water by expanding Washington’s power to regulate major rivers and lakes as well as smaller streams and wetlands. . . .

In a speech at the Energy Department, the president promised to expand the country’s nuclear-energy sector and open up more federal lands and offshore sites to oil and natural-gas drilling.

. . . rescindment this week of the Obama administration’s clean-water rules that farmers and business groups found onerous.

. . . issued a special permit authorizing the construction of a new pipeline between the U.S. and Mexico that would carry fuels across the border in Texas

Its not all positive, though. Healthcare reform could fill the swamp rather than drain it. More military activity in the Middle East and Korea could fill the swamp.

 

AT&T/Time-Warner Merger

The $85 billion acquisition of CNN parent Time Warner by AT&T could win antitrust approval by the Justice Department in the next 60 days, sources said.

During the presidential campaign, Candidate Trump said he would not allow this merger. I’m pleased to report that common sense prevailed as President Trump needs to focus on effective management of government operations instead of trying to managing economic activities for which the future remains unknown. Draining the swamp IS way more important. Disallowing this merger would fill the swamp more by adding more rules and regulations.