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Featured Article, Report, Resource filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Aug 10, 2016

Monopoly Power and the Decline of Small Business: The Case for Restoring America’s Once Robust Antitrust Policies

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/monopoly-power-and-the-decline-of-small-business/

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The United States is much less a nation of entrepreneurs than it was a generation ago. Small, independent businesses have declined sharply in both numbers and market share across many sectors of the economy.  Between 1997 and 2012, the number of small manufacturers fell by more 70,000, local retailers saw their ranks diminish by about 108,000, and the number of community banks and credit unions dropped by half, from about 26,000 to 13,000.  At the same time, starting a new business appears to have become harder than ever. The number of startups launched annually has fallen by nearly half since the 1970s.

As stunning as these figures are, there has been remarkably little public debate about this profound structural shift taking place in the U.S. economy. We tend to accept the decline of small business as the inevitable result of market forces. Big companies are thought to be more efficient and productive; therefore, although we may miss the corner drugstore or the family-owned auto repair shop, their demise is unavoidable, and it’s economically beneficial.

But our new report suggests a different, and very troubling, explanation for the dwindling ranks of small businesses. It presents evidence that their decline is owed, at least in part, to anticompetitive behavior by large, dominant corporations.  Drawing on examples in pharmacy, banking, telecommunications, and retail, it finds that big companies routinely use their size and their economic and political power to undermine their smaller rivals and exclude them from markets.

These abuses have gone unchecked because of a radical change in the ideological framework that guides anti-monopoly policy. About thirty-five years ago, policy-makers came to view maximizing efficiency — rather than maintaining fair and open markets for all competitors — as the primary aim of antitrust enforcement. This was a profound departure from previous policy and America’s long-standing anti-monopoly tradition.  Over time, this ideological shift impacted more than antitrust enforcement. It infused much of public policy with a bias in favor of big business, creating an environment less and less hospitable to entrepreneurs.

This report presents three compelling reasons to bring a commitment to fair and open markets for small businesses back into antitrust enforcement and public policy more broadly:
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Featured Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Aug 18, 2016

Changing the Language of Renewable Energy, the Electric Monopoly’s Newest Ploy

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/changing-the-language-of-renewable-energy-the-electric-monopolys-newest-ploy/

What happens when utility companies lose ground as their customers cut consumption and seek innovative technologies like rooftop solar? New business ventures to capture customer interest? Other new technologies? Instead, investor-owned utilities (through the Edison Electric Institute trade organization) poured money into communications consultants, and the result of this “Lexicon Project” says volumes about their plans… Continue reading

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Featured Article filed under Independent Business | Written by Stacy Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Aug 4, 2016

After Three Decades of Neglect, Antitrust Is Back on the Democratic Platform

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/after-three-decades-of-neglect-antitrust-is-back-on-the-democratic-platform/

For the first time in 28 years, the Democratic Party platform calls for vigorous, stepped-up enforcement of our anti-monopoly laws. This remarkable shift in policy was made possible in part by the Bernie Sanders movement, but it’s also the product of years of advocacy by scholars and activists who believe that high levels of concentration in banking, retail, agribusiness and other sectors are ravaging our economy and democracy. Continue reading

Edible Flint Tour - Random Garden
Featured Article filed under Composting, Waste to Wealth | Written by Linda Bilsens | No Comments | Updated on Aug 11, 2016

Composting Will Help Flint Recover From Its Water Crisis

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/composting-will-help-flint-recover-from-its-water-crisis/

Increasing composting in Flint will benefit residents in many ways: healthier soils for food production, pollution mitigation for contaminated soils, more opportunities for neighbors to work together, and greater community self-reliance. On July 27th, ILSR staffers, Linda Bilsens and Joshua Etim, visited with various food growing and access groups working in and around Flint to lay the groundwork for bringing ILSR’s Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders Composter Training Program to the area. Continue reading

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Featured Article filed under The Public Good | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Jul 27, 2016

The Next President Will Likely Appoint 4 Supreme Court Justices: Who Do You Want Picking Them?

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/the-supreme-court-the-public-good-and-the-2016-election/

The future of the Supreme Court is at stake in the 2016 election. We know the numbers. The death of Scalia split the Supreme Court between four Conservative Justices appointed by Republican Presidents (Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy) and four Liberal Justices appointed by Democratic Presidents (Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor.) The Republican Senate, in… Continue reading