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« Opacity, again | Main | Our small blue city »

Jun 16, 2014


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While you laboriously battle monopoly when no one argues for the need of single seller, you whimsically embrace monopsony and argue for the need of single payer.

Each are as bad as the other unless one is an unAmerican progressive or an irrational economist.

Andrew Brod

What economics teaches us is that monopoly isn't always to be avoided at all costs. For example, in R&D-intensive industries, monopoly can be the best way to ensure sustained innovation.

Then there's the case of natural monopoly, which is discussed in every economics textbook. A natural monopoly is a single seller, for example a public utility, that has the lowest costs due to economies of scale. Natural monopoly isn't ideal, but the appropriate economic policy isn't to break it up but to regulate it.

The point is that whether monopoly is good or bad depends on the industry in question. Ed's post refers to industries in which most economists would agree that monopolization is a problem.

One can make similar arguments regarding monoposony.

Andrew Brod

Oops: "monopsony."

In Facebook, I could go in and edit that.

Billy Jones

You mean like the Developer lead monopolies that dominate Greensboro government and enslaves local taxpayers to build downtown performing arts centers we neither need nor can afford? Again, your liberalness only extends so far and you've proved it so very well over the course of the last few years.

You only need look in the mirror to see you and your status quo friends are little more than what you point your crooked fingers at.

And remember: that's coming from a dyed in the wool Liberal.


We had a natural monopoly that was vigorously defended by progressives in the telephone industry. It was broken up. We are better off.

We have a natural monopoly in electricity production in which consumers have a single choice in provider while providers, in the event they are unable to meet the needs of their customers, can buy electricity from other providers. End users should be able to do the same. That we can not, you claim, is a good thing. I disagree. Electrons are electrons, who cares who pumps them into the grid as long as they are the cheapest ... rich social cost shoppers aside.


For example, in R&D-intensive industries, monopoly can be the best way to ensure sustained innovation.


Andrew Brod

I'm not saying that technology can't make an earlier era's acceptance of natural monopoly obsolete. But until technology advances, regulation of natural monopoly is the way to go.

My point was not to argue every little instance of monopoly, but simply to note that if one cares about the economics, it's not true that monopoly is always and everywhere a bad thing. Circumstances matter.


"What economics teaches us is that monopoly isn't always to be avoided at all costs."

"the appropriate economic policy isn't to break it up but to regulate it."

"it's not true that monopoly is always and everywhere a bad thing."

Andrew Brod
Like when Duke Power bought Progress Energy and fired a whole bunch of NC workers and raised prices while trying to stop having to purchase privately owned solar producers?

Like when the Financial Industry bought their regulators via purchasing our national politicians?

Our regulated educational book industry is a monopoly that overcharges students.

Our regulated healthcare industry is a monopoly that overcharges patients.

Quite the fascistic view Andrew.

Andrew Brod

Yes, you've captured the argument perfectly. Well done.


Yours appears to be a defense of monopolies assuming they are the playthings of the state.

No surprise there as that only benefits the state and progressive notions of state.

But, hey, if it can be rationalized that single seller is a public good when milked within the state sandbox, why not single payer?

W.E. Heasley

"In contrast to today, Americans in the Gilded Age openly recognized the connection between monopoly power and inequality. They enacted the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890, and the Clayton Antitrust Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act in 1914, to safeguard themselves from concentrated economic power, which they believed posed a threat akin to political autocracy."

Upon further review, the particular acts mentioned above were not enacted in regards to concentrated economic power. Nay, nay. The acts find their original essence in cattleman and butchers wanting protection from a new technology known as meat packing which emerged in Chicago, Illinois. That is, cattleman and butchers wanted to suppress competition.

Upon further, further review, private monopoly is difficult to maintain without government support. Hence the above acts suffer from regulatory capture leading to government privilege with the result being monopolistic or oligopoly-istic firms using regulatory capture to erect barriers to entry regarding would be competitors.

Moreover, the above mentioned acts base their competitive assumption upon pure competition models. Pure competition only exists on a blackboard (blackboard economics: see Ronald Coase). Hence the model is flawed meaning no such model exists in the real world where all players find price driven down to marginal cost.

The acts mentioned above, the flawed model as it were, the ensuing proliferation of regulation and the flesh and blood “experts” that attend to the regulations have a knowledge problem as well. How so? The attending experts do not know the exact array of components, based on time and circumstance to “create competition”.

