Trust Busting May Make a Comeback

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

With Silicon Valley and other internet mega companies facing criticism for business practices across the political spectrum it is not hard to imagine that a modern version of trust busting could emerge as a political issue.

President Theodore Roosevelt built his popularity in busting up monopolies in the early 1900s. Roosevelt did not target all large corporations only those he considered “bad trusts,” those businesses that restrained trade and manipulated markets. His biggest successes in breaking up monopolies were the railroad combine, Northern Securities Company and John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil that was eventually broken into 34 separate entities.

Charges of dominance in markets have been leveled against Silicon Valley and internet mega companies. Concerns over the actions of these companies veer into other sensitive political areas, as well.

Could a modern day trust busting episode catch the public imagination and drive a political effort?

On the left, Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced the “Stop BEZOS Act” to install a 100% tax rate on Amazon and other companies for government benefits received by workers. Sanders says workers at wealthy companies have to get government benefits because they are underpaid. He wants the cost of those government benefits to be repaid through the proposed tax.

On the right, Congress Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California is leading an effort against Silicon Valley companies to “stop the bias.” McCarthy’s concern is that anti-conservative bias runs though Silicon Valley companies in what they allow on their platforms.

Meanwhile, executives of Twitter and Facebook were grilled on Capitol Hill yesterday on how they handle information related to questionable sources and monitor who is denied access to their platforms.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, bluntly told the executives, “The era of the Wild West in social media is coming to an end.”

Ominously for the companies, the U.S. Justice Department said it would investigate “growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.”

Dealing with these perceived failings of the big Internet companies could bring about regulations and more to harness the companies’ influence and power. Already suggested possible actions by Congress include making social media platforms public utilities to be monitored by government.

Is it too hard to imagine that either political party, sensing public frustration with the dominance of the Internet mega companies, could pull out Teddy Roosevelt’s big stick and attempt to re-create some form of trust busting for the modern era?

Comment on this article


Please note, statements and opinions expressed on the Fox&Hounds Blog are solely those of their respective authors and may not represent the views of Fox&Hounds Daily or its employees thereof. Fox&Hounds Daily is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the site's bloggers.