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Amazon recently secured a contract to do business with local governments. The contract has an estimated value of $5.5 billion over a potential 11-year term — but almost no one’s talking about it.
This contract, and Amazon’s growing relationship with the public sector, is the subject of the latest report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Amazon’s Next Frontier: Your City’s Purchasing It’s also what we talk about in this episode of the Building Local Power podcast.
In the episode, ILSR Communications Manager Nick Stumo-Langer, co-director and Community-Scaled Economy initiative director Stacy Mitchell, and Community-Scaled Economy initiative senior researcher Olivia LaVecchia dig into this issue. The group talks about how Amazon’s new contract favors the company at the expense of the public, from its pricing to its terms and conditions. Nick, Stacy, and Olivia also cover how the contract poses broader threats — like Amazon using it to position itself as the gatekeeper through which local businesses have to go to sell to local governments.
There’s good news in this episode though, too, especially for concerned citizens and public officials: Amazon’s push into the public sector offers a way to take action at the local level. In fact, some cities are already pushing back. In addition to the report, we’ve also developed an action sheet that outlines three strategies that everyone can use to take action — along with specific asks to make and resources to use.
“We’ve found that this contract is yet another tool for Amazon to suppress competition, and is a particularly pernicious way to use local governments to facilitate their market power.” — Stacy Mitchell
This podcast is based on a new report that the Institute for Local Self-Reliance released on July 10th, 2018. We’ve included the report and related resources below:
- The full report is available at: Report: Amazon’s Next Frontier: Your City’s Purchasing
- The action sheet on what citizens and public officials can do: “As Amazon Moves to Capture Local Government Spending, Here’s What You Can Do“
- The press release, which gives a good overview of the issues: “Release: Amazon’s National Contract to Supply Local Governments Puts Cities and Schools at Risk, ILSR Report Finds“
Finally, in the last section of this podcast, all three participants discuss a recent example of monopoly power. Olivia gives a personal anecdote about airlines (see this explainer for more information), and Nick and Stacy reference these news stories:
- Whole Foods’ new limits may squeeze small suppliers by Sam Bloch, The New Food Economy
- These 11 Companies Control Everything About the Fourth of July by Claire Kelloway, Vice
|Nick Stumo-Langer:||Hello and welcome to episode 50, that’s right, five zero, of the Building Local Power podcast from the Institute of Local Self-Reliance. I’m Nick Stumo-Langer your ILSR communication manager. We have a really interesting podcast for you this week featuring most of our community scaled economy team.
Today is a frequent topic. We talk about Amazon a lot on this podcast. You can go back to episode six where we discussed a giant, comprehensive report on Amazon as well as episode 28 of this podcast feed where we talked about Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods. But this episode’s a little bit different. We’re going to be talking about some original research that we’ve done into a widely under-reported phenomenon about Amazon’s relationship with local procurement and some of the hidden things that they’re doing in our economy.
Before we get started I will introduce our two guests today. Stacy Mitchell is the frequent host of this very podcast and is the Co-Director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and the director of our independent business work. How’s it going, Stacy?
|Stacy Mitchell:||Good. Nice to be with you, Nick.|
|Nick Stumo-Langer:||And Olivia LaVecchia is a research associate and an excellent writer on all things local economy. How’s it going, Olivia?|
|Olivia LaVecchia:||Hey, Nick, it’s good to be here.|
|Nick Stumo-Langer:||We have this new report where you guys are kind of investigating something about Amazon that hasn’t really been reported on a lot. And there’s a lot of implications for cities and for school districts, as well as for the broader terms of competition in our economy. So what is this all about?|
|Olivia LaVecchia:||There are all of these ways that Amazon is growing size and influence in the consumer market are really drawing increasing scrutiny. Then a lot more quietly, Amazon is also going after this whole other market, which is the public sector. In this report we focused on one particular way that that’s happening, which is this big contract that Amazon was awarded for the purchasing that is done by local governments around the country. Your city, your town, your county, your school district, all of these kind of local public agencies and jurisdictions. This contract, it was awarded to Amazon in the winter of 2017 and it has an estimated value of 500 million dollars annually and it has the potential to go for 11 years, so we’re talking about five and a half billion dollars of the potential term of this contract. That kind of alone was enough to make us go, “Huh, what’s going on here?”
