America’s Monopoly Problem, Explained by Your Internet Bill

February 18, 2020 Media

Incumbents have gotten good at keeping out competitors — and they’ve been allowed to do it.

The government is supposed to use antitrust law to ensure competition and stop companies from becoming so big that they push everyone else out. Basically, antitrust is supposed to prevent anticompetitive monopolies. In the US in recent decades, regulators, enforcers, and the courts have taken a laxer attitude toward antitrust, which has resulted in more mergers, or companies growing to the point that it’s hard for rivals to stay in the game.

“We basically had a whole legal framework prior to the 1970s that was dedicated to making sure that our businesses were protected from concentrated capital, and so producers were allowed to collaborate in a lot of different ways through unions or coops or various associations, and they got help in the form of lending, supports, patents, copyrights, etc.,” said Matt Stoller, research director at the American Economic Liberties Project, an organization aimed at combating corporate power, and author of Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy. “Those were all things that were dedicated to protecting the producer from the capitalist, and we just reversed those assumptions.”