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Featured Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Jul 27, 2015

Coalition of Authors Calls for an Investigation into Amazon’s Monopoly

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/authors-call-for-investigation-of-amazon-monopoly/

Last summer, when the writer Douglas Preston began approaching other authors to ask them to sign a letter calling on Amazon to cease impeding customers’ access to certain books in a bid to force the publisher Hachette to accept new terms, he was troubled by the number who said no.

It wasn’t that they disagreed with the letter.  They were afraid.  “If it had been one or two who had said, I don’t want to tangle with Amazon, that would have been one thing.  But it was lots of authors,” explains Preston, who writes thrillers.  In the end, some 900 authors did add their names to the letter, which Preston published as a full-page ad in the New York Times, but many more declined.  Among them are “authors you know and love,” says Preston, as well as a wide range of less well-known novelists and nonfiction writers, all scared of Amazon’s singular capacity to ruin their livelihoods.

What does it say about the state of free speech if people who regularly take up the pen to communicate their ideas are cowed into silence by a powerful gatekeeper?  That’s a question that Preston’s coalition, Authors United — with backing from the American Booksellers Association, Authors Guild, and Association of Authors Representatives — is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate.  In a 24-page letter to William Baer, the head of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, Authors United contends that Amazon is abusing its market power in ways that undermine competition and compromise liberty, free speech, and democracy.

Preston knows that many people will have a hard time seeing an aggressive monopolist in the same friendly company that offers them discounts and fast shipping.   Until last year, he was of that mind too.  “I loved Amazon,” Preston explains.  “I was in touch with some of their top executives.  I gave them exclusives.  I thought Amazon was this wonderful force for good in the publishing world.”

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Featured Article, Resource filed under Composting, Waste to Wealth | Written by Brenda Platt | No Comments | Updated on Jul 24, 2015

Brenda Platt: State of Composting Presentation – Maryland 2015

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/brenda-platt-state-of-composting-presentation-maryland-2015/

ILSR co-director, Brenda Platt, gave a presentation at the Maryland Recycling Network’s 2015 Annual Conference.  Her talk, State of Composting in the US: What, Why, Where & How, provided and update and overview of ILSR’s report that documents what is currently happening in organics management across the U.S. View or download Brenda’s presentation to the… Continue reading

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Featured Article filed under Banking | Written by Olivia LaVecchia | No Comments | Updated on Jul 17, 2015

Why Glass-Steagall Should Be a Key Issue During the 2016 Campaign

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/why-glass-steagall-should-be-a-key-issue-during-the-2016-campaign/

In a 2016 campaign season already dominated by candidates’ pursuit of Wall Street donations, how to regulate the banking sector remains one of the most pressing issues facing the country. The Glass-Steagall Act is becoming, and should remain, a key part of the debate. Continue reading

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Featured Article filed under Independent Business, The Public Good | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Jul 18, 2015

Greece, The Troika and Maggie Thatcher

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/greece-the-troika-and-maggie-thatcher/

In its policies toward Greece, the “Troika” — a new shorthand for the combined will of the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund — has actively and enthusiastically embraced Maggie Thatcher’s social and political philosophy, memorably captured in her chilling assertion, “There is no such thing as society.” That philosophy has found… Continue reading

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Featured Article filed under Independent Business, The Public Good | Written by Olivia LaVecchia | 15 Comments | Updated on Jun 16, 2015

For Cities, Big-Box Stores Are Becoming Even More of a Terrible Deal

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/dark-store-tax-tactic-makes-big-box-stores-terrible-deal-for-cities/

Under what has become known as the “dark store” method, big-box retailers are declaring their busy stores to be functionally obsolescent and therefore nearly worthless for tax purposes —and they’re winning big judgments for back taxes. It’s the latest example of the way that, even as local governments continue to bend over backwards to attract big-box development, these stores are consistently a terrible deal. Continue reading