Tag Archives: Harm through the market

Oligopolies and monopolies are very important ways of obtaining income without providing a productive service. They produce goods, a productive service. However, they receive additional income by raising prices, and their oligopoly/monopoly profits are distinguished by economists from normal profits and other expenses, which are the returns to productive activity. There are other harmful aspects to concentration and large firms as well, including restriction of innovation, using patents to defend market position, non-compete requirements for their employees, and substantial political power.

Opioid harm

Opioids have an important role in relieving pain. Nonetheless, opioids can cause serious harm: addiction to them can ruin lives. Thus they are a “controlled substance” where safeguards are—or should be—in place so they may be used only for serious pain relief. When these safeguards are breached, harm can be done to many people. This harm, and the responsibility for it, is a current critical issue in the United States.

The Washington Post has recently published an excellent series of articles on the opioid crisis, several of which are cited below.

This is a good introduction to the issue covering the scale of the problem, lawsuits over the issue, and the Post’s efforts to make the DEA’s opioid distribution database available to the public.
76 billion opioid pills: Newly released federal data unmasks the epidemic Scott Higham, Sari Horwitz and Steven Rich Washington Post July 16, 2019

Drilling into the DEA’s pain pill database Washington Post July 21, 2019
“From 2006 to 2012 there were 38,269,630 prescription pain pills, enough for 203 pills per person per year, supplied to Mingo County, W.Va.”

Opioid death rates soared in communities where pain pills flowed Sari Horwitz, Steven Rich and Scott Higham Washington Post July 16, 2019

Drug company executives said they didn’t contribute to the opioid epidemic. Nearly 2,000 communities say otherwise. Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Scott Higham Washington Post July 20, 2019

Shows the Post’s opioid epidemic articles over the past three years.
Follow The Post’s investigation of the opioid epidemic Washington Post Staff July 19, 2019

Demonstration in front of Google headquarters on August 13, 2010 as Google seemed to shift away from its strong stance in favor of net neutrality. Google has since dropped its "don't be evil" clause from its code of conduct. The harm that Google and other internet companies may doing is coming under increasing scrutiny. Credit: Steve Rhodes

Google, Facebook, internet companies and harm

How Google went from providing information about its users in the aggregate to collecting a vast number of bits of information about you from the use of its services, using this information to sell ads that focus directly on you, and selling the information to others as well which, in combination with other information, can provide others with specific information about you, including your name and address.
Google’s 4,000-word privacy policy is a secret history of the internet Charlie Warzel and Ash Ngu New York Times July 10, 2019 (Opinion)

If advertisers are doing it, can the U.S. (and other) governments be far behind? ‘Fingerprinting’ to track us online is on the rise. Here’s what to do. Brian X. Chen New York Times July 3, 2019 “Advertisers are increasingly turning to an invisible method that pulls together information about your device to pinpoint your identity. “

Having only one or a few buyers of a good or service enables that buyer to pay a lower price. Joan Robinson was the first economist to describe this power clearly. It is an important part of the harm that may be done by some internet companies such as Apple and is now being discussed.
Apple’s scary buying power and the woman who named it Greg Rosalsky NPR June 18, 2019

The Supreme Court’s Apple ruling gives tech titans reason to be nervous Editorial Board Washington Post May 15, 2019
“By determining that consumers can have a direct purchasing relationship with a platform even when they are buying third-party products, the court blurs the line that companies have held so far: that they are neutral intermediaries. And the additional acknowledgment that the third parties might also bring a case for any harm that Apple causes them in its role not as a dominant supplier of apps but as a dominant buyer — a “monopsony” rather than a monopoly — opens up another front for litigation. “

In stores, secret surveillance tracks your every move Michael Kwet New York Times June 14, 2019

Photo caption: Demonstration in front of Google headquarters on August 13, 2010 as Google seemed to shift away from its strong stance in favor of net neutrality. Google has since dropped its “don’t be evil” clause from its code of conduct. The harm that Google and other internet companies may doing is coming under increasing scrutiny. Credit: Steve Rhodes ©©

We read 150 privacy policies. They were an incomprehensible disaster. Kevin Litman-Navarro New York Times June 12, 2019

Google made $4.7 billion from the news industry in 2018, study says Marc Tracy New York Times June 9, 2019

Old sewing machine of the type used in many Indian homes. Credit Suparna

Fashion industry exploitation of female home workers in India

Many firms in developed countries, countries which have significant worker protections, contract out parts or all of their production to contractors in developing countries, where labor protections are much less. Here is an example.
Made for next to nothing. Worn by you? Elizabeth Paton New York Times February 6, 2019

See full report Tainted Garments. The exploitation of women and girls in India’s home-based garment sector by Siddharth Kara (60 page PDF file)

Image: Old sewing machine of the type used in many Indian homes. Credit Suparna