And then when we looked at it we realized that both in the process and in the particulars of how this contract works, it deviates from a lot of the norms that have been set up to protect the public interest in ways that local governments do their spending. Really, it brings up a lot of question about whether this is a good deal for local governments.
I think one more thing to add while we’re at the top of talking about this contract is that, one of the things that’s exciting about it is that is also gives this local level angle on Amazon. I think there is a lot of opportunity here for cities and for public officials to use this contract as a way to take a stand against Amazon.
|Nick Stumo-Langer:||Yeah, that strikes me as kinda important to point out that maybe you have a neighbor, you have a friend, a family member who like to buy their books off of Amazon and that’s an individual choice that we may have conversations about. But this seems like a very systemic way that Amazon is capturing even more dollars in a lot of the things that…schools will have buy pencils or that type of thing. Backing up a little bit, maybe you can delve into what the process for awarding this contract was from US communities and kind of what were the things that stuck out to you that were really egregious, I guess, displays of Amazon’s power.|
|Olivia LaVecchia:||I think there are a few things that really stand out on that front. The first one is that, in the past, when US Communities has released a request for proposals for contracts like this they’ve been in particular areas. For a while, US Communities had a contract that was specifically for office supplies. That was held by Office Depot for a while, and then for a while, actually, by a group of independent office supply dealers around the country. But when that last office supply contract expired, US Communities didn’t come out and solicit a new one. Instead it waited a while, and then it put out a request for proposals for an online marketplace that would cover ten different product areas.
So already what you’re looking at, you know, right off the bat there is that there are very few companies that can make an offer on that kind of proposal. Very few companies that specialize in all of these product areas, and it was office supplies, school supplies, kitchen equipment, kind of everything you can think of. The tenth category was miscellaneous, and that was everything else.
What we saw when we looked at that is that there were companies that had previously been able to compete for this big stream of public sector spending, and now here, just in how this proposal is written, they’re getting shut out of it.
|Nick Stumo-Langer:||I want to hit pause on that first section there, where you’re talking about what the kinds of products that they’re looking for. I think it’s useful to point out, like you said, there are not very many entities that can offer specialty in all these different areas. You may have a local hardware store that can provide some of the maintenance needs for a city building or a school or something like that. You may have an office supply chain or local product folks that can give pencils, they can give whiteboard erasers, those types of things. It kind of sounds like a little bit this was written for a larger entity than what they were originally dealing with. Is that right? Is that fair to characterize it that way?|
|Stacy Mitchell:||As Olivia was saying, this was an RFP that when you look at it, really seemed to be written with one company in mind. When you have an RFP for public procurement and you’re going out there looking for companies to bid on supplying local governments with supplies, what you really want from an RFP is to create a competitive bidding process where you have lots of companies that are competing to offer those things. In this case, we ended up with a process that really didn’t have any meaningful competition because of the way the RFP was written. Essentially only Amazon really fit into that RFP. In the end we found that only five companies put together proposals that met even the minimal requirements of the RFP. When you look at the scores for those companies, we found that four of those companies got very low scores. Only one of the companies actually got a high score, which was Amazon.
