Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Another Democrat Running To Prevent Monopolies From Destroying The American Way Of Life-- Meet Jess King (PA-16)


Goal ThermometerA few days ago, we compared the endorsement questionnaires that Lancaster Stands Up sent out to the PA-16 candidates. The differences between the garden variety corporate candidate, Christtina Hartman, who the DCCC is pushing, and who was unable to respond to even simple policy questions, and the progressive grassroots candidate, Jess King, were startling. Right after that we started thinking that we needed to endorse Jess' campaign. Monday we ran a post about the dangers inherent in monopolies, Why Aren't More Democrats Using Anti-Monopoly Arguments In Their Congressional Campaigns? Well, Jess is one who is. She wrote this guest post for DWT readers. If you like the list of what she has to say, please consider contributing to her campaign by tapping on the Act Blue thermometer on the right.

Guest Post
-by Jess King

I grew up in a small business family. My parents-- neither of whom had college degrees-- launched a paint store and painting business in 1980 and raised me and my three siblings on it. I learned an incredible number of lessons there-- about hard work, cash flow, conflict resolution, customer service. That business sustained my parents for over 30 years and sent all four of us kids to college.

I clearly remember the moment-- probably in the late-1990s-- when my mom realized she could get gallon cans of Kilz primer at Home Depot for less than the wholesale price at the locally owned paint distributor. I remember realizing for the first time that there was no way my parents could compete with the new, big retailers. They hung on for another 10 years or so but eventually closed their doors in the face of the growing dominance of big box stores: Home Depot and Lowes.

As an adult, I’ve worked to support Pennsylvanians to start and grow more locally owned small businesses-- with a focus on women and people of color, so that our economy can look more like our community. But in the almost 40 years since my parents launched their small business and struggled to grow it, the rules of the economy have been rewritten to favor the biggest players. Since 1980, our economy has grown, but the entire bottom half of Americans have seen none of that growth-- it all went to the top. I continue to see first hand how much harder it is to compete as a small business in this country, to get a loan, to hire workers, to make ends meet, to climb the ladder into the American middle-class.

The business development nonprofit I directed for the past seven years and others like us have tried numerous strategies to support locally owned small business-- from community-based business network and buy-local campaigns that encourage consumers to voluntarily shift their purchasing to locally owned small business, maximizing the impact each dollar can have as it circulates within our local economy.

But in a world where Amazon provides everything delivered to your door for free, local business can’t compete with the aggressive cost-cutting strategies of the aspiring monopolies. With the closing of more and more locally owned businesses like my parents’, even if consumers WANT to purchase from a local small business, sometimes they can’t find an alternative to the corporate giants like Amazon and Walmart.

These giants also collect vast data about every decision we make, to inform exactly how to market to us even more efficiently and effectively, stacking the deck even more against the little guy. When the big players like Amazon are the only ones left, consumers may be left with fewer choices and higher prices while corporate profits go through the roof. One only has to look at the US telecom industry to see the risk. We have less choice, higher prices, and lower quality of service than other industrialized countries. The celebrated economy of market competition and innovation that grew in the mid-20th century is over. In the new economy, the rules are increasingly written by the biggest corporations to favor the biggest players.

But here’s the good news. What’s old is new again. Indeed we were in a similar situation just over 100 years ago. Like today, political and economic power were concentrated in a few hands. The great industrial robber barons like Standard Oil ruled the day, impoverishing workers and corrupting democracy while making a few men very, very rich. A generation of reformers saw the threat posed by the new monopolies and pushed our young country to enact laws that safeguarded our economy and democracy.

In 1890 Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act, followed by the Clayton Antitrust Act 24 years later to ensure competition in the private sector. We knew then as we know now, that economic inequality leads to political inequality.

Since 1980, the rich and the powerful have lobbied for these antitrust policies to be enforced less and less, allowing for an unprecedented consolidation of market power as corporations merge. During this time, globalization created new opportunities for corporations to leverage the power of lower-cost international labor and supply chains while minimizing costs and maximizing profit at home.

With a hastily passed tax bill that mostly benefits the wealthy and well-connected as just one example, it is increasingly apparent that America’s elected officials are bought and paid for by those that benefit and our policies are being written by lobbyists to benefit the corporations they work for. After all, economic inequality leads to political inequality.

