Back to top Jump to featured resources

Featured Articles

Photo: Amazon.
Featured Article, ILSR Press Room filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Jun 25, 2017

Amazon Is Trying to Control the Underlying Infrastructure of Our Economy

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/amazon-is-trying-to-control-the-underlying-infrastructure-of-our-economy/

Companies that want to reach the market increasingly have no choice but to ride Amazon’s rails.

This article was first published in VICE’s Motherboard.

We often talk about Amazon as though it were a retailer. It’s an understandable mistake. After all, Amazon sells more clothing, electronics, toys, and books than any other company. Last year, Amazon captured nearly $1 of every $2 Americans spent online. As recently as 2015, most people looking to buy something online started at a search engine. Today, a majority go straight to Amazon.

But to describe Amazon as a retailer is to misunderstand what the company actually is, and to miss the depth of the threat that it poses to our liberty and the very idea of an open, competitive market.

It’s not just that Amazon does many things besides sell stuff—that it manufactures thousands of products, from dress shirts to baby wipes, produces hit movies and television shows, delivers restaurant orders, offers loans, and may soon dispense prescription drugs. Jeff Bezos is after something so much bigger than any of this. His vision is for Amazon to control the underlying infrastructure of the economy. Amazon’s website is already the dominant platform for digital commerce. Its Web Services division controls 44 percent of the world’s cloud computing capacity and is relied on by everyone from Netflix to the Central Intelligence Agency. And the company has recently built out a vast network of distribution infrastructure to handle package delivery for itself and others.

Companies that want to reach the market increasingly have no choice but to ride Amazon’s rails. With Prime and digital assistant Alexa, from GE appliances to Ford cars, Bezos has lured a majority of households into making Amazon the default provider of everything they order online. Most Prime members no longer comparison shop. This has forced competitors of all sizes—from major brands like Levi’s and KitchenAid to small-scale producers, e-commerce innovators, and independent brick-and-mortar stores—to abandon the idea of reaching consumers directly. Instead, they have to rely on Amazon’s platform to sell their goods.

Amazon exploits this dependence to dictate terms and prices to suppliers, and it uses the data it gathers from companies selling on its platform to weaken them as competitors. A company that designs a popular product and builds a market for it on Amazon’s site can suddenly find that Amazon has introduced a nearly identical version and given it top billing in search results. One study found that, after a retailer becomes a seller on Amazon, it’s only a matter of weeks before Amazon brings the merchant’s most popular items into its own inventory.

Being both a direct retailer and a platform for other sellers gives Amazon novel weapons for shaking down suppliers. …

Continue reading:  Read the full article in Motherboard.

Related: Statement: Regulators Should Block Amazon’s Acquisition of Whole Foods

Featured Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by Karlee Weinmann | No Comments | Updated on Jun 26, 2017

Amid EV Surge, Austin Eyes a New Way of Doing Business — Episode 48 of Local Energy Rules Podcast

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/amid-ev-surge-austin-eyes-a-new-way-of-doing-business-episode-48-of-local-energy-rules-podcast/

Improving battery life and safety standards place electric vehicles and self-driving cars closer than ever to the mainstream, and the City of Austin is laying plans to capitalize on the transition. Experts predict a dramatic transformation of the U.S. transportation system will take hold in the coming decade. Karl Popham, who manages emerging technologies and… Continue reading

Featured Article, Resource filed under The Public Good | Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Jun 15, 2017

Why Local Self-Reliance? – Episode 22 of the Building Local Power Podcast

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/why-local-self-reliance-episode-22-of-the-building-local-power-podcast/

In this week’s episode of Building Local Power, host Christopher Mitchell (of our Community Broadband Networks initiative) interviews ILSR co-founder David Morris about the history of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and why the message of local self-reliance is as relevant today as it was in the 1970s. This wide-ranging conversation takes in the role that… Continue reading

Featured Article filed under Broadband | Written by Lisa Gonzalez | No Comments | Updated on Jun 21, 2017

Louisville’s Opportunity: Connecting Their City, Receiving Big Savings

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/louisvilles-opportunity-connecting-their-city-receiving-big-savings/

In order to save public dollars, improve municipal connectivity, and enhance the city’s ability to take advantage of various “Smart City” technologies, Louisville is planning to grow its existing fiber infrastructure. Their plan will take advantage of aspects of the KentuckyWired project to reduce costs. An increasing number of local governments have taken a similar… Continue reading

Featured Article, Report, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Jun 7, 2017

Report: Choosing the Electric Avenue – Unlocking Savings, Emissions Reductions, and Community Benefits of Electric Vehicles

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/report-electric-vehicles/

The U.S. vehicle market will undergo a massive technology disruption from electric vehicles in the coming decades. Many analysts see the potential for surging sales of these efficient vehicles to enable smart grid management, but few have explored the local impact of electric vehicles: promoting energy democracy. Electric vehicles offer a natural use for solar energy, a pathway to pump more local solar power onto the grid, and a source of resilient power when the grid goes down. Ultimately, electric vehicles are another tool to miniaturize the electricity system, providing unprecedented local control.

Continue reading