Question: What does a packet of M&M’s and your local veterinarian have in common? Answer: Both are owned by Mars Inc., the global candy monopolist.

Since the 1980s, we’ve seen massive consolidations in industry after industry — from airlines to newspapers, the internet to candy. These monopolists run roughshod over consumers, workers, communities, suppliers, and our nation’s commitment to the common good.

And now the corporate attitude seems to be, “why not let monopolization go to the dogs?” That’s right — they’re coming for your local vet.

This change has been led by private equity groups. They are corporate-takeover sharks that borrow billions of dollars to buy out, plunder, then sell off the remnants of established businesses.

They target enterprises that can be grabbed on the cheap but have assets like a loyal customer base. Then the sharks raise prices on those customers while cutting staff and quality of service.

This has been happening to thousands of local vet practices and hospitals, which have quietly been plucked by Wall Street entities bearing non-descript acronyms like IVC, JAB, KKR, and VCA. At first locals don’t notice the takeover, because the corporate outfit not only buys your friendly “Dr. Barry Bones” vet service, they also buy the Doc’s name.

As an IVC takeover consultant confided: “People like to take their dog to local vets and not feel like it’s a corporate machine.”

But increasingly, it is. Solo practitioners who became veterinarians to provide friendly, community-based service now must answer to bean counters at headquarters — and, foremost, they must serve profit over animals.

Veterinary Center of America (VCA), for example, is one of the most aggressive monopolizers, controlling access to — and prices charged — by over 1,000 vet facilities in 43 states. In 2017, VCA was taken over by Mars Inc.

One feisty group battling monopolizers is the National Veterinary Professionals Union. Get info at natvpu.org.

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Jim Hightower

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. Distributed by OtherWords.org.

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