Politicians Will Burn Down Anything That Is Good Just To Get Their Name In The News

Via Zero Hedge:

a group of 12 Democratic Congressman have signed a letter urging the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to conduct a more in-depth review of e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc.'s plan to buy grocer Whole Foods Market Inc., according to Reuters.

Rumblings that Amazon is engaging in monopolistic business practices resurfaced last week when the top Democrat on the House antitrust subcommittee, David Civilline, voiced concerns about Amazon's $13.7 billion plan to buy Whole Foods Market and urged the House Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing to examine the deal's potential impact on consumers.

Making matters worse for the retailer, Reuters reported earlier this week that the FTC is investigating the company for allegedly misleading customers about its pricing discounts, citing a source close to the probe.

The letter is at least third troubling sign that lawmakers are turning against Amazon, even as President Donald Trump has promised to roll back regulations, presumably making it easier for megamergers like the AMZN-WFM tieup to proceed.

It is difficult even to communicate how much Amazon has improved my life.  I despise going to stores, and Amazon allows me the pick of the world's consumer products delivered to my home for free in 2 days.  I love it.  So of course, politicians now want to burn it down.

I say this because the anti-trust concerns over the Whole Foods merger have absolutely got to be a misdirection.  Whole Foods has a 1.7% share in groceries and Amazon a 0.8%.  Combined they would be the... 7th largest grocery retailer and barely 1/7 the size of market leader Wal-Mart, hardly an anti-trust issue.  So I can only guess that this anti-trust "concern" is merely a pretext for getting a little bit of press for attacking something that has been successful.

The actual letter is sort of hilarious, in it they say in part:

in the letter, the group of Democratic lawmakers – which includes rumored presidential hopeful Cory Booker, the junior senator from New Jersey – worried that the merger could negatively impact low-income communities. By putting other grocers out of business, the Amazon-backed WFM could worsen the problem of “food deserts,” areas where residents may have limited access to fresh groceries.  "While we do not oppose the merger at this time, we are concerned about what this merger could mean for African-American communities across the country already suffering from a lack of affordable healthy food choices from grocers," the letter said on Thursday.

Umm, the Amazon model is being freed from individual geographic locations so that everyone can be served regardless of where they live.  This strikes me as the opposite of "making food deserts worse."  It is possible that Amazon might not deliver everywhere at first, and is more likely to deliver to 90210 than to Compton in the first round of rollouts.  But either they do deliver to a poor neighborhood, and improve choices, or they don't, and thus have a null effect.  And it is really sort of hilarious worrying that new ownership of Whole Foods, of all groceries, is going to somehow devastate poor neighborhoods.

By the way, if I were an Amazon shareholder, I would be tempted to challenge Bezos on his ownership of the Washington Post.  In a free society, he is welcome to own such a business and have that paper take whatever editorial stands he wishes.  However, we do not live in a fully free society.  As shown in this story, politicians like to draw attention to themselves by using legislation and regulation to gut successful companies, particularly ones that tick them off personally.  In this case:

So far, it’s mostly Democrats who are urging the FTC to take “a closer look” at the deal. However, some suspect that Amazon founder Jeff Bezo’s ownership of the Washington Post – a media outlet that has published dozens of embarrassing stories insinuating that Trump and his compatriots colluded with Russia to help defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton – could hurt the company’s chances of successfully completing the merger, as its owner has earned the enmity of president Trump. Similar concerns have dogged CNN-owner Time Warner’s pending merger with telecoms giant AT&T.

 

  • Food deserts are a huge deal. Perhaps instead of being bought by Amazon, we should make Whole Foods open up locations in the food deserts.

  • The_Big_W

    Amazons Washington Post problem could be getting larger in the near future. There is more and more noise on the right on the internet about abandoning using Amazon because of the Posts absurd hostility to the right.

  • SamWah

    I recall having read that big cities have refused to allow Walmart to open stores in "food deserts" and low-income areas. Lowers the tone of those areas, doncha know. Question: What happens if Amazon groceries get stolen, or deliveries get highjacked? Infrequently, or...regularly. Those areas will get cut off, most likely.

    Also, what has the WaPo to say about this, Bezos being the boss of both?

  • Richard Harrington

    Strange, but the Pols don't seem to concerned about rural and fly-over areas and Amazon. I wonder why?

    https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/xwz4dz/amazon-prime-is-a-blessing-and-a-curse-for-remote-towns

  • bloke in france

    Food deserts include the Empty Quarter in Arabia, parts of the Sahara, the Outback in Australia, Antarctica.
    But not what may granddad's map called the Great Americn Desert. which includes where you live, Warren. If you're starving I'll send you a food parcel and even a bus ticket.

