Should Google be broken up?
The conservative case for breaking up Big Tech, specifically Google
Republicans tend to criticize government power whereas Democrats tend to criticize business power.
I criticize both because power is power.
Too much power anywhere isn’t good for the Middle-Class.
But part of the reason I identify more as a conservative is that although I recognize the concentration of power in both areas is unprecedented, government power currently and usually presents a greater threat to freedom.
Look at the numbers!
The total revenue of the world’s largest companies Walmart ($559 billion), Amazon ($387 billion), and Apple ($275 billion) pales in comparison to the revenue of the US government ($3.5 trillion), which the former earns by providing value whereas the latter takes by force, specifically from the unborn where the US government is $28 trillion in debt (the most debt in our history)!
In addition, there are over 70,000 pages of the U.S. tax code (statutes, regulations, and case law) with 97 different types of taxes from sales, payroll, income, corporate, etc. Power loves complexity!
It’s difficult to calculate exactly how much one effectively pays in taxes because so many of the taxes we pay have been factored into the price of goods and services.
On top of that, arguably the biggest problem of the federal government isn’t taxes, but regulations!
There are more regulations on our books than ever before in our history and yet despite what schools teach us — regulations are often written of, by, and for lobbyists, e.g. Obamacare.
Since it’s impossible to “get money out of politics” it, therefore, makes sense to reduce lobbyists’ power over our lives.
At our current trajectory, the future doesn’t look bright for the United States of America.
The Democrat billionaire class has an iron grip over the US Government and will only continue to consolidate the USG’s power over Americans as we’re increasingly transformed into debtors, renters, and cogs.
How can freedom-loving Americans reverse the consolidation of power into the hands of the 1%?
First, it begins with tax cuts, spending cuts, and regulation cuts.
But that isn’t enough!
A handful of monopolies dominate the US economy.
Some libertarians would have us do nothing because they’re “private” companies. They believe the free market — that which is left— will naturally break them up in 10, 50, or 100 years.
I’m neither so hopeful nor patient.
Nor am I so ideological because if a person owns all the pesos, property, and police in a village then I don’t care if they’re a president or a CEO I’m getting my pitchfork!
Businesses seek benefits from the government and the bigger the business the more effective they’re at getting them, and so where appropriate those benefits should be repealed (some benefits are useful such as NASA contracts to SpaceX), but the political capital necessary to repeal those benefits is sometimes so great that it would’ve been wiser to spend it on breaking up the monopoly because any one benefit is likely small and complicated; and therefore easily replaced and boring. Small incremental reforms may be more rational, but in a democracy, it sometimes requires a big loud roar to get We the People’s attention.
In other words, by taking away a lion’s shield then sword then helmet it would be enough to level the playing field, but because the lion had already killed off all the other big animals and bought up most of the field he will continue to rule it and therefore it's only a matter of time before he demands the fearful zebras give him new protections again. It’s, therefore, better to kill the lion when we have the chance instead of squabbling over what protections we should retract.
Historically, the Republican Party has been the party of business so naturally there’s a reluctance to trust-bust.
To use another self-indulgent animal metaphor: sometimes to save the forest you need to shoot some deer; sometimes to save the free market you need to break up Deere.
Sometimes we need to prioritize our principles: principle over principle.
Under existing US Antitrust Law, Google fits the definition of a “monopoly.”
Back in 1909, the U.S. Justice Department sued Standard Oil under the Sherman Antitrust Act for sustaining a monopoly and restraining interstate commerce.
Standard Oil was broken up in 1911 because it used “anti-competitive practices” to become a “monopoly,” i.e. it controlled 65% of refined oil in the United States.
Those anti-competitive practices included getting special deals from the railroads and “cutting prices to a point which leaves even the Standard little or no profit.”
Google should be broken up in 2021 because it has used “anti-competitive practices” to become a “monopoly,” i.e. it controls 93% of general internet searches in the world!
If oil was the lifeblood of our industrial economy then the internet is the lifeblood of our digital economy.
