The Monopolization of America

WHERE ARE THE ANTI TRUST LAWS?

In one industry after another, big companies have become more dominant over the past 15 years, new data show.

Top Democrats believe that anti-monopolism can be a political winner for their party. It’s a way to address voters’ anxiety over high drug prices, digital privacy and more. “The control of business over certain segments of the economy,” says Senator Amy Klobuchur of Minnesota, a potential presidential candidate, “I think it will be a much bigger thing going into 2020.”

Klobuchar has offered a good bill that would raise the legal standards for merger approval. But preventing future mergers won’t be enough. Eventually, the government will probably need to break up existing giants, as it did to the old AT&T and Standard Oil. One obvious candidate is Facebook, which has gobbled up Instagram, WhatsApp and other businesses.

And corporate bigness doesn’t need to be a partisan issue. Senator Mike Lee of Utah is among the Republicans who have expressed concern about it. Conservatives, after all, are supposed to care about the ideals that monopolies undermine — like market competition, economic dynamism and individual freedom. Ultimately, monopolies aren’t only an economic problem. They are also a political one.

“We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few,” Louis Brandeis, the Supreme Court justice and anti-monopoly crusader, said a century ago, “but we can’t have both.”

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