Thursday, August 14, 2014

The apotheosis of the kleptorporation

Not far off.
Comcast is the nation's largest cable provider and it is a notoriously horrible company. Its products are overpriced, and its customer service is barely distinguishable from extortion. It gets away with this because it has de facto monopoly power vis a vis customers and monopsony power vis a vis media companies. It maintains that power by lobbying all levels of government wth feral intensity. Internally, Comcast is a dysfunctional mess. For running this dog's breakfast of a company, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts was paid $31.4 million in 2013.

Comcast has honed its modus operandi to a fine point, but its basic strategy is hardly unique, notes Matt Stoller in "Lazy Corporate Monopolies Are Why America Can't Have Nice Things," reposted at Naked Capitalism earlier this month (my emphasis):
Without restraint on behavior, corporate executives will work to grab as much market and political power as possible, because only market power and political power allows them to have pricing leverage without investment, risk, or innovation. ... Since this dramatic shift in antitrust enforcement, corporate power in every industry from cable to railroads to rental cars to banking to health insurance to pipelines has skyrocketed. The result has been inefficiency and price gouging.
The other day, I was reading a New Yorker article about Vladimir Putin that made reference to Russia's reputation as a "kleptocracy." I think it's high time we had an analogous word for companies. I hereby propose "kleptorporation." It's as ugly and clunky as what it refers to, yet clear in meaning. Also, it has "torpor" in the middle, which nicely captures the "lazy" part of the package.

Down with kleptorporatism! Fight the kleptorporocracy! It's a word whose time has come.

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