Moving right along: Sometimes, you know, the difference between the political Left and the political Right really starts to blur. Here is one such incidence, in which PJMedia’s Michael Walsh calls for the breakup of the Big Four tech companies by the force of the Imperial government, because, reasons. Excerpt:
Monopolies themselves aren’t always illegal, or even undesirable. Natural monopolies exist where it makes sense to have one firm achieve the requisite scale to invest and offer services at a reasonable price. But the tradeoff is heavy regulation. Florida Power & Light serves ten million people; its parent company, NextEra Energy, has a market cap of $72 billion. However, pricing and service standards are regulated by people who are fiduciaries for the public.
The Four, by contrast, have managed to preserve their monopoly-like powers without heavy regulation. I describe their power as “monopoly-like,” since, with the possible exception of Apple, they have not used their power to do the one thing that most economists would describe as the whole point of assembling a monopoly, which is to raise prices for consumers.
Nevertheless, the Four’s exploitation of our knee-jerk antipathy to big government has been so effective that it’s led most of us to forget that competition—no less than private property, wage labor, voluntary exchange, and a price system—is one of the indispensable cylinders of the capitalist engine. Their massive size and unchecked power have throttled competitive markets and kept the economy from doing its job—namely, to promote a vibrant middle class.
Not all of us, Mr. Walsh, have a “knee-jerk antipathy towards big government.” Some of us have a thoughtful, carefully-considered antipathy towards big government, and part and parcel of that antipathy is due to people like you flipping over to the side of more Imperial intrusion at any perceived “wrong” on the part of private enterprise.
If you don’t like Amazon, don’t use it. If you don’t like iPhones, don’t buy one. If you don’t like Google, use another search engine. If you don’t like Microsoft, set up a computer on Linux. There are alternatives to all of these things that Mr. Walsh decries as the “Big Four,” and what’s more, more will arise. Nobody had heard of Microsoft before about 1984, and in another thirty years, Microsoft may well have been supplanted by some other software company with products that appeal to more people – you know, in the marketplace.
In the meantime, Mr. Walsh would be well advised, if he wants to continue to claim to advocate for liberty and free markets, to stop calling for Imperial power to shut down private enterprises. It’s not the role of government to pick winners and losers in the marketplace – it is the place of consumers. Hands off my free market!