Democratizing Antitrust with Harry First (Episode 91)

Date: 6 Feb 2020 | posted in: Building Local Power, Retail | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Host Stacy Mitchell is joined by Harry First, law professor and co-director of New York University’s Competition, Innovation, and Information Law Program. They chat about how competition policy has become captured by technocratic lawyers and economists, and strayed from its roots as a political movement for economic justice. They also discuss:

  • The movement to “depoliticize” antitrust, and how decisions about how to enforce the law are always political on some level
  • How State Attorneys General can intervene to stop mergers when the FTC and DOJ refuse to intervene
  • The increasing number of students enrolling in antitrust classes
  • What can be done, and what is already being done, to reinvigorate antitrust enforcement


“Everyone uses Amazon, everyone uses Google…this is not something that’s esoteric or removed from peoples’ lives. This is, particularly for the students we see, an integral part of their lives. They’re concerned about [monopoly power].”


Zach Freed: Hello and welcome to Building Local Power. I’m Zach Freed.
Stacy Mitchell: And I’m Stacy Mitchell.
Zach Freed: Today on the show we have a discussion between Stacy and professor Harry First of New York University law school. Harry is both a professor of law and a co-director of NYU’s competition innovation and information law program. Professor First is the author of several books and essays on antitrust, including one in particular called Antitrust Democracy Deficit with coauthor Spencer Weber Waller. Stacy sat down with Professor First to talk about that essay and what can be done to make up for antitrust laws democratic deficit. Just starting, one thing that stood out to me was how candid Harry First was about the need for democratic participation in this area of law.
Stacy Mitchell: Yeah, he’s really got, I think an interesting analysis in that article and we hear about it in the podcast about how antitrust law has become more and more the domain of economists in this really highly technical expertise. And as it’s it gone in that direction, ordinary people have been more and more excluded and the broader public purposes of antitrust law have been lost and kind of gone, it’s all gone behind closed doors.
Zach Freed: Another thing that stood out to me was how forthright Professor First was about the discussion of values and how it’s impossible to “politicize” antitrust law because you’re taking into account value judgments when you make decisions about who gets what. Yeah. That was another thread that also came up with our conversation with Professor Sanjukta Paul in our last podcast.
Stacy Mitchell: Yeah. I think these two episodes actually pair really well together and you’re right, that was a common thread in both of them. And one of the things I learned a lot in this conversation with some of the details of history. And so one of the things a Professor First talks about is how Robert Bork, who we all know is a person who kind of appended antitrust law and helped to really neutralize it or even turn it on its head. And Robert Bork very directly said, “Antitrust is very political.” In today’s time, when people argue for stronger antitrust or that policy should incorporate a broader set of democratic values, the pushback from the establishment is often well you’re just trying to make it political. And the smarter, more accurate thing to recognize is that it’s already political.
Stacy Mitchell: The question is, which values does it serve and whose values does it serve? One of the other things I thought was kind of interesting as just a historical fact that came up in this conversation, was that Harry First notes that in the 80s when these huge monumental changes were being made to antitrust law, there was a lot of pushback from state attorneys general, both Democrats and Republicans. And he said part of it was because they were closer to people. They were actually on the ground dealing with the problems of monopoly power and how it affected their states and their communities. And so they had a different perspective than the people in DC.
Zach Freed: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I was struck by that as well because we, it seems like we’re finding ourselves in a similar moment where you have bipartisan state AGs leading investigations into big tech platforms and in many ways pushing the federal agencies to scrutinize those companies more. Without further ado, let’s get to the conversation. Thanks Stacy.
Stacy Mitchell: Thanks Zach. So Professor Harry First, it’s nice to have you on the podcast.
Harry First: Thank you. Nice to be talking.
Stacy Mitchell: I first ran across your work when I read an article that you wrote several years ago called Antitrust Democracy Deficit and you wrote this with a Spencer Weber Waller. What is antitrust democracy deficit?
Harry First: I’m tempted to say, well you have to read the article to find out, but what I’ll say is I’m glad you read the article. The basic idea that Spencer and I had was that antitrust would become very technical. And it had really since the mid 1970s, it had been a gradual, I want to say hostile takeover by the economists. Not quite hostile, but they wanted to move it away from a sort of a logic proposition that was based on the purposes of the antitrust laws to a much more narrow purpose, which could be attack through economics, the use of economic theory. So over time, that developed quite a bit and the economists when asked will develop models and think about these problems because competition problems are economic problems and are interesting.
