The Progressive Case against Progressive Antimonopolism
66 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2021 Last revised: 12 Aug 2022
Date Written: June 10, 2021
Contemporary interest among American progressives in using antitrust law to address wealth inequality lacks a firm intellectual foundation. Indeed, both the original American progressives of a century ago, as well as Thomas Piketty, whose work sparked contemporary interest in inequality, agree that inequality’s source is scarcity, rather than monopoly, and so inequality will persist even in perfectly competitive markets. The only real solution is taxation, not a potentially destructive campaign of breakup. Why, then, is antimonopolism so popular among American progressives today? There are two reasons. The first is American anti-statism, which has closed off tax policy as a viable political solution to inequality, forcing progressive 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.
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: Suggested Citation