Thursday, January 9, 2014

Not sure what to think of this one....

Sacre bleu!

I read in ze news that the French Senate has unanimously passed a bill that says online booksellers (read: Amazon) can offer consumers either a 5% discount or free shipping, but not both.

My first reaction was, "Why would the French government not want their constituents to get the best deal they could?"  Why, that's just downright un-American!  Umm....wait....

But then I realized they're just trying to keep the smaller booksellers from going out of business.  They're just trying to save jobs.  Hmmm... enterprise....the market....   

It's a real conundrum for sure.  Of course entrepreneurs should be encouraged to bring their new ideas to market.  What if the old school had tried to stifle Thomas Edison or Henry Ford or Steve Jobs?  But at some point you have to wonder how far this should go.  

It's one thing to keep the competition on their toes, but if pricing becomes so predatory (prices so low, sometimes at or even below least until they get a near-monopoly) they force the smaller competitors out of business entirely, is this really in the consumers best interest?

I think we're now seeing that airline consolidation in America is going to work against the consumer.  (Check fares on the "low cost" carriers.  They're not so low any more.)  It will be great for the airlines and their stockholders, but consumers will pay more.

And now that just 5 big banks control the majority of the banking biz, do you see yourself getting better service or lower fees?  When is the last time you got a free toaster from a hungry bank wanting to gain market share?  Their attitudes sure changed, didn't they?

Major appliance manufacturers are worried, too. That's why, contrary to popular opinion, the big box retailers (Home Depot, Lowe's) do NOT get better wholesale pricing than the mid-sized retailers.  They know that if the big boxes get better pricing and put the smaller guys out of business, then the 2 boxes will in effect "own" the manufacturers.  The manufacturers don't want to lose control.

So more competition is good.  The government should just butt out and let the market do it's thing.  And less competition is bad.  The government should step in and make sure the big don't get too big.  (Don't kid yourself.  Our anti-monopoly regulators are not at all pro-active.)

DOH!  See, conundrum.  We don't live in a black or white world anymore.  Think about it.



  1. I buy ebooks mostly anymore. Ultimately it's up to the consumers. If they go to Amazon or Wal-Mart then those places will thrive. At least until everyone has a 3D printer in their home and can make whatever they want on the spot. Then our current economy will pretty much collapse as will the job market.

    1. i'm more excited about a food replicator

  2. Scott; once again it is very easy. The free market is the only way to always works for the best...except when it doesn't and then we rely on Government to look out for out best interests.

    Why do you make everything so complicated...just trust big business and if they let you down then trust Government. Sheesh! Why can't you be as optimistic about everything as Pat?

  3. I can't remember the last book I bought in a bookstore, and this saddens me. Prowling bookstores was once one of my favorite pastimes.

  4. The last account I opened, was done online and then by mail. No toaster, not even a lollipop. They seem to be as good as any bank except there is no one to speak to or help with small issues. I have no idea where they fall on that chart. Blissfully ignorant is how I roll.

  5. You are right - that fine line is very grey, and a very squiggly line on top of that.

    One of the reasons Walmart didn't do well in Germany (and ended up pulling out) was that their aggressive discounting was against certain laws. Discount books? You can't discount books in Germany. Even Lands' End with their unlimited return policy had to make some adjustments in Germany, because the German government said that was just not realistic and amounted to false advertising.

    If government (in the ideal world) represents the will of the people and the consumers, isn't "Government intervention" exactly what the people want?

    And try as they might, corporations are not people.

    Not until Texas executes one... ;-)

  6. Fire bad, tree pretty (too brain dead from packing boxes at work to be coherent so I'll just quote Buffy the Vampire Slayer - ha!).