In The American Conservative, Jonathan Tepper makes the case that America’s industries have become highly concentrated and monopolistic. He goes on to point out President Trump’s campaign promises to fight such extraordinarily powerful industries, and explains how the Republican Party before the 1980s was a powerful check on monopoly power in the United States. Tepper writes:
In Eisenhower’s last State of the Union address attributed the strength of the U.S. economy to his administration’s “vigorous enforcement of antitrust laws over the last eight years and a continuing effort to… enhance our economic liberties.”
In the early 1980s, everything changed. The Republican platform has come to ignore antitrust and the dangers of highly concentrated industries. The Chicago School took over antitrust, and since then, antitrust enforcement has not so much collapsed as thudded into the abyss. The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission is often staffed by people who have gone through the revolving door and view their job as helping approve mergers.
Republicans are generally thought of as the party of business and fierce supporters of capitalism. Yet over time by blessing egregious mergers and increasingly concentrated industries, they have become supporters of monopolies and less competition.
The reason to support vigorous antitrust enforcement is not merely American and Republican tradition, but the support of capitalism with free, open and competitive markets.
According to the dictionary, capitalism is “characterized by the freedom of capitalists to operate or manage their property for profit in competitive conditions.” In America, the battle for competition is being lost. After four separate mega merger waves in the last forty years, industries are becoming highly concentrated in the hands of very few players, with little real competition. This goes against capitalism.
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