To the editor:
Congress is holding hearings regarding anti-trust issues with the major technology giants -- Google, FaceBook and Amazon. At the same time, the Justice Department has just approved the merger of the two telecom giants, T-Mobile and Sprint.
I hope I'm not the only one who sees the disconnect here.
The way these companies became so big and powerful is by buying up their competitors and side businesses. For example, Facebook acquiring 79 other companies, including WhatsApp, Instagram, and Friendster; Amazon acquiring retailers such as Whole Foods (which had previously acquired Wild Oats); and Google buying up over 200 companies.
Similarly, the "too big to fail" banks that we spent $750 billion bailing out in 2008 got that way by serially acquiring other banks and investment companies.
Another example is the landline telephone companies. In 1984, the government broke up the near monopoly of AT&T into the "Baby Bells." But then, it allowed them to all merge again into Verizon.
The best way to deal with a monopoly is to prevent it from forming in the first place. Sadly, the government agencies pretty much just rubber stamp corporate mergers after only token review. Indeed, the anti-trust laws have been pretty much disregarded ever since the Sherman Anti-Trust Act passed in 1890.
The underlying problem is that, for at least the past 150 years, the federal government has existed primarily to serve the interests of wealth, rather than the welfare of ordinary people. This is seen in the repeating rounds of tax cuts given to the top 1% and multi-national corporations (creating bigger and bigger deficits) and the bloated, unaccountable military budget that mostly funnels profits to defense contractors and protects corporate interests overseas.
This, in turn, is enabled by the massive amounts of money spent lobbying and contributing to the campaigns of elected officials and the corporate-government revolving door that puts corporate executives in charge of the agencies that regulate them.
This has been further enabled by a Supreme Court that almost always rules in favor of corporations over the rights of people and governments.
We can't even begin to address this until the influence of money on our government is restrained. A strong starting point is the "We the People Amendment" (Joint Res. 48) that would establish that constitutional rights are only for real people and not artificial entities, and that money is not First Amendment free speech.