What we found in talking to people who know a lot about public procurement is that you want to have a competitive bidding process and if you only have one company that effectively is bidding, that’s not really a competitive RFP. This is one of the first signs, right off the bat, that something was fishy and outside of the norm of public procurement with this contract.
|Nick Stumo-Langer:||That’s a really good note on the process. That just seems shady, that raises some eyebrows to me. I can kind of foresee a little bit of the response to that, is, you know as long as these local entities, these local governments and school districts are getting a good deal, as long as they have the lowest price, which a lot of people associate with Amazon, then why is that an issue? I think your report touches on the fact that maybe these governments aren’t actually getting the best price for these things.|
|Stacy Mitchell:||We found that this contract deviates in a lot of ways from the standard terms and norms that protect public dollars. Normally in procurement contracts, if we just step back for a minute, the reason that cities and school districts sign contracts to get their supplies is that by going out and bidding those contracts competitively and by promising, say, a five year contract or in the case of this contract, it has renewals that could go up to eleven years, that the city is going to be able to get the best price. They’ll say, here’s what we buy the most of, here’s the RFP, companies will bid, the city is promising all that volume so they should be getting a volume discount in exchange. In the case of these joint contracts, which is what this is, through US Communities, where it’s being offered to lots of cities. The idea is that you’re combining all that volume together nationally and therefore you should get even a lower price.
That’s the idea behind these joint purchasing contracts. What we found here is something very different. Amazon didn’t actually compete on price to win this contract. Instead of offering a fixed guaranteed price in the contract, what they instead are saying is that they’re offering dynamic pricing. What this means is that when a buyer for a school or city logs on to the site under this contract, they’re going to be paying a fluctuating price. It could be fluctuating day to day, week to week. Amazon says, well, you’re going to get the lowest price because there are lots of sellers on the site and therefore it’s like a market and it’s going to naturally produce the lowest price.
We were a little skeptical of that idea simply for the fact that Amazon charges a fee for sellers to be on it’s site. So they’re getting this extra fee tacked on to the top, so how, given that and given Amazon’s control of the platform, is that really a market? Is that really something that is necessarily going to produce the lowest price. We went and asked a firm called OPSoftware, a guy named Rick Marlette there, he has this firm where his job is to track pricing in the office supply sector. He tracks pricing at Walmart, Staples, Amazon, Amazon Business, lots of independent office supply dealers across the country. He’s doing this on an ongoing basis and he provides this service. If you’re an office supply company, you can get his data and then you’re able to tell if your pricing is competitive. That’s what his company does.
So we said, can you run a pricing analysis for us. He used the actual purchasing history for a California school district over a two week period and found that if they had bought their supplies through this contract, through Amazon, during that two week period, they would have paid about ten to twelve percent more than they did going through their local supplier. So in fact not only does this contract have terms that don’t protect cities, but there is some evidence that in fact it is going to lead to higher prices.
|Nick Stumo-Langer:||That’s pretty stunning. Ten to twelve percent, when you’re talking about all this volume that a school district goes through, that a local city government goes through. That really adds up. I think a really amazing point that you guys make in the report is kind of talking about, we’ve long held and have had all these public political conversations about public spending and talking about the ways you need to protect taxpayer dollars to make sure they’re being paid appropriately. It seems like if the process is rigged toward Amazon, the price isn’t competitive, that these public dollars are just being siphoned to a private company. Is that fair to say?|
|Stacy Mitchell:||Yeah, I think that’s accurate. I think it’s fair to say that this is a contract that really serves Amazon’s ambitions and doesn’t actually serve the needs of local governments. The reason, just to add another dimension to this, the reason it’s ten to twelve percent is, it depends on how you count the shipping cost. This is the other thing we found that’s quite striking is that for cities that sign onto this contract, it’s actually a big step down in terms of delivery. Amazon, and this is a funny thing to say about a company that’s known for setting a new standard in terms of how quickly people expect packages to arrive. But in the office sector, there’s this whole world of independent office supply dealers. These are local and regional companies that have been around for decades. They often don’t have storefronts, so as a consumer you wouldn’t necessarily know that they’re there. But they, decades ago, started doing next day delivery. This is a standard thing in their industry is next day delivery.
Under this contract, Amazon isn’t actually offering a guaranteed delivery time. In order to get two-day delivery, cities have to sign up for Business Prime, in order to get guaranteed two-day delivery. Depending on how you account for that cost, that’s why we ended up with ten to twelve percent being the additional amount that this school district would have spent.
