John Oliver on monopolies, anti-trust and the death of real competitive markets


Originally published at:


Ill just leave these two links here, in case anyone involved in the democratic party is wondering how they keep losing to literal lunatics.


Of course they haven’t - They’d rather I pirated the whole show.


John Oliver’s intern: Right, I should upload clips from yesterday’s show to Youtube.

Youtube: I should Inform Cory Doctorow and millions of other people that a new episode has been posted to this channel.


Cory Doctorow: I cannot be bothered to check that this link I have been emailed is still working before posting it to Boing Boing (posts invalid link).

(Repeat cycle every week).

(ETA: It seems rather that Youtube can’t be bothered to tell Canadians that “the episode is not available in your country” when it saves a whole 16 terribly previous bytes to leave off “in your country”. Ah well, it serves as a nice reminder to go to the pirate bay and look for the latest episode.


A nice piece, but it makes me sad that the concept that monopolies are harmful has to be explained to American adults in a way that it didn’t between 1900 and 1980 or so.


Oliver is an immigrant, he makes our country better, period.


I find it amusing that the Emmys still had to put this show in the “Variety Talk Show” category. I mean, I guess it’s a talk show in the sense that it’s half-an-hour of John Oliver talking, but really? Even Samantha Bee manages to have Daily Show style filmed segments. Sure he has interviewed a couple of people, but not this year.

Doesn’t stop it being one of the most incisive and funny shows on tv right now, and fully deserving of the award.


There are at times natural monopolies that exist…normally speaking it is when the market space or demand is simply too small/limited/thin to support a wide range of choices. Example: a small, rural, isolated town might only have 1 grocery store, 1 hair salon/barber, and 1 bar. Those businesses are the only options because there simply isn’t enough market demand to keep more than one afloat…but no one would fool themselves into believing those business are breaking the bank. Naturally forming monopolies inherently have a financial ceiling or cap and simply only earn so much.

The issue that Oliver points out and is an excellent on target point as always is how domestic monopolies are crushing all competitiveness within their industries and it is not just repugnant, but highly dangerous. It leads to the “too big to fail” mentality, wherein the consumer then has to bail out the industry and ostensibly pay for their own greed and stupidity.


Yeah but he’s the “right” (white) kind of immigrant.


See also: every protection painstakingly won by the efforts of the labor movement over the past few centuries


See that’s what sucks about being a Jew, the racists all have you and the Liberals all think you’re just white.


That’s confusing. Are you saying it sucks to not be taken as nothing more than a victim? (And btw, I certainly don’t think Jewish people who can be taken for white are nothing but white.)


Not to nitpick, but better examples of natural monopolies would be the fact that there is only one road in front of my house, only one gas, water and sewer line entering/exiting my property, only one cable network on the poles in my alley, etc.


those are not natural monopolies.

That gas/electric/phone line could be serviced and supplied by multiple possible companies. Sub companies purchase resources and farm out at lower cost savings sometimes. So no…those aren’t a natural monopoly.

Neither is that cable line. While it is true most people only have one choice in service provider in a given region; that is part of the forced monopoly that Oliver is talking about.

So your nitpicking is out right wrong I am sorry to say.


Everything I’ve ever read about economics states unequivocally that utilities are natural monopolies. I guess agree to disagree. I suppose I should have prefaced my original comment with: “For the purposes of demonstrating where government intervention in markets is warranted, utilities are a better example…”


They were, at one time. But some of them (particularly electricity and various kinds of communication utilities) aren’t any more, because of advances in technology.

Plumbed sewage disposal is probably still a natural monopoly in your area; it certainly is in mine.

#17, add the show, add your personalized RSS feed to qbittorrent or whatever, done.



But it is important to understand those items that are true “public utilities” are in fact non-profit. Your local water company isn’t breaking bank and swimming on profits. Public utilities are a zero sum industry designed to cover costs only.

cc @Tim_Carpenter I understood your example, it’s an outdated view though unfortunately. And it is an area that could and should go back to where it was.


Sadly, yes they are. This is a relatively new development, but part of a breakdown of utility regulation in my tiny US state that has been going on for decades now.


ok. where you are perhaps. That is absolutely not the norm.