Corporations Have Become More Dangerous to Democracy Since Reagan

Barry Lynn, Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, talks about his book, Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction.

According to Lynn (speaking in the video below), “in 1981 the Reagan administration changed the interpretation of our anti-trust laws. Rather than use these laws to prevent the concentration of economic power, we should use these laws to protect ourselves as consumers. We should use these laws to promote efficiency, not protect liberty. So, in the generation since then, they have used these laws to promote efficiency (supposedly) by creating more and more monopolies.”

Lynn says that one of the worst aspects of monopolies is that they destroy jobs, both as part of the process of concentration and by preventing new business startups, the source of most job creation.

“There’s nothing inevitable about monopolization,” Lynn says. “It’s a political process.”

In his book, Lynn says this:

” … for anyone who is trying to make sense of what is taking place in our nation and thr world today, monopoly is the great missing force. Just as any effort to discuss physics without taking into account the work of Isaac Newton would result in much free=floating nonsense, the same is true of any effort to discuss today’s economics without taking into account monopolization. In addition to helping illuminate such recent phenomena as the cascading collapses in our financial system and gthe near collapse of our automotive industry, monopolization also helps to explain such otherwise mysterious phenomena as the following:

  • Why it’s so hard to launch a successful small business
  • Why so many jobs were moved offshore so quickly
  • Why it’s so difficult to control medical costs
  • Why it’s taken so long to blend cleaner technologies into our cars and our homes
  • Why the quality of our food, drugs and toys is declining
  • Why the U.S. trade surplus is so huge and persistent
  • Why corporate managers outsource so many activities
  • Why corporate profits reached such … heights just before the fall1
  • Why the powerful keep getting more powerful

Not one of these phenomena can be attributed solely to monopolization, yet not one can be understood without taking monopolization into account.”

“We need to break this concentration apart,” Lynn says.


  1. Carrie Johnson, “Wall Street, Washington Huddle on U.S. Markets,” Washington Post, Mar. 14, 2007 []

Comments

One Response to “Corporations Have Become More Dangerous to Democracy Since Reagan”
  1. depelton says:

    Lynn’s deepest insight is that our increasingly complex and interconnected financial and industrial institutions are becoming more and more unstable and vulnerable to “cascading collapse,” while at the same time those same institutions have socialized more and more of their risks (that is, passed the risk on to taxpayers).

    In programming we used to refer to this as a system that “will not scale.” (It tends to fail more at larger sizes).

    Read what he says here (from the Preface, page xiv):