cover image Antitrust: Taking On Monopoly Power from the Gilded Age to the Digital Age

Antitrust: Taking On Monopoly Power from the Gilded Age to the Digital Age

Amy Klobuchar. Knopf, $32.50 (624p) ISBN 978-0-525-65489-6

In this expansive history and wonky call to action, Minnesota senator Klobuchar (The Senator Next Door) discusses milestones of U.S. antitrust enforcement to make the case for taking on Big Tech, Big Pharma, and other alleged abusers of monopoly power. As proof of the need for new laws and better enforcement of existing statutes, she cites a 2011 federal court ruling in favor of a pharmaceutical company that raised the price of a neonatal heart medication from $109 per treatment to $1,500. From there, Klobuchar discusses a wide range of historical episodes, including the Boston Tea Party, the origins of the board game Monopoly (its precursor was designed to promote progressive, anti-monopolist economic theories), and the breakup of AT&T in the 1980s. Klobuchar blames lax antitrust enforcement for rising income inequality, unfair labor practices, and the outsize influence of money on politics, among other social ills. Her suggested reforms include rewards for whistleblowers who expose anticompetitive practices and allowing government regulators to review the effects of past mergers. Klobuchar covers well-trod historical ground and gets deep into the policy weeds, but she makes a persuasive argument for reinvigorating the government agencies tasked with reigning in big business. Those on the left should take note. (Apr.)