As the United States moves against Google, antitrust law is still under the influence of Robert Bork
Unlimited greed, capitalism is not sustainable. The entire planet will end up a third world polluted cesspool.
So Biden is now channeling Teddy Roosevelt as well as FDR. Hurrah! This what we need, and yet another reason to vote for him.
As for Bork, at least Reagan couldn't get him on the Supreme Court, thank goodness.
Robert, I’m going to tell you two stories about corporate power that have affected me. First, my dad who had three small town discount department stores achieved fame when his success was heralded on the cover of a trade magazine, Discount Merchandiser, in the 60’s. Within a short time, three large chain stores built shopping centers outside each town. Zayre’s, Gaylord’s, and Kmart. They drove my father and every single downtown into bankruptcy and abandonment. Decades later, as a boutique real estate company, I discovered that my newspaper advertisements cost 3-5 times more than those placed by affiliates of Re/Max and other large companies, who received “contract” rates. Same space, different price. Unfair competition and wealth concentration leads to miserable outcomes in the “free enterprise” system.
“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” Adam Smith.
The Biden administration would do well to keep public attention on antitrust as a way of maintaining a vigorous economic system. This goes hand in hand with raising taxes on the corporations. Both antitrust and higher taxes would serve the nation well, both would serve a vigorous capitalism, and both would suffer under Trump or indeed any of the possible Republican administrations - which serve to promote only socialism for the rich.
“The optimist in me thinks that as the public becomes more aware of the close connections among corporate power, predation, inflation, wage suppression, and political corruption, the new antitrust movement will eventually succeed.”
I sure hope you’re right, Mr. Reich. There’s two components necessary for success. The first is an educated public. Nearly half of Americans get their “news” exclusively or mostly from right-wing media outlets like Fox. That doesn’t bode well on educating (or “edumacating,” channelling GWB) that group. And, secondly, it assumes that the political influence of the 99% is meaningful. I know you’re well aware of the studies done that show that the wealthiest people (and corporations are people, too, as Citizens United showed us all) have about 10X the political influence of the average American, regardless of how we vote. That also doesn’t bode well.
I live in France, which the Right would label a “socialist Hell-hole.” OK, call it what you like, but France is a capitalist country, too, with plenty of billionaires just like the US (including Barnard Arnault, who runs in the top 5 wealthiest people world-wide) but at least enough consumer protection to make most goods and services affordable--much, much more so than in the US. Health care is less than half the cost in the US with equal or better health outcomes (avg life expectancy is about 4 years longer than in the US). The other example I like to give is mobile phone service--who DOESN’T have a cell phone these days? In the US I pay about $60/month. For the *exact same service* (unlimited talk/text and 60 GB of data per month) I pay about $9/month. And, as far as I can tell, they’re still making a profit. Yes, it really is that bad in the US: Corporations have Congress by the short hairs, so to speak.
Thank you for this column. I wholeheartedly agree with you here. The unchecked deregulation of our monopolies in big business so CEO’s and their corporate boards can make hundreds of thousands more in proceeds while workers at those companies and those who buy the goods they market and sell don’t do very well. The wealth gap continues. It’s past time to narrow this gap. Thank you President Biden for doing just this. We need he and VP Harris for another 4 years.
Get rid Congress members (on both sides, yet mostly GOP) and vote in people who will allow Congress to actually get the important work they are supposed to do done. No more “congressional “leaders” who do NOT represent you, the people of either a district or your US senate.
The door is closing. Forty plus of slow, corrosive, court stacking by insider trading of men with no morals. Feeding their greed with unrestrained power.
My youth was trickled down upon,marked by confirmation of liars and men of no moral fortitude.
Vote them out. Expand the Supreme Court’s now President Biden.
I can only think of the traitor Elon Musk at the moment. He should be locked up.
No CEO riding high within monopoly capitalism has even a hint of interest in the public good. In fact, being a sociopath seems to be a sought after attribute.
This is the toxic formula which threatens, civilization itself, as everything which is best for society, ecology, and justice is ignored with disdain.
And this is what the GOP has to continually feed in order to keep their unjust power. In time they will be known as the #PlanetKILLERS unless we stop them from making capitalism the noose around our collective necks.
Another accomplishment for the Biden administration and too many people only talk about his age. What a distraction.
