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The Free Market

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Grocery Madness
Grocery Madness
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I recently walked to a grocery store; I entered from the darkness into this brightly lit arena, like a pilgrim entering Mecca. Shelves brightly decorated with bright, colorful displays of potato chips, nacho chips, Cheetos, cookies and candy, frozen pizza, frozen lasagna, TV dinners, Hungry man or big fat ass TV dinners. In the back, a factory meat counter which delivers meats straight from where god only knows, and he ain't saying. Lustrous colorful vegetables, straight from America's heartland--Mexico, picked by the poor and the indigent.

This is what Capitalism offers us, rather than a food store, a candy store, a junk food store. We have a choice, this is what we are told, Capitalism offers us variety and in that variety is said, opportunity. Take for example our choice in soft drinks, if we don't like Coke we can have" Pepsi. If we don't like either of those choices, we have Fanta soft drinks, but Fanta is owned by Coca-cola. Over 3,500 products are offered by Coca -- cola, diet and sparkling beverages to beverages such as 100 percent fruit juices and fruit drinks, waters, sports and energy drinks, teas and coffees, and milk-and soy-based beverages. Pepsi, offers us over 22 brands each generating a billion dollars in revenue such as, Frito Lay, Quaker, Tropicana and Gatorade brands, but what is this really?

What does it mean, when our grocery stores are filled with, dare I say it, sh*t? Thousands of products all owned by a handful of mega corporations, Jell-O, Capri Sun, Oscar Myer, Philly Cream cheese, brands all owned by Kraft Foods. Duncan Hines cake mix is Pinnacle Foods, and Pinnacle foods includes, Vlassic pickles, Aunt Jemima pancakes, Bird's Eye frozen foods and Mrs. Paul's fish sticks. So, as you stand there in the grocery aisle trying to decide between Log Cabin syrup or Mrs. Butterworth's syrup remember, they're both made by Pinnacle Foods. Pinnacle claims on its website that its products are in 85 percent of American households and I don't doubt that fact for a minute.

Thirty percent of all groceries in the United States are sold by" anyone? It's Wal-Mart, the largest grocery retailer in the country with 3,016 stores plus, 167 Wal-Mart Neighborhood Stores, not to mention the 600 Sam's Club stores.

Kroger Foods operates -- 2,460 stores under various names such as Bakers, City Markets, Dillon's, Food 4 Less, Fred Myers, Fry's Food and Drugs, Gerbes, Jay C Food Stores, King Soopers, Owen's Market, Pay Less Food Markets, Quality Food Centers, Ralph's, Scott's Food and Pharmacy and Smith's food and Drugs.

Supervalu Inc. -- 2,398 stores including, Save-A-Lot, Acme Markets, Albertsons, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh Food and Pharmacy, Hornbacher's, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Shaw's, Shop "n Save, Shopper's Food & Pharmacy and Star Market.

Safeway Inc, - 1,458 stores also operating as Carr's, Dominick's, Genuardi's, Pavilion's, Randall's and Von's

Delhaize Group- with 1,300 stores including, Bottom Dollar Foods, Food Lion, Hannaford, Harvey's and Sweet Bay Super Markets, do you see the hand of the free market at work here?

Five or six major grocery chains working with five or six giant mega corporations producing the food found in 95 percent of all grocery stores. There are also regional grocery chains which when the opportunity arises, will be bought up or pushed out. The big fish eat the little fish, that's the way things works here in the free market.

If you own a cell phone, it was most likely manufactured by Nokia, 23.8 % (2011), Samsung, 17.7% (2011), Apple, 5% (2011) or other 33.7%. Three companies controlling nearly fifty percent of the world's cell phone market. Yet that is only the manufacturing end, when it comes to retailing it breaks down as follows, Verizon Wireless, 102 million subscribers or one third of the market, AT&T follows with 95 million subscribers. AT&T's attempt to purchase T-Mobile with their 34 million subscribers would have made AT&T the largest provider in the US and along with Sprint - Nextel would have created a troika of companies controlling the US cell phone market

AT&T consolidated profit 2011, $32.5 billion

Verizon -- Fourth quarter earnings 2011, $18.5 billion

Sprint -- Nextel earnings 2011, $33.7 billion

T-Mobile generated revenues of $4.67 billion in the third quarter of 2011, the last before becoming an AT&T target. Adding T-Mobile quarterly profits to AT&T's bottom line would have created an unstoppable behemoth.

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I who am I? Born at the pinnacle of American prosperity to parents raised during the last great depression. I was the youngest child of the youngest children born almost between the generations and that in fact clouds and obscures who it is that (more...)

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