“I’m not willing to give up and let a handful of monopolists dominate our economy and democracy,” Senator Elizabeth Warren said in the last Democratic debate held in Ohio. “It’s time to fight back.”
That’s a pull quote from both the debate and the video posted below. Once more, it is an MSNBC video that features Matt Stoller, author of Goliath, from the Open Markets Institute.
Let’s note for newcomers the principle of separating the wheat from the chaff, because there is no other intellectual tool we’ve seen that allows independent minded thinkers to deftly select demonstrable facts from across the left-right divide, while still avoiding a blanket endorsement for someone that said something true, but perhaps has the wrong policy or proposal to address that evidence-based factual truth.
In response to a question about 202o hopeful Andrew Yang’s dismissiveness about existing antitrust laws, Stoller had this to say. “No, of course not, it’s ridiculous. We’ve known about stealing and theft and monopolization for a thousand years. Just enforce the laws we have on the books,” says Stoller in this video below at about the 3:20 time mark.
“We’ve seen this kind of con artistry over and over…” said Stoller about Yang and his backers. Bingo.
That’s not to say that Yang is wrong on everything, but to borrow the phrase from former Rep. John Delaney and apply it to Yang’s Universal Basic Income plan, it is “Fairy Tale Economics” that has been debunked by both logic and actual experience wherever it has been tried. It may sound great, but it doesn’t work.
Empirically, Stoller exaggerates when he says that corporations aren’t spending on R&D – research and development – “because there is no competition” because of monopolies. Of course there is a measure of competition as well as R&D spending.
But Stoller has an important point in saying “We have to talk about what is going on in our economy and that’s power. It’s monopoly power. In Goliath [his book] I go over this. We’ve had this problem for 100 years...” – more actually – “We need to start having these debates again [about monopolization, consolidation, and antitrust law use]…Power is the issue. Monopoly power in markets…That’s why Democrats brought up [at the last debate] Robert Bork twice, who was an antitrust attorney, because that’s what the problem is,” explained an animated Stoller. Note that a document by the University of Michigan Law School that examines Bork’s antitrust thoughts is linked here as a download.
Politics editor of TheRoot.com, Jason Johnson near the end of the video posted above then makes his own pertinent contribution. “Both things can be true,” said Johnson, meaning that automation is a threat, but so too is monopolization. That’s Johson’s ‘bingo’ moment in this MSNBC news and issues discussion video.
“Monopoly power can be a problem when talking about the economy,” said Johnson. “But you can not ignore the human capital that is no longer able to work because of different kinds of advancements [i.e. automation, AI, robotics, etc.].” Like Stoller, Johnson has exaggerated at some points, but in fairness, that occurs when people are talking fast for a limited segment of a news show.
Johnson follows up by saying you can’t pretend that people aren’t losing their jobs due to advancement and technology. He cites examples that are demonstrably accurate.
Those “advancements” are often coming from the same monopolistic powers that Stoller warns about. One challenge that is looming in America is that automation allows big companies that have access to capital to automate jobs away. That reduces the normal labor-management supply and demand economic equilibrium.
Clayton Homes is demonstrably in that mix, although they have and would frame it differently.
This MSNBC video posted above is a thoughtful discussion that once more demonstrates a point that even the White House press room periodically makes when they cite a source that they often loathe, such CNN when ever they can. President Donald J. Trump takes questions even from media he distrusts, an example that the Manufactured Housing Institute can learn from.
It is too much to say that all left-wing – or right wing – media is always bad or good. The challenge of our era has been in good measure that such stark, blanket divisions can lead to incorrect conclusion on specific issues on either side of the political spectrum. But it would be equally mistaken to ignore those media divisions.
The Bottom Line?
The subjects raised in this video did not include ending the Citizen’s United decision, or establishing term limits, each of which has fans on the left-right spectrum. A far more fundamental issue is that monopoly power is near the root of many social, political, and economic ills in this country. America is not alone; it is occurring elsewhere too.
That monopolistic power – ‘the system is rigged” has been cited by both Democrats and Republicans with greater vigor in the last 3 years.
Senator Warren is right to raise the issues, but she is demonstrably wrong on how she plans to fix it. More taxes are not the answer, because the wealthy can escape that, as has been proven time and again here in the U.S. and overseas too.
The better solution is one that Warren herself has raised, which is to enforce antitrust laws vigorously.
Ironically perhaps, but candidate and now President Donald J. Trump has made similar points, but his solutions have – at least on paper – been to also speak more about antitrust types of activities. There is also growing evidence that the Trump Administration is taking a harder look at antitrust law enforcement than several either the proceeding Obama or Bush Administrations did.
The issue of economic power’s corrosive influence on American politics was front and center in this 2016 campaign rally that a Trump backer turned into a video.
The Department of Justice’s ‘top cop’ for antitrust action put a fitting dot over the i in citing the following.
Stoller, perhaps due to time constraints evident in such videos, had a few missteps, but the thrust of his commentary that a focus in the national discussion needs to include antitrust law is spot on. It is incongruously being increasingly embraced by voices on both sides of the political aisle.
Without that enforcement of good, existing laws – including antitrust laws – manufactured home residents, workers of all kinds, and smaller businesses will suffer. That in turn will harm the nation.
That’s your initial reality-check on today’s first look at “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)
Submitted by Soheyla Kovach for MHProNews.com.
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