Economists and legal scholars are questioning 30 years of law and regulation that says monopolies aren’t automatically bad. They’re calling for a return to older antitrust standards, “when big was bad.” Lina Khan, a 28-year-old law student, is an unlikely leader of this way of thinking:
Earlier this year, the Yale Law Journal had published a 24,000-word “note” by Khan titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox.” The article laid out with remarkable clarity and sophistication why American antitrust law has evolved to the point that it is no longer equipped to deal with tech giants such as Amazon, which has made itself as essential to commerce in the 21st century as the railroads, telephone systems and computer hardware makers had been in the 20th.
It’s not just Amazon, however, that animates concerns about competition and market power, and Khan is not the only one who is worrying. The same issues lie behind the European Union’s recent $2.7 billion fine against Google for favoring its own services in the search results it presents to its users. They are also at the heart of the long-running battle in the telecom industry over net neutrality, and the ability of cable companies and Internet service providers to give favorable treatment to their own content. They are implicated in complaints that Facebook has aided the rise of “fake news” while draining readers and revenue from legitimate news media. They even emerge in debates over the corrupting role of corporate money in politics, the decline in entrepreneurship, the slowdown in corporate investment and the rise of income inequality.
[Steven Pearlstein/The Washington Post]