A monopoly is a business that exerts an anti-competitive stranglehold on a particular market. A horizontal monopoly is one that controls virtually all of a particular commodity, product or service. A vertical monopoly is more powerful, as it controls every stage in a product's manufacture and sale, from the extraction of the raw materials needed to manufacture the product to the distribution, marketing and sale of the product. Monopolies are in a position to exploit all those who do business with them.
Monopoly sellers can charge unnecessarily high prices because consumers cannot take their custom elsewhere. Monopoly sellers can become careless over quality control and make low quality goods sold at high prices. In the Third world cruel middlemen can add to poverty and starvation.
Monopoly buyers can force suppliers to sell to them at low prices. Workers sell their labour. In Great Britain large supermarkets have been accused of forcing farmers out of business by insisting on paying low prices for farm produce. Also Government regulation was considered necessary to stop those supermarkets charging high prices to customers.
If one single firm employs most of the workers in an area that employer can impose low wages and poor working conditions. Trade Unions can do good work in such situations and offset the unequal partnership.
United States politics
Monopolies have been illegal in the United States since the days of the robber barons, who drove all competition out of business in the railroad and steel industries. Monopolies still happen there, Bill Gates has come close to creating a monopoly on computer software. Conservatives and Libertarians believe government should not interfere in the market to prevent or dismantle monopolies because for many their one goal in life is to be filthy rich, or become best friends with someone who is filthy rich.
- Main article: Monopoly (board game)
"Monopoly" is also the name of a board game in which the goal is to gain monopolies on real estate, utilities and railroads and drive all competition out of business. The game was invented and became very popular during the Great Depression of the 1930's for obvious reasons. In a time when vast numbers of people lost their life savings and/or lost their jobs, this was a game in which you could wield lots of play money and buy lots of stuff, but its still a laugh to play.