Can the People Take Power Back From Big Tech? (Episode 107)

Date: 20 Aug 2020 | posted in: Building Local Power | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

On this episode of Building Local Power, host Jess Del Fiacco talks to ILSR’s Stacy Mitchell and Ron Knox about the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee’s recent hearing on monopoly power in online platforms, which featured testimony from the CEOs of Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google. The hearing was part of an in-depth, year-long investigation of anti-competitive behavior in these companies — the first time in more than 40 years that Congress has conducted a detailed investigation of monopoly power.

Jess, Stacy, and Ron’s conversation touches on:

  • How the increasing power of these tech monopolies negatively impacts our lives and the health of our economy.
  • Potential outcomes of the investigation, and why we might be seeing a shift back toward strong enforcement of antitrust law.
  • ILSR’s latest research into Amazon’s role as a gatekeeper and its exploitation of third party sellers: Amazon’s Monopoly Tollbooth 
  • Why many third party sellers that use Amazon’s platform end up going out of business after just two or three years.

 

“…you look at this hearing, this Congressional hearing, and I think anyone that watched it really got the sense that that’s over now and that this is Congress using the power of all of its tools, its investigatory tools, the kind of beating heart of the democracy, to change the pathway of our antitrust laws and antitrust enforcement. And to say this is not going to fly anymore. And this was the people really taking back power in a substantial way.”

 

Jess Del Fiacco: Hello and welcome to Building Local Power, a podcast dedicated to thought-provoking conversations about how we can challenge corporate monopolies and expand the power of people to shape their own future. I’m Jess Del Fiacco, the host of Building Local Power and communications manager here at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. For 45 years, ILSR has worked to build thriving equitable communities where power, wealth and accountability remain in local hands. Thanks for tuning in today. I’m joined by Stacy Mitchell, the director of ILSR, as well as Ron Knox, who is a senior researcher with our independent business team. And this is your Building Local Power debut, right, Ron?
Ron Knox: It is.
Jess Del Fiacco: Welcome to the show.
Ron Knox: Thanks.
Jess Del Fiacco: So, today we’re going to talk about the recent congressional hearing that was held as part of the Antitrust Subcommittee’s investigation into big tech, which has been going on for a year. Notably this hearing featured testimony from the CEOs of Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google. So, a lot of money in one room. And I think just for anyone who hasn’t been paying very close attention over the last year, although I’m sure all of our listeners have been at least somewhat tuned in. Stacy, could you give us some key things that have happened leading up to this hearing? And if you’ve been involved at all, if ILSR has been involved, could you talk about that a little bit?
Stacy Mitchell: So this is the first time in more than 40 years that congress has conducted a detailed investigation of monopoly power. So it’s a pretty remarkable thing that it’s happening. And I think it’s sort of hard for people because this hasn’t happened in the lifetimes of most Americans to really conceptualize what this is or where it might lead. Over the last year, the staff of the committee has been conducting this detailed investigation. They’ve demanded millions of pages of documents from the four companies like internal documents which they’ve been working through. They’ve interviewed a whole bunch of witnesses like suppliers, competitors, like other market participants. They’ve taken statements from over a hundred companies. So, they’ve been doing this really detailed work and uncovering a lot of evidence as we saw from documents that they released as part of the hearing of aggressive anti-competitive behavior, like basically spying, stealing, bullying, cheating, like all the things that we don’t want big companies to be able to do and that we really haven’t been policing.
Stacy Mitchell: So part of this investigation is like, are the tech companies a problem? Do they have market power? Do they use it in ways that’s abusive? And then part of it’s also about this question of like, well, where’s Antitrust policy? Like why are these things being checked? Why isn’t anything being done about them? So, that’s sort of where we are and it’s interesting to watch. I think we really saw in the hearing that detailed investigation, the understanding of the business models in a lot of detail by members of the committee, really paying off and paying off both in the quality of the questions and follow-ups that they were able to do, but also the fact that they are building a shared understanding. And I think some of them have even seen their views on these issues shift as a result of actually having to grapple with that evidence.
Jess Del Fiacco: Yeah. Can we talk a little bit more about how… As you said, America took a few decades off of enforcing any you antitrust policy. So is this like the beginning of maybe a shift back towards understanding how important that is and congress understanding what they need to do there? Or is this the result of the action that’s kind of been building before? Where is the public’s perception at and congress as well?
Ron Knox: I hope this is the death nail for multiple decades of really bad antitrust policy and antitrust enforcement, right? So basically starting in the 1970s, a group of legal scholars, politicians, lawyers, other folks who believed that capital and the corporate power should really rule above all else, gained influence and eventually took power and change the nature of our antitrust laws from those used to defend open markets and a democratic economy to those used to defend and to permit corporate concentration and corporate bigness, right? And this was driven by the belief that bigger was better and and that big powerful corporations were more efficient and delivered lower prices for consumers and were ultimately better for society.
Ron Knox: What that project actually did, which one could argue was the true intent of the project and of that change in antitrust orthodoxy was to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a few dominant corporations and powerful people and strip that wealth and power away from workers, away from independent small businesses and away from the public at large. And unfortunately that’s what happened. So you look at this hearing, this congressional hearing, and I think anyone that watched it really got the sense that that’s over now and that this is congress using the power of all of its tools, it’s investigatory tools, the kind of beating heart of the democracy to change the pathway of our antitrust laws and antitrust enforcement. And to say this is not going to fly anymore. And this was the people really taking back power in a substantial way.
Stacy Mitchell: I think was really interesting. I think that’s totally right and this moment is a product of activism by ILSR and other organizations and sort of growing evidence that, that ideology that took hold beginning in the seventies really by both Democrats and Republicans, to a large extent, the [inaudible 00:05:52] is really a failed theory of how we build a prosperous economy. So this hearing is both sort of a culmination of a lot of that realization and that activism to push monopoly issues back into the center of the conversation and a big turning point that then lays the foundation hopefully, for a new stance. I think to Ron’s point about sort of how the hearing possibly we hope kind of marked like a different sort of posture between congress and corporations was that like quite literally in the hearing, the posture of the committee members to these four incredibly powerful wealthy CEOs was not one of deference. It had the feeling of like a legal deposition.
Stacy Mitchell: And it had the feeling of a courtesy like, “We’ve done a year’s worth of investigation, we have found a lot of evidence of wrongdoing, and as a courtesy to you, we’re going to let you have an opportunity to answer for some of that evidence, but this is not about you doing a public relations event. This is not about grandstanding. This is actually about us exercising our responsibility and our authority as the people’s representatives over you, that nobody is above the law.” And they demonstrated that in the tone, in the basic posture they took towards these four CEO’s and I thought just that part of the hearing was really effective.
Jess Del Fiacco: Yeah. I know all the commentary that I read was like, “Wow, Oh, they’re asking real questions.” Were really…
Stacy Mitchell: Things I loved about the questions was they stuck at least on the Democratic side or to some extent on the Republican side, they stuck very much to questions that were about competition issues and monopoly issues. You could map all the questions very clearly to antitrust and competition issues, if you have expertise on that, you understood how those questions are mapped directly to the law, but at the same time, the phrasing of the questions and the language that they used, anyone could understand. And I thought that was really terrific. They really talked about spying, stealing cheating, these were the kinds of terms and concepts that they brought up in their questions.
Stacy Mitchell: And so, the public which has… Because antitrust has been not really operational and existing in the shadows, like most people don’t feel… They don’t really understand it, they don’t know how to talk about it. And this committee illustrated, here’s what these concepts are about. Here’s why they matter. And here’s how they connect to everybody’s lives and that wellbeing of our communities and our economy.
Jess Del Fiacco: Ron, there was something?
Ron Knox: No, I was just going to say, it seemed to me just an outside observer that these extremely powerful, extremely wealthy men were in no way, shape or form like emotionally, spiritually prepared for what was about to happen. You know what I mean? Like geez, I’m sure these guys go about their lives in places of great power where nobody questions their actions and they’re entirely insulated from any kind of criticism. And then they show up on the Hill with these extremely smart, well-prepared, organized lawmakers, who had done a full year investigation with a million documents or more, ready to go, and are they just weren’t ready to deal with that. I thought it was so… And there were moments in the hearing where you could see this kind… Where this, I think the shock of what was happening resulted in some interesting honesty from some of the CEOs about their actual business practices and what they actually did.
Ron Knox: I thought it was so eye opening when Jeff Bezos said that Amazon’s focus when acquiring businesses is the targeted company’s position in the market. Right? That admittance to me, it undermine any claim that Amazon is driven by some idea of innovation or that it acquires companies because they’ll compliment Amazon’s own offerings. The truth is that Amazon wants power. It wants market power, and it will get it by any means necessary, including through it’s mergers and acquisitions and Bezos’ testimony about the goal of it’s acquisition strategy really cemented that for me. And I thought that was such an interesting… He just admitted it. He just said it out loud and I think it was because they have never faced this kind of critique before, never faced this kind of democratic power in their face before, like they did during the hearing.
Jess Del Fiacco: Yeah. I was imagining like a team of lawyers, like just off camera or standing behind their computer like shuffling papers around and yeah. Like holding up notes, like, “Stop now.”
Ron Knox: Yeah.
Stacy Mitchell: We’re talking.
Ron Knox: Yeah. Yeah.
Jess Del Fiacco: Well, he did manage to get that feed shut off for like the first hour or so. Right?
Stacy Mitchell: Yeah.
Ron Knox: I was joking online that he went outside and cut the cable to his house. Yeah.
Jess Del Fiacco: I think this is a good place to take a short break. When we come back, we can start talking about our latest research into Amazon.
Jess Del Fiacco: Thank you for tuning into this episode of Building Local Power. If you enjoy listening to the show, we hope you’ll consider making a donation to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Your support makes this podcast possible, and it allows us to produce the research and resources necessary to push back against concentrated corporate power. If you want to join us in returning power to local communities, please go to ilsr.org/donate. Any amount is sincerely appreciated.
Jess Del Fiacco: So, one of the things that came up in the hearing was Congresswoman Scanlon mentioned our most recent report on Amazon, which you both worked on. So could we dig into that a little bit? I mean, it’s all about basically how Amazon is exploiting sellers on their platform. So you’re going to talk about how that came up in the hearing and just how their dominance allows them to get away with doing that.
Ron Knox: So, Amazon’s dominance as an online retail platform allows the company to act as a gatekeeper for huge swaths of the economy and commerce in the US. So, for most major product categories, more than 70% of online sales happen on Amazon. And when that’s the case, Amazon has the ability to say who wins and who loses? Which products will be seen by Amazon’s hundreds of millions of shoppers and which will not? So Amazon exploits this gatekeeper power by tying a small business’ chance for success on its platform to that business’ willingness to pay for all of these various Amazon taxes and fees. And so what we did with this report was we showed, I think really for the first time, the extent to which Amazon taxes, this captured audience, this captured kind of group of companies that because of Amazon’s monopoly, because of its dominance are forced to sell on its platform.
Stacy Mitchell: Yeah. We called the report, Amazon’s Monopoly Tollbooth, and in effect, that’s what it is. You’ve got this company and this is the language that Congressman Cicilline who chairs the Antitrust Subcommittee, and more than anyone is really responsible for this investigation. He used this language of all of these companies have gatekeeper power. Basically they have got a hold on a market in order to reach that market, you have to go through them. And that enables them to extract from the businesses that depend on their pipeline. And so in the case of Amazon, we found that five years ago, Amazon it’s fees that it charged sellers on its platform were about 19%. So $19 out of every $100 that a seller earns. Five years later today, those fees are now up to 30%. So $30 on every $100 they earn, like a big increase and part of how they’ve done that is that their basic commission hasn’t gone down even as they’ve gotten bigger.
Stacy Mitchell: So that stayed the same and then they’ve layered these additional fees on top of it. And as Ron said these additional fees are supposedly for like optional services, theoretically, but if you don’t buy those services from Amazon, you’re buried on page two, three, whatever of the results. You’re not in a place where you’re going to actually make sales. So they’re technically optional, but not really. And this fee revenue, a lot of people talk about how Amazon Web Services, AWS, their big cloud operation is like Amazon’s cash cow, right? Just to put it in perspective, AWS and I agree, it’s certainly a cash cow. Last year, AWS took in $35 billion in revenue. From third party sellers, Amazon took $60 billion in revenue. It’s a huge and rapidly growing part of their revenue stream and effectively all that money that they’re taking from sellers they’re using to fund their other businesses and to gain sort of unfair competitive advantage.
Stacy Mitchell: They’ve used that in part to build this huge logistics operation, which we can talk more about. They have a packaged delivery shipping service that rivals UPS and the Postal Service, and is actually one of the big reasons the Postal Service is in trouble right now. And they’ve used this sort of squeeze on sellers to actually fund a lot of their own retail operations. So basically they’re taking fees from sellers and then building products that compete directly with those sellers. So they win coming and going.
Jess Del Fiacco: Yeah, I think it’s important to note too, that because they own all that infrastructure, it’s not like these sellers can just say, “Oh, well, this isn’t working for me. I’m going to go sell my product somewhere else online.” If they really want to be successful, they have to buy into Amazon’s whole game, right?
Stacy Mitchell: That’s right. And one thing that’s really important about that is sellers will say, “Yeah, I’m also selling on other platforms. I’m on eBay, I’m on Walmart, I’m on my own site.” But 90% of my business is coming through Amazon and people might look at that and say, “Well, why don’t you lower your prices on these other sites? Because you’re not necessarily incurring all of these Amazon related fees and costs.” Well, Amazon prevents them from doing that. If you have a lower price somewhere else, Amazon buries your product. And so you suddenly lose all that business on Amazon. So effectively you have to keep your prices high on other places. So consumers ultimately are now paying the price as well as the independent sellers.
Jess Del Fiacco: I would love to talk more about the logistics too. It just seems like a far sprawling monster to be that… Keeps me up at night.
Ron Knox: Yeah.
Stacy Mitchell: Glad to know that I’m not the only one.
Ron Knox: It’s a lot. Just to put some numbers to it. One of the revelations that that came to light in our report is to the extent to which Amazon funds its own operations on the backs of its small business third party sellers, right? So, I think in terms of revenue, third party sales on Amazon makes up about half of all sales on the Amazon platform, but the fees from those sales fund 75% of its logistics service. So, not only are small businesses paying for their own shipping and their own storage fees, but they’re paying for Amazon to ship and store its own products to its customers. So Amazon uses its power and again, as you said, Jess, sellers can’t go anywhere else. Maybe they can go to eBay, but the customers aren’t there. [inaudible 00:17:39] the customers it has to be on this monopoly platform.
Ron Knox: And Amazon uses that leverage and again, that gatekeeper power to just extract fees, scrape off the top of every sale that happens on Amazon and it’s to the detriment of everybody. That’s the thing that is so important about the findings in this report. It’s obviously to the detriment of the small businesses that rely on Amazon that are forced to use its platform because of its market power. And a lot of the third party sellers that use the platform end up going out of business after two or three years, because they can’t afford it. They can’t make a profit with those fees. And it also puts pressure on the sellers to raise their prices. So the funniest thing is that Amazon says, “Oh, we’re so great for consumers. We’re just here to serve our customers.” But what’s actually happening is that these third party sellers are forced to put their prices up and up and up because that’s the only way they can make a profit while still paying all of these exorbitant fees.
Stacy Mitchell: I think what’s shocking about Amazon in the logistics sector is that they have become this massive player in just a few years. I mean it used to be that Amazon, they’ve been building warehouses now for a while. So they’ve got a lot of warehouses and facilities for storing and packing products, but they relied on other couriers, UPS, FedEx, the Postal Service, third party couriers to actually do the delivery. And then just a few years ago they decided, you know what? We’re going to bring all that in-house and we’re going to start doing it ourselves through our own contracted service providers and so on. And they’re now delivering half of the orders on Amazon. And just in a matter of a few years, this huge explosion and for the big, huge e-commerce parcel market, they now are on par with UPS and FedEx basically in terms of size they’ve slightly overtaken the Postal Service.
Stacy Mitchell: And part of what they’ve done is they have taken the least expensive routes. So they’ve taken like the urban routes, the profitable routes away from the Postal Service. And they’ve left the Postal Service with the really expensive rural routes. Like if you live miles and miles from the highway and someone has to spend 15 minutes driving out to your house to make a delivery, that’s the delivery that the Postal Service is doing. And meanwhile, Amazon is doing these efficient urban deliveries. And so they learned how this business works by working closely with the Postal Service. And then once they understood it, they started doing it themselves and are now basically gutting the Postal Service. And that is sort of one more area where the consequences of their power are really playing out in ways that we’re all going to pay for.
Jess Del Fiacco: The fact that they’ve gotten into the logistics sector so effectively and so quickly over the past few years, it just says that there’s clearly no end point to where they want to grab power. Like they’re going to continue. They’re never going to be say Like, “Well, we’re making enough money, so we’re not going to add any new services for our thing.” Like, “We’re good here.” It’s clearly without end.
Stacy Mitchell: Yeah. You can just keep moving into adjacent markets. One market after another. And the thing about the logistics is it sort of works both ways, like both Amazon has built this huge logistics operation by leveraging its power over these third party sellers and saying, “Oh, you can’t use UPS. You’ve got to use us.” But it goes the other way in the sense that as they begin to dominate logistics, if they really dominate that industry and they become the only way that you can get a package to a consumer say, overnight or later the same day, then everybody’s going to have to use their platform and their service if they want to be competitive in e-commerce. And so, it just reinforces their market power all the way around.
Jess Del Fiacco: To go back to something you mentioned, Ron, you said, and this was brought up in the hearing as well. They actually shared a video from a seller on Amazon’s platform that a lot of these businesses trying to sell on Amazon do go out of business within a few years. So can you talk a little bit more about that?
Ron Knox: Sure. So in our report, we detailed the story of a company called Top Shelf Brands. And this was a hair care products company where the owner decided to sell some excess stock online rather than in his barbershop. And it did really well. And eventually he turned to Amazon and when he turned to Amazon, his business really took off and had a ton of sales. And in just a few years, became quite a big operation, went from just being a barber shop to a company that employed 45 employees and so on. And everything was going great. And the owner of the shop was a big proponent of Amazon and would tell everybody how great Amazon was. That isn’t until Amazon’s fees really started adding up. So, he quickly realized that if he wanted to be successful on Amazon, he had to use what’s called FBA, Fulfillment By Amazon and that’s Amazon’s warehousing and shipping service.
Ron Knox: Then he realized that, “Oh, actually to be really successful on Amazon, I’m going to have to buy some place for product advertising to make sure that these products are at the top of the search results page. And at the top of the products landing pages that they go to.” Suddenly you have to pay a little more and pay a little more. So, in 2014, Amazon fees were 35% of this company’s revenue. By 2018, four years later, it’s cut was 46%. Right? And anyone that’s in business knows that that difference is a company’s entire margin. That’s an entire profit margin, right? And it got to the point where between Amazon fees and the cost of its supplies, only 13% of its revenue was left to cover payroll and the rest of its expenses. So because of these fees, and this is not just additional fees, this isn’t like advertising. These are fees going up. This is storage fees going up and so on.
Ron Knox: So suddenly by 2018, this extraordinarily successful company that went out and hired a bunch of people and was having all this great success on Amazon was losing money. And it was losing money because of these fees. And again, this is… And so now this company is teetering on the brink and it’s one example, but this kind of thing is happening across the Amazon ecosystem. It’s happening to small businesses everywhere. And again, why don’t they go somewhere else? Why don’t they go to eBay? Why don’t they sell on their own site? 90% of these companies’ revenue comes from Amazon. And it doesn’t because there’s… Because that’s what the monopoly does, right? [inaudible 00:24:28] that captured audience, buyers and there’s no way out of it. So again, that’s just one example, but that’s prevalent around the site. You hear that from a lot of small businesses.
Jess Del Fiacco: Yeah. Stacy, you called them a private government, I think in your recent piece for The Atlantic. So given just how much they control these platforms, how much they control the infrastructure, do you feel like the antitrust laws that we already have on the books are capable of regulating Amazon? Or do we need additional laws to regulate modern monopolies like this?
Stacy Mitchell: Yeah, it’s a great question. And yeah, I described Amazon as a form of private government and that was a theme that also came up in the hearing. And I think there’s sort of growing consensus that we should recognize these big tech companies in that way. In the case of Amazon, it’s basically deciding the rules of the market. Who can participate? On what terms? It’s running how commerce works and that really is a function that should be in the hands of a democratic government, right? And not in the hands of Amazon. So, how do we address this? On the one hand, our antitrust laws are very strong and I think in theory, if you look at the laws as they are written, and as they were originally designed, they are strong enough to address the problems of the tech platforms.
Stacy Mitchell: That said, the case law, like the court decisions that have been made around the laws for the last 30 or 40 years in response to this ideological shift that Ron described have basically taken the law so far off track, that it becomes very hard to figure out how do you build a case that actually can take on these companies, given the kind of hurdles and obstacles that the courts have set up? Not things that are in the original law, but ways that the courts have said, “Well, in order to prove this kind of case, you have to do X, Y, and Z.” Things that the courts have layered on.
Stacy Mitchell: And so our feeling is that yes, there are definitely antitrust cases that the agencies need to bring. And in fact there are AGs, state AGs in California and New York that are reportedly investigating Amazon for antitrust abuses. There may be an investigation underway in the FTC. So there is some movement in that direction and there are these specific kinds of violations of the law that I think surfaced in the hearing and that you could build a case around. But that said, I think that the more expedient and more effective approach to this would be if congress passed some new legislation and specifically said that if you are a dominant platform, if you operate, say a big marketplace, then you can’t also be a competitor on that marketplace. Like basically, Amazon needs to spin off into multiple companies.
Stacy Mitchell: And that the platform that kind of gate that everyone has to travel through needs to be subject to kind of like a public utility sort of standards. A set of rules to basically say, if you operate this really important platform that everyone has to use, you have public interest obligations and you have an obligation to treat people fairly and sort of consistently, right?
Stacy Mitchell: So those are kind of the two pieces of it. And it could happen through congress passing a law that basically said, if you meet these conditions, then you need to break yourself up and you have a certain amount of time to do that. It could also happen by congress saying to the FTC, which has rulemaking power, the Federal Trade Commission, you need to make rules about this. You need to make a rule that achieves this. And so basically set the goal and kick it over to them to do it. I should say, you asked earlier about our involvement with the Antitrust Subcommittee and the House in this investigation and so we’ve had a fair amount of involvement, and I testified before the committee last July, a year ago about Amazon. And then we’ve submitted various comment letters, including in May, I believe it was or earlier this year, anyway. A set of recommendations around antitrust policy reform that are recommendations that we hope they incorporate into their report, which is going to be out in a few weeks.
Stacy Mitchell: And in addition to that kind of separation of platforms, we also recommended that congress clarify the purpose of antitrust laws and clarify that if you’re a dominant company, you can’t just engage in predatory pricing or tying, or some of these kinds of behaviors that the courts have made really hard to prove. Like basically for congress to step in and say, “You know what? The courts have gotten our intentions wrong and we’re just going to restate what those intentions are, so that we bring the law back into what was originally conceived.”
Jess Del Fiacco: Ron, anything you want to add there?
Ron Knox: I don’t want to get too into the weeds on this, but I will just say that as Stacy mentioned, I think things like predatory pricing that’s the core of really the kinds of conduct that the antitrust laws were intended to prevent. And the fact that now, because of this 40 plus years of really pro-monopoly, antitrust, both enforcement and jurisprudence, you end up where it is nearly impossible to prove that a dominant company used a predatory pricing tactic to force one of its rivals out of business. And the fact that we’ve gotten to this point is disturbing enough, but to Stacy’s point, there’s likely no way through the courts to remedy this. This is something that congress has to take up and it has to reassert their power over the antitrust laws, both in their intent, their legislative intent and over how they’re enforced.
Ron Knox: That’s a power that congress has and it’s part of what was so remarkable and heartening to watch this hearing and to understand this investigation that the subcommittee has been doing for the last year. Is because it’s really a sign that congress is ready and willing and able to take back this power and to reassert its authority over how antitrust happens in America.
Jess Del Fiacco: Yeah. My closing question is basically what can we expect next? We’ll have the report from the subcommittee in September and then what? If congress is retaking this power, what should we look for next?
Stacy Mitchell: Well, I think what the report says is really important and we’re certainly… We’ve been doing meetings with the officers of the members of the committee this week and next week. So we really are hoping for a strong report that lays out the evidence that we got a glimpse of in the hearing and lays it all out. And then also some strong recommendations about what needs to happen, because I feel like this report is going to set the stage for the framework for what could then happen next. So that’ll come out, they say late August, early September or something like that. And then obviously we’re going to go into an election and so everything is going to be a little bit suspended.
Stacy Mitchell: What’s in the report will help to feed and drive some of the investigations by the state AGs and maybe by the FTC. So that’s going to happen regardless. And then in terms of politically, I’m hoping that we’ll come back in January, there’ll be a new congress one way or another. And I hope that report is then set the stage for actual legislation to be introduced. And we are certainly going to be working really hard to make that legislation happen.
Jess Del Fiacco: Any last thoughts from either of you?
Stacy Mitchell: Well, I think it’s fun to actually… The hearing was like five hours long or like five and a half hours long. So we all watched it with popcorn and Twitter and all of that during the day it was happening, but for listeners you can pull it up and it’s really great just to watch like David Cicilline who chairs the committee, his opening statement, I think really gives you a sense of how this committee is framing these issues and I found it quite powerful. And then the other thing I would just say in closing, I think it’s easy to get… Tech sort of seems like not concrete kind of ephemeral and antitrust policy seems really removed, but one of the things I thought was quite powerful about the hearing is that the questions that the committee asked repeatedly just grounded it in how this actually affects us, like how this is affecting small businesses, how this is affecting the economy, squelching innovation. So these things are affecting all of our lives in really profound ways.
Stacy Mitchell: And so I thought the committee did a great job with that too and you can really see that in some of those questions and in that opening statement. So I just encourage people to like dip in and watch what your government looks like when it’s actually doing its job.
Jess Del Fiacco: It’s refreshing.
Stacy Mitchell: Yeah.
Ron Knox: Yeah.
Jess Del Fiacco: Okay. Well, thank you guys.
Ron Knox: Thanks, Jess [crosstalk 00:33:52].
Stacy Mitchell: Thanks Jess. Fun to talk to you.
Jess Del Fiacco: Thank you for tuning in to this episode of the Building Local Power Podcast from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. You can find links to what we discussed today by going to ilsr.org and clicking on the show page for this episode. That’s ilsr.org. While you’re there, you can sign up for one of our many newsletters and connect with us on social media. You can also help us out with a gift that helps produce this very podcast and supports the research we make available for free on our website. You can also help us out by rating this podcast and sharing it with your friends on Apple Podcasts or wherever you find your podcasts. This show is produced by Zach Freed and me, Jess Del Fiacco. Our theme music is Funk Interlude by Dysfunction_AL. For the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, I’m Jess Del Fiacco and I hope you’ll join us again in two weeks for the next episode of Building Local Power.

 

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Jessica Del Fiacco is the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Communications Manager. She works closely with all of our initiatives to build community power and combat monopolies, and she runs ILSR’s social media networks on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Jessica also produces the Institute’s Building Local Power podcast. Contact Jessica for media inquiries.

Jess Del Fiacco
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Jessica Del Fiacco is the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Communications Manager. She works closely with all of our initiatives to build community power and combat monopolies, and she runs ILSR’s social media networks on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Jessica also produces the Institute’s Building Local Power podcast. Contact Jessica for media inquiries.