Matt Stoller’s Goliath is one of the most important political books I have ever read. For those wanting to learn more about the closeness between the Democratic and Republican parties on corporate power, Goliath is a must.
The most interesting thing I took from Goliath was the idea that Ralph Nader and those who believed in focusing on consumer rights actually hurt the American people. As soon as I started reading about Nader, I understood where Stoller was going, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t gone there before.
The idea is a simple one: by focusing on consumer rights, Democrats played to the idea that low prices are always best. Since low prices are best achieved by allowing monopolies to use their size to crush small businesses, Democrats worked with Republicans to undue laws that regulated competition.
In 1975, Democrats worked with Republicans to repeal the fair trade laws that allowed states to establish minimum prices for goods. The repeal of the fair trade laws, did as expected, lower the cost of many goods. But the trade for the cheaper goods was the loss of many small businesses and stagnant wages.
The Robinson Patman Act primarily prevented sellers from selling the same product to different people for different prices. The idea behind the Robinson Patman Act was to prevent sellers from undercutting certain competitors to drive them out of business. The Robinson Patman Act was adopted because Congress wanted to prevent large chain stores from swallowing up small businesses.
In recent years, the Robinson Patman Act has been rendered largely obsolete by judges and trade officials from both parties who subscribe to the bigger is better mantra.
Reading Goliath was truly a thought-provoking, educational experience for me. After reading it, I’m more committed to the campaign of Bernie Sanders and the idea that monopolies must once again be stopped. Antitrust laws must be enforced with a vigorous determination. As AOC recently said, there is no party for those of us on the left.