Fast Co.Exist – December 2, 2016
by Ben Schiller
If you bought something on the internet today, there’s a good chance Amazon was involved. The Seattle company captures nearly half of all dollars spent online. Half of all American households are Prime members. Half of all shopping searches originate at Amazon.com. Amazon is the one-click pioneer that drives down prices and makes our lives easier. But, arguably, it’s also a monopolist that hurts competition, kills jobs, and harms local communities.
A scathing new report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), which campaigns for sustainable local economies, argues for action to curtail Amazon’s influence. It compares Jeff Bezos to a “19th-century railroad baron controlling which businesses get to market and what they have to pay to get there,” and it argues regulators should break up the company, and that states should reduce tax breaks and subsidies that privilege the company over its competitors.
“By using Prime to corral an ever-larger share of online shoppers, Amazon has left rival retailers and manufacturers with little choice but to become third-party sellers on its platform,” the report says, pointing to one way Amazon dictates trade. “In effect, Amazon is supplanting an open market with a privately controlled one, giving it the power to dictate the terms by which its competitors can operate, and to levy a kind of tax on their revenue.”