I could probably write a long treatise on this, but I really think the issue is so simple that a simple diary will do.
Today Monsanto won its patent infringement case at the Supreme Court. Good for Monsanto ... not so good for the rest of us. Details of the case at the link below.
I was interested to see that the decision was unanimous and was written by Kagan. I was stunned though from one line of her commentary. See if you pick up why.
Kagan, above, agreed with the company's argument that if it allowed farmers like Bowman to replant his seeds after just one season's use, it would have no business model:Apparently the Supreme Court has taken as its mandate the power to protect a business model ... WTF!
Now look at this:
three big companies now control more than half of the global seed market – a position that has sent prices soaring. The report said the average cost of planting an acre of soybeans had risen 325% between 1995 and 2011.The Supreme Court is not just protecting a business model it is protecting a very profitable and almost monopolistic business model. Is that right? Is that good for society?
Here is my very simple analysis: The driving rationale for a capitalist/free market economy is that cut throat competition among many providers will drive down prices and improve quality thereby benefiting society.
But look around and see how much competition there really is. For a whole raft of industries what we have are companies that have garnered very large market shares and continue to successfully ward off competition. What we have now is a winner take all competition. Whether it is Monsanto, Cargill, Con-Agra, ADM, WalMart, Samsung, Apple, the big banks, big pharma, .... the big guys are reaping excess profits because they have been allowed to fight off/destroy competition. (The big banks now have a bigger share of the market than before the financial crisis).
(Bought) Governments have rolled over on industry concentration by allowing takeovers and over protecting patents, and allowing among other things life forms and cell lines and genes to be patented.
The system is broken.
We need a system that encourages diversity, that breaks up monopolies, that realizes that people invent and create not to make a zillion, but to contribute (it is usually their employers that make the money), and that discourages a winner take all economy.
That actually means limiting patent protection, taxing and redistributing wealth, breaking up concentrated industries (or at least not allowing concentration to increase).
Yes, we live in a rapidly changing world that is very hard to "control"
Yes, we have received amazing benefits form the current economic system
But an unchecked market economy is also destroying the planet (see global warming/resource depletion, pollution), the middle class, and ultimately the society that it was supposed to be benefiting.
We need a new system. Today's Monsanto decision is just one more piece of evidence of why.
P.S. For a slightly different take on the current economic malaise see an interesting article with Jaron Lanier - The internet destroyed the middle class. http://www.salon.com/...