Opinion: Monopolies have made America’s Covid response worse
The strength of monopolies and oligopolies — where a few corporations rule an industry —
The strength of monopolies and oligopolies — where a few corporations rule an industry — has long come at the expense of the smaller businesses and entrepreneurs they muscled out of the competition. And now, as a result of monopolies’ extractive business models, the rest of the economy must battle the pandemic from a point of weakness. For the US economy to recover from Covid-19, then, we must fight monopoly power.
Many corporate giants such as Facebook, Amazon and Google have obtained their dominant positions throughout the years in large part through anticompetitive acquisitions and conduct that violates antitrust laws, not by purely competing based on merit.
Whether the dominant corporations are Big Tech, Big Pharma or Big Agriculture, the problem is the same: A monopolized economy works for only a select few.
The way to “build back better” is to create a resilient economy with distributed resources and prosperity, dynamic entrepreneurship and thriving small businesses. But instead we’re currently on track to emerge from this crisis with an even more monopolized economy.
Our health care system is fragile and expensive. It doesn’t need to be this way. This is a result of choices made by policymakers.
Now is the time to build a better world — in health care and beyond. Congress can start by giving small and mid-sized businesses — the engines of jobs and innovation — the stimulus funds they need. Then Congress should pass the reforms proposed in the House Judiciary’s Big Tech report, including structural breakups to remove conflicts of interest by dominant platforms, strengthening the antitrust laws and enforcement across the board, requiring non-discrimination rules that ensure dominant corporations offer the same terms to all, and interoperability rules that promote competition.
Congress also can use its Big Tech investigation as a model for diving deep into other industries. Lawmakers must put an end to sweetheart tax breaks and subsidies enjoyed by the most powerful corporations. Anti-corruption reform that reduces the influence of money in politics is another critical step to create an economy that works for everyone.
Rather than our government choosing policies that give dominant corporations even more power at the expense of the rest of us, now is the time to reimagine what our economy and our lives should look like. Our government can amplify inequality and further weaken our nation, leaving us vulnerable to the next threat that will inevitably come, or it can disperse power and wealth and build a stronger, more resilient economy. The winners of our current system will use their political power to push for the former. The latter will only happen if we, the American people, demand it.