Let me give an example of what I mean by 'abusive bargaining power advantage':

  • People store and sell goods, amid fluctuations of demand and price, in order to make profit. And that's ok. But suppose there is a medicine for a heart attack that costs 1 dollar a pill and I got many of them with me. We are backpacking in the wilderness and there is a millionaire among us with a heart condition. He has a heart attack - if nothing is done he will die, there is no time to get any help outside our group and one of those pills can save him. Then I say that I'll charge him 1 million for the pill, he can use his phone to make the transfer.

A more realistic condition I could consider unfair is that potential employers know I am in debt and needs the job badly, so they offer half of what is considered 'ok' for my occupation and skill level because they know I can't wait for anything better and have to accept it.

Or a company that goes to poor country for mining and offers US$ 5 a day for people working on mines (children included) because they know they have no other option.

I know this might seem subjective and might require that certain 'axioms' are defined in order to determine whether or not an abuse is occurring.


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I know this might seem subjective and might required that certain 'axioms' are defined in order to determine whether or not an abuse is occurring.

Yes. The question is subjective/moralistic in nature, thus ill-suited to the SE format.

However there is a weak similarity with the competition policy concept of "abuse of dominant position". This is, as defined in Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union is

Any abuse by one or more undertakings of a dominant position within the internal market or in a substantial part of it shall be prohibited as incompatible with the internal market in so far as it may affect trade between Member States.

Such abuse may, in particular, consist in:
(a) directly or indirectly imposing unfair purchase or selling prices or other unfair trading conditions;
(b) limiting production, markets or technical development to the prejudice of consumers;
(c) applying dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties, thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage;
(d) making the conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by the other parties of supplementary obligations which, by their nature or according to commercial usage, have no connection with the subject of such contracts.

You may want to look into how this is applied. However whether something is abuse is usually defined by current law, sometimes requiring additional economic analysis. These are usually market/case specific and the status quo of the law is frequently debated.


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