HIGHTOWER: Clinton's Anti-Trust Meow
To hear the whining of corporate executives, you'd think the Clinton administration was the very reincarnation of Teddy Roosevelt's "trust busters." The focus of their whining is the Justice Department's suit to stop Microsoft's monopolization of computer systems.But Microsoft is guilty of such anti-competitive bullying that the Justice Department had no choice but to act. And outside of this case, Clinton has been far from a trust buster -- he's been a trust builder. He has waved through one blockbuster merger after another, shrinking competition in industry after industry, leaving consumers, workers, small businesses, and entire communities at the mercy of steadily-rising monopoly power.The New York Times reports that in their 12 years in the White House, Ronald Reagan and George Bush were considered to be conglomeration-happy, looking the other way while 85,000 mergers valued at $3.5 trillion took place. But they were anti-trust lions compared to the meek meow of the Clintonites, who in half the time of Reagan and Bush have rubber stamped 166,000 mergers valued at nearly $10 trillion.Teddy Roosevelt must be spinning in his grave as Clinton has allowed the reconstruction of John D. Rockefeller's old Standard Oil Trust, the resurrection of Ma Bell's monopoly grip on America's telecommunication system, and the re-emergence of the House of Morgan's dangerous conglomeration of banking, stock brokerage, and insurance businesses under one roof. Incredibly, Clinton's hands-off policy on mergers is rationalized in the name of consumers. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, says that anti-trust is old hat: "As the deregulation of airlines and telecommunications demonstrates, archaic restrictions reduce choice and raise prices."This is Jim Hightower saying ... Earth to Larry ... have you flown a commercial airline lately ... have you checked your telephone and cable-TV bill? Thanks to your mergers and de-reg, consumer choice is a joke and prices are through the roof.