This means that a vast amount of the news, opinion, and entertainment (however mixed and matched) we get—whether from direct sources or second-level aggregators like Huffington Post—is filtered through a corporate lens. (Likewise, the published "literature"; but that's another story) By 'corporate lens', of course, I mean profit-oriented; corporations have one and only one purpose for being and that is to make a profit for its owners. As with health care, the profit motive is not necessarily congruent with the delivery of information. Where there are conflicts, self-sustaining profit must prevail over information (or, as the case may be, healing and research). That doesn't mean that a liberal or progressive or left-wing or socialist or anarchist point of view will necessarily be censored or squelched (or that sick people won't get healed); but such views will be heard only to the extent they are consistent with the publishing organization's viability and profitability.
Here's a cool visual:
Industry consolidation is a feature, not a bug, of the global corporate environment—as is, of course, diversification. The current cycle clearly favors the former. Three systems theorists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
"have taken a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide and analyzed all 43,060 transnational corporations and share ownerships linking them. They built a model of who owns what and what their revenues are and mapped the whole edifice of economic power. They discovered that global corporate control has a distinct bow-tie shape, with a dominant core of 147 firms radiating out from the middle. Each of these 147 own interlocking stakes of one another and together they control 40% of the wealth in the network. A total of 737 control 80% of it all."The above paragraph is taken from Forbes's website. The paper itself by is Stefania Vitali, James B. Glattfelder, and Stefano Battiston and is available online here. Here are the top 50:
1 BARCLAYS PLC
2 CAPITAL GROUP COMPANIES INC, THE
3 FMR CORP
5 STATE STREET CORPORATION
6 JPMORGAN CHASE & CO.
7 LEGAL & GENERAL GROUP PLC
8 VANGUARD GROUP, INC., THE
9 UBS AG
10 MERRILL LYNCH & CO., INC.
11 WELLINGTON MANAGEMENT CO. L.L.P.
12 DEUTSCHE BANK AG
13 FRANKLIN RESOURCES, INC.
14 CREDIT SUISSE GROUP
15 WALTON ENTERPRISES LLC
16 BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON CORP.
18 GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP, INC., THE
19 T. ROWE PRICE GROUP, INC.
20 LEGG MASON, INC.
21 MORGAN STANLEY
22 MITSUBISHI UFJ FINANCIAL GROUP, INC.
23 NORTHERN TRUST CORPORATION
24 SOCIÉTÉ GÉNÉRALE
25 BANK OF AMERICA CORPORATION
26 LLOYDS TSB GROUP PLC
27 INVESCO PLC
28 ALLIANZ SE 29 TIAA
30 OLD MUTUAL PUBLIC LIMITED COMPANY
31 AVIVA PLC
32 SCHRODERS PLC
33 DODGE & COX
34 LEHMAN BROTHERS HOLDINGS, INC.
35 SUN LIFE FINANCIAL, INC.
36 STANDARD LIFE PLC
37 CNCE 38 NOMURA HOLDINGS, INC.
39 THE DEPOSITORY TRUST COMPANY
40 MASSACHUSETTS MUTUAL LIFE INSUR.
41 ING GROEP N.V.
42 BRANDES INVESTMENT PARTNERS, L.P.
43 UNICREDITO ITALIANO SPA
44 DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION OF JP
45 VERENIGING AEGON
46 BNP PARIBAS
47 AFFILIATED MANAGERS GROUP, INC.
48 RESONA HOLDINGS, INC.
49 CAPITAL GROUP INTERNATIONAL, INC.
50 CHINA PETROCHEMICAL GROUP CO.
(One Forbesian wag has narrowed the analysis down to just four companies. Most of these global investment firms, he finds, rely on certain indexes to control their investments. "That means the real power to control the world lies with four companies: McGraw-Hill, which owns Standard & Poor's[;] Northwestern Mutual, which owns Russell Investments, the index arm of which runs the benchmark Russell 1,000 and Russell 3,000[;] CME Group which owns 90% of Dow Jones Indexes[;] and Barclay's, which took over Lehman Brothers and its Lehman Aggregate Bond Index, the dominate world bond fund index. Together, these four firms dominate the world of indexing. And in turn, that means they hold real sway over the world's money." [bold and italics and semicolons mine]
This information is useful. If you believe the financial world will only continue to consolidate in order to perpetuate its own wealth and power, you might want to form your own sort of fund that invests only in these colossal firms (perhaps Forbes's POV?) [or at least tailor your IRAs, 401ks, &c. to these benchmark indexes—at a minimum saving yourself considerable 'management fees' in your mutual funds]. If you feel that financial consolidation will, cyclically, eventually diversify, you might consider a fund which shorts them all. If you feel that the latter process needs to be goaded along and that, say, way, way less than 1% of international corporations should no longer be allowed to control so significant a portion (80%!) of global wealth, you might encourage your friends and allies in Operation Wall Street and other underground movements to concentrate their efforts—research, action, and politics—in appropriately targeted manners and at accurately targeted offices.
"ALEC has attracted a wide and wealthy range of supporters in part because it’s done its work behind closed doors. Membership lists were secret. The origins of the model bills were secret. Part of ALEC’s mission is to present industry-backed legislation as grass-roots work. If this were to become clear to everyone, there’d be no reason for corporations to use it.
Unfortunately for ALEC, that’s exactly what’s happening. Last year, government accountability group Common Cause successfully filed Freedom of Information Act requests with state legislators to learn more about their dealings with ALEC. At the same time, someone leaked ALEC’s internal bill library. All told, thousands of pages of internal ALEC documents were put online, including minutes and attendee lists for the last two years of meetings.
ColorofChange.org, a civil rights group, discovered in ALEC’s now-public library a model bill for voter ID laws passed by 34 states. The laws’ opponents say they suppress voting by minorities. In December the group began sending letters to ALEC’s corporate members asking how much they valued their minority customers. Since then McDonald’s (MCD), Wendy’s (WEN), Coca-Cola (KO), PepsiCo (PEP), Yum! Brands (YUM), Procter & Gamble (PG), and Intuit (INTU), among others, have stopped donating to ALEC. The corporate departures accelerated after the death of Trayvon Martin: Florida’s so-called stand-your-ground law also sits in ALEC’s model bill library."A list of ALEC's corporate members as of June, 2011, according to Common Cause, can be found here (and, of course, in the Wikipedia link above which also identifies a number of its legislative members—all of whom, coincidentally, are Republicans). If you are a shareholder in any of these companies, or a customer, you might want to contact them and either (a) congratulate or (b) organize a boycott of them for their participation in an organization to which, apparently, Republicans in state legislatures have decided to outsource their lawmaking.
Lawmaking in U.S. legislatures is, in theory, supposed to be representational. That is to say, lawmakers are supposed to introduce legislation which represents the interests of his/her constituents. It should also be transparent. So, when bill writing is outsourced to a secretive organization which is funded by and for the interests of its membership, conflicts between the profit motive of the organization's corporate members and the interests of the electorate will necessarily, at times, conflict.
The attempted consolidation of the 50 states' lawmaking by Republicans in power is another feature of the system. Nolan McCarty, in Political Polarization and Income Inequality, finds that partisanship increases as income inequality grows: