Since then - have read more about this. Chilean economist wonders whats gone wrong with it - and even why growth is a goal and not development.
Someone then shared the following infographics about how a handful of corporations consume most of what we consume - from http://frugaldad.com/2011/11/22/media-consolidation-infographic/) Dug a little more and here's more worrying stuff about their control over most of world food production and consumption as well.
It popped the question on its own - is the whole idea of the large corporation at the root of a lot of problems we face today? This is not a tirade against free markets. In fact much freer markets can exist with smaller companies, retail etc.
The smaller guy is more connected to the economy around him, to the people working for them. The smaller guy spends locally, and there's less "accumulation" of wealth which then gets more and more abstracted. There's more churn in players, and there's less of a need for 30% y-o-y growth which needs comparable growth in consumption, whether or not people at the other end really need it and totally not clued in to whether we can collectively afford it in terns of depletion of natural resources, pollution and social activity, welfare.
The large corporation is a being in its own right and does not relate to any for of humanity - or human needs. Its needs start to supercede everything else - and as long as its "legal" in a given context, its done. Social, moral, ethical questions are frequently suppressed for "shareholder value" (sounds very much like various other justifictions other extreme "isms" have forwarded for their actions over the centuries). It tends to appeal to the carnal, the base and the common denominator, because it needs scale and the easier path to profitability in the shortest time.
The smaller guy, the individual and the locally connected business has to factor in variables other than "shareholder value" into their choices. Their personal likes/dislikes, "what will people say", "is it good for the community" are all part of the landscape. Yes, those are "limitations" too - but hey - we're people with lives, not producers and consumers alone.
Its a question which is growing more significant in my head, at least, with each passing day. And I daresay the answer is moving towards the black and white from the earlier greys when I was "with it".