On today’s show, Matt Stoller, author of Goliath: The Hundred Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy, joins Sam to discuss the history and future of antitrust and monopoly in America. Stoller says the inspiration for his book started with his work as a congressional staff member during the 2008 financial crisis and the Democrats’ failure to hold the big banks accountable for their actions. Sam and Matt begin their conversation with the 1912 presidential election and the different regulatory responses from Teddy Roosevelt, Eugene Debs, Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson to the Robber Barron capital consolidation of the past decade. Moving forward to the 1930s, Stoller argues that capital powers (Mellon, Rockafeller, and JP Morgan) controlled much of federal policy. The New Deal was the experiment that showed democracy could work–breaking up financial autocrats, utility monopolies, and more. To quote Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” Sam and Matt then explore the story of Wright Patman, a populist democratic congressman from Texas, whose life work was to hold powerful banks and corporations to account through rigorous regulations from his seat as Chairman of the Banking Committee. Patman was forced out by the younger generation of Democrats in the 1970s, which Stoller refers to as the “Baby Watergate” generation of elected officials who championed racial justice at the expense of holding capital accountable. Stoller argues that the anti-monopoly and regulatory measures pushed by Patman and their material implications are critical to racial justice, and something that is missing from our discourse on race in contemporary America. Sam and Matt conclude their discussion with how conservative intellectuals reframed American history to minimize the victories of workers’ rights, antitrust, and regulation efforts of the New Deal. And finally, Stoller explains how people can begin to understand themselves as members of a free and fair democracy and how to fight the manipulative efforts of financier and oligarchic class.
And in the Fun Half: Donny Deutsch thinks M4A will sink Democrats in a general election, the new IMF chief applauds Trump’s tax cuts, Dr. Drew says housing is not a solution to homelessness, Washington Nationals fans cheer “lock him up!” to Donald Trump, Joe Scarborough’s textbook false equivalency on the “lock him up” chant, Chris Coons is sad Trump was booed at the baseball game because he’s a traditionalist, Joe Biden actually asked Obama not to endorse him, and how SuperPACs are just a fact of life for Biden, plus your calls and IMs!
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Check out Michael’s new piece in the Jacobin, “Bernie Has Called to Free Lula. Why Won’t the Rest of the Democratic Field?”
Check out Matt’s podcast, Literary Hangover, at Patreon.com/LiteraryHangover, or on iTunes.
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