Eli Lilly Says It Will Cut the Price of Insulin – The New York Times


“Eli Lilly and Company said on Wednesday that it would reduce the price of its most commonly prescribed insulins and expand a program that caps monthly out-of-pocket costs for patients at $35 or less.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT  NYT Comment:

Good article, thank you. Finally. One commenter says it is only $7 in Australia. I’d like more information on what it costs around the world, how much it costs to produce, and what should it cost here. Maybe a lot less than $35 a month? InconvenientNews.net

Lina M. Khan | FTC Chair Lina Khan on the Problems with Noncompetes – The New York Times

Ms. Khan is chair of the Federal Trade Commission.

“Economic liberty, not just political liberty, is at the heart of the American experiment. You’re not really free if you don’t have the right to switch jobs or choose what to do with your labor. But millions of American workers can’t fully exercise that choice because of a provision that bosses put into their contracts: a noncompete clause.

When you’re subject to a noncompete clause, you lose your right to go work for a competing company or start your own, typically within a certain geographic area and for a certain period of time. Unless you’re willing to move hundreds of miles away or take a huge pay cut to restart your career from scratch, a noncompete can effectively lock you into a job. That’s a clear restriction of individual liberty.

But the aggregate impacts of noncompetes go even further. A body of empirical research shows that they also inflict major harm across the economy. In fact, even if you aren’t personally bound by one, noncompetes may be costing you money.

Noncompetes were long assumed to apply mainly to high-level executives with access to sensitive corporate information. But their use has exploded in the past few decades, extending far beyond the boardroom. Today, experts estimate that one out of every five American workers, or about 30 million people, are bound by a noncompete. Studies and media reports have found noncompetes routinely invoked against fast-food workers, arborists and manual laborers, to name a few examples. Just this week, the Federal Trade Commission, where I am chair, settled allegations against a company in Michigan that prohibited its workers — security guards earning at or near the minimum wage — from going to work for a competitor within a 100-mile radius of their job location for two years. Each worker who violated the noncompete would have been liable for $100,000.”

Binyamin Appelbaum | Overconfident Regulators Caused the Ticketmaster Mess – The New York Times

Mr. Appelbaum is a member of the editorial board.

“Before the federal government let Live Nation merge with Ticketmaster in 2010, it obtained some very solemn promises that the company would not use its newly acquired dominance in the business of selling tickets to take advantage of customers.

Ask a Taylor Swift fan how well that has worked out.

Ticketmaster’s website was overwhelmed last week by people seeking tickets for Ms. Swift’s upcoming concert tour. It was inevitable that most people who wanted tickets wouldn’t be able to buy them. There aren’t enough to go around. But crashes, bugs and error messages left many people feeling they never really had a chance.

Monopolies raise prices, but that’s not the only reason Americans should be worried about the rise of corporate concentration. Companies with market power also tend to get lazy. They stop trying to deliver the best possible product. Jonathan Skrmetti, the Republican attorney general of Tennessee, told The Washington Post that Ticketmaster’s customer service problems raised the question of whether “because they have such a dominant market position, they felt like they didn’t have to worry about that.”

That’s an important question, and it raises another one: Why do antitrust regulators keep getting tricked by companies that don’t keep their promises?”

Binyamin Appelbaum | Monopoly’s Bad Cousin – The New York Times

Mr. Appelbaum is a member of the editorial board.

“The nation’s antitrust police, asleep for the past few decades, barely opening their eyes to buzz through the latest corporate mergers, finally seem to be emerging from their slumber. That is a very good thing for the American economy.

This month the Justice Department filed suit to prevent Penguin Random House from buying the rival book publisher Simon & Schuster. It’s the most interesting antitrust action in a long time. In pursuing the case, the Biden administration is attempting to break out of a cage that has constrained antitrust enforcement since the 1980s.

The power of large corporations can warp the economy in several ways. The most familiar is that companies with monopoly power can impose higher prices on consumers. To the extent federal antitrust regulators have done anything in the past few decades, they have objected to deals that seemed likely to result in higher prices.

But big companies also can pad profits by squeezing their workers and suppliers, and they can influence politicians to entrench their advantages.”

Binyamin Appelbaum | Break Up Big Chicken – The New York Times

Mr. Appelbaum is a member of the editorial board.

“President Biden wants to lead a revival of antitrust enforcement, a campaign aimed most obviously at curbing the behavior of feral tech companies.

But Mr. Biden can’t achieve his goal of expanding fair competition in the United States solely by wrangling with Big Tech. To succeed, he’ll need to confront Big Chicken, too.

Most chicken that Americans eat is processed by a handful of big companies because, in recent decades, the government gave its blessing to the consolidation of poultry processing, along with a wide range of other industries. The unsurprising result: In recent years, the surviving companies took advantage of their market power to prop up the price of chicken, overcharging Americans by as much as 30 percent.

Evidence of the industry’s misconduct became so blatant — thanks in part to lawsuits filed by wholesale poultry buyers — that regulators were roused from complacency. Beginning in 2019, the government has filed a series of charges against the companies and their executives.”

Excellent piece, and also good comments, such as:

Jack Sonville
Florida9h ago

I’ve been in Corporate America board rooms for 35 years and much of that in older, more established industries. In general, they do not have the innovation DNA of an Amazon or an Apple or a Google. Over the years they have gutted their R&D functions to save money and essentially use a commodity business model–try to be a low cost provider, take higher-cost capacity (supply) out of the market, and charge as high a price as possible whenever possible. So in response to Wall Street pressure to significantly grow, they really only have one option: Buy their competitors and consolidate their industry. This allows them to find “synergies”, which in antitrust-speak is supposed to mean lower prices and other benefits to the consumer, but which really means reducing cost by firing employees made redundant by the merger of two companies, and then taking more capacity out of the market and/or using their now-greater market share to raise price. It’s been frustrating to watch, over virtually my entire career, the same story play out time and again. Companies tell the DOJ and FTC in their antitrust filings that consumers will benefit from these mergers, but they rarely if ever do. And government economists buy the story. These mergers generally reduce incentive for innovation, eliminate jobs, put downward pressure on industry compensation, and lead to higher prices through reduced capacity. Good for shareholders? Maybe. Good for consumers? Almost never.

3 Replies207 Recommended

Nelson Lichtenstein | Biden’s Executive Order Restores U.S. Antitrust – The New York Times

Mr. Lichtenstein is a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he directs the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy.

“On Friday, President Biden signed a sweeping executive order intended to curb corporate dominance, enhance business competition and give consumers and workers more choices and power. The order features 72 initiatives ranging widely in subject matter — net neutrality and cheaper hearing aids, more scrutiny of Big Tech and a crackdown on the high fees charged by ocean shippers.

The president called his order a return to the “antitrust traditions” of the Roosevelt presidencies early in the last century. This may have surprised some listeners, since the order offers no immediate call for the breakup of Facebook or Amazon — none of the trustbusting that is antitrust’s signature idea.

But Mr. Biden’s executive order does something even more important than trustbusting. It returns the United States to the great antimonopoly tradition that has animated social and economic reform almost since the nation’s founding. This tradition worries less about technocratic questions such as whether concentrations of corporate power will lead to lower consumer prices and more about broader social and political concerns about the destructive effects that big business can have on our nation.”

The Amazon That Customers Don’t See – The New York Times

“LAST SEPTEMBER, Ann Castillo saw an email from Amazon that made no sense. Her husband had worked for the company for five years, most recently at the supersize warehouse on Staten Island that served as the retailer’s critical pipeline to New York City. Now it wanted him back on the night shift.

“We notified your manager and H.R. about your return to work on Oct. 1, 2020,” the message said.

