You didn’t think it was to benefit citizens, did you? It’s to enrich the already wealthy.
If you wear glasses, you might have noticed that they’ve been getting steadily more expensive in recent years, no matter which brand you buy and no matter where you shop.
That’s because a giant-but-obscure company called Luxottica bought out Sunglass Hut and Lenscrafters, then used their dominance over the retail side of glasses to force virtually every eyewear brand to sell to them (Luxxotica owns or licenses Armani, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Oakley, Oliver Peoples, Persol, Polo Ralph Lauren, Ray-Ban, Tiffany, Valentino, Vogue and Versace); and used that to buy out all the other eyewear retailers of any note (Luxottica owns Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Sunglass Hut and Target Optical) and then also bought out insurers like Eyemed Vision Care and Essilor, the leading prescription lens/contact lens manufacturer.
Controlling the labs, insurers, frame makers, and all the major retail outlets has allowed Luxottica to squeeze suppliers — frames are cheaper than ever to make, thanks to monopsony buying power with Prada-grade designer frames costing $15 to manufacture — while raising prices as much as 1000% relative to pre-acquisition pricing.
It’s even worse for lenses: a pair of prescription lenses that cost $1.50 to make sell for $800 in the USA.
That’s why I bought my last couple of pairs of glasses through Zenni Optical.
There is this utopian dream that with more automation, workers will be required to work fewer and fewer hours while maintaining the same productivity, eventually leading to a paradise where only a few hours of routine work will be required of every person, allowing them to pursue their own muse and be creatively productive. We know now this is not going to happen. Instead, the capitalist class will reap all the benefits, will use their power to arbitrarily demand greater profits for themselves and themselves alone, and will keep the working classes in their thrall with a) economic desperation, b) racism & division to keep them fighting among themselves, and c) cheap entertainment, like reality TV.
We’re doomed, aren’t we?