America’s monopoly problem, explained by your internet bill

February 22, 2020 in News by RBN Staff


We should be asking the government and corporate America how we got here. Instead, we just keep handing over our money.

In the summer of 2017, I decided it was time to put on my big-girl pants and try to talk to my internet provider about my bill. It had been gradually ticking up over the past several months without explanation — let alone better service — and I wanted to know what was up. When I called the company’s customer service line, the woman on the phone knew something I did not: I didn’t really have other service options available in my area. So, no, my bill would not be reduced.

More than two years later, I’m still mad about it. And yes, that could seem a little petty. But that monthly annoyance speaks to a broader trend that all Americans should be aware of — and angry about. Across industry after industry, sector after sector, power and market share have been consolidated into the hands of a handful of players.

Lately, you’ve probably heard a lot of complaints about the size and scope of big tech companies: Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple. But competition is lacking across countless industries, including airlines, telecommunications, lightbulbs, funeral caskets, hospitals, mattresses, baby formula, agriculture, candy, chocolate, beer, porn, and even cheerleading, just to name some examples. When you look, monopolies and oligopolies (meaning instead of one dominant company, there are a few) are everywhere. They’re a systemic feature of the economy.