A Big Idea to Break Up Tech Giants, on the Failures of Neoliberalism, and Broken by Design

March 8, 2019

The Roosevelt Rundown is an email series featuring the Roosevelt Institute’s top 5 stories of the week.

1. A Big Idea  to Break Up Tech Giants

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has a big idea to break up tech giants, including Amazon, Google, and Facebook—and a regulatory agenda to make it happen. Announced today, the proposal would combat anticompetitive practices, including rampant tech mergers. Roosevelt Fellow Marshall Steinbaum and Vice President of Advocacy and Policy Steph Sterling responded in a statement: “Breaking up tech giants is critical to developing antitrust policy—and an economy—that works for all Americans. Any policy intended to curb corporate power in the economy that does not specifically address the tech sector is like a climate change policy that does not address the fossil fuel industry.”

2. Why the Failures of Neoliberalism Are Bigger Than Politics

On Monday, Vox published an excellent discussion with economist Brad Delong who makes the case for why left-leaning neoliberals (who “use market means to social democratic ends when they are more effective, and they often are”) should be comfortable with the “baton rightly pass[ing] to our colleagues on our left. We are still here, but it is not our time to lead.” Roosevelt Fellow Mike Konczal responded on the blog, explaining how the failures of neoliberalism are bigger than politics. “Why always presume business and markets are the leaders in innovation and dynamism if the corporate sector looks like an increasingly bloated, shareholder-dominated rent machine?” he asks.

3. Broken by Design

Our economic system is broken, and it is broken by design. For decades, politicians from both sides of the aisle have implemented policy changes that have driven runaway corporate power, ultimately allowing US corporations to extract wealth from employees, small businesses, and communities. For Netroots Nation 2019, Roosevelt submitted a panel proposal on how we can rectify this. The conversation will be moderated by Roosevelt Vice President of Policy and Strategy Nell Abernathy with panelists Chad Bolt, Emily Chatterjee, Angela Hanks, and Nicholas Lusiani. Help us secure a spot and vote for “Broken by Design” each day this weekend until Monday, March 11!

4. New Work on Tech & the Future of Work

In a new article, Roosevelt Fellow Brishen Rogers explores how labor and employment laws influence the course of technological development. He discusses various uses of technology, especially for automation and for worker monitoring, and argues that America’s fear of “the robots” is unfounded. “If the major threat facing workers is employer domination rather than job loss, then … policymakers could expand the scope and stringency of companies’ duties toward their workers. “Brishen Rogers is my go-to person on labor and employment laws, and he’s spot on in this piece about the role automation will play in the future of work,” tweeted Roosevelt Fellow Rakeen Mabud.

5. Calling Out Big Pharma

Following the release of “Profits Over Patients,” Roosevelt Fellow Katy Milani and Advocacy and Policy Associate Devin Duffy have been expertly covering recent congressional hearings on the pharmaceutical industry’s corrupt behavior, including sky-high prescription drug prices. “The free market is a myth. The pharmaceutical industry is a fantastic illustration of this,” tweeted Milani. “[Government] is the solution to bring down drug prices.” “All markets, including the market for prescription drugs, are structured upon a series of rules set by our policymakers. And our legislators wrote the rules to give market [and] bargaining power to big pharma,” said Duffy.

What We’re Watching

Abigail Disney, heiress to the Disney empire, joined the wealth tax debate—and called for higher taxes on the super-rich. “We do not have a society structured around fairness,” she said. “Look at the lives of working class people in America. I talk to workers at Disneyland who can’t afford their insulin because they’re working at minimum wage. This is unacceptable.”