WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Friday wrote a Substack post explaining how the massive concentration of economic power in the technology, financial, and media industries over the last forty years has come with both an economic and a spiritual cost for the American people. Murphy lays out how monopolies and anti-competitive markets have not only increased costs and depressed wages for workers, but they have also contributed to “the unspooling of America.”
Murphy highlighted the powerlessness many Americans feel living in a system where unelected mega-corporations make the rules that govern their daily lives: “Citizens may be frustrated with the quality of their government, but at least they have agency when it comes to who runs public institutions. They get to vote in and out elected leaders, and with that ability comes a feeling of empowerment and control. But increasingly, elected government isn’t making the decisions most critical to the lives of ordinary Americans. Instead, those decisions are made by monopoly or near-monopoly companies, who have so much power as to be nearly immune from government touch, and so much concentrated market share that consumers have no choice but to abide by their rules.”
On how government can fight back, Murphy wrote: “But there is good news – government possesses the tools necessary to unwind concentrated economic power. Some of these tools are old-fashioned regulatory power. For instance, why shouldn’t the rules of how our kids exist online be set by elected government instead of profit-obsessed private companies? Congress could, tomorrow, pass legislation to protect kids online and take back this rule-setting function from the wildly irresponsible hands of TikTok and Meta. Antitrust policy is another important, long dormant tool. Luckily, the Biden Administration has revived this capacity through a newly aggressive Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission. Suddenly, the big private governments are being held accountable by antitrust regulators, and that’s a great thing.”
Murphy concluded: “I care about breaking up monopoly power because it’s good for consumers and workers. Costs are too high and wages are too low for the people I represent in Connecticut, and antitrust policy is an important means to give consumers more power to find lower prices and give workers more power to bargain for higher wages. But I care just as much about the crappy way that a lot of people I represent are feeling today. There are a lot of reasons for America’s spiritual malaise, but this feeling of powerlessness is a big element. And taking power away from private governments and restoring it to consumers and workers, through truly competitive markets, or to citizens, through active government intervention in the economic rule setting, is a way to help replenish the soul of our nation.”
Earlier this week, Murphy hosted the first conversation in new series breaking down the Biden administration’s steps to shift the balance back in favor of the American people, focusing on FTC and DOJ’s recent actions to reshape major sectors like online commerce, internet search, health care, and airlines to the benefit of consumers. Murphy was joined by Bill McGee, Senior Fellow for Aviation and Travel at the American Economic Liberties Project, for a discussion on the DOJ’s lawsuit against the proposed JetBlue-Spirit merger and its potential consequences for consumers, airline workers, and local communities.
Read the full post here.