1. Question: We had an opportunity to discuss Intellectual Property (IP) in the previous chapter when introduced to the Mixed Economy. One important element of

1. Question:  We had an opportunity to discuss Intellectual Property (IP) in the previous chapter when introduced to the Mixed Economy. One important element of that discussion was on the theme of property rights and new technologies. Closely aligned with that discussion is monopoly competition. Identify a company and/or industry that demonstrates monopoly competition characteristics (with or without the benefit of IP protections such as a patent) and discuss the ethical issues associated with the business practices of that company and/or industry. Are there any benefits as a result of this monopoly market? I believe Google is a monopoly that has taken and controls most of the global advertising revenue. Google demonstrates a monopoly because it is harvesting all the data in our online activity and pooping up ads based on our search history and location. The competitors are Yahoo and Microsoft, but they do not compare and are lagging with their innovation and technological advancements. They don’t have the algorithm that Google has to keep up with them on an advertisement. Recently Google was hit with a new antitrust lawsuit that 35 states participated in. The lawsuit stated that Google engaged in illegal anticompetitive conduct to create a monopoly in search advertising. “Google’s anti-competitive actions have protected its general search monopolies and excluded rivals, depriving consumers of the benefits of competitive choices, forestalling innovation, and undermining new entry or expansion,” (Hatmaker). This is an ethical issue because they are not giving consumers the benefits of competitive choice and Google is leveraging the personal data it collects to solidify its market dominance. I think it’s tough to say the benefits of Google being a monopoly as there are more negatives than positives. Google defends themselves by saying they are not a monopoly by saying their products are free and that their consumers are advertisements. This new antitrust lawsuit shows that the people are also affected by their monopoly of power. Hatmaker, T. (2020, December 17). Google slammed for ‘monopoly power’ in new antitrust lawsuit from 35 states. Retrieved February 23, 2021, from https://techcrunch.com/2020/12/17/google-antitrust-lawsuit-new-york-colorado-35-states-search/ O’Brien, M. (2020, October 21). Associated press news. Retrieved February 23, 2021, from https://apnews.com/article/google-monopoly-antitrust-lawsuit-f37aa86939c39a95571475495213e73d Facebook is, in my eyes, the closets thing that exists to a monopoly in current times. It has many monopoly competition characteristics like buying any other social media platform that it sees as competition, Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, and “the imposition of anticompetitive conditions on software developers” (“FTC Sues”). This has led to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to sue Facebook for monopolization. The FTC would want Facebook to divest its assets like Instagram and WhatsApp and also seek approval before other mergers or acquisitions (“FTC Sues”). I think the subject of social media is hard to see as a traditional monopoly because we do not directly pay for its services so the implications of any sort of price gouging are not see by everyday users. Where Facebook does qualify as a monopoly is its resistance to competition and acquisitions of other social media platforms so it can remain dominant. It also imposes hurdles on other companies to incentivize them to only work with Facebook in mind when developing apps for the website, making sure that they can only interface with Facebook in particular. “FTC Sues Facebook for Illegal Monopolization.” Federal Trade Commission, 9 Dec. 2020, www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2020/12/ftc-sues-facebook-illegal-monopolization. Accessed 23 Feb.2021. 2. Question:  Mergers and Acquisitions (M & A) is a common strategy used by companies to develop a sustainable competitive advantage and provide long term profits. Horizontal merger and acquisition strategies are frequently used to increase market share in a specific market segment. Velasquez (2018) introduces us to a variety of anticompetitive strategies that oligopoly companies can use to gain an unfair competitive advantage often resulting in unfairly destroying smaller companies and injuring society. Those include: price-fixing, manipulation of supply, market allocation, bid rigging, exclusive dealing arrangements, tying arrangements, retail price maintenance agreements, predatory price discrimination, bribery, etc. Provide an example that fits this profile and discuss the main ethical issues associated with the example. The U.S Airline industry is an oligopoly, controlled by the four main domestic carriers which are: American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines. In 2015 the airlines were projected to earn $15 billion in net profits and with the four airlines getting most of the profit they are continuing to be an oligopoly industry. American Airlines has the largest share which is 17.6%. Delta is next with 17.5%, and Southwest and United have 16.9% and 14.9 of the shares. On top of them controlling the majority of the shares there is no federal government control, so airlines can set routes, increase the number of flights, and adjust fares. With the four top carriers being dominant in the market share there are fewer passenger airlines and there hasn’t been a new one since 2007. With the fewer airlines, “the competition has decreased, and some government officials believe that the airlines are holding back on expanding capacity in order to keep fares higher.” (Segal). Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal stated in a letter to Assistant Attorney General William Baer that said, “Consumers are paying sky-high fares and are trapped in an uncompetitive market with a history of collusive behavior.” (Segal). The pricing strategy that the airline industry to doing can be seen as unethical because they are not expanding capacity because they want to keep fares high, so they can make more money. The investigation is still going on to see if the airlines are acting in a collusive behavior because if they are, it is unethical and is aiming to deceive consumers and gain an advantage over their competitors. Segal, T. (2020, October 07). Is the airline industry an oligopoly? Retrieved February 23, 2021, from https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/011215/airline-industry-oligopoly-state.asp (Links to an external site.) Rubin, Rose M, and Justin N Joy. “Where are the airlines headed? Implications of airline industry structure and change for consumers.” The Journal of consumer affairs vol. 39,1 (2005): 215-228. doi:10.1111/j.1745-6606.2005.00010.x The research into monopoly vs. oligopoly showed to be a indefinite search. I mentioned in a previous discussion that the fast-food industry is a monopolist competition, but now I can see it being a oligopolistic competition as well. Another oligopoly industry that can be considered is the wireless industry. The wireless production has four major companies that dominates the industry, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. These companies have identical products, contracts, and services within the areas they cover. They vary a slight change in price or opportunity to gain consumer interests. They also are not all available in certain areas, so you are most likely to go to the service that is best covered where you are and travel to. The issue with the wireless company being oligopolistic is that there’s not enough competition for consumers to consider. If you are in a high populated area, you may be able to shop all three. If you live in Vermont, you are limited to the service you go with, based on where are most of the time. At the same time, it gives opportunity to producers of the cell phones, such as Apple and Samsung, to inflate purchases of their products. With nowhere else to go or look, these companies are taking advantage of their oligopolistic market. 