Antimonopolism as a Symptom of American Political Dysfunction

58 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2021

See all articles by Ramsi Woodcock

Ramsi Woodcock

University of Kentucky College of Law

Date Written: June 10, 2021


Contemporary American interest in using antitrust law to address wealth inequality is a symptom of American political dysfunction rather than a reflection of any intellectual advance regarding the sources of inequality. Indeed, both the original American progressives of a century ago, as well as Thomas Piketty, whose work sparked contemporary intellectual interest in inequality, agree that inequality’s source is scarcity, rather than monopoly, and so will persist even in perfectly competitive markets. The only real solution is taxation, not a potentially destructive campaign of breakup. There are two cause of contemporary American antimonopolism. The first is American anti-statism, which has closed off tax policy as a viable political solution to inequality, forcing scholars and activists to seek a second- or third-best workaround in antitrust policy. The second is the American press, which is actively promoting antimonopolism as a way of fighting back against Google and Facebook, two companies that have badly outcompeted the press for advertising dollars in recent years. Given these idiosyncratic roots of contemporary American antimonopolism, other jurisdictions seeking to address inequality may have little to gain from following the American example, particularly if taxation remains a viable policy option for them.

Keywords: antimonopolism, antitrust, inequality, wealth distribution, monopoly, taxation, tax and transfer, double distortion, critical legal studies, monopoly rents, scarcity rents, progressives, Piketty

JEL Classification: D18, D30, D33, D39, D40, D41, D61, D63, D69, E25, H21, K21, K23, K34, L4, L50, L51, L52, Z18

Suggested Citation

Woodcock, Ramsi, Antimonopolism as a Symptom of American Political Dysfunction (June 10, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Ramsi Woodcock (Contact Author)

University of Kentucky College of Law ( email )

620 S. Limestone Street
Lexington, KY 40506-0048
United States

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