Challenging the New Curse of Bigness

Most of today’s abuses call for antitrust remedies from the Progressive Era—if we just get serious about enforcement.

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Media Outlet: American Prospect

K. Sabeel Rahman wrote for the American Prospect about the new curse of “bigness" in America with regard to anti-trust policy:

In a January speech on the excessive economic and political power of big finance, Bernie Sanders declared, “If Teddy Roosevelt, the Republican trust-buster were alive today, he would say, ‘Break ’em up.’ And he would be right.” Hillary Clinton invoked the same legacy. “It’s time to take a page from Teddy Roosevelt’s book and get our economy working for Americans again,” Clinton wrote last fall in an op-ed that called for expanded antitrust enforcement to counteract increasing corporate concentration.
The abuse of private power was the central concern for progressive reformers a century ago—and the same issues resonate today. From railroads to oil to finance, men like Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, John Rockefeller, and J.P. Morgan had centralized control over these core industries. Some used direct corporate ownership; others established networks of companies via trusts or interlocking boards of directors.

Author:

K. Sabeel Rahman was a Class of 2016 & 2017 New America Fellow and author of Democracy Against Domination. He is an assistant professor of law at Brooklyn Law School.