This is bad for all of us – even those corporate interests. Since 1980, the economy has grown at a slower and slower rate as it has become more unequal. Those at the top, including corporate executives, shareholders and the top one percent of Americans are trading the promise of a larger and more broadly shared prosperity for a much larger share of a smaller pie.

For nearly half a century, the American economy has failed to increase the earnings of the majority of its citizens. At some point, America’s political and economic inequality will backfire. As the 2018 midterm elections approach, more and more voters are motivated to clean house and elect candidates committed to the common good. Our greatest moments as a country have been when we realized that we are all in this together. When our fellow Americans suffer, our great nation can never reach its full potential. When we succeed together, our democracy and our economy are stronger.

America was founded on an ideal - that we are all free to pursue a better life. The rise of monopolies threatens the very heart of our nation. We are due for a reckoning. We must reclaim our democracy and repair the common good. We must rewrite the rules of the economy so that our country truly will be of the people, by the people, and for the people. It’s far past time that our policies forge a pathway toward an America that works for all of us.

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At 7:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps King just awoke from a 35-year coma, but someone should tell her that monopolies have been allowed since the '70s and that what is often referred to as "the American way of life" -- opportunity for success -- has been destroyed for decades now.

If it's never been possible for 70% of living americans, you can't run on preventing it from being destroyed. It's like running to prevent polio from being a problem.

She should run on Bernie's platform, plus enforcing Sherman, to RESTORE that way of life.

At 9:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"She should run on Bernie's platform, plus enforcing Sherman, to RESTORE that way of life."

I think that is exactly what she is running on if you read her guest post in addition to watching the video. She understands that the growth of neoliberal monopoly capitalism is killing small businesses daily and wiping out jobs and small communities along the way. In addition, these meg-corporations now own the politicians who make our laws--so the prospects of change are decreasing. Candidates like Jess King are our only hope now. Bernie has inspired a small army of activists and people willing to run for office and challenge the establishment Democrats (the Republicans are beyond all hope) who were complicit in allowing the neoliberal takeover. Jess King recognizes that we need a new Sherman Antitrust Act and a Clayton Antitrust Act that seizes power back from the corporations and returns it to the people. I'm generally a pessimist but reading her post has given me a spark of optimism today. Thanks!

P.S. I would suggest the following targets for a new anti-trust offensive:
Big Finance
Big Energy
Big Pharma
Big Media
Big Telecom
Big Tech
Big Retail
Big Transport
And all this must go hand-in-hand with banning corporate political donations. Democracy is for “We the People” not the corporations.

At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:36, then answer this: is she going to murder the top 500 democraps in order to allow good people to float to the top and do some of these?

I mean, look at that list and tell me which one Pelosi would allow to be broken up. Rather, tell me which ones won't pay her enough to prevent any such action?

Good sounding candidate (to become less than one half of one percent of her caucus which is ruled despotically by people who serve that list of yours); absolutely a good list to start with; but absolutely zero chance of any of it ever being done.


Where is your optimism coming from?

At 6:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Response to 12:07

I understand your point and don't disagree that a Pelosi led Democratic Party will never deliver on the what I've
noted above--hence my general pessimism. That said, I believe it can come about if folks like Jess King and many other progressive activists begin to be elected. It won't happen immediately, to be sure, but it has to start somewhere. Slavery wasn't abolished in one election cycle nor will the neoliberal economic order be overthrown in a single cycle. My optimism comes from the small army of activists that Bernie Sanders has inspired. Millennials are now the largest population cohort, many women are now becoming politically active, African-Americans are becoming more politically organized as they realize Obama wasn't the answer they hoped for. It's a start. My greatest fear is that if the Left doesn't have a viable alternative in place before the next great economic crisis (and we know it's coming) then the country will turn to the Fascist Right. So, just a spark of optimism.

At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It creates a unnecessary barrier for voters not to be able to go to a direct Jess King campaign website I have NOT been able to find one via any links provided. Many will NOT spend the time/energy to continue or reply like OI have done. I'm not trying to be confrontational- I'm a YUGE Progressive supporter- Best of luck- You will need it with this approach

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