Ms. Castillo was incredulous. While working mandatory overtime in the spring, her 42-year-old husband, Alberto, had been among the first wave of employees at the site to test positive for the coronavirus. Ravaged by fevers and infections, he suffered extensive brain damage. On tests of responsiveness, Ms. Castillo said, “his score was almost nothing.” “

David Lindsay: An excellent aritcle. I hope you read it all, and join me in my boycott of Amazon and Jeff Bezos, What a space flying monster.

Opinion | This Peeler Did Not Need to Be Wrapped in So Much Plastic – The New York Times

Pamela L. Geller and 

Drs. Geller and Parmeter are associate professors at the University of Miami.


Credit…Illustration by Nicholas Konrad/The New York Times; photograph by Getty Images

“The year 2020 may have been heartbreaking for most humans, but it was a good one for Jeff Bezos and Amazon. His company’s worldwide sales grew 38 percent from 2019, and Amazon sold more than 1.5 billion products during the 2020 holiday season alone.

Did you need a book, disposable surgical mask, beauty product, or garden hose? Amazon was probably your online marketplace. If you wanted to purchase a Nicolas Cage pillowcase or a harness with leash for your chicken, Amazon had your back (They’re #17 and #39 on a 2019 Good Housekeeping list of the 40 ‘weirdest” products available on the website “that people actually love.”) From pandemic misery came consumer comfort and corporate profit.

And plastic. Lots and lots of plastic.

In 2019, Amazon used an estimated 465 million pounds of plastic packaging, according to the nonprofit environmental group Oceana. The group also estimated that up to 22 million pounds of Amazon’s plastic packaging waste ended up as trash in freshwater and marine ecosystems around the world. These numbers are likely to rise in 2021.” . . .

Mark Pryor | F.D.R. Took Down Giants. Biden Can, Too. – The New York Times

Mr. Pryor, a lawyer, is a Democrat who was a U.S. senator from Arkansas from 2003 to 2014.

Credit…George Wylesol

“During his nomination hearing, Attorney General Merrick Garland said he would “vigorously” enforce U.S. antitrust law. As the Biden administration actively considers who will lead that enforcement effort as the head of the Department of Justice’s antitrust division, they should look to the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt for inspiration.

Often overlooked in comparison to other aspects of his presidency, President Roosevelt’s push to revive languishing antitrust enforcement helped set the United States back on the right track, creating job and wealth opportunities for Americans at one of the lowest points in the nation’s history.

The reinvigoration of antitrust enforcement helped usher in an era of entrepreneurship and small-business growth. The United States was able to assert itself as a global economic leader, establishing a model of corporate decentralization that would be adopted by democratic nations across the world. But reinvigorating antitrust did not come without substantial opposition from business interests as well as judicial and enforcement bodies that lost their way. Indeed, Roosevelt’s plans were only as strong as the people he appointed to turn his vision of an open market economy into reality.” . . .

How Amazon Crushes Unions – The New York Times

“RICHMOND, Va. — Five years ago, Amazon was compelled to post a “notice to employees” on the break-room walls of a warehouse in east-central Virginia.

The notice was printed simply, in just two colors, and crammed with words. But for any worker who bothered to look closely, it was a remarkable declaration. Amazon listed 22 forms of behavior it said it would disavow, each beginning in capital letters: “WE WILL NOT.”

“We will not threaten you with the loss of your job” if you are a union supporter, Amazon wrote, according to a photo of the notice reviewed by The New York Times. “We will not interrogate you” about the union or “engage in surveillance of you” while you participate in union activities. “We will not threaten you with unspecified reprisals” because you are a union supporter. We will not threaten to “get” union supporters.”

Amazon posted the list after the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers accused it of doing those very things during a two-year-long push to unionize 30 facilities technicians at the warehouse in Chester, just south of Richmond. While Amazon did not admit to violations of labor laws, the company promised in a settlement with federal regulators to tell workers that it would rigorously obey the rules in the future.