To your point, you’re absolutely right. I mean, this is a real risk at a time when budgets are being tightened. In fact, cities have less money in part because of Amazon’s impact on local economies. We really have to watch those dollars, and so the notion that this is a company that’s now coming in to siphon off that spending and doing so in a way that doesn’t make the best and most efficient use of those dollars is quite concerning.
|Nick Stumo-Langer:||There’s another part of this report that you delve into that I think is startling and deviates from previous precedent in the US Communities RFPs and that’s the terms and conditions. The ways that Amazon seems to have rewritten some of these terms and conditions to be less transparent. Olivia, I was hoping you could delve into those changes a little bit.|
|Olivia LaVecchia:||In this contract, one thing to note here is that the way US Communities does these contracts is they run them through a public agency that functions as what’s called the lead agency. Then other public agencies, local governments around the country can sign on to a contract that has been, the process has gone through another public entity.
In this case, that entity was a school district in Virginia. In this contract, Amazon, instead of how this would usually work, where that school district’s terms and conditions were adopted and then every other local government that signs on did the same thing with their terms and conditions. Instead of that, Amazon got the school district and US Communities to agree to just using Amazon’s regular terms and conditions. Then, also, went through and made a lot of changes to the school district’s terms and conditions as they’re applied in this contract.
As part of this report, through a Freedom of Information Act request, we took a look at a lot of the emails that were exchanged between Amazon and this school district as they were kind of hammering out the details of the contract. There are some pretty amazing emails. There’s one that begins, “Good morning Tony, attached are Amazon’s consolidated red lines to the general terms and conditions.” Then in the attachment you see where Amazon’s team of lawyers went through and crossed things out, made additions, insertions. These additions cover a lot of different things, but one of the notable ones are the changes that Amazon made to Freedom of Information Act requests and the part of the school district’s terms and conditions that say, this is a public record and people can request this information.
In that part of the terms and conditions, Amazon said, when citizens, anyone, any member of the public makes a request for this information, Amazon has the right to get notified before the local government responds and Amazon gave itself the power to intercede. To say, don’t respond, we want this to be exempted or redacted in this way. That’s an example of Amazon stepping in in a way that is really beneficial to Amazon and not to the public, which ties back to a lot of the concerns that we have with this contract in general.
|Nick Stumo-Langer:||It’s particularly galling to read this part of the report because it makes it sound like they’re turning these local public entities into little subsidiaries of Amazon and you can’t talk the way that you want to, to get the right transparent records. For citizens to be able to have a say in some of these types of things. I think it’s very interesting that Amazon is going through, line by line. It’s pretty disturbing. Not at all surprising, though. I think if you’re a listener of this podcast or a follower of any of Amazon’s tactics, it seems like this is a pretty consistent play to make sure everything is quote-unquote legally sound when they’re rewriting some of these things.
Part of this report is talking about some of the broader implications that this has for Amazon’s market power and the kinds of different industries and sectors they’re getting into. We’re going to talk about that and go a little bit broader after the break.
Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of the Building Local Power Podcast. This is the part of a podcast where you usually hear about a mattress company, issuing spaceship loans for audiobooks or something. But that’s not quite how it works here ILSR. We’re a national organization that supports local economies, which means we don’t accept national advertising. Please consider making a donation to ILSR. Not only does your support underwrite this podcast, but it also helps us produce all the research and resources we make available for free on our website, like the one we’re discussing today. Please take a minute and go to ILSR.org/donate and any amount is welcome and sincerely appreciated. That’s ILSR.org/donate. Thank you so much. And now, back to Stacy and Olivia.
