Lynn Stuart Parramore
Something wicked has crept into American society, something that many hoped was left back in the dustbins of the 19th century. We’re talking about monopoly, the ogre that screams capitalism run amok. Monopolies, or near-monopolies, as are most common in America, rise up through a lack of competition. When one or a handful of players dominate the marketplace, get ready for higher prices, low-quality products, and crap wages for you and me.
Just a few decades ago, this destructive activity would have been illegal. But advocates for small government and faulty market theories successfully drove a complete unraveling of the regulations that used to keep these monsters at bay. The result has been disastrous. Monopolies are back, and they are bigger and nastier than ever.
You can hardly open a newspaper without reading about a monopolist making a power grab. Some monopolistic industries mess around with your daily life in an obvious way, like Big Telecom bringing you the low-grade misery of shoddy service and defective products. Others fly a bit lower under the radar, like the credit reporting monopolist Fair Isaac Corp, which can blast your financial existence in a nanosecond.
Monopolists buy politicians a dime a dozen, and they write laws to preserve their power. Yet until recently, few journalists had given this subject an in-depth look.