While taking my dog to two different doctors the other day (long story), I discovered that veterinary practices are increasing being bought up by large corporate entities like PetVet and VCA. Your seemingly small, local caregiver just might have sold his or her practice to one of these companies, supposedly while still retaining control over medical decision-making (that little voice in the back of my head is saying "he who pays the piper, calls the tune").

This got me to thinking about the creeping corporatization of so many sectors of the American economy: there are chains and franchises and big companies for just about everything, from plumbing to dentistry to teaching to farming. According to one of the vets we visited, it's because younger practitioners don't want the headaches of running a small business - they'd prefer to go home at the end of the day and not worry about making payroll and such. Somehow I suspect that rising costs for things like insurance and regulatory compliance play a significant part. However, as with any complex phenomenon, no doubt there's not just one cause (a broader topic that deserves its own post).

What will be the economic, sociological, cultural, and psychological consequences of corporatization? Will the further separation of workers from ownership reduce people's feeling of responsibility and pride in their work? Will economic gains be further concentrated in the hands of corporate executives, shareholders, and venture capitalists? Will a greater sense of dependency spread to other areas of people's lives (say, to their financial plans and health habits)? I don't know for sure - but I do know that although the phrase "a nation of shopkeepers" was long hurled as an epithet by the revolutionary left, "a nation of corporate drones" sounds a whole lot worse...

Peter Saint-Andre > Journal