Harry First: So antitrust had become very technical. Technical isn’t bad in itself, but it has tended to remove antitrust from its values and particularly values that can’t quite be encompassed in just the word efficiency. So concern for economic power or size for the position of consumers as individuals, sort of sovereigns who are entitled to the benefits of a free enterprise system. So what our hope was, was sort of to move the needle back a little bit more towards the people.
Stacy Mitchell: This sort of receding, the way the antitrust has receded behind closed doors and become this purview of economists, of technocrats, it’s had an effect that you noted about the way that the law has changed not to have these broader civic values be part of it, but instead has become very narrowly focused. Would you say that it’s also affected how much people understand about antitrust and the degree to which ordinary people feel like they know about this or have any say over it?
Harry First: Well, you have to say that people who are technically trained want to be sure that there’s value to what they add. So yes, the more technical it becomes, the more lay people are excluded sort of by nature. I mean law in some sense is that way. Lawyers are technically trained and so that does tend to be a bit exclusionary. But as it became more technical, you’re right, it also became more and more impenetrable by the regular people who were being affected by it.
Stacy Mitchell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I mean, I suppose that’s one of the ways that larger corporations can game the system, right? I mean they have a lot more power to influence economists, to hire economists to fund these expensive models that are done to show that a merger won’t have a negative impact for example. Whereas a set of workers in that industry for example, they don’t have that kind of access.
Harry First: Yes, this is true. I mean it’s antitrust enforcement is focused on corporate behavior and should be particularly concerned with large corporations and particularly in merger situations. So yes, they can afford to hire the best economists, best lawyers. It’s always been a game of the government enforcers being outgun and having to figure out ways to deal with that unequal power just simply between the government and the private parties they’re trying to enforce it against.
Stacy Mitchell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It really strikes me how much when I talk to people about issues of concentration and corporate power and corporate control, people understand corporate control. They feel that in their lives, they see that in their communities. But when you turn to the word antitrust, even people who are well informed and engaged on a lot of policy issues, who would feel very comfortable talking about Medicare for all for example, or any green new deal, any policy that you might be able to name, when it comes to antitrust they feel like, I don’t know. I don’t exactly know what that is and maybe I’m not in a position to be able to talk about it. And that seems to be one of the consequences of this.
Harry First: Yes. Yes. And so the professionals love that idea. [inaudible 00:08:58]. But also I’ve always thought that antitrust got branded with the wrong name. So this is [inaudible 00:09:07] article feature of the 19th century and it was about trust, that were the large corporations of the day. So it was anti trust. But who wants to have a field that’s called you’re against trust? It sounds wrong somehow. So you already have to translate that. I think it would have been better off if it was pro competition. And in many places in the world it’s called competition policy or competition wall, which is more affirmative. So we sort of got stuck with bad branding from 1890.
Stacy Mitchell: Right, right. What do you think about anti-monopoly? I like the word monopoly.
Harry First: There is a move, it’s interesting that you mentioned that because in some what you might call progressive circles or however they’re trying to brand themselves, the idea that it’s an anti-monopoly law sounds closer in some ways to what the law is actually about. And in fact if you … in Japan the law is the anti-monopoly law. I mean in Japanese, same in China. So where that’s gotten them, I’m not sure. Labels don’t determine everything maybe, but that label is coming back. The problem is antitrust deals with more than just monopoly. And so that’s a good descriptor but not a full one.
Stacy Mitchell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So if we’re going to set about to change this, and I mean I think you’ve written that if we want to have more effective antitrust policy, if we want to have a chance to reform some of the things that have gone wrong, it’s really only going to happen if we can have an engaged public that there’s got to be a popular support. And this is a political process of change. So what do we need to do to remedy this democracy deficit?
Harry First: Well, I think we’re starting to see it now, actually in what is in some ways to me an interesting and amazing moment for antitrust, I’ll use the old label, which we haven’t really seen since 1912 when antitrust was a central political issue in presidential politics. So I think in part because of the size of these major tech platforms, people have become concerned about the kinds of things that have always concerned antitrust, which is too much economic power and too few hands that affects a lot of people. And what’s interesting is the politicians are picking this up. So to the extent that people feel it’s an important political issue and express that through the political process in one way or another. Whether it’s supporting particular candidates or writing to a Congress person or Congress is investigating these issues. Writing to a state attorney general who is an elected official. It’s some way trying to become involved politically in supporting these kinds of investigations.
