Tuesday, August 9, 2022

What America is doing against corporate power

Thus: 07/01/2022 4:42 PM

Even in the United States, the power of individual corporations is increasing. The United States has a long tradition of breaking monopolies. But it is not easy for politicians to create more competition – for example on the oil market.

Von Katrin Brand, ARD-Studio Washington

The US President has something against monopolies. Let me be very clear: “Capitalism without competition is not capitalism, it is exploitation,” Joe Biden said last summer. Having said that, he signed an executive order to encourage competition in the US economy.

Concentrations in the United States have been increasing for decades. In more than 75 percent of U.S. industries, a large number of large corporations now control more business than they did 20 years ago, according to the White House. This applies above all to healthcare, the financial sector and agriculture.

exorbitant prices as a result of concentration

Jack Beatty, radio journalist and author, can think of even more examples: “In 1977 four meat processing plants controlled 25 percent of the market, today they control 85 percent”.

Extremely high prices can be one result of monopoly, while scarcity is another. Customers in the United States have felt it over the past few weeks: There was a paucity of baby food and tampons were also scarce. “People are asking, ‘Why are we running out of supplies? BT says. “It’s not just about China. It’s also about the fact that we have fewer and fewer manufacturers because of this concentration.”

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The United States has a long tradition of breaking monopolies. The first “antitrust” law was the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. It was amended by other laws, with the competition authority the FTC and the Justice Department overseeing the whole thing.

Slight movement since the Microsoft case

The first major case was the collapse of the Standard Oil refinery into 34 separate companies in 1911. AT&T was a big deal in the 1970s/80s, Microsoft was indicted in the 1990s but the appeal was won. Not much has happened since then.

But now Republicans and Democrats are trying to sabotage the power of large digital corporations. A planned anti-discrimination law, for example, targets corporations that prioritize their companies over their platforms.

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Charlotte Sleman, of lobby group Public Knowledge, said in a recent panel discussion, “We think this creates a real conflict of interest. They have incentives and opportunities to favor their products and not have a smaller competitor.” It’s very difficult to attract customers.”

New cartel guard to check oil industry

Another push is trying to keep the market open to apps. There is cross-party support for this.

In return, Biden’s government wants the new FTC chief Lina Khan to take over the oil market. High prices at the pumps are bad for the president and his election figures. To do this, oil companies would have to prove that they actually agreed on the prices. And it’s very unlikely.

How far the US government will go with its efforts is completely open. The next election could change everything, with Republicans showing little interest in setting limits on entrepreneurs. Because President Coolidge’s old adage “America’s business is business” still applies – America’s business is business.

Monopoly is harmful to democracy

Katrin Brand, ARD Washington, July 1, 2022 2:27 PM

Nation World News Desk
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