Author: Bill Blunden
Release Date: August 04, 2004
Our economic system is founded on competition. This is a nice way of saying that it's every man for himself, and let the devil take the hindmost. Companies are free to pursue their own best interests within the confines of the law (and sometimes that doesn't even stop them). In other words, the implicit aim of any for-profit institution is to dominate its market, maximize its revenue stream, and drive its competitors out ofbusiness. Larry Ellison once summa- rized this as, "It's not enough we [Oracle] win, everyone else must lose. "l In theory, this free-market cage match occurs to benefit the average con- sumer, who plays vendors against each other in order to get the best deal. We all know, however, that the ivory tower conclusions of economic theory don't always agree with what actually happens in the real world. Sometimes a com- pany may become a little too successful at dominating its market and end up with a captive audience. In this case, the average consumer has no recourse. They must pay whatever price the monopolist dictates. The business community's attitude towards this problem is dichotomous. When a monopolist emerges in a particular business sector, its products are scrutinized, the media demonizes its CEO, and the federal goveroment assembles an army of lawyers. Nevertheless, most companies secretly wish to become evil monopolies also. In fact, I think that when companies air grievances against a particular competitor's success, it's almost always a case of sour grapes.