Billy Jones

Indeed Mr Heasley is correct while at the same moment in time farmers in Missouri, Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, New York and other areas where tobacco was grown were rising up against the government supported Wall Street's monopoly control of local tobacco markets while flaunting their money in the very faces of the working class building monuments to themselves. Washington feared a second civil war even worse than the first was about to break out with 3/4 of the nation in favor of succession. Sound familiar? It should.

It was only then, after having suffered the hard lessons learned from rubbing it in the faces of the poor and middle classes that the Dukes, Reynolds, the rest of America's barons and yes, even the Cones, thought it time to invest in projects like hospitals and other such things that might benefit the poor.

Billy Jones

It even got bloody in places:

"The Black Patch or dark fired tobacco area included counties in southwestern Kentucky and adjoining districts in Tennessee. On September 24, 1904, American tobacco planters formed the protectionist Dark Tobacco District Planters' Protective Association of Kentucky and Tennessee (usually called the Association or PPA) to oppose the corporate monopoly of the American Tobacco Company (ATC) (or "Trust") owned and operated by James B. Duke. What followed was the most violent civil uprising since the American Civil War. The New York Times declared, “There now exists in the State of Kentucky a condition of affairs without parallel in the history of the world.”

Billy Jones

Cone chose the worst of analogies in bringing up the Guided age, an era in which his very family was guilty as sin of as much excess as they could muster. No, the Cone's weren't the Vanderbilts with "The Breakers" (the very symbol of the excess of the time, which, by the way, was built on the site of the burned out Lollard tobacco mansion) but the Cones had their New England Mansions, Flat Irons, Irving Park Mansions, Summer Homes near Boone, Florida winter homes, European vacations, private school and Ivy League educations for their precious heirs and every amenity they could afford to flaunt upon the poor mill workers who slaved away in 120 degree temperatures inside their cotton mills. I know, I worked in one of those mills-- Proximity Print Works.

Damn straight, Edward, it's a class war and your class fired the first shots then just as you are now! Keep hiding, you're under return fire and true history isn't kind to your kind!

Ed Cone

I had to look back at my post to remind myself that I'm advocating against the corporatocracy, not for it.

Andrew Brod

Forget it, he's rolling.


I believe what Heasley is noting is that the Anti Trust Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act have done more to protect select monopolies than they have done to protect others from those monopolies.

Would Ma Bell have been Ma Bell for so long without government protection for that particular monopoly? Unlikely.

Nothing protects a monopoly like government.


One can make similar arguments regarding monoposony.

What are they?

Billy Jones

Ed Cone wrote: "I had to look back at my post to remind myself that I'm advocating against the corporatocracy, not for it."

You're committing the acts of hypocrisy you've become so well known for.

You talk against corporatocracy at the national level after having spent the last 3 years consistently advocating for corporatocracy at the local level then have the audacity to allow people like Andrew Brod to make jokes about your critics without comment-- all is fair as long as he's on your side, right Edward? Your tactics are costing you dearly. It might be you got your performing arts center but at what costs? Greensboro will be decades before the working class anger subsides.

Just remember: while EdCone.com might die and go away after your death, what I write will remain online as long as Google keeps Blogger/Blogspot alive and so shall be the stain Edward Cone leaves on the Cone Legacy. The Cones will not rewrite your part in Greensboro history like they did so many others.

Ed Cone

Billy, I'm starting to get the impression that you do not share my enthusiasm for a new performing arts center.


The PAC paid for with over half private dollars? So many Cities would love to have our foundations and philanthropic individuals.

Billy Jones

David Craft wrote: "The PAC paid for with over half private dollars? So many Cities would love to have our foundations and philanthropic individuals."

They way I'm hearing it the banks and bonding agencies aren't very enthusiastic about the financial arrangements and want the City to put up more before they'll sign on. Lots more. Seems the banks and bonding agencies are skeptical as to the actual existence of the so-called private money. But I could be hearing wrong.

One thing I do know for certain is that the City and CFGG are way behind on arranging financing. Wonder why that is?

Ed Cone wrote: "Billy, I'm starting to get the impression that you do not share my enthusiasm for a new performing arts center."

Self made monuments to the elites are sure fire signs Fascism and corporatocracy have taken root.

