‘Antitrust’ by Amy Klobuchar, and ‘The Tyranny of Big Tech’ by Josh Hawley

Hawley’s book begins with an anecdote from a 2019 meeting with Mark Zuckerberg in which the senator says he challenged the head of Facebook to break up his company. (Zuckerberg said no, unsurprisingly.) “Tech moguls have come to power supported by an ideology that blesses greatness and power concentrated in the economy and government,” Hawley writes.

And Ms Klobuchar: “The sheer volume of M&A, outsized monopoly power, and grotesque exclusionary behavior in the big tech industry exemplify what’s happening with BIG’s power.”

Pretty similar, huh?

Mr. Hawley and Ms. Klobuchar are channeling the view of some economists and legal scholars that the accelerating concentration of many American industries is the root cause of many problems, including income inequality. From this point of view, if American laws enforced competition more effectively, Americans would have better healthcare, cheaper cell phone bills, and more control over what happens to our digital data.

Wow, they love Teddy Roosevelt. Both senators are nostalgic for when the former president challenged the great corporate barons of his day in the railroads, oil, finance and other industries. (This view of history, but especially Mr. Hawley’s, is a bit off the mark.)

The point of the hero cult is to say that American law and the American public throughout history have fought against corporations that they felt were becoming too powerful. The senators want to recover that spirit of rebellion, both citizen and government, against corporate “greatness”. This is also a point that law professor and antitrust advocate Zephyr Teachout effectively made in her book on corporate monopolies last year. (Yes, there are many books on antitrust.)

Add Comment