Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction"
By Barry C. Lynn

Reviewed by Thom Hartmann

This book is about power. It documents how practices that were illegal at the opening of the Reagan administration have not only been legalized but used extensively to consolidate economic and political power in a way that threatens our very republic. It’s almost impossible to overstate its importance.

Most adults in America have, at one time or another in their lives, played the game Monopoly.

Monopoly started out as a game invented by Elizabeth Magie and patented in 1904 (she sold her patent to Parker Brothers in 1935 for $500, and they incorporated it into the modern Monopoly game, which was patented that year by Charles Darrow). The goal of the game is to buy up every business and property available, and through the monopoly ownership of all business and rents, over time bleed every other player into poverty.

Magie was a political activist who wanted to create a way to inform the average person of how concentration of ownership of property and aggregation of rents over time would lead to the concentration of wealth in a few hands with the rest of the population experiencing widespread poverty. Today people like Mitt Romney and T. Boone Pickens play the game in the real world, impoverishing real people and destroying real businesses while taking all the cash they can for themselves.

As Barry C. Lynn (no relation to Barry Lynn of Citizens United for Separation of Church and State) writes in meticulous detail, the free enterprise of the founding era of this nation has, twice in our history, morphed into a cancerous economic state. Monopolies are not free enterprise, they’re not even good capitalism.

When one particular set of cells in a body rise up and decide to take to themselves all the nutrients in the body, growing without limit while robbing every other organ and cell of its necessary nutrients, we call that cancer. When it happens in a political and economic system, it’s called monopoly.

This is only the second time in American history when we’ve faced such a concentration of wealth and power, of business and money, and of the political control that flows from it. The previous time was in the late 1800s, when J.P. Morgan came to dominate most of the American business landscape (Lynn notes that it was called “Morganizing” back then, instead of “private equity companies” or “M&A artists”), competing with a small handful of oligarchs like J.D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. When Theodore Roosevelt became president in 1901, he set out to break up these cartels, earning himself the moniker of “Teddy the Trustbuster.” But his efforts were flawed (he believed in a top-down strategy, as did FDR), and the result is that today’s monopolies are even more toxic than the ones of his day because these new ones are worldwide in their influence, and have largely captured our political processes.

Reagan brought the modern era into being by suspending enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and Clinton and both Bush presidents refused to go back to enforcing the Sherman Act and other similar laws, both leaving in place and advancing the agenda of the Reagan Revolution corporatists. Obama has made tentative noises about enforcing the Sherman Act, but taken no serious action.

If America is to survive economically and politically, Lynn suggests, we must break up the modern day monopolists and return opportunity and wealth to local communities and small businesses. His book is both shocking and prescriptive, an essential read and an important addition to your library.

Add comment

Login or register to post comments

The Secret On TrumpCare Is Now Out


The Senate Republican healthcare bill is secret no more.

There's just one problem - it's not really a healthcare bill.

Don't let Mitch McConnell fool you.

Contrary to what you might have heard - Senate Republicans DID NOT unveil a healthcare bill yesterday.

They unveiled a tax cut for the rich DISGUISED as a healthcare bill.

Latest Headlines

Who rejected United States-North Korea peace talks?

There were conflicting reports on Sunday regarding a recent proposal for United States-North Korea peace talks which was allegedly made before North Korea"s recent nuclear test

U.K. Pound Falls As Markets Get Brexit Jitters

Bloomberg said on Monday the pound had sustained its biggest fall against the dollar in 11 months

Clinton: I'll defend Israel but push for 'two-state solution

Hillary Clinton believes both Republican candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz "missed the mark" with their approach to the Israel-Palestinian Arab conflict
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"With the ever-growing influence of corporate CEOs and their right-wing allies in all aspects of American life, Hartmann’s work is more relevant than ever. Throughout his career, Hartmann has spoken compellingly about the value of people-centered democracy and the challenges that millions of ordinary Americans face today as a result of a dogma dedicated to putting profit above all else. This collection is a rousing call for Americans to work together and put people first again."
Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Right through the worst of the Bush years and into the present, Thom Hartmann has been one of the very few voices constantly willing to tell the truth. Rank him up there with Jon Stewart, Bill Moyers, and Paul Krugman for having the sheer persistent courage of his convictions."
Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth
From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Thom is a national treasure. Read him, embrace him, learn from him, and follow him as we all work for social change."
Robert Greenwald, political activist and founder and president of Brave New Films