How You Pay for All the Ways Amazon Cuts Corners

And antitrust legal expert Sally Hubbard’s advice for what to do about it

Manoush Zomorodi

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A few weeks ago, my friend Sally had a rather obvious nightmare. In her dream, she was wearing an orange jumpsuit — cut to be fashionable, but clearly prison attire — and stocking shelves in an Amazon warehouse. To some, this might indicate the guilt of one-click shopping reaching its apex. But Sally is Sally Hubbard, one of the country’s foremost experts on anti-trust law. She’s testified to Congress about why Amazon and other big American companies are, as she puts it, “exploiting their middleman positions to pick themselves as the winners of our economy.” So yeah, her dream was a little on the nose. Sally lives, breathes — and now sleeps — thinking about how corporate consolidation is destroying the American Dream.

But here’s where things actually get interesting: She’s also a pragmatist. She’s not going to ask you to cancel your Prime membership or leave Facebook. She just wants you to understand how much monopolies suck, as she lays out in her book of the same name: Monopolies Suck: 7 Ways Big Corporations Rule Your Life and How to Take Back Control.

Sally Hubbard testifying to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust

I should mention, Sally and I are friends for two reasons: Our kids go to school together, and I’m probably the only other parent who wants to drink white wine on her porch and talk about the history of robber barons while our two 10-year-olds play with her new kittens in the backyard. As a journalist, I’ve written about the pitfalls of Amazon Prime before… and what I think one-click shopping teaches our kids about how (and where) we spend our money.

But Sally comes to this issue from a different angle. And her frustration goes well beyond Amazon: to Bayer-Monsanto, which monopolizes seeds and fertilizer; Google, which tracks us ubiquitously anytime we do anything digital; and Walmart, whose employees make up the single largest group of food stamp recipients in many states. These massive corporations buy up smaller companies and…

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Manoush Zomorodi

Journalist, mom, Swiss-Persian New Yorker. Host of @NPR’s @TEDRadioHour + @ZigZagPod. Author of Bored+Brilliant. Media Entrepreneur-ish. ManoushZ.com/newsletter