It comes under the heading of GImmicks:

Shopping for the holidays, you pick up an item, scan it with your phone, and BOOM, you can see how much it would save you had you shopped on line… at… Amazon.com…

Great service. The customer has a need for information. It is provided conveniently. The customer can make a decision on the spot.

Gone are the days of writing down prices, walking through 8 stores, then returning to the one with the lowest… It is all in the palm of you hand…

Ahhh, but is it fair for those retailers trying to stay open another year, by capitalizing on the surge of holiday book sales?

AS one enterprising book shop owner exclaimed to the NY Times: “to “everyone who comes in my store. If you let me, I’ll get to know you through your reading life and strive to find books that resonate with you. Amazon asks you to take advantage of my knowledge & my education (which I’m still paying for) and treat the space I rent, the heat & light I pay for, the insurance policies I need to be here, the sales tax I gather for the state, the gathering place I offer, the books and book culture I believe in so much that I’ve wagered everything on it” as if it were “a showroom for goods you can just get more cheaply through them.”

Are small businesses who lack the gigantic resources required, put at a competitive disadvantage? Is it morally correct, to allow corporate espionage on a scale that could wipe out all small business competitors in one Christmas season.

Somewhere in Amazon.com, is a listing of every price in every bookstore, as well as a guide as to which books are popular. And no one gets employed to go out looking for that information.

On one hand, businesses have the right to innovation. they have the right to compete, they have the right to outsmart the competition. That is how society moves forward. The weak fail. The strong survive.

But on the other hand, like an endangered species, little bits of Americana, of life as it used to be, those pieces of the good side of life, do not return the next season; it gets worse year after year….

On one hand prices are low now, meaning other things can be bought with the savings.

On the other hand, as we saw with Standard Oil at the beginning of the last century, monopolies do raise prices to levels a lot higher than they would be if they had competition….

It is quite similar to the Wal*mart takeover of America. For one, I love Wal*mart. It is how I find out what’s new. But my folk’s small town, died the day Wal*mart opened its doors onto the Interstate exit. Understandably. You saved $20 dollars buying the same assortment of items………. back when they first opened that is. Now, with Main Street closed up, the prices are about where they were in the small shops the day before it opened…. All we did was move spending our money downtown, to spending it 3 miles out of town. Whereas the local businesses used to give back both in taxes and in donations…. the corporate giant now sends our money overseas….

Do small businesses have to take this onslaught. “The law has long been clear that stores do not invite the public in for all purposes. A retailer is not expected to serve as a warming station for the homeless or a site for band practice. So it’s worth wondering whether it’s lawful for Amazon to encourage people to enter a store for the purpose of gathering pricing information for Amazon and buying from the Internet giant, rather than the retailer.”

And so, the issue actually moves from economic, to political.. Sort of like the “Buy America” campaign in the 80’s. It involves conceding the economic war; establishing a new front in the form the political war. It becomes a moral issue, and not a price-point one. Do you like small bookstores? Do you like seeing a business open? Do you like establishing a solid tax base for your community? Do you like the option of your son or daughter being hired by someone you personally have known for years….. when they come home for Christmas breatk? If so, then support your local bookstore, and don’t buy on line at Amazon.com….

That may work for those politically motivated, which if the past presidential election can serve as a guide, applies to only 61% of us… The rest of us need to save that $20….

If there is any wisdom that comes from watching this past decade unfold, it is this: you have to treat corporations like children; you can’t let them have the upper hand… Historians know this. Teddy Roosevelt proved it during the dawn of the 1900’s. You HAVE to break up corporations so they become SO worried about other’s moving in on their territory, they don’t have time for mischief. You give them time (with no supervision), they’ll make mischief. Just like one’s kids.

So the answer lies not in boycotts. The answer lies not in public shame. The answer lies not in micromanaging colossal giants…

After thinking about it for a very long time, it appears the only answer is to eliminate them, by breaking them up so they have to compete against themselves.

The laws are already on the books to do it.

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