The case for big business in America

A spate of mega mergers and the growing power of online giants like Amazon and Facebook have spurred calls for greater oversight of large corporations and stricter enforcement of antitrust rules.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth for small businesses, which remain popular across the political divide. The federal government offers no shortage of incentives and programs for US mom-and-pops.

Robert Atkinson thinks that’s all wrong. As the head of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank focused on economic competitiveness and funded in part by tech giants likeGoogle (GOOG) and IBM (IBM), he has long argued that big business is the driving engine of the American economy.

Along with New America Foundation co-founder Michael Lind, he’s written a book from MIT Press called Big is Beautiful: Debunking the Myth of Small Business. It’s an unabashed defense of corporate consolidation, on the grounds that big businesses create more jobs, pay better wages, and — by some metrics — comply better with environmental and workplace laws.

The only valuable small businesses, they argue, are those that eventually succeed in becoming large, especially if they do so with disruptive technology that makes the economy overall more efficient.

We cite an article that Speaker Paul Ryan wrote [in 2009], and the title of the article was Down with Big Business. And you never would have seen that article from a Republican 15 years ago, but now [post-recession] you do.

It’s even more worrisome on the left, where you have a really growing narrative that large corporations are not loyal, that they’re only maximizing profits and hurting public welfare. So I saw all that, and said ‘Boy oh boy, it seems to be leading us in the wrong direction.’ Big and small are both good, why demonize one and say another is next to God?

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