Extreme economic concentration creates the conditions ripe for dictatorship.

In fascist regimes the leader seeks alliances with giant corporations, as long as they obey him, and in return they avoid democratic accountability and can continue growing. Maybe you can guess where I might be going with this?

In the last few years the US has virtually ignored the anti-trust laws that helped the country avoid a concentration of economic power. This is not just a Trump phenomenon – it was occurring under Obama, who seemed oblivious to it (or frightened of standing up to it?). I remember being introduced to a neighbour who was a senior staff member of the Justice Department (responsible for mergers and acquisitions). I told him I thought the number of giant mergers of big companies was crazy, damaging and undemocratic. I said I hoped he was busy doing something about it. The withering look he gave me told me everything I needed to know. (Sigh! From my worms-eye view I try to take advantage of opportunities, rare though they are).

We now have monopolies and oligopolies in finance, media, the airlines (Oh, dear!), telecoms, chemicals, hospitals and pharmaceuticals, and, as a result, Government has already, to a degree, lost influence over economic policy. The titans have created stagnant wages, pay little tax, give mind-blowingly dreadful service and lousy value for money. All over the world people feel frustrated and helpless, and not just in the US (Orban in Hungary, Bolsonoro in Brazil, even arguably Brexit, are symptoms of the same problem)

Apparently the US Anti-Merger Act of 1950 is still on the books and hasn’t been repealed. It is ignored by the judges and lawyers. Congress is a pushover, dependent on election money from – guess who?, overwhelmed with lobbyists from the giant companies, blind to the dangers of unaccountable private power.

This is a situation where more people should turn to Epicureanism – how can we have peace of mind and a pleasant life when our democratic rights are stolen from us and when gormless officials, lawyers and congressmen cave with every giant merger?
(Inspired by an article in the New York Times by Ti Wu, author of “The Curse of Bigness: anti-trust in the new Gilded Age”.

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