I remember when Bork was nominated for the Supreme Court. I was concerned about his view of economics and his dismissal of the power of monopolies and was grateful when he was rejected. I know Republicans have been taking revenge for that rejection since then, but that's because they had no real clue of what Bork stood for. We have had anti-trust laws on the books for decades and very few cases have actually been brought considering how many years. Reagen, I suspect had no idea of what Bork and his crew were peddling, but he either liked the guy or had one of his advisors that liked Bork and his cozying up to monopolists, so he went with Bork and just couldn't understand why Democrats and a few Republicans could possibly be opposed. I think one has to be into vengeance to be a Republican, say for the past half century or so. I, too want to be optimistic about our ability to at least somewhat curb monopolies, but I am concerned that effective communication about what the monopolies are doing to all of us is not getting through. Fox loves monopolies because you know what you are getting when you deal with one, and that is often a lot of money in donations or purchased advertising. For candidates, it's huge donations to campaigns that are supposed to have no strings attached, but always do, actually ropes attached. By 2010 when our Supreme Court ruled against the American people in Citizens United, the conservatives had already been bought and paid for, smilingly lying to us that money is speech and corporations are persons. The lying continues regularly when the SC hands down decisions. They toss a little bone to us dogs while they kick us aside when they think we're not paying attention as they rewrite our Constitution to suit rich white straight pseudochristian men and corporations. If the cases mentioned with Google and Amazon end up at the SC, I suspect Alito, Roberts, or Thomas will figure out some way to praise those monopolistic corporations and what a wonderful job they have done for all of us and probably cite some 17th century English religious nut to solidify their argument. How do we get ordinary voters to see what is going on and how much they are losing under the economic thumb of the monopolies and near-monopolies, particularly when Fox and others either ignore the topic altogether or report on just how great Google and Amazon are and how they should be permitted to do whatever they are doing because we all benefit, or some other such hogwash?
Robert, All I can say is WOW! President Biden has the vision along with the courage and intelligence it takes to implement it in order to put democracy back in the hands of the People. You just promoted President Biden to Statesman in my eyes. Please make your next cartoon about Joe! It's time to put all that orange hair spray in the garbage disposal and celebrate leaders with strength of character and a sense of community and the common good. We, the People, all of us this time working together for the good of all. The People United Will Never Be Defeated! El Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTLrFjYt8tA
“‘What about the political power of giant corporations?’ we asked.
“His retort: ‘How do you expect courts to measure political power?’”
In this case political power is directly proportional to the sums of money corporations give to politicians friendly to their economic interests.
“But what about the power of big corporations to suppress wages?”
“Employees are always free to find better jobs.”
Different jobs pay different salaries, but most employees seeking new employment will merely find themselves transitioning horizontally from one job with suppressed wages to another job with suppressed wages.
“What about their power to undercut potential rivals with lower prices?”
“Lower prices are good for consumers.”
Lower prices, in an individual store or industrywide, are a come-on, a loss-leader, designed to bring in customers and/or gobble up market share by forcing out competitors or acquiring them, and when the company has established great enough market share, it no longer has to keep cutting prices and begins to raise them to the limits of what the majority of likely buyers for those goods or services can, or are willing to, pay. And if it’s a necessity, especially one that may mean the difference between life or death, the sky’s the limit (see: U.S. healthcare).
In his prescient Brave New World Revisited (1958), Huxley explicated in a non-fiction format what he had dramatized in Brave New World (1932), featuring overpopulation and the future growth in size and power of large corporations among other developing forces. Near the end of Revisited, he said that we would learn the outcome in 50-100 years. That was 65 years ago. The fight is now. Engagement is existential.
Very clear. ( I liked the drawings.)
Big corporations are the anvil, Citizens United is the hammer. We are the ingots.
The Chicago School of Economics (combined with the libertarian fantasy of Ayn Rand and company) is behind a lot of our present conundrums. The neo-liberal agenda put out by Reagan, Bush (2), Clinton and Obama (to a lesser extent and perhaps not by choice) promoted this tendency to oligopoly. Of course the corporations did not object, and CEOs charged forward with glee, lining their own pockets in the process. Robert Bork bears blame, but he was not alone, and it is a mistake to think he acted alone. The entire dismal science (economics) has to take the blame for this one. Turning Homo sapiens into Homo economicus was/is a tragic error. We are not our economy, we are relationships that go way beyond this realm. By reducing us to purely economic relations we lose both our humanity and our place in a rapidly degrading global ecosystem.