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11.21 Air pollution cuts two years off global average lifespan, says study

11.20 Dead fish to power cruise ships [using dead fish to ultimately kill more fish, animals and plants but at a slower rate]

11.20 Importing gas to replace domestic supply could push emissions up 20%, AGL says [We have to stop killing everything!!!]

11.20 The arts have a leading role to play in tackling climate change [We have to stop killing everything!!!]

11.20 Indonesia: dead whale had 1,000 pieces of plastic in stomach [We have to stop killing everything!!!]

11.18 How Extreme Weather Is Shrinking the Planet

11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]

11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]

11.16 Scotland was first Industrialized Country to Run wholly on Wind in October

11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]

11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]

11.15  The long read:  The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]

11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]

11.15 Trump administration to cut air pollution from heavy-duty trucks

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11.19 The Biggest Threat to Free Speech No One Is Talking About

Daily: FAIR Blog
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11.21 With Statement Equal Parts 'Dangerous' and 'Imbecilic,' Trump Smears Khashoggi and Vows to Back Murderous Saudis [Keeping oil prices affordable prolongs its use, its burning and our dying]

11.21 Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith's Demands for Runoff Debate So Ridiculous, Viral Story Crashes Local Paper's Website

11.20 'Get Our Country Off Fossil Fuels': Demanding Green New Deal, Youth Climate Leaders to Flood Congressional Offices Nationwide

11.20 New York City subway and bus services have entered 'death spiral', experts say [death spirals are the end-thing nowadays]

11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]

11.19 Michael Bloomberg: Why I’m Giving $1.8 Billion for College Financial Aid

11.19 Trump’s Diminishing Power and Rising Rage

11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder

11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]

11.19 SNL explains Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s HQ2 strategy: trolling President Trump [2:55 SNL video]

Justice Matters

11.21 Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker got $1.2 million from non-profit that won’t disclose its donors [Mafia rule...]

11.20 'He may not rewrite immigration laws': Trump's asylum ban blocked by federal judge [Has anyone thought about putting razor-wire around the White House?]

11.20 Legal Blue Wave? New Democratic AGs Could Change the Face of Climate Fight

High Crimes?

11.21 Saudi Arabia Accused of Torturing Jailed Women’s-Rights Activists [Trump's great friends...]

11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]

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11.21 Nationalize California’s Pacific Gas & Electric

11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]

11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]

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11.21 'Who let this happen?': students rediscover antisemitism on Auschwitz field trip

11.21 Climate activists block London bridges in 'swarming' protest – video

11.21 How populist are you? Take our quiz to find out

11.20 Trump administration hawks putting US on course for war with Iran, report warns [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

11.18 New Evidence Emerges of Steve Bannon and Cambridge Analytica’s Role in Brexit

11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]

11.17 Saudi crown prince's 'fit' delays UN resolution on war in Yemen

11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]

11.17 CIA finds Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi killing – report

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  Whatever Happened to Antitrust?
Newspaper logo

COMMENTARY:

Whatever Happened to Antitrust?

by Dave Lindorff
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
“Too big to fail” should mean “too big to exist.” It’s not just that giant companies put the economy at risk. Their size makes them way too powerful economically and politically, too.
Now here’s a word you’re not hearing in America these days: anti-trust.

The country is being dragged down by monstrous businesses, all of which, we’re told, are just “too big to fail.” As a consequence of this, the nation’s taxpayers, and their progeny born and yet unborn, are having trillions of dollars sucked away to prop up these giant rotting corporate corpses.

Zombie banks, zombie automakers, zombie insurance companies, all bigger than nation states, and all on life-support.

There is a simple answer to this problem. Bust them up. Then sort through the pieces and let the worst parts go bust.

Looking at the nation’s largest banks—Bank of America, Citicorp, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and others—it’s clear that some parts of them are functional. They have, for example, massive deposits. They also have massive debts, many of these toxic and pretty much worthless. Instead of bailing these failed institutions out, which is not going to work anyhow, and which only delays and makes more costly the final day of reckoning, the answer is to have the government carve out the profitable banking parts of these financial institutions, and set them up as free-standing banks, and then let the rest of the carcass of each bank go down the tubes, taking gullible shareholders and bondholders with them.

Then the remaining banks left from this process should be broken up by anti-trust actions into regional or even state entities.

There is simply no need for national banks. Such institutions are a disaster for smaller companies and individuals, since they are only really interested in lending to big national or multinational companies. I remember years ago, back in the early 1980s, when bank consolidation was just getting underway, how Citibank began adding fees to its checking services simply because it wanted to drive away small customers. It was an indication of what was coming. Screw the little guy.

It doesn’t matter to large companies if there are no national banks. When they want a big loan, they simply arrange for a syndicate of smaller regional banks to put a package together. That is the way things used to be done, and it can be done again.

Insurance companies too should be broken up. It is ridiculous to have companies the size of AIG or Aetna or Prudential, any of whose failures can threaten the global economy. Again, there is simply no rationale for the existence of such mega-corporations. Insurance companies have ways of sharing risk through reinsurers, so that smaller companies are no more vulnerable to disaster than larger firms. They may, in fact, be less vulnerable, since their managers will be closer to their customers and probably more careful about what they insure and what they invest in.

Finally, let’s look at what used to be called “Detroit.” In its heyday, there were many more car companies than simply three. There were American Motors, Hudson, Packard, and Studebaker, there was Mack Trucks. Then we had a wave of consolidation and bankruptcy. In the end, several companies—Ford, GM and Chrysler—won the day, but not because they had better products. Rather, they were bigger, and had bigger marketing budgets and more extensive dealership networks. Unable to compete, good companies went bust.

As the number of car companies dwindled, so did the need to innovate. With Chrysler just a shadow of its former self, there are really only two domestic carmakers today, and they have spent much more time and money using their political clout to block efforts in Congress to force them to make better, more efficient and more socially responsible products, than they have devoted to actually competing in the marketplace. They have become “too big to fail.”

So now we’re being asked to bail them out to the tune of tens of billions, and ultimately probably hundreds of billions of dollars.

Okay, I’m willing to agree that it is a good idea for the US to have a domestic car industry, but there is no reason why it should consist or two or three giant companies.

Let’s break these companies up into smaller enterprises, each making one nameplate, and let them compete. With smaller, nimbler car companies, we would see quality electric cars at affordable prices in no time, and gas mileage would soar.

While we’re at it, let’s not stop there. The Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department should conduct a broad study of the US economy, looking at every industry, with an eye to busting up every company that is deemed “too big to fail” because of the impact such a failure could have on the broader economy.

“Too big to fail” should mean “too big to exist.” It’s not just that giant companies put the economy at risk. Their size makes them way too powerful economically and politically, too. (Just look at how Microsoft, a company that has a mediocre product line, has been able to succeed in killing off its competition not by making a better mousetrap, but by simply crushing or buying up those firms that do make better ones.) Politically, breaking up mega companies prevents such monopolistic behavior. It also creates more diversity of interest within each industry, thus providing openings for other political groups—like trade unions, environmentalists, etc.-- to play companies off against each other on particular issues.

While we’re at it, let’s also break up the huge companies that dominate three crucial sectors of the economy, to the detriment of the public good: energy, the media and the military. Does anyone doubt that the phenomenal rise in energy prices we have been experiencing is related directly to the mergers that have occurred over the last decade in the energy industry? Or that America’s endless wars, and its military budget—now equal in size to that of all other military budgets in the world combined—are a direct result of the dominance of several giant military companies—GE, Westinghouse, Boeing, Northrop-Grumman and Raytheon? Finally, if it weren't for all those media mergers, we wouldn't have newspapers closing down all over the place, and we wouldn't have the homogenized, sanitized network news we're stuck with now, either.

The tools are already at hand to tear all these anti-democratic, anti-social and uneconomic corporate monstrosities apart. So let’s fire up the legal chainsaws and start cutting them down to size. Instead of bailout, we need to start hearing the word anti-trust in Washington.


Dave Lindorff in Washington

About the author: Philadelphia journalist Dave Lindorff is a 34-year veteran, an award-winning journalist, a former New York Times contributor, a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a two-time Journalism Fulbright Scholar, and the co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of a well-regarded book on impeachment, The Case for Impeachment. His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net.



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This story was published on February 18, 2009.
 

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