Welcome to BIG, a newsletter on the politics of monopoly power. If you’re already signed up, great! If you’d like to sign up and receive issues over email, you can do so here.
Happy belated Thanksgiving. I didn’t say this last week, but I truly am grateful for you reading this newsletter and sending me your thoughts and ideas. It’s been a wonderful ride so far, and hopefully we’ll keep at it for a long time.
Today I’m writing about how the giant government contracting firm Booz Allen and 13 government agencies have been renting back to the public access to our own lands by forcing us to pay junk fees to use national parks. It involves a tour through late 19th century political economy thinking, with the first appearance of the great anti-monopolist Henry George, whose focus was land. Plus, a weird attempted monopoly of ID management software, controlled by software private equity giant Thoma Bravo.
Two of the classic works of late 19th century American political literature, representing precisely opposite views of how commerce in an industrialized democracy ought to work, are Henry George’s Progress and Poverty, and the speeches of George Washington Plunkitt of Tammany Hall.