|[Opinion] Dictatorship: not all bad?|
Tim Phillips | Capacity | July 2017
When Roosevelt made his keynote speech to the Democratic national convention in 1936, he voiced the public’s fear of monopoly power: he called it "industrial dictatorship" and argued that Americans were "no longer free". A lawyer, Thurman Arnold, appointed to enforce antitrust laws, argued that concentration was "a tax on the public and a threat to democracy". For more than 50 years afterwards, the US Justice Department enforced its laws vigorously, with enthusiastic public support for government intervention.
Without the break-up of AT&T in 1982, most of the recent history of telecoms would have been different. Elsewhere, as more state-owned firms were privatised, their market power was also checked.
But a combination of rapid technological innovation, falling prices and clever lobbying has achieved widespread indifference to concentration among the public. Which is progress, if you have price-setting power over those consumers and you don’t want regulators poking around in your accounts.
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