Billy Jones


Cutting to the quick:

"Instances of philanthropy commonly overlap with instances of charity, though not all charity is philanthropy, or vice versa. The difference commonly cited is that charity relieves the pains of social problems, whereas philanthropy attempts to solve those problems at their root causes (the difference between giving a hungry man a fish, and teaching him how to fish for himself). A person who practices philanthropy is called a philanthropist."

Building GPAC does nothing to relieve Greensboro's social problems or their root causes, therefore, gifts to the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts are not philanthropy or anything of the sort.

Why not just tell the truth and admit you were for it because you, like the rest of Greensboro's elites, wanted a fancy new music hall? We'd respect you so much more if you were only capable of telling the truth.

Seriously, you may get your GPAC but you will never justify your win in the minds of the majority of Greensboro's citizens. Never.


Looks like the agreement with the city was inked in early March, 2014 on the Performing Arts Center.

It's June 20, almost four months later, and no word on the financing commitment to guarantee the private donations of more than $35 million.

Seems like they would have had it done inside a month, having had plenty of time into the run up to the agreement to line up the lenders.

Do you know anything most don't Ed or Andrew?


What may be at issue is whether or not more than 50% of the building/property is to be used as collateral is my guess.

If the city/cfgg puts up more than 50%, they are guaranteeing the private donations with taxpayer obligations.

The lawyer with cfgg told me it wouldn't be a problem the night it passed.

Feels like it is.

Spoke with both the legal dept and finance after, who said they had never seen where any of the $35 million was invested in, or where it was located, or what the risks were if financial markets faltered.

The city/council went in blind trusting a stock broker. (Walker Sanders)


Then, CFGG had a big fundraising drive for a while.

If the financing agreement comes back with more than 50% of the property as collateral, City Council, City Staff and others will have pledged taxpayer monies to cover the private donations.

If it occurs, Greensboro's taxpayers will have been betrayed.

Billy Jones

Collards? Have you been eaten?


Imagine being a city council person who approved buying more than $10 million in real estate, giving cfgg board member David Hagan more than a half a million in commissions, and not knowing anything about what is happening with commitments cfgg and friends who stand to profit have accomplished on what was said to be an easy no-brainer.

I hear the Marriott will be in default on more than $20 million in loans by the time the venue was supposed to open.

The parking revenue math to pay the debt the city signed up for looks to have been a con.

Last I heard from Walker Sanders, cfgg had less than $5 million in house for the project.

Louise Brady doesn't work for Wells Fargo as a broker any more.

There may have been some push back from the brokers who would be giving up all the assets under management to cfgg, which most likely profits from a % fee once the money comes under their umbrella while it waits to be spent on the project.

I've done it myself over the years, trying to prevent "non-profit" foundations who's principles make big shine from taking assets under my management.

That's how the game is played.

Surprising how no one seems to know much of anything at this point.

Ed Cone

Louise got a better gig elsewhere but don't let that derail the Hartzman express.


I don't have any insight on what happened to Louise. I heard she left her book to her dad, and she was a point person for the performing arts center and bringing in money for it.

This says she still works at Wells.

Do you know anything about the financing Ed?

Billy Jones

Ed Cone wrote: "Louise got a better gig elsewhere but don't let that derail the Hartzman express."

And Brady-Trane won't make a dime off the HVAC from the building of GPAC, right Edward? Not a single, solitary dime...


I don't blame Louise or her father for not standing up for me.

No one did until Taibbi, including you Ed.

I expected more from you than them, as they had much to lose by saying something.

That's how large, too big to fail corporations keep most mouths closed.

Pretty much how Greensboro's in crowd works as well.

Ed Cone

I have no special visibility into the financing, George, but given the performance of financial markets in recent years I see no reason that the pledge portion would be in less than good order.


Agreed, which is why the long time lag doesn't make very much sense.

Ed Cone

I believe that's pronounced "alleged long time lag."

Sorry you were disappointed in my efforts re your case, George. I met with you in person, did some legwork, wrote about it and linked to it. You did not make it easy. I notice Taibbi didn't come back for more, either.

Your big idea -- that bank execs and auditors who knew about the Fed's secret loans were wrong to allow brokers at their firms to give financial advice without sharing that knowledge -- says something important about our financial and legal systems.

What's going on with the whistleblower case? Are you currently involved in a lawsuit or arbitration?


Couldn't say at the moment.

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