America’s 40-year experiment with big business is over – News Vibe24

    America’s 40-year experiment with big business is over - Times of India
    On Friday, President Biden signed an extended executive order aimed at reducing corporate governance, boosting business competition and giving consumers and employees more choice and power. The order includes 72 wide-ranging initiatives – internet neutrality and cheaper hearing aids, more Big Tech control and suppression of high rates charged by charterers.
    The president described his mandate as a return to the “antitrust tradition” of Roosevelt’s presidencies at the turn of the century. This may come as a surprise to some listeners, as the order does not offer an immediate invitation to disband Facebook or Amazon – none of the trust is the idea of ​​antitrust law.
    But Mr. Biden’s executive order does something even more important than trust. It returns the United States to the great antitrust tradition that has driven social and economic reform almost since the nation’s founding. This tradition worries less about technocratic issues such as whether corporate concentrations will lead to lower consumer prices and more about wider social and political concerns about the catastrophic consequences that big business can have on our nation.
    In 1773, when American patriots poured tea from the British East India Company into Boston Harbor, they protested not only against an unfair tax, but also over the British crown monopoly in a favorite court. This sentiment flourished in the 19th century, when Americans from all walks of life saw rallies of economic power destroy both democracy and the free market. The expatriates took advantage of the antitrust ethic when they overthrew the subordinate power, and Andrew Jackson sought to dismantle the United States Second Bank because he supported the privileges of an Eastern commercial and economic elite.
    Threats to democracy have become even more pressing with the rise of giant corporations, often referred to as trust. When Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890, its author, Sen. John Sherman of Ohio, stated: “If we are not to endure a king as a political force, we must not endure a king to produce, transfer, and sell any of the needs of life. Forty-five years later, President Franklin Roosevelt reiterated this sentiment when he denounced the “economic kings” who “created a new despotism.” He saw concentrated industrial and economic power as an “industrial dictatorship” threatening democracy.
    Standard Oil and other trusts have been targeted by antitrust lawsuits not only for crushing their competitors and raising consumer prices, but also for undermining policy and exploiting their employees. The disintegration of these giant companies into smaller units may help, but few reformers believed that government antitrust initiatives provided the primary solution to the growing power imbalance in modern capitalism. What was needed was greater government regulation and strong unions.
    In the progressive era, courts have ruled that a wide variety of companies and industries “affected by the public interest” may be subject to the kind of government regulation – covering prices, products and even labor standards – that in recent years has largely limited to electricity and transport companies. Two decades later, the New Delegates sought to challenge monopoly power not only by renewing antitrust disputes but also by encouraging the development of the trade union to create an industrial democracy at the heart of the company itself.
    This antitrust tradition faded after World War II, collapsing into a heated debate that raised but one question: Will preventing a merger or dissolving a company lower consumer prices? Conservative law professor Robert Bork and a generation of like-minded lawyers and economists have convinced the Reagan administration, as well as the courts, that antitrust laws have prevented the creation of efficient, consumer-friendly businesses. Even liberals like Lester Thurow and Robert Reich believed that antitrust laws did not matter if American companies competed abroad. In 1992, for the first time in a century, no antitrust board appeared on the Democratic Party platform.
    Mr Biden has now rightly stated that this 40-year “experiment” has failed. “Capitalism without competition is not capitalism,” he declared at the signing of the executive order. “It is exploitation.”
    Perhaps the most progressive part of the executive branch is its complaint about the way big companies are suppressing wages. They do so by monopolizing their job market – consider Walmart wage pressures in a small town – and forcing millions of their employees to sign non-competitive deals that prevent them from getting a better job in the same profession or industry.
    The president and his antitrust cabinet have transformed an important aspect of traditional business competition. For a long time, those who advocate more competition between companies have offered employers a warrant to reduce wages and benefits, as well as outsourcing services and production. But Mr. Biden envisions a world in which companies compete with employees. “If your employer wants to keep you, he or she should be worth staying with,” Biden said Friday. “This is the kind of competition that leads to better wages and greater job dignity.”
    The antitrust tradition of the nation emerges once again.


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