Getting into the way that Amazon is targeting this public sector spending, how does that really impact the relationship that local governments and school districts and other kind of public entities have with their local business community?
|Stacy Mitchell:||What we found is that Amazon is using this contract and it’s increasingly cozy relationship with local governments to expand its power as a gatekeeper for other businesses, to really expand its hold as a platform over commerce. In this case, what that has meant is that, as I mentioned earlier, a lot of cities, they’re buying from local and regional suppliers, at least for some of what they need, and in office supply and classroom supply sector that’s been true. There are lots of independent office supply dealers across the country. These are businesses that are not necessarily super small. Some of the ones that we interviewed, for example, one in Virginia named Guernsey Office Products has about 250 employees and has been around for decades. These are important businesses in their local economies and in their regions, contributing to the employment base and the tax base of communities.
Cities often have had relationships with those suppliers for a long time, and what’s happening in the case of this contract is that Amazon is saying to local governments, well you can still buy from those local suppliers because they can become sellers on our platform. In some cases, the office supply dealers are hearing both from Amazon saying, come on and become a seller if you still want to do business with governments. But they’re also hearing from their local governments, why don’t you just join Amazon’s platform and we’ll buy from you that way?
There’s so many problems with this. It means, for a local office supply dealer, that suddenly you’re having to give fifteen percent of your revenue right off the top to Amazon, to one of your biggest competitors. It means that they now control your ability to reach the market. They control how you show up on the platform, the terms by which you can sell things on the platform. They can cut you off at any point. Essentially, you’re at their mercy. This is a problem that we’ve been talking about throughout our work with Amazon, is this notion that this isn’t just a big retailer, this is a company that wants to control the underlying infrastructure of the economy and require all of these other businesses to use their platform in order to reach their customers. Incredibly problematic from a competition standpoint. What we’ve found is that this contract is yet another tool for Amazon to do that, and particularly to use local governments in a way to facilitate that market power even further.
|Nick Stumo-Langer:||It seems to me that Amazon is just this ever inflating balloon in a small room. It wants to be a part of every single transaction in the economy, and it wants to push out- You know, it was really jealous of all these independent relationships that these office supplies folks and these local folks were having with their own governments. So it says, but hey, I want to be a part of this too. I want to be the one that’s capturing a little bit of this. Like you said, it wants to be the infrastructure that any of this commerce happens on in our economy. It doesn’t want to just kind of be a part of it. I think that that’s really notable.
In what way are cities fighting back against this? It seems like this US Communities contract is a really good example of ways that cities are subject to this sort of pressure from Amazon, from a larger contract. But are all cities a part of this US Communities thing? Are there similar things happening? And maybe if they don’t want to be a part of this larger contract, what can they do?
|Olivia LaVecchia:||I think there are a lot of really kind of exciting opportunities for local action around this contract. I think that is happening and can happen in a few different ways.
The first is, fifteen hundred local governments around the country have already adopted this contract, and more are signing on. Amazon is out selling this contract, pitching it to local officials. I think the first way that cities can decide not to buy this deal that Amazon is selling is, if they have signed on to the contract, to look at what it’s getting them. One of the public officials we talked to for this report is the Controller of the City of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has signed on to the contract and the City Controller who is kind of the watchdog over city finances, not every city has one, just so listeners know what a Controller does. He was looking at this contract and saying, I’m actually developing some doubts around this. Since signing onto the contract, Pittsburgh has started an audit of it’s processes around these group contracts. Certainly other cities that have signed on to this contract can not use it, or put a lot of checks on the way that it does use it.
Another way that cities can go down a different path with their spending is by adopting local purchasing policies. These are tools that we see in cities and other types of local governments around the country that are really about using all of the money that cities and local governments spend also as economic development, and also as a way to grow the local economy with that public spending. One good example here is the city of Phoenix. One of the reasons that Phoenix’s policy stands out is that it’s about kind of small dollar purchases. So purchases that aren’t the kind of big contracts that would go out through an RFP or a bid process, but just the kind of small stuff that city employees might have to buy everyday, and the kind of stuff that is sort of vulnerable to shifting to Amazon. But Amazon has this policy that says, even for those kind of small procurements, it encourages city employees to go through a database of local companies first.
