Dept of Too Big:
Power, Not Price
2 July 2014

¶ In today’s Dealbook, Steven Davidoff Solomon notes that huge business combines have roared back into existence notwithstanding the anti-trust legislation that was designed to stifle them at birth. This has happened because the new megafirms are not nearly as interested in eliminating competition as their Gilded Age predecessors were. What the new behemoths crave is not monopoly but political power — the negative political power to retain their freedom to do as they wish.

Every industry now has its own Washington-based nonprofit to push its agenda. For wireless it is CTIA, and for cable it is the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. There is even an e-cigarettes group called the Electronic Cigarette Industry Group. The new megacorporations, simply by virtue of their size, can use these organizations to lobby for significant change. And with the political-spending rights given to them by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United decision, these corporations are even more powerful. They are able to steer large sums to preferred candidates. Though they have yet to flex that muscle to the extent that they might, the fear that they could do so is enough to give these companies significant political power with politicians.

This accretion of power is manifestly undesirable — is it not? Solomon is right (if unrealistic) to call for a legislative overhaul.