Stacy Mitchell: If you were appointed in a new administration to run the antitrust division at the justice department, are there things that the agencies, you know we have these two agencies at the federal level, and I want to turn back to the attorney general’s in a minute. But at the federal level we’ve got the Department Of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission in charge of policing competition. Are there things that the agencies should be doing to be more transparent?
Harry First: I’m not sure transparency is necessarily the key. In some ways we have a fair degree of transparency today. The question is what are you being transparent about? I think there are things we have in some ways an activist in some ways, I want to underline in some ways, activist enforcement agencies on the federal level. They’ve been holding hearings. Federal Trade Commission has held hearings around the country about competition issues. These are all to the good and in that sense transparency things. But the important thing is to start reorienting enforcement policy in a way that I think is more in line with the general purposes of competition with antitrust law and the statute dealing with mergers. So there are lots of things that the enforcement agencies could do to move the enforcement closer to what it should be and away from this completely technical view of antitrust. And frankly some degree of timidity in taking on big cases. We’ll have to see whether they’re really going to take on some of these big cases.
Stacy Mitchell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I mean I very much agree with that about the need for the agencies to fundamentally reform how they’re approaching their job. I think what I’m struck by is things like when Amazon bought Whole Foods for example, that was proof there was no … there was only a very limited review. There was no sort of fuller review done by the Federal Trade Commission and there was no explanation of their decision. So we know nothing, as a public, we know nothing about what their thinking was, how they looked at that case and decided that it wasn’t really worth looking at anymore closely.
Stacy Mitchell: Similarly, another example I was struck by was when the, I think it was the department of justice, some documents were accidentally disclosed to the Wall Street Journal about Google. And come to find out staff had done a lot of work and really felt that a case should have been brought a few years ago and the sort of higher ups didn’t move forward with that. And that again, it seems to me that part of the problem here, I mean clearly there are the choices and enforcement decisions that the agencies are making, but it’s also like we have no view. All of this stuff is happening behind closed doors and without understanding the decision making, it becomes hard to criticize it or to suggest ways it should have been different.
Harry First: Yeah, I think those are very good points. The Google memorandum, we managed to get every other page.
Stacy Mitchell: It makes for fun reading that way, right?
Harry First: Someone’s going to write the other side, write the other half of the memo. What was in those other pages? I don’t know why they haven’t done that. Maybe that would be a good TV series. But in any event, yeah, I think transparency could help there. It’s not, it’s a medium cure. For example, every case that the justice department settles, it has to explain itself. It’s a requirement of the law since the last time we were concerned about misuse of antitrust frankly during the Nixon administration. And that’s of some use but somewhat limited use because those disclosures are always self-serving. It’s something, but it doesn’t necessarily get us completely far. And I think the agencies to some extent have realized that it might be helpful when they close a case to give some explanation for it. I guess what I would prefer is opening the case, not closing it. But not every case can be brought and sometimes the law is not on your side no matter what you’d like. And that may actually be Amazon Whole Foods.
Stacy Mitchell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Well in many of those cases it’s case law essentially. It’s the courts that have created that situation and one could argue perhaps have strayed pretty far from Congress’s intent with the laws. As you think about what is it going to take to actually change enforcement and change policy, does Congress need to step in and clarify what its intentions are? It seems like a long road to get the courts to revisit things like predatory pricing for example. The process of getting courts to like re look at these issues and think about, sort of go through an evolution in their thinking is long and uncertain.
Harry First: Yes. Law is often a conservative proposition because a big idea of legal rules is you follow the old rules. So you should be a little reluctant to change them. And so that makes things inherently somewhat conservative. And then when you combine that with judges that approach the law conservatively, you don’t get much change. We did get change in the 1970s. The Supreme Court did change the way we look at antitrust law. So I think, and this was one of the points that Spencer and I made in that article that you mentioned, we’ve sort of forgotten that Congress actually does legislate and has a role to play in their particular areas.
Harry First: One of them is the merger area where Congress could make changes that would stop some of the concentration that we’ve seen, which most people think is bad, but we didn’t seem to be able to do much about it or we didn’t. There are bills pending in Congress to do that and I think that really is one Avenue that we’ve neglected over time. And then the judges, the judges then ought to do what they’re supposed to do, which is they follow the law and there’s some interpretation they can do, but if the law makes a big change, they’ve got to go along and they will.
Stacy Mitchell: Okay. We’re going to take a short break. We’ll be right back. Hello everyone. Thanks so much for listening to Building Local Power. I wanted to ask as we get here towards the end of 2019 if you might consider making a donation to support ILSR’s work. We’re a nonprofit organization and we depend quite a bit on donations from individuals to make our work happen. If you can kick in a few bucks, that would be great.  You can donate to help support this podcast, but the podcast of course is only a small part of what we do. It’s a kind of side hustle to our main work, which is that we work with communities across the country to help them build local power, take control over their broadband networks, their energy systems, rebuild independent local businesses.
Stacy Mitchell: And of course we knit all of that together with advocacy at the state and federal level to change the policies that impact local economies and local communities. So in the last year we’ve helped a lot of cities build publicly owned broadband networks and take power back from the broadband monopolies. We’ve helped cities like Birmingham and Tulsa block the proliferation of dollar stores and dollar store saturation and put in place policies to support local grocers instead. We’ve helped cities think about how to reconfigure their energy systems and rebuild local recycling and composting infrastructure to both take power back from big waste and also to protect the climate. So we’re doing a lot of great work. You can read more about it on our website and if you’d be so kind as to click that donate button, we’d really appreciate it. Thanks.
Stacy Mitchell: Okay, we’re back. Some people argue, some people who want to keep the status quo as we have it now have argued that this kind of technocratic, if you will, approach to antitrust is somehow neutral, apolitical, and that the people who are saying that we need reform, that we need to bring in values of equity, of citizenship, of democracy back into antitrust that that’s somehow politicizing antitrust. How do you respond to that?
Harry First: A little self-awareness would be in order. I can’t believe that they really think any legal system is completely apolitical. There are apolitical aspects of it, and there should be. I mean, that’s what a rule of law is. But the sort of the, I don’t want to say founder, but the source that a lot of people look back to for this change is Robert Bohr and the book that he wrote The Antitrust Paradox. What’s really interesting to me in that book is that he said antitrust is inherently political. And he was very clear about it. And he didn’t think that was a bad thing. It wasn’t just economics.
Harry First: There were political values that he had about the role of government and the role of markets. And he recognizes these were political issues and they’re up for debate and change and movement in every generation, which is why my students say, “How can we settle this thing? We passed the law on 1890. Don’t we know exactly what it is? Why are we still arguing about these things?” And I say, “Because they’re always contestable.” And I don’t think if you really push anyone, they would say, “Oh, this is completely apolitical.” They would say, “No, it’s the Casa Blanca moment. Oh, there’s politics going on.” You know.
Stacy Mitchell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So you talked a little bit earlier about attorneys general and what is the role of states? We often focus on the federal government in antitrust, but the states actually have a pretty significant role.
Harry First: Yes. It’s interesting historically. So state antitrust law, actually there were a few state any trust laws that preceded the Sherman Act, the basic antitrust law in 1890. So as was the case at that point in our economy where things weren’t nationalized, the states were to some extent out ahead in regulating the railroads. States did it before the federal government did and some degree of antitrust law to control major corporations and deal with the changes in the economy that were going on. So states were very much involved and continued to be for a while and then it sort of slacked off. There weren’t the sources that voted either on the federal or the state level. But the states do have the authority to enforce federal law under federal precedent.
Harry First: So state enforcers can go into federal courts using the Sherman Act and enforce it in a way, just about the same way that the department of justice or Federal Trade Commission can. And they have at various times played a backup role to the federal government, a prod to the federal government enforcers or disagreeing with the federal government enforcers and saying, “Well, if you won’t bring the case, we will.” And that’s been a very important aspect of antitrust enforcement. And it is like, once again actually.
Stacy Mitchell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, talk a little bit about when States have led the way, when they’ve pushed on an issue that the feds were reluctant to and how you’re seeing that today.
Harry First: You know, the last time really this happened in a major way was during the Reagan administration in the 1980s when the justice department was sort of withdrawing from really rewriting the way we think about mergers and dialing back its merger enforcement. The state said, “No, we don’t agree,” and brought cases and were very much pushing the idea that that new approach wasn’t a good idea. And I will say the state attorneys general who supported this move were both Democrat and Republican and what they were not was Washington people. They were in touch with the interests of their states and we’re concerned about concentration and economy, how it was affecting their citizens.
Harry First: So the politics were different too. And that was a major time. The second point was litigation against Microsoft, the last major monopolization case that was brought to United States by the government. And the States and the federal government brought suit. But the state’s really, one of their efforts was to push the suit and make sure that the federal government didn’t let it go and brought suit. So that was another interesting time when state enforcement was quite important.
Stacy Mitchell: Today we’ve got a bunch of attorneys general who’ve opened investigation into Facebook and I believe Google as well. What do you think the prospects are for them to lead the way on big tech?
Harry First: Yeah. I don’t know. Here’s probably my first reaction is that it’s a heavy lift. Taking on these cases is a big deal. These are very well resourced companies that understand their business in a way that government lawyers don’t and have to learn about. It is important to have, there’s not only safety in numbers but money in numbers. So it does give the state’s resources, people and budget. These are going to be tough cases. And one of the things that’s true when you have 48 States, 49 depending on how you count, it’s a challenge just to coordinate among those offices and what may be different views from different offices.
Harry First: So you sort of have to keep that coalition together. Nobody really has authority. It’s an interesting process. But I think they seem serious about it. States are now litigating the Sprint and T-Mobile merger in a very serious way, and I think they’re serious about these investigations. Serious are not, they won’t be easy and they’ll require a lot of effort. But I think they’re determined to go ahead without regard to what the federal government does. And apparently now, not without a lot of coordination with the federal government, which has its downsides actually.
Stacy Mitchell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Is there an interplay, do you think between what the states do, what the agencies do, how Congress looks at these issues? I mean, do they sort of spur one another along?
Harry First: Yes, they can have that effect. I think sort of on the good side is I think to take on a case like this, you need general support. And this now seems to be bipartisan, which is a very interesting aspect of it and going on at multiple levels, both Congress and the federal enforcers and the states. So I think yes, they can spur them on. There is always the worry in cases like this that one group settles on terms that are maybe not what they should be and that affects the ability of the others to go ahead. So we have yet to see exactly the test really the federal agencies are in terms of moving these cases ahead. And I frankly don’t know. I think we’re going to go find out. So there are challenges even in that. But way better to have all of these groups involved because it does build a certain sense of consensus that something ought to be done.
Stacy Mitchell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Just turning back to overall reform and the prospect of Congress stepping in and taking action to sort of set things right and turn the agencies and the courts back maybe to what Congress’s original intension was around the anti-monopoly laws. Yeah, I’ve been interested to read a little bit about some of the proposals in the 1970s. One called the industrial reorganization act and talk about a branding problem. I mean, that is a really boring act-
Harry First: They should’ve called it break them up act.
Stacy Mitchell: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And it’s such a stronger proposal than we’ve seen so far. I mean, there are a number of bills that have been introduced by Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker and others in Congress to in various ways reform merger policy or other aspects of antitrust. But the industrial reorganization act or the break them up act as we’ve now renamed it from the 1970s really what much further and sort of in a way removed the role of technocrats and economists from the process. So tell us a little bit about that.
Harry First: So this was not a modest bill as you said. And it would have created new institutions. It would have reorganized sort of the top of our economy. If you were over a certain asset size, you would have to show why you should stay that way and not be broken up. This bill was introduced I think in three separate congresses with Senator Phil Hart who was chairman of I guess it was the antitrust subcommittee of the judiciary committee from Michigan. Very powerful and thoughtful Senator. And I’m not quite sure politically that he ever thought these bills would get passed. I’m not sure Congress was any more ready to restructure large corporations in 1970 than they are today. But it did form, gave a forum for really thinking through what might be done and the reasons for or against it.
Harry First: Now in the end you might say nothing came of it, but it was extremely ambitious and far-reaching. Senator Klobuchar’s bill on mergers is maybe less ambitious in its scope but maybe more achievable. So we’ll have to see if anything happened. It didn’t pass the last Congress, hard to say it’s going to pass this one.
Stacy Mitchell: What I thought was interesting about this legislation from the 70s is that it basically said if you are a company with monopoly power, if you’re very large and you have a substantial and long lasting share of a market that that’s problematic and it removes the need to show that you somehow engaged in anti competitive behavior, which is a complicated process to show, and said there is a public interest in not having markets monopolized by these big companies. And that is, I found quite appealing in the sense that it dealt with companies, very powerful companies, just sort of the top tier of companies and recognized that bigness can be problematic in and of itself and that sort of market power and removed the need to go through a very complicated process in terms of trying to show anti competitive behavior and really got straight to the issue I think in some ways.
Harry First: Yes. So this was the push for what was called no fault monopolization. Interesting thing that you’re talk about the technocrats. A lot of the, sort of the important commentators of the day, one economist who later got an Nobel award actually, were in favor of this because it was a straight case that monopoly wasn’t good economically. And straight economic grounds forget the political issues and they did favor that sort of approach. I think we’re ready to reconsider that. And some people are dusting this off and saying this might be a useful thing to talk about, not just mergers which is how firms grow, but the position of firms as monopolies. One of the difficulties of transposing that to today’s economy is the concern then was for what was called durable monopoly, just as you said, long lasting monopolies.
Harry First: And I think today’s concern about the big tech companies is a different sort of monopoly and some not even monopolies. So Apple’s not a monopoly. So it’s an even more complicated issue. But the core of not needing to say, “Oh you did X bad thing, don’t do X bad thing.” But saying, “There’s something about the structure of the market and the incentives that if we change that you wouldn’t do X bad thing or Y and we’d have more control over large economic actors.”
Stacy Mitchell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Are you finding as a law professor that law students that are coming in now have more knowledge or interest in antitrust? I’m curious if the growing sort of public interest in this area of law and policy has changed the mix of law students.
Harry First: I do find law students who are really interested in the area for lots of different reasons maybe. It’s hard for me to say. I always feel that interest increases when they go to work in the summer for a law firm and find that the law firm has antitrust issues they’ve got to deal with. And then they say, “Maybe we’re going to learn something about that.” So a factoid is that or for a seminar as a semester and seminar sizes are limited and it’s the first time I can remember maybe ever, but certainly in a long time that my antitrust seminar was oversubscribed. It wasn’t just me. I’d like to think, oh they love me. But one of my colleagues also had that.
Harry First: I think there is a general upswing for various reasons. It may be just because what’s on the front page and the kinds of companies that they see and deal with. Everyone uses Amazon. Everyone uses Google. And unfortunately, apparently everyone uses Facebook. So this is not something that’s esoteric or removed from people’s lives. It is particularly for the students we see, an integral part of their lives and they’re concerned about it.
Stacy Mitchell: Well that seems promising.
Harry First: Yes. [inaudible 00:00:37:28]. I have to have students to teach you know. It’s much more fun that way. And they’re going to go out and I think some will be involved in the area for sure.
Stacy Mitchell: Uh-huh (affirmative). Well I really appreciate this conversation. It’s been great to talk with you a little bit about your work and to help us understand a little bit more about how this area of policy works. I wanted to close just by asking if you had a reading or a watching recommendation.
Harry First: Who has time to read anything when there’s so much on so much competition in television entertainment programming until we all just have Netflix and Amazon. Well that’s for a future one. So here’s this series that I really love. It has nothing to do … There are lots of blogs on competition. There are lots of interesting blogs, lots of things to read and so forth on competition law. For a TV program, so I don’t know if you know Shtisl.
Stacy Mitchell: No.
Harry First: I’ll give a plug to Netflix, not that they need it. It’s a show about orthodox Jews in Jerusalem and how they live. It’s a very human interest to me. Interesting show and the people who star in it have become sort of minor or major important actors and hits in these roles. So it’s a great human interest and series. And it also gives you an insight into a different culture that many of us don’t really know how it operates. So Shtisl it is, S-H-T-I-S-L.
Stacy Mitchell: Shtisl. Great. And it’s a drama, not a documentary, right?
Harry First: It’s not a documentary. It’s a drama series and a very, very human series.
Stacy Mitchell: Excellent. I’ll have to check it out. We will put that in the show notes on our website for this episode. And we will also put links to several of your articles on that so people can read more about the antitrust democracy deficit and other work that you’ve done. Harry First, thank you so much for being on our podcast.
Harry First: Great. It was a lot of fun. Thanks.
Stacy Mitchell: Thank you for listening to this episode of Building Local Power. You can find links to what we discussed today by going to our website and clicking on the show page for this episode. That’s And while you’re there, you can sign up for one of our newsletters or click the donate button to support our work. If you like this podcast, please consider rating and reviewing it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. This show is edited by Lisa Gonzales and produced by Lisa and Zack Freed. Our theme music is Funk Interlude by Dysfunction Al. For the Institute for Local Self Reliance I’m Stacy Mitchell. We’ll see you again in two weeks for the next episode of Building Local Power.



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Zach Freed was a Research Associate at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance from 2018 to 2020, where he researched and wrote about antitrust and corporate power. Prior to his time at ILSR, Zach was a policy staffer for Rep. Keith Ellison.

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Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its Independent Business Initiative, which produces research and designs policy to counter concentrated corporate power and strengthen local economies.