Saturday open thread for night owls. Stacy Mitchell: ‘6 ways to rein in today’s toxic monopolies’

Saturday open thread for night owls. Stacy Mitchell: ‘6 ways to rein in today’s toxic monopolies’

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, where her research focuses on economic concentration and the health of local economies. At The Nation, she writes—6 Ways to Rein In Today’s Toxic Monopolies:

After nearly four decades of lax antitrust policy, during which a handful of corporations have been allowed to gobble up market share like a horde of deranged amoebas, the consequences of unfettered monopoly have become painfully apparent. Competition has fizzled, replaced by pockets of extreme concentration. The number of new businesses has plunged. Wages have stagnated. Inequality has spiked. And extreme wealth—alongside its evil twin, extreme power—has pooled in fewer and fewer hands.

Mercifully, smart minds have been busy mulling smart solutions, brainstorming ways to begin reining in today’s mega-monopolies. Here are six suggestions. —The Nation

1. HOLD FIELD HEARINGS ON THE IMPACT OF CONCENTRATED ECONOMIC POWER

Many Americans feel the consequences of monopoly in their daily lives. Nurses in Michigan saw their income depressed by an estimated 20 percent as a result of alleged collusion among dominant hospitals seeking to keep labor costs low. Dairy farmers in the Southeast contend they have been denied a fair price for their milk by two dominant firms that control the processing and distribution of milk. 

It’s no wonder that about two-thirds of Americans believe the economic system “unfairly favors powerful interests.”

That sentiment should prompt members of Congress to organize regional field hearings to investigate the real-world impacts of concentrated economic power and engage citizens in a conversation about what to do about it.

2. BRING DAYLIGHT TO THE NATION’S ANTITRUST AGENCIES […]

3. SET A HIGHER BAR FOR APPROVING MERGERS […]

4. BREAK UP BIG TECH […] 

5. BLOCK BIG CORPORATIONS FROM USING THEIR FINANCIAL MIGHT TO CRUSH SMALLER COMPETITORS […]

6. PASS ANTI-MONOPOLY POLICIES AT THE LOCAL LEVEL […]

Cities and states can take significant steps to protect their citizens from monopolies, while dispersing opportunity and promoting competition. (My organization, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, focuses on providing policy ideas to help them do so.)

A growing number of places are taking up the cause. […] In 2014, the citizens of North Dakota voted overwhelmingly to keep their state’s pharmacy ownership law, which mandates that pharmacies be independently owned and has largely spared North Dakotans from the higher prices and other harms that the rest of the country is seeing as a result of concentration in the prescription benefits industry.

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Politicians saying they want to arm teachers when they won’t even fund feeding children is the most absurd thing.So you’ll pay for every teacher to have a Beretta, but not for every kid to have a decent meal?Seriously, vote them out. Idiots.

— David Yankovich (@DavidYankovich) February 17, 2018

BLAST FROM THE PAST

On this date at Daily Kos in 2005—”Controversial” Negroponte Nominated to Be First Director of National Intelligence:

The current U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte, has been nominated to become the first Director of National Intelligence […]

Negroponte began his diplomatic career in 1960 and served in South Vietnam before becoming an aide to Henry Kissinger during negotiations in Paris with North Vietnam. From 1981 to 1985, he was U.S. ambassador to Honduras, where he helped carry out the Reagan administration’s efforts, using the Contra rebels, to oust the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. He also served as ambassador to Mexico and the Philippines. After leaving the diplomatic service in 1997, Negroponte worked as a senior executive with the McGraw-Hill publishing company. In 2001, Bush appointed him as ambassador to the United Nations, a post he held until he was named ambassador to Iraq last year. A 1960 graduate of Yale University, the London-born son of a Greek shipping magnate speaks five languages.

Billmon provides “context”:

“The DNI [National Directorate of Investigation] maintained a secret unit – the Honduran Anti-Communist Liberation Army (ELACH), a rightist paramilitary organization which conducted operations against Honduran leftists. According to DELETED, during the period ELACH operated (1980-1984), ELACH’s operations included surveillance, kidnappings, interrogation under duress, and execution of prisoners who were Honduran revolutionaries.”

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