Antimonopolism as a Symptom of American Political Dysfunction
58 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2021
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: Suggested Citation