[Plura-list] Klobuchar wants to bust her some fuckin' trusts

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Sat Feb 6 11:30:38 EST 2021


Next Tuesday, I'm helping Ed Snowden launch the young readers' version
of his spectacular memoir "Permanent Record." Join us for a livestream
event with Copperfield Books on Feb 9 at 19h Pacific.



Today's links

* Klobuchar wants to bust her some fuckin' trusts: CALERA is A Big
Fucking Deal.

* This day in history: 2001, 2011, 2016

* Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current
writing projects, current reading


💇🏽‍♀️ Klobuchar wants to bust her some fuckin' trusts

America has passed four major antitrust bills since the Sherman Act of
1890. Each bill makes it clear that monopolism is a problem in and of
itself - that allowing power to be concentrated into few, unaccountable
hands perverts public policy and undermines the nation.

For generations, American regulators fought monopolies because they were
monopolies. But in the early 1980s, a disgraced Nixonite criminal named
Robert Bork became Ronald Reagan's court sorcerer, backed by a coalition
of ultra-wealthy plutes.

Bork claimed that if you stared at the Sherman Act and its successors
long enough, eventually you would have a holy revelation and learn that
the lawmakers who crafted these bills - and spoke explicitly about their
distrust of monopolies - actually really *liked* monopolies.

Bork claimed these lawmakers weren't anti-monopoly, they just hated
*bad* monopolies - monopolies that harmed "consumer welfare," which he
defined as "monopolies that make prices go up."

Now, proving that a monopoly made prices go up (as opposed to prices
increasing for other reasons) is effectively impossible, so Bork's
doctrine meant that even when prices went up and quality fell,
monopolies were almost totally insulated from legal enforcement.

What's more, since Borkism concerns itself solely with harms to buyers,
monopolists could heap unlimited abuse on suppliers - workers,
contractors, small businesses that got trampled and destroyed by

Bork's paymasters created a re-education camp for judges, an annual
"continuing education" seminar in Florida, the Manne Seminars, which
trained 40% of the federal bench on Borkism, ensuring that the antitrust
cases that made it to court died there.


Borkism has created monopolies in ever sector of the economy, and was
exported to the rest of the world - even in the EU, where the law
explicitly rejects Bork's doctrines and calls for fighting monopolies
per se, they act as though Borkism was the law of the land.

Borkism is a cult with a business-model: making the richest, most
ruthless privateers of the business world much, much richer, and so it
has endless "philanthropic" backers who fund its spread.

But Borkism has run up against the limits of human tolerance. Finally,
the political will to fight monopolies is stirring, and while it's
coming first for Big Tech, the wave will be hard to stop, especially if
we help it along into every other sector of the economy.

The Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act (CALERA) is Amy
Klobuchar's proposal to overhaul - and restore - antitrust law to
fitness for purpose, so that it can once again be used to fight the
corrupting influence of monopolies.


In addition to massively expanding funding for anittrust enforcement at
the DoJ and FTC, the bill follows Germany's recent example in reversing
the burden of proof for mergers - it requires large companies buying or
merging with others to prove they *won't* create a monopoly.

More importantly, Klobuchar's bill requires regulators to consider
"monopsony" (buying) power, in addition to monopoly (selling) power.


Monopsony is far more dangerous that monopoly - buyers with even small
market shares (10-20%) can squeeze workers and suppliers. Incorporating
monopsony into US antitrust practice will legally require regulators to
protect workers and small businesses for the first time.

Finally, the bill expands anti-monopoly enforcement to include a wide
range of anticompetitive tactics: "exclusionary conduct" (like banning a
competing seller from API keys, or inclusion in App Stores or Amazon

This mirrors the intent behind the EU's sweeping Digital Service and
Digital Markets Acts, which ban "self-preferencing" and other conduct
that allows a monopolist to maintain its monopoly by crushing
competitors, rather than by making the best products at the best prices.

This is A Big Fucking Deal.

It's not perfect - it could use some structural separation and a section
on remedies that includes interoperability mandates and other tools for
21st century trustbusting - but it's a profound shift in the foundation
of US economic policy.

If passed, it marks the first time since the Reagan years that
industrial regulation will prioritize pluralism, worker rights, and
local self-determination over unlimited ivory-handled back-scratcher
budgets for corporate shareholders.


💇🏽‍♀️ This day in history

#20yrsago Unexploded, WWII bombs found during dredging for Disneyland
Hong Kong http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/2001/2001-February/002405.html

#10yrsago Sarah Palin Circle-R wants a trademark on her name

#5yrsago Superb investigative report on the fake locksmith scam


💇🏽‍♀️ Colophon

Currently writing:

* My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and
reconciliation. Friday's progress: 500 words (107753 total).

* A short story, "Jeffty is Five," for The Last Dangerous Visions.
Friday's progress: 301 words (3747 total).

Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.

Latest podcast: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (part 30)

Upcoming appearances:

* Talking Attack Surface with the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered
Artificial Intelligence, Feb 9,

* Launch for the young adult edition of Edward Snowden's memoir

* Boskone, 58, Feb 12-15, https://boskone.org/

* Keynote, NISO Plus, Feb 22,

*  Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Contemporary Political Struggle: Social
Movements, Social Surveillance, Social Media (with Zeynep Tufekci), Feb
24, https://ucdavis.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_I99f4x8WRiKCfKUljVcYPg

* Keynote, NISO Plus, Feb 22,

* Interop: Self-Determination vs Dystopia (FITC), Apr 19-21,

Recent appearances:

* Chop Shop Economics

* Monocle Reads

* Hedging Bets on the Future (Motherboard Cyber):

Latest book:

* "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone
technothriller for adults. The *Washington Post* called it "a political
cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution
and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies

* "How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet
analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a
(print edition:

* "Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new
introduction by Edward Snowden:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies

* "Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime,
gender, and kicking ass. Order here:
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed
copy here:

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"*When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla*" -Joey "Accordion
Guy" DeVilla

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