  • McG

    That's odd -- I always leave Outback very well fed.

    Oh. Wait...

  • jimc5499

    It figures. When I saw this I immediately thought either Amazon didn't contribute to the DNC or a union was involved. Thane confirmed it for me.

  • ErikTheRed

    The irony is that Dem / progressive politicians ceaselessly push for regulations that choke small- and medium-sized businesses and inevitably lead to the WalMart-ization of America, and then ceaselessly bitch about WalMart being the only store left. Pick a position, idiots.

  • Maximum Liberty

    "It is difficult even to communicate how much Amazon has improved my life."

    +2 (one from my wife, too)

  • randian

    "we are concerned about what this merger could mean for African-American communities across the country already suffering from a lack of affordable healthy food choices from grocers"

    What do "affordable" and "Whole Foods" have to do with each other?

  • Griz Hebert

    "...this anti-trust "concern" is merely a pretext for getting a little bit
    of press for attacking something that has been successful."

    It is a pretext for extorting money from Amazon, ala Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch.

  • Griz Hebert

    I have boatloads of hostility towards the WaPo, yet I have no intentions of abandoning Prime.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    "I say this because the anti-trust concerns over the Whole Foods merger have absolutely got to be a misdirection. Whole Foods has a 1.7% share in groceries and Amazon a 0.8%."

    The link here is paywalled, but I wonder, how that would look if you limited it it on-line order/delivery groceries.

    I'm surprised Amazon is buying whole foods, rather than going after PeaPod,

  • glenn.griffin3

    As mentioned earlier in one of these posts, the progressive position is clearly and consistently anti-business. What they complain about is only that larger businesses can better resist their efforts to destroy them.

  • Peabody

    Typically not refused, but made the red tape and climate so difficult that Walmart gives up or doesn't try. For example, Walmart had grand plans for opening a few stores in poor areas of DC and was pretty far along in the process. But then the DC council increased the minimum wage and Walmart bailed.

  • cc

    Historically, oil companies have been attacked on a regular basis by politicians for no reason whatsoever. Even Standard Oil, which in fact did predatory things, forced kerosene prices low and they stayed low even when they were almost a monopoly. Oil companies have done more for our standard of living than anyone else. There are plenty of companies trying to compete with Amazon and if it slips up they will eat up its market share. It is not a monopoly in any meaningful sense.
    On food deserts, small grocers get robbed regularly in bad areas, and at a big grocery I visited in Chicago they had 2 full time cops 24 hrs a day due to crime. This increases costs a LOT. But in any case, the food desert thing is mostly a myth. People in poor areas are able to get groceries and do. The snobbery against Walmart in big cities is so absurd. People who shop there save a lot and people line up to get a job there. It just doesn't appeal to the snobs in charge.

  • Patrick

    I agree that Amazon has delivered tremendous value to consumers, including me. I also agree that the Whole Foods acquisition should not face antitrust action. But I disagree that some out-party pols signing a letter calling for a justice department review is "burning down anything that is good"--seems pretty overdramatic.
    I also disagree with the idea that they're doing it "just to get their name in the news." The Reuters article linked reports that the letter was publicized by the UCFW, and everything about this smacks of a union-driven effort to hassle Amazon. Seems to me like the politicians were acting on behalf of Big Labor, and the letter is a pretty harmless way of putting Amazon on notice that unions and their pet politicians are watching.

  • Jaedo Drax

    Hrmm, maybe the democrats would be horrified by this story:

    http://globalnews.ca/news/3587158/iqaluits-population-turns-to-amazon-prime/

  • "We're virtue-signalling and showing how much we care, because we know Whole Foods isn't anything they're going to be shopping at in the first place."

  • DrSteve

    The premise of this article is precisely correct. Ordering food online would help solve the problem of "food deserts" . In fact, the opponents have no real logical rationale, so they throw in a fake threat to one of the Leftist/Prog sacred cows - in this case, racial "minorities".

  • Tempe Jeff

    Just the UFCW Union expecting a payback for Campaign contributions.

  • Don't kid yourself, the 12 Democrats know the merger will not adversely affect African-American communities. It's all about unions. Whole Foods is non union, just like Walmart. And they are about get the same treatment.

  • Igor

    Maybe UPS and FedEx won't *want* to deliver to those "food deserts".... because of the neighborhood...
    So, NOW what?
    .
    .
    .
    Hey! Delivery drones!