Remote Control

A civil rights lawsuit highlights how Comcast’s monopoly crushes media divers (The American Prospect)

In October, hip-hop artist Curtis James Jackson III, better known as 50 Cent, went after a rival mogul on Instagram. His target wasn’t a fellow artist, but Brian Roberts, the billionaire CEO of Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company. Comcast had just announced it was kicking 50 Cent’s show Power off the cable giant’s system. “This is the guy fu**ing up (Power) over at @Comcast,” 50 Cent wrote, showing a picture of a grinning Roberts wearing a wrinkled golf shirt.

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The Crisis in Financial Markets Began Before COVID-19 (The American Prospect)

The Federal Reserve has been committing hundreds of billions to short-term lending markets for months. It’s time to make that power work for more than just Wall Street. Written by Graham Steele and Matt Stoller.

Last week, the Federal Reserve staged a large-scale intervention in short-term money markets, announcing that it would make $1.5 trillion in loans available in the coming days. It followed with a big rate cut. And this week, the Federal Reserve is going to start lending to any big corporation that needs it, an emergency measure it last took during the 2008 financial crisis. It will be lending essentially unlimited sums to hedge funds, banks, and brokerages.

How Jack Welch’s Success Wrecked the Idea of the American Company

The recently deceased business icon pioneered mergers and acquisitions, stock buybacks, and offshoring (The Marker)

In early February of 1981, President Ronald Reagan picked his antitrust chief, William Baxter, whose arrival signified the reconstitution of monopoly power in America. Baxter restructured antitrust and merger law to prioritize economic efficiency and supercharged a merger trend already underway.

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Covid-19 Will Mark the End of Affluence Politics (Wired)

The possibility of a global pandemic will reveal our inability to make and distribute the things people need—just in time for a presidential election.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump dismissed concerns about Covid-19. As he put it, the virus is “under control” in the US and the “whole situation will start working out.” But according to Politico, Trump is privately voicing worries that the impact of the virus will undermine his chances of reelection. His panicked actions of late—including preventing an American from being treated in Alabama, at the request of a fearful Senator Richard Shelby—confirm that this virus is a political event of the first magnitude. While few in Washington have internalized it, the coronavirus is the biggest story in the world and is soon going to smash into our electoral politics in unpredictable ways.

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The Market Won’t Fix our China Problem (The American Mind)

Replying to Marco Rubio’s “American Industrial Policy and the Rise of China” in The American Mind

Libertarianism is a bizarre and crumbling ideology that assumes power is absent from economic relationships. Two symbols of its fall are the rise of telecom maker Huawei, as well as the election of Donald Trump. Huawei reveals that being able to build real things matters more than financial markets, and Trump’s election revealed Americans didn’t like libertarianism and its technocratic and progressive analogues.

The World in Time: Lapham’s Quarterly

Lewis H. Lapham speaks with Matt Stoller, author of Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy.

“There are many arguments for what is at the root cause of our current social dysfunction,” journalist Matt Stoller writes at the beginning of his book Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy. “Various explanations include the prevalence of racism, automation, the rise of China, inadequate education or training, the spread of the internet, Donald Trump, the collapse of political norms, or globalization. Many of these explanations have merit. But there’s another much simpler explanation of what is going on. Our systems are operating the way that they were designed to. In the 1970s, we decided as a society that it would be a good idea to allow private financiers and monopolists to organize our world. As a result, what is around us is a matrix of monopolies, controlling our lives and manipulating our communities and our politics. This is not just happenstance. It was created. The constructs shaping our world were formed as ideas, put into law, and now they are our economic and social reality. Our reality is formed not just of monopolized supply chains and brands, but an entire language that precludes us from even noticing, from discussing the concentrated power all around us.”

Stoller discusses the backstory and history of this idea on this episode of The World in Time.

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