A graphic entitled “The Illusion of Choice” has been circulating among those keen to expose the interconnectedness of many of the brands available to consumers:
“Interconnectedness” might be a nice way of putting it, for some.
That’s because this graphic plays into the misplaced alarm that has led some consumers to believe that they can only buy eggs from the co-op within a 2-mile radius of their green home. And only then if they’ve kept tabs on the happiness and exercise habits of the chicken its whole life. [See the Business Insider article entitled “These 10 Corporations Control Almost Everything You Buy.”]
Of course, a consumer is free to choose that option, and to pay a premium price to boot.
But if only these consumers focused on preventing the obstruction of consumer choice, we might be onto something.
Milton Friedman counseled that the best way to increase competition and decrease the threat of the conglomerate is to have complete free trade. And that while “conglomerates are not very attractive,” they are not the same thing as a government conglomerate:
It’s government measures that have promoted conglomerates….
The best things you can do are first to have complete free trade so you can have conglomerates in other countries compete with conglomerates in this country….
Conglomerates are not very attractive, I’d much rather have a lot of small enterprises. But there’s all the difference in the world between a private conglomerate and a government conglomerate. In general, the government conglomerate can get money from you without your agreeing to give it to them….so bad as private conglomerates are, they’re less bad than one of the alternatives….
Now, what would a similar graphic of the government conglomerate look like. Even, the political system? Where is the real illusion of choice?