When Senator Elizabeth Warren posted her reasons and plan for breaking up big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, I didn’t read it. At the time, she wasn’t really a blip on the nomination radar. But now, she’s one of the frontrunners, so I’ve taken an interest in reading her policy proposals. They’re generally awful, but none of them are more asinine than wanting to break up big tech.
It’s not that big tech doesn’t deserve a reckoning. I’m all on board for a consumer and user approach to bringing an end to their massive reach, mostly because they’re so left-leaning in their practices and draconian in their dealings with conservatives and Christians that we need alternatives. But what Warren is proposing is both illogical and dangerous. Her end goal isn’t to break up big tech for the sake of competition. It’s to bring the services offered by these big tech companies under more government control.
If you think they’re bad now, just let DC get their hands on the steering wheel. Warren’s proposal will take things from bad to much, much worse.
When Ronald Reagan and Robert Bork examined the way antitrust laws broke up companies when they got too big, they determined something that should have been common sense before. Perhaps it was, but the addiction to corporate breakups and merger-blocking was popular in the United States since the dismantling of Standard Oil by Theodore Roosevelt. Politicians sought big wins for the American consumers, but their intentions morphed over the decades to a state of hyperbole.
Reagan and Bork fixed this by establishing “consumer welfare” as the guiding force of antitrust laws. Instead of asking whether or not a company was needing to be broken up because it’s too big, the philosophy wanted the question changed to whether or not breaking up a company would benefit the consumers. Like I said, it’s common sense today but before the 1980s, big companies would be broken up and mergers would be blocked even if doing so would harm consumers.
Such is the case for Warren’s proposal. She wants to break these companies up because she says they stifle innovation and force people to use their services. But here’s the problem. The use of their services, in and of itself, isn’t detrimental to consumers. Amazon might have a lock on eCommerce, but consumers aren’t paying more as a result of their dominance. Google might have the market cornered on search, but nobody is forced to use their search engine over Bing, DuckDuckGo, or any others. Facebook may have bought WhatsApp and Instagram because they viewed them as competitors, but the acquisitions did not harm the ecosystems in which users participate in social media.
Again, and I have to be very clear about this, I’m NOT defending the actions or ideologies present in these companies. We, the people, must oppose the way they’re shaping the narrative and pushing their progressive agenda in everything from politics and religion to media and education. But getting the government involved to break up these companies will do absolutely nothing to right the course of public narrative. If anything, there’s more accountability within companies as large as they are because all eyeballs are on them. Moreover, government involvement in any industry is the death knell for efficiency and innovation within it.
This video by Business Casual breaks down the logistical reasons why Warren’s proposal won’t work.
It’s incumbent on patriotic Americans, not the American government, to put big tech companies in their place. Warren’s proposal to bring in DC to save the day would be disastrous for more than the companies. It will harm all Americans who use them.
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