Free Markets: How the cards are stacked.

Ostensibly about copyright, the case of Supap Kirtsaeng is about how the American people are living under a system that stacks economic advancement strongly in favor of the corporation, rather than the individual. It is about keeping us in the dark about trans-national pricing of commodities, so that we complacently pay the highest price the corporation can extract.

A corporation is allowed to locate its manufacture offshore, to reap the benefits of low cost labor, then import the product and mark up the prices to “what the market will bear” in the US.  It’s the standard mode of doing business.  Find cheaper sources abroad, to enhance profit.

With a secure, high-paying market in place, that same manufacturer is then open to sell the same, cheaply manufactured product in other markets, at much lower prices… whatever the market will bear there.  What a win/win for the manufacturer.  Corporations are allowed to move production jobs away from where they would pay high wages, then re-import the product to extract whatever might be left of those high wages their former workers still hold.

Kirtsaeng had the genius and temerity to reverse the flow, in the market for textbooks.  If an American company can produce and sell a text book in Thailand for pennies on the dollar, why shouldn’t he be allowed to import the book and sell it here?  He implemented his plan and made $1.2 million selling books, shipped to him by family in his native Thailand, to his American classmates. 

A free-market capitalist should be THRILLED by this competition and improved “efficiency” in the market.  Well, except that efficiency is not actually what they seek, individually.  In reality they seek to protect markets, limiting competition, so that they can charge the highest price possible.  When they want to take advantage of “Low Cost Countries” it’s all well and good.  But when someone flips the tables on them, they cry foul.

Pharmaceutical companies follow the same model, citing research and development costs as the rationale for charging US consumers hundreds of times more for the same drugs.  This model is extractive in the extreme, focusing not on how to build and grow a nation or an economy, but instead focusing on how to stack the cards in favor of vampiric, extractive industries.  They focus on how to keep the cow still while sucking the milk, blood, meat and bone from the docile and complacent carcass of the American public.

This SCOTUS case is just one more attempt by industry to stick their fingers in the leaking dike of policy regulating US/international commerce.  The alternative? Stop protecting these industries, free the market and let information spread freely and rapidly, enhancing knowledge and civilization worldwide.

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