I have now completed my economics course. My instructor has completed grading all of my work, and so I will go ahead and share what I have turned in.
On my first post this month I shared a video of a phone service parody. This is the discussion that went with it:
"How many of my classmates remember the landline and payphones? Funny how perspective changes from being a child to being an adult. Our responsibilities are not the same, and therefore we view the world in a different way. For example, I never personally had to wait for AT&T to come out and install or repair a telephone, but my mom did. Back then we didn't have the option of cell phones or even provider plans for that matter. The Bell System had a monopoly all across the nation with its "Bell" trademark on every phone booth. Every household that had a phone received a bill from Ma Bell, Mountain Bell, Southwestern Bell and others (depending on which part of the nation you lived).
"By 1979 AT&T employed over a million people within all of its Bell locations (History). They were the phone company. There was no competition (Easterbrook, 1985). If you had a phone you either dealt with them, or you could forgo dealing with them which meant you also gave up the privilege of having or even using the phones. (Remember all the pay phones were provided by Bell)
"I was still in high school in 1979 when Ma Bell settled a law suit brought on by the justice department (Barger, 1984). I understood the negative effects that a monopoly causes and was happy about the Bell System's 'break-up" in 1984. My great aunt had worked for and retired from Mountain Bell. I wanted to ask her opinion but was not allowed to bring up the subject. I'd forgotten all about that until I started doing my research for this topic.
"I think monopolies are dangerous - at least for the consumer. The telephone company is just one example of what a monopoly does to the economy. I wonder how many of my classmates remember the parody included with my references.
The instructor as well as eight students responded to my post. Here is a funny story I may have shared in a post before. I brought it up again as different class members would reminisce over the landline:
"I have to share a funny story that has nothing to do with perfect competition or monopolies, but rather about the rotary phone (remember those?) My husband was a realtor who would bring home rare treasures every now and then. One day he brought home a rotary phone to plug into the jack that was in the hallway - this way the boys could answer calls without having to run to the kitchen.
"Our three boys (all younger than the cell phone) stood around it and looked at it and at each other. Finally, one of them asked, "How does it work?"
For this week's discussion, we were given the choice to speak on oligopolies or poverty. This was my discussion post:
"Funny how we were given a choice to discuss oligopoly or poverty as I feel that the two seem connected. I am not saying that Oligopoly is solely responsible for poverty, but I do think it is one contributing factor. Let me use an example of the banking industry. There are hundreds of banks, perhaps thousands, located throughout the country. Yet according to the pie graph (Jennings, 2016) below, there are only four banks which deal with over half the nation's money. Half! That is a lot of power to put into four banks.
"As a customer, having dealt with three of the four banks, though their initial customer service seems to be professional and friendly, it felt like it is only a facade. Once I had been lured in it felt like the Oligopoly (in this case the bank) preys on my financial weakness and feeds itself out of my pocket (Parramore, 2011).
"In some cases I had not made the choice to deal with the large bank, but had made a loan purchased from a competitor that may no longer be in business as it was swallowed up by the larger bank as well. I think Bare Truth (2013) explains it best when the comparison is made that the "ideal" is someone believing he may share a small piece of the wealth as it may be "melted" onto him, when in reality, the rich get richer by sucking finances from the poor like an inhuman vacuum.
"If you live from paycheck to paycheck, you are better off putting your money in a smaller bank or credit union. I personally do not support any oligopolies if I can help it. I bank at a local chain that I would guess most of you have never even heard of. I actually had not heard of them until I moved into this county.
"I think oligopolies seek power, often at the expense of their own employees in which the dollar seems to be a higher priority than human welfare (My Reality; 2017). In my opinion, supporting oligopolies seems to be allowing them to have unnecessary power.
My instructor than asked me to explain why I would recommend a small bank or credit union over the larger banks. My response was:
"In my experience, the larger banks have always "charged" me to keep my money in the bank. If a deposit (biweekly paycheck) is made on the same day that my written checks (bill pay) have cleared, they will do the withdrawls before the deposits and charge me for each check that has gone over which wouldn't have been an issue if the deposit would have been cleared first.
"I realize that my check should not even be written if the money isn't in the bank. Knowing it will be in the bank, I have taken it on faith that the deposit would clear first. After the bank "robbed" me by charging me for each check, I was short for the next set of bills.
"This has never happened for me with the credit union. The smaller unknown bank that I am currently with in Oregon is very much like a credit union. Deposits clear before withdrawals are made. I don't have to have a mandatory savings to open a checking account. I only had to have a 25.00 minimum to open an account.
"I struggled from paycheck to paycheck more with the large banks. I have not had that problem with my credit union or the bank I am with in Oregon."
I had also used this response to another class member on her post:
"I agree that this has been an interesting week for topic discussion. I took a class once in which the instructor picked two people to represent a very small fraction of the world. He proceeded to carry out his demonstration by distributing groceries that he would pull from a few bags that he had. He had three of each item and would pass them out accordingly:
"Each of the two students in front received an entire box of crackers for instance. The remaining box of crackers would be shared among the remainder of the class (there had to have been at least 28 students) and continue with each grocery item until the bags were empty.
"His demonstration wasn't on poverty exactly, but rather the wealth in United States as opposed to some other countries. US gets two entire boxes of crackers while everyone else has to share just one. But not all US citizens are enjoying the metaphorical crackers - I think his demonstation would now be less than one cracker per class while the wealthy get to stock up on the remainder.
"It's a problem that has existed long before the Great Depression. I think it's well past time that we reevaluate ourselves and our values."
I will post my final assignment tomorrow.