Perhaps you’re familiar with the board game Monopoly, where you can purchase premium properties like Boardwalk and Park Place, or build a hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. The objective of the game is to acquire as many properties as possible, so that you can bankrupt your opponents by charging steep rents.
In the real world, of course, the stakes are much higher. A monopoly occurs whenever an industry is dominated by a single company. Whether that dominance confers an unfair advantage has been the subject of much political and intellectual debate.
In July 2020, the world watched as four titans of Big Tech appeared before the United States Congress for questioning. For more than five hours, four of the most powerful men in the world—Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Sundar Pichai of Google, and Tim Cook of Apple—were subjected to the scrutiny of the House Judiciary Committee.
The question of which market advantages are earned, and which are unfair, is far from settled, in the US and around the world. The standards have changed considerably over time, influenced by economic theory, popular sentiment, lawmakers’ appetite for regulation, and advances in technology.
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