There have been predictions for many years and from many quarters that capitalism would eventually do itself in, and while reports of the economic system's demise have been premature, there are times when the "free market's" excesses seem almost certain to bring the economy crashing down on itself.
Now is one of those times. Corporations are getting bigger and bigger, unions are being driven from the marketplace, wages are stagnant, benefits are disappearing (and so is the middle class), jobs are being "outsourced" overseas, the environment is being raped, and corporations and the ultra-rich are rapidly buying politicians and the entire political process.
If it weren't for Obamacare, there would be no good news at all!
One interesting aspect of capitalism is that it tends to feed on itself. Big businesses eat littler ones, and in so doing eliminate jobs, stymie creativity, and exert more control over what consumers will ultimately have to pay for their products. (Or there is the Romneyesque version where corporate raiders come in and purchase a company, sell its assets, steal the pension funds, and send jobs - if any are left - overseas or to non-union states.) Either way, workers and consumers get screwed.
But it's business and therefore holy.
Two stories about businesses expanding into other areas have been in the news this week. First, those wonderful folks at Walmart have announced a plan to let customers transfer cash to other stores - up to $900 - for a handsome fee. The fee will be less than what Western Union charges - the company which has been helping people get money from one person to another quickly for generations. Goodbye Western Union. And for Walmart it will be just one more task that their overworked and underpaid "associates" can add to their daily "to-do" lists. Many jobs will be lost - and darned few created. PayPal may not be too happy with Walmart either.
Amazon is also moving into another area. The one-time bookseller has expanded into sales of an enormous variety of things over the past few years - and in many ways has become Walmart's chief competitor. Amazon prides itself on good customer service, and the company has been ticked off the past couple of holiday seasons when the standard carriers that it uses couldn't get the holiday goodies delivered in a prompt manner. The solution? Amazon is setting up its own delivery service in several markets. Fed Ex, UPS, and the US Postal Service can all expect to see their revenue streams run a little drier this Christmas. Ho, ho, ho!
But give it another year and things will begin to sort themselves out. Walmart will own Amazon (or the other way around), Sheldon Adelson will own Las Vegas, and the Koch brothers will own our government. Then we can really start cutting jobs!