Law school professor says government must do more to combat corporate power

Law school professor Zephyr Teachout told Hill.TV that government and society need to combat the monopolization of key industries in the U.S.

“There’s a whole debate in political theory about different forms of government, but private, monopolistic government has no legitimacy,” said Teachout, a professor at Fordham University School of Law.

Teachout, author of the new book “Break 'Em Up: Recovering Our Freedom from Big Ag, Big Tech, and Big Money,” argued that American society and the federal government have overlooked the increasing power of large corporations in the modern era.

“It’s a feudal system, it’s not an open market, and the effect is incredible inequality and an incredibly high degree of powerlessness. And we just haven’t done anything about it in over 40 years,” she said.

“When you look at something like Facebook, they basically decide what news organizations survive, thrive and fail," Teachout said. "When you look at something like Amazon, they squeeze small businesses and decide who fails or who succeeds.”

“These Goliaths, they’re not participants in the market, they control the market,” she added.

Teachout characterized that level of corporate power as another form of government, arguing it originated in economic policies from the Reagan administration.

"We have a society right now that has such a high level of corporate concentration that it affects everything we do,” she said. “In fact, what I argue in the book is it’s a kind of government that’s coexisting with formal democratic government.”

Teachout described what kinds of action the incoming Biden administration could take on the antitrust front.

“We should be looking for who he appoints in key positions at the Department of Justice and the [Federal Trade Commission], insistence on rewriting the antitrust guidelines so that we don’t basically continue to allow these mega-mergers and instead focus on real investigation into anti-competitive behavior,” she said.

Teachout said the president is key in combating monopolies, but Congress could also play a role by passing laws that counter Supreme Court rulings that allowed companies to easily merge in the first place.

“If we’re talking about Congress and the Senate, there’s a lot they can also do,” she said.