Showing posts with label economics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label economics. Show all posts

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Deception Among Oligopolies

        
                In November I had never heard of an oligopoly before.  I knew what they were, but until this last class I had (in economy) I didn't realize they had a specific name. I'm not saying all companies that happen to be in the Oligopoly or monopoly stage are necessarily bad companies.  The truth is the founder of the company may well have had extremely valid intentions (other than become a successful money maker who cares only about money) and may not even be involved with the company anymore as many founders are eventually kicked out of their own company (that doesn't seem right) but I am saying that there are many who make decisions, advertising for instance, that are done in a deceptive way.  Many businesses seem to get "too big for their breeches" that they have lost vision of what made the corporation great in the first place.  By the same token, consumers need to take responsibility also.  We don't have to put up with their malarkey, you know.  We have other options.  Or do we?

                I don't know how early it was proposed for a tax increase on businesses that could afford it to help the Oregon economy (see here).  I would guess that billions were spent on advertizing for or against.  Unfortunately, those against the proposal (the large companies, most I would suspect were oligopolies) had more to spend.  Both represented themselves as "small business owners" - the ones who actually were small business owners spoke from the heart.  They would give the reasons the economy would be changed if the voter voted "YES"

                The  large companies with money hired actors and actresses who read well and evidently were better at acting than say the geriatrics who "help me, I've fallen, and I can't get up" except THEY WERE READING - NOTHING WAS FROM THE HEART - they'd be ever so smug about it, using the name WILCO  - trying to deceive the public familiar with Winco perhaps (for example) and thinking they recognized the name.  Their deceitful ads worked.  The bill did not pass.  The small businesses suffer as a result.  But glory be to the oligopolies who were able to keep themselves from being taxed.  They must be so proud.




Friday, May 12, 2017

Two Discussion Posts


          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.

"References:

"Breaking Up Is Hard On You - Bell System Divestiture . (2011, May 6). Retrieved from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZt1V8VqlAE (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

"Barger, M. D. (1984, April). "What Killed Ma Bell?". Retrieved from AT&T Divestiture: http://www.beatriceco.com/bti/porticus/bell/whatkilledmabell.html (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

"Easterbrook, G. (1985, Jan 28). Off the hook: How the breakup is helping AT&T--at your expense. The New Republic (Pre-1988), 192, 18. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/198720686?accountid=41759 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

"History Timeline - AT&T. (n.d.). Retrieved from ATT.com: https://www.att.com/Common/files/multimedia/history"

          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.

            "References:

"Bare truth how rich get richer & poor get poorer . (2013, August 4). Retrieved from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmwPVWAPkTE (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

"Jennings, A. (2016, January). Loans and Debt Collection Issues Top CFPB List of Consumer Complaints. Retrieved from consumer financial protection bureau: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/loans-debt-collection-issues-top-cfpb-list-consumer-alpine-jennings pie chart

"Parramore, L. S. (2011, October 11). Banking Has Become an Oligopoly Instead of a Competitive Business -- And That's Really Bad News for Us 99%. Retrieved from Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/story/152695/banking_has_become_an_oligopoly_instead_of_a_competitive_business_--_and_that%27s_really_bad_news_for_us_99

"Sawyer,D. (host). (2017, January 13). 20/20: My Reality in America [Television series episode]. In My Reality inl America. abc."

          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.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Bake Sale & Economy


          The tax proposal didn’t pass in November.  It wasn’t so much because people were opposed at having or keeping the library – they’ve just been opposed to paying for it.     On March 30, the Myrtle Creek library closed its doors.  They remain locked as some of us continue to fight for the cause.  I don’t know who is responsible for establishing the group, or just where everybody came from.  It was announced that a group would be forming for a non-profit organization which we had yet to name.

          The first four meetings or so took place at the school part of the Nazarene church.  There were over 30 people who attended.  Where were they when the library was looking for a new board member to replace Marilyn?  The only ones I recognized were those on the library board – and though it appeared some were on this new-founded committee, it didn’t appear that any of the board members were solely in charge.  I know Julienne had contributed to that first meeting but she wasn't the one conducting.  I was impressed by so many people with organizational skills that had brought us together for the same cause - but still felt somewhat confused with where that leadership had even come from.

          We decided to call our organization Friends of the Myrtle Creek Library, but ended up dropping “the”.  Someone had suggested that we have a bake sale not so much to raise money as it was to raise awareness.  The bake sale was on Saturday.  Richard and Jenna had gone to Roseburg and I was without a car until about 2:30 or so.  The bake sale had started at 11:00.  I didn’t arrive until between 2:30 and 3:00.

          Poor little Julienne.  She’d been there all day – or so it appears.  The day started out typical of last month, overcast and cool in the morning and didn’t warm up until 4:00 – which is when the bake sale ended.  I said  Jenna and I could stay if they needed us to.

          Julienne was wrapped in Jeanne’s coat.  She’d been freezing all morning .  Jeanne took Julienne home and Jenna and I stayed with Bob for the last hour of the bake sale.  Jenna was a natural saying “Hi” to each passerby and doing her best to sell the remainder of the baked goods.  Bob and I were talking about my most recent class.

          Funny how when I started my Philosopy class, I thought “eww. . .” and it turned out to be one of my favorite classes.  My economy class has also been a lot more enjoyable than what I had predicted – especially after eight weeks of feeling lost on a foreign language and loathing the teaching methods of and not relating to my instructor at all.

          I had done some research for this week’s topic. thought I would try a new approach for my assignment and had a large variety of references.  I can’t believe how smoothly my thoughts flowed and how I was able to segue one topic into the other.  It was great.  I stopped at 546 words thinking I would finish up sometime today with the other 54 plus. (600 are required) I actually did find a way to finish, but not in a way I would have expected.

