Dependencies on monopolistic suppliers or territorial "sole source" (usually by government license or grant and ineffectively regulated by some "consumer protection" agency or other regulatory body) have become increasingly commonplace. We are dependent upon companies such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, cable service providers, and a host of others to provide both our businesses and our families with services upon which we have become completely rely.
By rough analogy, we are like addicts, dependent upon their reliability (no outages, no downtime, no reduction in service), and their generosity; in fact, entire businesses built upon web hosting, blogging, and other free or cost-minimal platforms or services (at present) would instantly be crippled if their hosts were suddenly to begin pricing their services based upon our demand and dependency. This is a nightmarish futurescape scenario which I have continually warned my readers about in The Global Futurist.
But what is even more frightening than this growing vulnerability to a relatively small number of companies and technologies which have become inextricably interwoven into our culture (i.e., your friendly and indispensable iPhone or Droid, or your FaceBook social chronology and contact list) is our supplier-side exposure to companies which are either inherently unprofitable (most major US airlines), or which are reliant upon bailouts to cover their gambling losses (the world's largest banking/brokerage firms). At some point, inherently unprofitable or chronically irresponsible businesses become a drain on entire economies --- so much so, that they become perceived as enemies of the people.
The American Airlines letter (with some redactions) appeared in my inbox several hours ago. It sends out a much more ominous message than what was probably intended [reassurance and comfort]. It has reached a point in the evolution of the global economy where the increase in both the frequency and diversity of sources/senders of these letters is becoming more and more indicative of the kind of patronizing overcompensation that makes one feel an eerie sense of insecurity.
Listen to your instincts and intuition -- diversify your sources of supply, avoid those that are constantly seeking protection through bankruptcy and court intervention, avoid those that are deemed by feeble government proclamation as being too big to fail, and start looking to build your portfolio of small- to mid-sized competitively-oriented suppliers.
It would be interesting to gather some statistics on the influx of deposit relationships which have migrated from, say, Bank Of America, to local banks and credit unions which provide some level of customer service to their patrons, instead of threats to increase charges and reduce the level of service. It's a bit too early to render those statistics, but I'll bet that your intuition will tell you the direction of the trend...
Enjoy the "comforting" letter which follows:
The idea is not to bite the hand that feeds us; no, it is to seek out more choices, greater diversification, and to avoid awarding our business (without a fair negotiation or battle) to those who abuse us under the guise of protecting us. As leaders, managers, planners, project managers and decision-makers... as heads of families and households, and as Human Beings, we are obligated to gain fair leverage over our sources of supply, lest they enslave us.
It is sad to think that some readers will regard what I have proposed as activism.
I believe that I am just being an advocate of responsibility, independence and basic pragmatism.
Douglas E. Castle [http://aboutDouglasCastle.blogspot.com]