consultants are sandburs

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Given a name, will it sell or will there be rebranding?

The Nation, here. Links in the excerpt are from the original item:

The University of Chicago Stigler Center’s three-day conference asked: “Does America Have a Concentration Problem?” A sufficient response to this could be “go outside.” Virtually every major sector in our economy has been whittled down to a few major players. Two companies produce nearly all of America’s toothpaste. One, Luxottica, produces nearly all the sunglasses. There are four cable and Internet providers, who have divvied up the country and rarely compete. There are four major airlines. There are four major commercial banks. There are four major Internet platforms—Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Google—controlling your information flow, your data, and your virtual life.

[...] A new group of scholars and activists has rebelled against Chicago-school dictates. You can call them the “New Brandeis movement.” Louis Brandeis, before reaching the Supreme Court, advised President Woodrow Wilson in the election of 1912, condemning “the curse of bigness” and favoring breakups of those trusts that the Sherman Act had yet to dismantle. Under Wilson, Congress closed Sherman Act loopholes with the Clayton Antitrust Act and created the Federal Trade Commission to combat monopoly power. As Brandeis wrote, “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

“America was founded to provide people the wherewithal to protect ourselves from enslavement,” said Barry Lynn of the open-markets program at the New America Foundation. Perhaps nobody in the New Brandeis movement has done more than Lynn to revive the Progressive-era conception of monopoly as a danger to American liberty. “Anti-monopoly, from the Boston Tea Party onward, was one of the key tools that we the people used to keep ourselves free,” he said.

[...] The Chicago school, perhaps through its rigidity, has begun to lose its grip on antitrust theory. The Obama Council of Economic Advisers started taking antitrust seriously last year in a series of reports. Justin Pierce, a Federal Reserve economist, presented his research at the conference that manufacturing mergers are associated with price markups of between 15 and 50 percent without any statistically significant effect on productivity, undermining even the base Chicago-school case. Senator Elizabeth Warren gave remarks on concentration in July: “Today, in America, competition is dying.” Senators of both parties are pushing for more aggressive antitrust enforcement. Renata Hesse, briefly the acting head of antitrust at the Justice Department, gave a powerful speech last September dismantling Chicago-school interpretations.

But few of these battles played out face-to-face. And the New Brandeis movement’s challenge left the Chicago school with few friends. Richard John, a history professor at Columbia University, derided the subverting of Sherman’s vision for ideological interests, arguing that the Chicago school “remains intent on reclaiming the past to invent the future.” Former Obama officials like Peter Orszag and Austan Goolsbee were unwilling to line up with the “nothing to see here” crowd. “There are cracks in the aqueduct and it will split soon,” said Barry Lynn.

[...] In other words, the New Brandeis school’s forward assault can do more than change politics. It can change minds.

[italics added] So, "New Brandeis" must look at "Old Brandeis," the man himself in the Wilson, Jekyll Island, WW I, Smedley Butler, Palmer Raids history, and in light of that, is it a good name or not so good? Surely something is wrong when cable bills are so high and the bundled packages are so full of forced-on-us dreck. Somebody's policy is shorting us big time, but Louis Brandeis was not Paul Revere, or was he? History of those times seems unclear and given short shrift in our national educational structuring.

UPDATE: Where was Brandeis, what was his role, when this was passed - something keeping Snowden in exile? Along with two Presidents - two Parties - declining a pardon for Snowden. Answers to questions are seldom as clean and clear-cut as the asking.

FURTHER: Unanimous Supreme Court decision.

No comments: