The US election and oligopolies
else the U.S. election means for a variety of issues and groups, among
the biggest winners are oligopolies. That's not just my opinion; it is
the opinion of the pro-business Wall Street Journal (“Another Winner Is Big Business”, 11/4/04).
Bush administration makes no secret of its pro-business policies. But
it might be more accurate to call them pro-big business strategies. And
more such activities will come. As the article puts it, “many
companies and industries expect specific gains from new federal
policies and programs, and the Republican Party's stronger hand in
Congress will mean that those legislative proposals will face
relatively fewer hurdles.”
Among the areas where big business expects to gain:
- The government to reduce corporate liability by putting limits on jury awards and class-action suits.
- Privatizing social security and pushing for health savings
accounts, which will tend to flood the stock market with new private
investment money, much to the advantage of most publicly-traded
companies and especially of the financial service companies.
- A further relaxing of environmental policies to the advantage of manufacturers.
- Few restrictions on coal, oil, and natural gas companies.
- No move on fuel economy standards, to the delight of the auto industry.
- A loosening of labor rules and nor raise in the minimum wage, a big plus for the McDonalds' and Wal-marts of the world.
- No fear that the government would bargain directly with drug
companies to lower drug prices for Medicare and Medicaid recipients.
- An open checkbook for defense contractors, especially those favored by the government.
- A continuation of the tendency to allow big media companies redefine the copyright laws.
- No limits on outsourcing, relocating companies operations abroad, or any restraint on free trade.
- Making permanent tax cuts for big companies and for their richly rewarded CEOs.
- Even the tobacco industry may see some relief from government regulation and a settlement of federal lawsuits.
- A continued easing of antitrust regulation.
- In general, an invitation for the biggest companies to help draft regulations and laws and sit on key advisory groups.
All of this was known in advance, and the industries involved have
given generously to the Republican election effort. As the article
points out, “Finance and insurance firms gave $55 million to the
Republican Party in the latest election cycle, as well as $32 million
directly to Mr. Bush's campaign.” Drug companies gave around $26 million, and others opened their wallets in similar fashion.
not as if the Kerry administration could be “anti-business:” in any
serious way, but the pressure to regulate would have been stronger in
such an administration. There's certainly no pressure on the Bush
administration to do anything but reward big business allies.
of these policies will benefit business in general, but the biggest
companies, the oligopolies, will gain by far the most, in the same way
that Bush tax cuts benefit the rich more than the middle and lower
In terms of “job security,” this site will have lots to talk about. [Oligopoly Watch]