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The Federal Government Is Rigging the Game Against Small Businesses

February 26, 2019 / Stacy Mitchell

A few weeks ago, the Federal Trade Commission gave Staples the green light to buy one of the two wholesalers that sell to independent office supply dealers. The decision, passed by a party-line 3-2 vote, hardly made a blip in the news cycle. But it sheds enormous insight into the origins of the big-get-bigger U.S. economy. Small and independent businesses have been disappearing in this country for long enough that their decline has come to seem inevitable. And indeed, it often is treated that way in media stories and policy debates. Many economists assure us that small businesses are simply not as efficient as big ones, and point to their demise as evidence that this collective belief is correct. But like so many of the stories we’re told about the economy, this one doesn’t hold up under exposure to reality. There’s something else driving the eradication of independent businesses: The government is systematically structuring markets so that that even the most competit...