Monopoly Basics

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Competition Philosophy

Public policies structure markets in ways that can make them open and competitive at one extreme or closed and cornered at the other. The most familiar example are anti-trust laws. But competition policy also includes patent laws, occupational licensing requirements, prohibitions on price discrimination, “net neutrality” regulations, and other policies that set the terms of competition within any market.

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Entrepreneurship & Independent Business

Entrepreneurship is essential to economic progress and to upward mobility. But market concentration in the services, retailing, and light manufacturing industries has removed the incentive for small business owners to innovate, compete, and invest in research and development.

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Food & Agriculture

Today, from meat to beer to seeds, the food industry is highly consolidated. The removal of a long-standing ownership structure, one that distributed profit and opportunity across America’s landscape, means that now, most land and most animals are now cared for by corporations, not by individuals.

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Free Press & Platform Monopolies

Online intermediaries have emerged as the railroad monopolies of the 21st century, controlling access to market and increasingly determining who wins and who loses in today’s economy. Their dominance drives inequality and afflicts citizens and business-owners in all corners of American society.

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Health Care & Pharmaceuticals

Monopoly is a huge factor in driving up prices and driving down quality in America’s health care sector. After waves of hospital mergers, most Americans now live in communities where only one or two hospitals still compete for their health care dollars, and where competition among health care insurers has also largely disappeared. Meanwhile, competition in the pharmaceutical industry is stymied by patent monopolies and highly concentrated corporate ownership.

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Labor & Economic Freedom

Workers are the backbone of the American economy. But the growth of monopolies intensifies income inequality, suppresses wages, and erodes the political and economic well-being of workers.

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Historically, Americans have joined together across party lines to contain political corruption by containing monopolies. It’s a lesson we need to learn again. Anti-monopoly policies that de-concentrate business prevent excessive concentrations of economic power so that democracy and freedom can flourish.

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Corporate giants are reaping unprecedented profits by collecting and trading information about our personal lives. These include digital platforms like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, but also more conventional players like credit card companies and credit rating agencies. In each instance increasing corporate concentration and declining competition reduces the ability of ordinary Americans to resist corporate assaults on their right to privacy.

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Trade & National Security

Public policies that affect the terms of trade with other nations, including tariffs, have profound effects on the structure of markets, ranging from unwarranted protection for domestic monopolies to the promotion of transnational trading companies that exploit labor, evade environmental standards, and create dangerously overextended supply channels. At the same time trade policy plays an important role in strengthening or weakening America’s geopolitical position in the world, making trade, competition policy, and national security intrinsically linked.

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In the 19th and early 20th century, Americans struggled to craft public policies that could contain monopolistic power of railroad barons like Jay Gould and William Vanderbilt. Today, monopoly in transportation has again become a central issue of political economy, as “deregulation” and lack of anti-trust enforcement leads to a highly concentrated airline industry, and as newly-emerging technologies, from self-driving cars to ride-sharing apps, stand in danger of being captured and controlled by private monopolies.

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Democracy & Monopoly

Airlines & Monopoly

Consumer Choice & Monopoly

Entrepreneurship & Monopoly

Health Insurance & Monopoly

Hospitals & Monopoly

Innovation & Monopoly

Workers & Monopoly

High Drug Prices & Monopoly

Regional Inequality & Monopoly

Monopoly by the Numbers

Income Inequality & Monopoly