Home / Politics / Open thread for night owls: 'In the land of the giants'—How Bob Bork green-lighted U.S. monopolies

Open thread for night owls: 'In the land of the giants'—How Bob Bork green-lighted U.S. monopolies

“Traction Monster,” the electric subway system in New York City, depicted in The Verdict magazine as a monopolistic octopus in the January 30, 1899. issue.

David Dayen at The American Prospect writes—In the Land of the Giants:

I spent the day after the 2016 election at Yale Law School, Hillary Clinton’s alma mater. I was supposed to speak to a foreclosure litigation class about my book Chain of Title, and then address the local chapter of the American Constitution Society over lunch. I got through the class, but the lunch speech never came off; Yale Law students were too deep in grieving mode over the results of the election. The catered lunch was still there, so my contact and I went down to eat in this huge, empty lecture hall where I had been scheduled to speak. As I looked up, already demoralized by the day’s events, I saw the massive portrait of one of Yale Law’s former professors: Robert Bork.

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What struck me in that moment, and now, is that Robert Bork had won. Not because Donald Trump was elected, although there is a direct through line between Bork’s contributions to jurisprudence and Trump’s success, as I’ll explain later. No, Bork had won long before he became nationally known as a failed Supreme Court nominee. In a very real sense, we’re living in a world Robert Bork constructed. We’re all breathing Robert Bork’s air, suffering through Robert Bork’s wage stagnation and inequality, limping through Robert Bork’s twisted version of democracy.

Robert Bork changed U.S. policy toward concentrated corporate power without ever serving as an elected official, without altering a single line of text in any statute. His book The Antitrust Paradox simply reinterpreted the Sherman Antitrust Act as entirely concerned with consumer welfare, defined narrowly as efficiently delivering goods at low prices. He had written the concepts of democracy or economic liberty or protection of markets completely out of the story.

After a decades-long crusade, aided by a network of University of Chicago scholars, Reagan administration appointees, judges, corporate lobbyists, and executives, and even some willing Democrats, Bork got the antitrust establishment to adopt his circumscribed, dangerous vision. Federal policy on monopolies, once a subject of public interest, became a cloistered venue for economists, who build models singing the praises of the efficiencies derived from corporate combinations.

The next 40 years tell the rest of the story. We’ve seen economic gains funneled to the very top; monopolization of core industries in technology, health care, communications, defense, and agriculture; a completely anomalous situation of soaring corporate profits amid low private and public investment; a degradation in quality service, because monopolists don’t have to compete for your business to thrive; a slow death of entrepreneurship and innovation, with incumbents sitting on their personal fiefdoms and talented people unable to get their ideas into the marketplace; and a democracy that responds only to the very few. […]

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“Can one think that because we are engineers, beauty does not preoccupy us or that we do not try to build beautiful, as well as solid and long-lasting, structures? Aren’t the genuine functions of strength always in keeping with unwritten conditions of harmony? ”
               ~~Gustave Eiffel, 1887

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At Daily Kos on this date in 2009Militia Groups on the Rise:

A new report finds that after a ten year lull, armed militia groups are growing rapidly, and officials worry that full blown domestic terrorism could soon follow:

The stress of a poor economy and a liberal administration led by a black president are among the causes for the recent rise, the report from the Southern Poverty Law Center says. Conspiracy theories about a secret Mexican plan to reclaim the Southwest are also growing amid the public debate about illegal immigration.

Bart McEntire, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told SPLC researchers that this is the most growth he’s seen in more than a decade.

“All it’s lacking is a spark,” McEntire said in the report.

In a rambling, incoherent video that will creep you the hell out in comments below, a leader of the Ohio militia proudly holds up an AR-15 and explains that “things are real bad, it’s gonna get a lot worse, and people need to wake up” and you should all go out and buy guns and “lots and lots of ammo” because … well he never really says. Between a Nazi reference, a few weird pictures of what looks like Obama in Death caricature, he goes on to complain that militias were unfairly demonized after Oklahoma City, rants about how the militia won the Revolutionary War and our country is in peril. 

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: It’s our 8th Anniversary on the air! Armando joins in the reminiscences, and throws in a little Trump and Rubio disgust, free of charge. Trump’s favorite conspiracy theories. The one conspiracy he doesn’t believe: the threat of white nationalist violence.


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