Under an executive order issued Friday by President Joe Biden, the monopolistic shipping industry couldn’t charge businesses exorbitant rates to export their products.
Meat packers couldn’t label something made in the USA if it wasn’t, and farmers could take their tractor for repair anywhere. Railroad track owners would have to treat other users more fairly in trackage rights.
Better yet, internet companies couldn’t charge outrageous disconnect fees, airlines would have to refund baggage fees if it’s delayed, and hearing aids could be sold over the counter at drugstores.
In all, Biden put forth a list of 72 items that he said would create competition, help reduce prices and boost wages. In the area of wages, employees’ ability to earn higher salaries wouldn’t be hampered by non-compete agreements, which he called for limiting or outlawing. Some 36 million to 60 million workers are affected by non-compete clauses, some even in low-wage fast food jobs.
These orders may seem more likely to have come from a free-market loving Republican, so it’s noteworthy that Biden has taken notice of the hallmarks of American capitalism and is ready to strengthen them.
“Capitalism without competition isn’t Capitalism,” Biden said. “It’s exploitation.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who chairs the judiciary subcommittee on competition policy, joined Biden in supporting the principles, and favors reforming and strengthening our antitrust laws through legislation.
Competition has long been a bipartisan issue in America. Republican President Teddy Roosevelt broke up the Standard Oil and J.P. Morgan’s railroad monopolies in the early 1900s, and Republican Gerald Ford’s justice department filed suit in 1974 to break up AT&T.
But competition in American capitalism in recent years has had scant attention in a political world largely funded by the biggest and most powerful corporations. Biden wants to change that. It will be good for workers, consumers and businesses that have that American desire to compete.