What Is Big?
“America was created to break every kind of monopoly, and to set men free, upon a footing of equality, upon a footing of opportunity, to match their brains and their energies.” - Woodrow Wilson
My name is Matt Stoller, and I’m a writer and former policymaker who focuses on the politics of market power and antitrust. With this Substack, I will be taking you on a journey through the anti-monopoly revolution that is changing our world. If this sounds good, you can sign up here. If you want to know more, read on. If you want to subscribe, click here. It’s $6/month or $50 per year.
(If you are a student, a government enforcer, or can’t afford to pay but love the content, let me know and I’ll give you a free subscription.)
The Problem: America is in a monopoly crisis. A monopoly is, at its core, a private government that sets the terms, services, and wages in a market, like how Mark Zuckerberg structures discourse in social networking. Every monopoly is a mini-dictatorship over a market. And today, there are monopolies everywhere. They are in big markets, like search engines, medicine, cable, and shipping. They are also in small ones, like mail sorting software and cheerleading. Over 75% of American industries are more consolidated today than they were decades ago.
Unregulated monopolies cause a lot of problems. They raise prices, lower wages, and move money from rural areas to a few gilded cities. Dominant firms don’t focus on competing, they focus on corrupting our politics to protect their market power. Monopolies are also brittle, and tend to put all their eggs in one basket, which results in shortages. There is a reason everyone hates monopolies, and why we’ve hated them for hundreds of years.
The Solution: We have laws and regulators designed to break up monopolies, but these laws have laid dormant. That’s changing. For the last decade, I’ve been focused on building a movement of people tired of seeing the concentration of power in our society in the hands of a small number of dominant corporations. The key to this movement is public education. When the public - business leaders, workers, consumers, artists, policymakers - understand how to take on corporate power, they do.
That’s why I’m writing this newsletter. With BIG, I tell the story of the monopolization of our institutions, why it happened, and what we can do about it. I bring you inside the thinking of the enforcers fighting against monopolies, and show you the levers they can bring to bear. I describe the politics of market power, and how antitrust defense lawyers wheedle their way out of slippery problems by corrupting the law.
Most of all, I will show you how you too can spot monopolies, and do something about them. For the last four decades, the people in charge of our politics have consolidated wealth and power. They didn’t do it because they were malevolent, but because they thought it was the right thing to do. It wasn’t. It was a disaster.
But they did do something useful. They created the conditions for a revolution. They awoke the American people. We are an angry, and confused, and frustrated, and tearing at each other. But we are awake.
And now we are fighting back. Join us.
Billionaires don’t particularly like the anti-monopoly movement, and I don’t have ads or sponsored content. So your support really matters, because it gives me the ability to invest in research and data, to make sure the stories are accurate, and to be an aggressive writer knowing I have the resources to fend off lawsuits.
As a subscriber, you will get a 2-4 newsletter issues a month, each of which is an in-depth exploration of the politics of monopoly power and finance. Doing this work requires archival research, interviews, and legal research to try to uncover and explain the legal underpinnings of our concentrated markets. I also have guest-writers, who bring in special perspectives on their corners of the world, sometimes bylined and sometimes anonymously. And I also show you how to connect with policymakers and make an impact.
Paying subscribers can expect:
Online events where the anti-monopoly community can come together.
Additional posts with weird monopolies and nitty gritty political fights I come across.
Opportunities to connect with me directly for Q&A sessions.
Once again, if you are a student, a government enforcer, or can’t afford to pay but love the content, let me know and I’ll give you a free subscription.
In addition, I’m working on guide on How to Be an Anti-Monopolist so that anyone can pick up the torch and lead the way.