          Yesterday, after I walked into the courthouse (as we no longer meet at the Nazarene and I think the city council is just more convenient for everybody involved) Bob handed me a book he had written.  He had even marked a page where I could find reference to go with my topic.  I think it’s really awesome – not only does it add value for my assignment but answers a few more questions about the history of Douglas County - Myrtle Creek in particular.

          Next week this class will be over and I will reveal this week’s two topics and share my posts and assignments.

Friday, May 5, 2017

So Here's the Scoop



            We live in an area that was highly productive in logging and timber.  There is still production in some cities such as Riddle, but I don't think there are as many employed in the entire logging/timber industry as there had been 45 years ago.  That is when Myrtle Creek Saw Mill closed from what I understand.

            I did not understand why it had closed down, or why the entire operation seems to have dwindled and why the railroads have almost a deserted feel.  As we were visiting with a native Oregonian who had remembered generations of her family living in Myrtle Creek though she now lives in Winston. 

            She had remembered a time when the community thrived and when there had been more logging and timber related jobs.  I've actually met others who remembered the thriving industry as well. Apparently it was the entire state of Oregon that voted on how to save the spotted owls which were on the endangered list in 1969. 
            What I got out of her explanation was that  the city folk of Portland voted to "save the trees and therefore save the spotted owls"  No one had bothered to mention that when trees are cut down, they are replaced.  Fresh young trees are planted and the loggers move to an area of older trees.  After they are cut, new trees are planted. 

            All they were told were trees were being cut down leaving the spotted owls without homes and if the bill didn't pass, the spotted owl would become extinct . . . . perhaps not in that exact content . . . but that is how it was explained.  My understanding is that because the bill passed to save the owls, many lumber companies were forced to shut down.  Now, that is really sad.  But perhaps if I hadn't been given all the facts, I would have voted differently also.


         Better for a logger to cut it down than have nature start a fire due to overgrowth and age.

Friday, April 28, 2017

I Don't Get Procrastination


Procrastination drives me CRAZY . . . I don't understand the logic.  Logic?  I don't believe that logic and procrastination can exist at the same time.  Why do people procrastinate? 

            I've posted a bit about the qualifications for school.  We have to have our initial post on the discussion board by midnight Wednesday.  I have always posted either Monday or Tuesday by afternoon.  It absolutely boggles my mind when I there's not a great selection of those I can respond to as the majority of my classes have students that don't do their initial post until Wednesday night or Thursday morning - or often not at all.  What is up with that?  Granted, the research can eat up much of one's time.  Why not just spend a few hours at the beginning of the week and get it over with instead of creating a post at the last minute.  I suppose I've had time to read through others' posts, but truthfully, I have not even read through those last minute posts.  I am Before the end of the week, I am done.  I am done with my discussion, assignment and assessment for this week.  Tried to get a jump start on next week.  It's on monopoly.  (If this was a live video, you would see me cringing)






            Procrastination isn't going to change my mood of NOT wanting to do it.  The grey cloud hanging over my head will get darker with each passing minute.  I have to post right away or do my assignment as soon as I am able just to have at least two days of rainbow or sunshine. 






            I do see that things come up and situations change ONCE IN A WHILE - but I don't think there is any excuse good enough to consistently wait until next week to turn in this week's assignment.  Of course I don't know in what order any of my classmates do their work - but it seems to have been every week in every class.  What's wrong with people?  Even if it is a less than exciting subject.  It is, afterall, only four weeks. I personally like to be first to post so that my ideas are fresh and original and I don't like a copy cat of somebody else's post.



           Usually I haven't had the option for moving ahead, but I am able to all four weeks for this class.  Usually it will only display one class at a time.
            Monopoly.  Blech!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Decisions and Trade-Offs


        Thus far I am enjoying my economic class.  It is the study of human behavior as far as decision making goes.  There are "luxuries" that we give up when we trade what we have for other things we want or need. Although we may not view them as luxuries at the time, we may miss certain situations while we are grateful not to have others.

        Take our move from Salt Lake County, Utah to Douglas County, Oregon.  The major thing that drew us to Oregon was clean air quality vs. breathing deadly smog.  Myrtle Creek is certainly a lot smaller (population wise) than any city I had lived in within the Salt Lake City area.  There aren't as many roads or traffic or pollution.  The crime rate is definitely lower.  I'm not saying there isn't any crime here - it just doesn't seem as common.

        Take the other night, for example.  Jenna's school band was performing a concert.  Normally, the students set up during school hours and leave their instruments in the gym, but there had been an activity that day and as many of the students were in Eugene, the instruments had not been set up.

        As we were driving toward the school, Jenna asked Roland to stop by the band room first.  Unless someone's there, the band room is always locked - except that night.  Several students could be seen running from the school across the street and down to the band room to retrieve their instruments.  I like that this town seems to have so much trust and patriotism - I really do believe that the two work together.  NEVER in Salt Lake county would that happen.  But then again, I don't know of any schools in Salt Lake that are made of several relic buildings. . .

        There is definitely a lot more variety of entertainment or shopping (which is not entertaining by any means) in Salt Lake than in Myrtle Creek, better public transportation and a great library system.  I don't foresee the library ever disappearing from existence.  Here, in Myrtle Creek, we are fighting to put it back.  It's not that the citizens of Douglas county were against the library in the first place.  The bill didn't pass because most voters had voted against a tax increase.  I don't think they believed the library would close.




        Trade-offs from decisions.  I now need to return back to the text so that I can take the assessment for this week.  Look how hard I am working.