3. Question: What is identity theft? Name and explain at least three tactics used by identity thieves to obtain information. dentity theft is when an individual uses your identifying information for personal gain.  This is done without your knowledge or permission of course and there are several different forms of identity theft.  To list a few, here are some of the tactics thieves use in order to obtain your personal information: 1. Shoulder Surfing.  This is when someone stands close to you, usually in a public setting in order to read information such as your credit card numbers.  Another way thieves do this is by taking a photo of your card when you aren’t suspecting.  I’ve witnessed this myself at a ball game where a person was strategically placing themselves in order to take selfies with his phone while capturing card numbers in the background of the photo. 2. Skimming:  Skimming occurs when someone uses the information embedded in the magnetic strip of a card in order to duplicate the card for their own use.  This can be done by a cashier of the store with a secondary card reader under the counter and out of view of the card holder.  Another way skimming is done is attaching external readers over ATMs or gas pumps.  These external readers will most likely blend in nicely and the card user will have no idea they are being victimized. 3. Phishing.  This is a very common approach for thieves as it’s done online using email accounts.  People will get very creative when sending these phishing emails be using the real name and email address of a faculty member (UC Berkeley, 2016).  The emails will be masked as best they can in order to seem legitimate and could actually take training to be able to spot such phishing attempts.  My workplace requires me to complete a training on how to avoid and spot phishing scams every quarter.  Even with the proper training, I’ve almost been fooled a couple of times. Source: UC Berkeley Information Security Office, 2016. Retrieved from Identity theft is when someone takes some of your valuable information such as driver’s license, SSN, name, or card numbers pretending to be them. Using this information without their permission and committing crimes with the information at the same time. This is where the hacker may send an email that looks “legit” but is not. It could be as simple as an email that looks like it is coming from your bank. It may ask you to verify your account information. It is best if you were not expecting the email to delete it and notify the company. People will go through your garbage or public garbage hoping to find some pieces of personal information. That is why if you are throwing any statements away, billing, or expired cards, it is best to shred them the best you can. The hacker will pretend to be someone they are not. A typical pretexting attack may be as simple as saying that you won some lottery money. Today, a lot of identity theft is surfacing around hacking (computers) in my opinion. But there is still different kinds of identity theft happening. This past day or so, there was a story on the news that two men in Burlington were arrested for breaking into people’s cars and stealing their cards. They then went and used the cards to buy gift cards. You have to remain vigilant and remember, if it is too good to be true, it probably is. 4. Question:   Walmart has developed a Sustainability Index: This is a measurement system that is used to track the environmental impact of products. Today the index has been applied to 700 product categories and thousands of suppliers. By using the index, Walmart is able to increase the sustainability of its product offerings. 1. Describe the importance of the index from a sociocultural perspective. 2. How might this index give Walmart a competitive advantage over other rival companies? The index is important because it is what the company uses to track the environmental impact of their products. This is important because being a brand that is environmentally smart is not only good for the planet but also good for the company at an economic standpoint. Walmart’s product sustainability already started showing improving trends when it was rolled out in August 2012. The more consistent that improving trend is, the better the planet will be, lower amount of waste and the company’s image will be. This index will give Walmart a competitive edge over rival companies due to the fact that they are making a large effort to make their products more sustainable, use less energy, greener chemicals, fewer fertilizers and more recycled materials. Customers tend to lean towards the environmentally friendly companies and products as it makes them feel better about spending their money on their products. If they feel better about spending their money on better products for the environment, then they are also likely to keep returning to that same company. Walmart is also saving money through having so many sustainable resources putting them that much further ahead of its rivals. I was very happy to research Walmart’s environmental impact goals! Here is a link that talks about Walmart’s plan for improving Cotton. Finding sustainably sources, that are US grown and organic. Using chemicals responsibly- Walmart recognizes that it takes chemistry to manufacture our products but is making changes to what supplies it will work with. This ensures the proper use and disposal of those chemicals for Walmart products. Reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing. All these together show how important our world is to Walmart and these changes will ensure that we have these products available to us in the future. This is important from a sociocultural perspective because it is more important now than it has been in the past for all large corporations to show how committed they are to improve our environment and have less negative impact on our world. Now all things “Green Marketing” organizations establish long-term customers. Most of consumers today are very environmentally conscious and look to purchase from companies with a healthy focus on reducing waste, improving recycling and ensuring these manufacturing resources are here for the future. All of this entices customers to purchase from Walmart and become loyal purchasers! The Green Marketing movement is strong, and I think here to stay- Good for Walmart for noticing that they have the power to make sustainable changes. It makes me feel a bit less guilty for shopping there!

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