Amazon Acquisition of Whole Foods Would Consolidate Market and Increase Inequality

Janine Jackson: Looking for news on Amazon’s proposed acquisition of Whole Foods, you’ll find yourself awash in articles like “Is Whole Foods a Healthy Option for Amazon?,” “Big Prize in Amazon/Whole Foods Deal: Data” and “Speculation Grows That Amazon Will Face a Rival Bidder.” Other topics: What’s Instacart to do? What will happen to Grubhub?

The implication that news readers should be engaged primarily as stockholders or market watchers has little to do with people, of course, and much to do with a corporate media system of owners and advertisers happy to finance that angle on things.

The space reserved, or left over, for other angles of approach so far includes some critique of what the Amazon/Whole Foods deal could mean for the industry. But you’d look hard for any deep-going discussion of what it all means for human beings — who are, after all, more than consumers.

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its Community-Scaled Economy Initiative. She wrote the book Big Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega Retailers and the Fight for America’s Independent Businesses, and she co-authored the recent report, Amazon’s Stranglehold. She joins us now by phone from Maine. Welcome to CounterSpin, Stacy Mitchell.

Stacy Mitchell: Hello. It’s great to be with you.

The reasons this acquisition is concerning, as I understand it, are not just to do with bigness per se, though that should be enough, but there are concerns particular to Amazon, and what we know about its way of doing business, that make this deal troubling to you?

Yes. You know, Amazon now has, I think what’s safe to say, monopoly power in online commerce. The company is capturing about one out of every two dollars that Americans spend online. That’s up from about a third of our spending just three years ago. And Amazon uses that power in ways that thwart competition, and bring more and more of a share of business to itself.

And my concern about the acquisition of Whole Foods is,…

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