The Anti-Monopoly Fund is thrilled to announce its second round of investments to 14 organizations to bolster the ongoing fight against monopoly power in every facet of our economy, democracy, and society. Bloomberg has the exclusive on our announcement here.
Ahead of Wednesday’s high-stakes House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee hearing with CEOs from Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, our second round of support comes at a critical juncture in the anti-monopoly fight. COVID-19, the economic fallout, and the historic reckoning with racism are exposing the myriad ways that monopolies wield outsized power — from their ability to manipulate the marketplace at the expense of small businesses to the ways that their business models rely on the exploitation of Black and brown lives. Against this landscape, there is growing momentum to hold powerful leaders to account for the impact their companies have on our democracy and economy. Grassroots power is increasingly mobilizing against outsized corporate power; there is growing interest from Congress in reining in monopoly power; and a new survey finds that 72 percent of U.S. adults agree that social media companies have too much power and influence in politics today.
Our investments reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with strategies to increase the pressure inside and outside DC, expand the constituencies speaking out about the impact of monopoly power, and center the experience of individuals whose resources — whether it be money, wealth, labor, data, or another form of capital — are extracted by monopolists. The goal is to demonstrate the scale of indisputable real-world harms that demand government interventions to counter monopolies and the unfair, privileged positions they maintain in our economy. In total, the Economic Security Project and Economic Security Project Action invests $1,625,000 across 14 organizations in this second round.
Some of our grantees have long known that these harms have visceral, tangible consequences on local economies and people’s lives. The Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice (IIPSJ) will organize entrepreneurs and small business owners from communities of color around platform policies that impede competition, with a focus on antitrust and intellectual property law. The American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) will educate, train, and support small business owners to keep an eye out for potential antitrust violations.
As the economy contracts and employers consolidate power, interventions in the form of litigation using the existing laws on the books will be crucial. That’s why we’re supporting Towards Justice to pursue creative litigation strategies to tackle anticompetitive practices in the labor market, such as wage suppression and non-competes and Public Rights Project to identify high-impact legal cases for state and local governments to pursue to eliminate the gap between the values expressed in our laws and the lived reality of communities.
We’re also seeding new work that will highlight the impact of market concentration on communities of color. We’re thrilled to partner with Liberation in a Generation to explore an anti-monopoly policy platform informed by grassroots organizers that will benefit Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color and the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality Economic Security and Opportunity Initiative to create a body of data-driven evidence documenting the effects of monopoly and monopsony on communities of color.
Many grantees in this second slate are playing an instrumental role in calling out Big Tech at this pivotal moment when the simultaneous crises have culminated in an opportunity for Congress to intervene at the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee hearing. In addition to our investment in IIPSJ, the American Economic Liberties Project, launched just earlier this year, will spearhead new advocacy and campaigns to curtail further market consolidation and to keep corporations from entrenching their economic and political power; Open Markets Institute will employ research and legal strategies to dissect the risks monopolies pose to society; and Demand Progress will help bridge grassroots organizing and Hill advocacy efforts.
The following statement can be attributed to Chris Hughes, co-chair of the Economic Security Project:
“The upcoming Congressional hearing involving CEOs from America’s biggest tech companies is a much-needed step toward oversight of an industry with virtually none of the checks on power required of other major businesses. These companies have been allowed to grow exponentially into monopolies that write their own rules and stifle entrepreneurship. Americans have suffered the consequences of this crisis of accountability in our democracy, civility and public trust. We should not rely on any corporation to self-regulate, and I’m grateful political leaders are transcending party lines to take action and curtail the undue power and influence of these corporations.”
While the spotlight this next week will be on Big Tech, the growing backlash spans all sectors of the economy. In particular, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed urgency to the pharma and healthcare sectors, with groups like PrEP4All and I-MAK mobilizing quickly to rein in the monopoly power of drug manufacturers to ensure that patients have equitable access to affordable life-saving treatments. We also support the US PIRG Right to Repair campaign in its efforts to break up ventilator manufacturers’ monopolization of the repair market. We’re looking forward to exploring innovative strategies to bolster the anti-monopoly fights in other parts of the economy, too.
With this second slate of investments, we continue to broaden the anti-monopoly toolkit beyond just antitrust. New research demonstrates that tax avoidance has led to a 25 percent increase in concentrated markets since the mid 1990’s, showing that policy levers beyond antitrust have a clear impact on competition. That’s why we’re supporting the Roosevelt Institute in its work on how corporate governance and the U.S. tax code create incentives for increasing monopoly power.
These efforts reinforce key campaign, narrative, research, and advocacy strategies that we’ve double downed on in our first round of investments. They complement efforts targeting monopolies at large and in variety of sectors ranging from tech, finance, and more, driven by the 16 organizations in our first slate: Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE), Adamant Media, Athena Coalition, Color of Change, Coworker.org, Creative Action Network (CAN), Inequality Media, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Freedom from Facebook & Google, Law and Political Economy Project, Museum of Capitalism, Open Markets Institute, Public Knowledge, Revolving Door Project, Thurman Arnold Project, and Washington Center for Equitable Growth.
Just to highlight a few activities from this first cohort: ACRE is calling attention to how Big Banks profit off “police brutality bonds;” Color of Change is pushing Facebook as a partner in the Stop Hate for Profit ad boycott campaign; the Creative Action Network launched face masks for essential workers with anti-monopoly messaging that will sell under a buy one, donate one model; the Institute for Local Self-Reliance published a toolkit outlining anti-monopoly tools at the state and local levels; the Law and Political Economy Project launched its inaugural Anti-Monopoly and Regulated Industries Summer Academy with over 300 participants; and the Revolving Door Project wrote about the need for public servants at our antitrust enforcement agencies to be free from corporate interests.