Some of the “anti-competitive practices” Google has used are…
Predatory Pricing: Google Checkout is priced at rates that undercut credit card processing fees and operates at a loss.
Bundling: Android is installed on more than 80% of smartphones today. With Apple, they operate as a duopoly by controlling over 99% of mobile operating systems. That’s insane! Google gives away Android for free (another example of predatory pricing) so it can bundle in all its other products. Ironically in 1998, Google had accused Microsoft of anti-competitive bundling. Live by the sword, die by the sword! In addition, Google has paid Apple billions to be their default search engine on Safari and Siri (another anti-competitive practice is called: exclusive dealing). Google has already lost lawsuits in Russia and the EU for bundling. Google’s bundling is especially concerning because they are a major player in so many key parts of the internet: video (YouTube), advertising (Adwords), email (Gmail), calendars, maps, analytics, storage (Google Drive), reCAPTCHA, wearable tech (Fitbit), smartphones (Nexus).
Cartel: Big Tech has admitted to colluding with each other in their censorship practices, which is why when a company or person is penalized by one platform they’re likely to be penalized by all, such as the case with Alex Jones, Milo Yiannaplous, President Trump, BitChute, Gap, Telegram, Parler, and Rumble. Some of the apps & companies Google has banned and suppressed are competitors to Google-owned apps & companies. Senior Firefox employees and engineers have accused Google of sabotaging their browser by slowing down YouTube videos and causing bugs in Gmail and Google Docs.
Subsidies (corporate welfare) can also be seen as an anti-competitive practice. Google has received billions of dollars from local, state, and national governments and can better evade taxes than their smaller competitors. According to The Intercept, Google and its affiliates had at least 427 meetings at the White House during Obama’s tenure. The Federal Trade Commission staff had recommended filing antitrust charges against Google, but Obama’s FTC commissioners overrode them.
Artificial Barriers to Entry: Google ranks its own products higher such as YouTube and Google Shopping. Google has already lost several landmark lawsuits for this anti-competitive practice. In testimony, the CEOs of NexTag and Yelp said that Google tilts search results in its own favor to limit choice and stifle competition.
These are textbook “anti-competitive practices.”
They explain why a company so profitable has so few competitors. As constitutionalist Justice Clarence Thomas stated,
Ordinarily, the astronomical profit margins of these platforms — last year, Google brought in $182.5 billion total, $40.3 billion in net income — would induce new entrants into the market. That these companies have no comparable competitors highlights that the industries may have substantial barriers to entry.
On a macro-level, inequality in the US hasn’t been this high since the early 20th-century when the US broke up some of its top companies and so it’s natural that since those antitrust laws still exist on the books then to follow the law means looking more critically at the top companies of today.
Conservative-Libertarians may wish to repeal antitrust laws as it gives a lot of power to the state, but as a nation of laws, we must enforce a law whether we philosophically agree with it or not.
With a tear in our eye, we must break up Big Tech!
By breaking up Big Tech it just so happens that Republicans would’ve succeeded in breaking up systemic leftism.
Ultimately, it seems like we are at a fork in the road because Big Tech’s continued consolidation of power will likely lead to one of two general courses: the left will “better” regulate it or the right will break it up.
Democrats don’t like breaking up power so much as they like co-opting it for their own purposes.
Pick your poison, libertarians!
There are many Republicans who’ve supported trust-busting. Teddy Roosevelt busted the Northern Securities Company, William Taft the Standard Oil Company, and Ronald Reagan the Bell System. Today, Josh Hawley and Donald Trump have signaled support for it; and after being “fact-checked” libertarian John Stossel has warmed to the idea of using the courts to punish Big Tech.
Once Republicans start fighting fire with water then risk-averse corporations will move back to the political and cultural center as the gavel could fall on them next.
We must break up Big Tech before Big Tech breaks up our republic by de facto eliminating free speech and turning America into an economic and political dictatorship.
Don’t be evil, Google.