There are a lot of places that have some kind of local purchasing policy, and we have resources on our website that break down what these different policies look like. In particular, this Phoenix policy for small dollar purchases is a really useful one when we’re talking about city spending shifting to Amazon.
|Stacy Mitchell:||One of the other policies that you uncovered, Olivia, was this one from Virginia Commonwealth University, which I thought was so interesting. This is a public university. Can you talk a little bit about what that one does?|
|Olivia LaVecchia:||Yeah, so Virginia Commonwealth University, in it’s purchasing policy, it says, while not expressly prohibited, departments that order through Amazon must take into account the negative impacts that the purchases have on the university. The policy goes on to say that those impacts include that the university has an interest in supporting competition and it talks about some of the price implications for the university buying on Amazon.
That’s another example of how cities can build up the benefits of purchasing locally and then they can also institute checks like this that explicitly call out purchasing on Amazon isn’t in our best interest or the public interest.
|Nick Stumo-Langer:||Yeah, and something that I think comes through in your report and comes through in a lot of the discussion on this local procurement question is that, maybe folks are looking at Amazon and they look at it as their role as a consumer, or not, of this company. Really they can feel kind of helpless because it is a huge entity and just them deciding not to buy their books or whatever it is off of Amazon doesn’t make that big of a difference.
But there is a scale to which a community, local government, school district, a university like you said, can really hurt Amazon by coming out against it in this way. I think that that’s a really useful point to maybe give our listeners some hope in saying, if you convince your community to sign onto a local procurement policy, or if you even just give them the options, Amazon does this, XYZ to your tax base and they kill all of these local jobs, and it’s not good for our community, then it’s really useful and tangible way for citizens to kind of get involved and say, we don’t want this giant monopoly monster in our community.
|Olivia LaVecchia:||It’s so true. One of the things listeners might have heard of us talk about before when we’ve talked about Amazon is the way that, for all of its size and power, Amazon is still kind of remarkably invisible. Unlike Walmart, we don’t see it moving into physical spaces in our communities. I think there can be this sense of powerlessness, what do you do when Amazon doesn’t have a store in your community that you can go to. How do you take action to start to check this company’s power. I think when we’re talking about city spending, and in particular this new contract that is going to shift even more of this spending onto Amazon, it offers ways for citizens to talk to their local officials about this company, and it offers local officials something to do.
Along with our report, which for a report I think it’s pretty good reading and would urge listeners to check it out, but we also have released an action sheet that breaks down, here are some steps people can take, here are some places to start. That’s up on our website, too.
|Nick Stumo-Langer:||Yes, I encourage everyone to click on the eminently readable report on Amazon and local procurement as well as the action sheet. It’s something very easy that you can print out, you can bring everywhere, you can tack on church doors like Martin Luther. You can throw them in the street. We don’t encourage littering, but do that please. All these different options, however you want to get the word out.
As we turn to the end of the show, I apologize I’m springing this on the two of you, but I think this will be useful to kind of clarify and bring wider this conversation on monopoly. What is the most galling example of monopoly power that you can think of within the last couple weeks? It could be a piece that you read that was really interesting that kind of brought something to light. It could be certain companies really tone deaf way to announce a new thing in the economy that just was a very blatant demonstration of their monopoly power. What do you think?
|Olivia LaVecchia:||My partner was flying somewhere yesterday, and his flight was just a mess. The airline delayed it a bunch and then he couldn’t switch to a different airline because there wasn’t an option that really worked flying from our small city here in Portland, Maine. On and on, everyone has heard one of those airline horror stories. It just reminded me of the ripple effects of not having a better choice to not fly with this airline that has given you a hard time in the past, or indignities that can come from living in an economy where there aren’t a lot of good choices for things that you need.|
|Stacy Mitchell:||I’m going to end up giving an Amazon example, which I know we’ve been talking about this whole show but it’s what came to mind, I think partly because I was also reflecting on, inspired by Olivia’s answer, thinking about Maine and sort of what we’re seeing here. One of the consequences of Amazon buying Whole Foods is that Amazon has now really squeezing out local suppliers.
Just to tell a little bit of history of what happened in Portland, Maine, a Whole Foods opened probably about eight years or so ago here. When they came in, they knocked out one local public market that sold a lot of local foods, and then they bought the independent natural foods store and closed it when they bought it. When Whole Foods came in, they did a lot around, we’re going to carry all these local suppliers, we’re going to be great for farmers and so on. To some degree, they did, to a certain degree. It was also a little bit of wall paper in that there were ways in which they sort of featured local suppliers but because of the pricing structure, they often priced those products quite high. Higher than they should have been priced, and then sold their 365 Whole Foods brand at a lower price point. There was a way in which they used local suppliers almost as a marketing thing, but what people really ended up buying was Whole Foods’ own brand products.
That was even better than what we’re now seeing with this sort of further monopolization, if I can put it that way in terms of Amazon’s role in the food system which is that they are now offering discounts to Prime members. It’s been uncovered that those discounts are being entirely paid for by suppliers, so there’s this squeeze on suppliers. They’ve also gotten rid of the buyers that worked with local producers, so they’re doing more and more of their sourcing nationally.
It’s really, I think, a good example of something that we’ve talked about before on this show which is that there’s a lot of passion for having a local and regional food system, and sort of reviving our food production locally and a lot of people really want to eat that way and really believe in that as an economic tool. But if we don’t have a retail sector where there’s diversity and where there are lots of locally owned retail stores to sell those products, then we don’t really have a local food system. It really speaks to why consolidation in retail is such a big deal and why we should be concerned about it.
And by the way, for anyone who wants to know more about what Amazon is doing with Whole Foods and suppliers, there’s a great story in the New Food Economy, which is an online magazine about the food system that’s fairly new and really worth checking out if you haven’t.
|Nick Stumo-Langer:||Great, and I will give the example of an excellent piece that I found in Vice. We’re just wrapping up Fourth of July season here, and it’s called These 11 Companies Control Everything About the Fourth of July, and it’s by Claire Kelloway of the Open Markets Institute. In it, she goes and details the huge percentages of beer and hot dogs and chips that are owned by these major companies. I think it’s just a really useful way to pull out and say, these things that we think about as so American like competition and a wonderful open marketplaces. We’re talking about the Fourth of July, we’re not really talking about any of those things. We’re talking about A-B InBev, MillerCoors. We’re talking about Tyson and all these giant monopolies that I think we all interact with on a daily basis, but it’s useful to kind of pull back the curtain a little bit and say, you know these are things that are not so good for the economy, in a variety of ways.
I’m glad that you had such cogent, amazing answers to this question I just decided to spring on you. Thank you so much to both of you for being here and discussing this new report, this was really fascinating.
|Stacy Mitchell:||Thanks, Nick. It was great to have this conversation.|
|Olivia LaVecchia:||Thanks, Nick. Great to be here.|
|Nick Stumo-Langer:||Thank you so much to everyone else for tuning in to this episode of the Building Local Power Podcast, number 50, from the institute for Local Self-Reliance. You can find links to everything we discussed today by going to our website, ILSR.org and clicking on the show page for this episode. That’s ILSR.org. While you’re there you can sign up for one of our many newsletters, and connect to us on social media. You can help us out with a gift that helps us produce this very podcast, get us great guests, and produce original research on the ways that monopolies are impacting the economy.
Once again, please help us out by rating this podcast and sharing it with your friends on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. This show is produced by Lisa Gonzalez and me, Nick Stumo-Langer. Our theme music is Funk Interlude by Dysfunction_AL. For the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, I’m Nick Stumo-Langerer, and I hope you’ll join us again in two weeks for the next episode of Building Local Power.
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Photo Credit: By Álvaro Ibáñez from Madrid, Spain (Amazon España por dentro) [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons.
Audio Credit: Funk Interlude by Dysfunction_AL Ft: Fourstones – Scomber (Bonus Track). Copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license.
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