How the Demise of Antitrust Enforcement Affects Your Eyesight

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


The New York Times features a short video today about Warby Parker, the online eyeglass company that “wants to do everything themselves, from designing to manufacturing to selling the product.” I didn’t learn much about Warby Parker from this piece, but I question the Times’ claim that they truly “want” to do all that stuff. More likely, they simply have no choice because the United States government no longer bothers enforcing antitrust law. Luxottica’s stranglehold on the design, manufacture, and retail sales of eyewear is so strong that any wannabe competitor has no real choice except to do everything themselves. This is why a simple pair of replacement lenses now costs 300 bucks at LensCrafters, even though the technology existed to sell them for a hundred bucks two decades ago.

Anyway, good for Warby Parker, and I hope they manage to build a retail presence someday too. But their attempt to make an entrepreneurial buck is a lot harder than it ought to be. It’s just one small example of the demise of antitrust enforcement over the past few decades, which is itself a small example of the way that the rich have not just rigged the rules of the capitalist game for their own benefit, but convinced everyone it’s for their own good. We are all victims of economic Stockholm Syndrome these days.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest