Recently, the topic of antitrust law has been relevant in Washington. The proliferation of major technology companies in our personal lives and economies has attracted the attention and anger of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, but for a variety of reasons.
Many Democrats are increasingly wary of the size, power and reach of these campaigns and the impact they have on competition. Meanwhile, many Republicans are more concerned about what they see as aggressive censorship of conservative thought online, some see it as a violation of the First Amendment.
In response to these concerns, the Senate Judiciary Committee, headed by Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grasley (R-IA), voted to expand American Innovation and Online Choice Act (AICO). A similar bill was also considered by a colleague of the House Committee. The Senate is expected to receive a plenipotentiary vote next year, and many more jokes.
But will this legislation solve these problems? Are they real problems? To what extent does this bill concern politics more than the adoption of good policy?
While these questions need answers, a deeper immersion into bills such as the AICO paints a darker picture that every American – and conservatives in particular – should be concerned about: the transfer of power from private business to a progressive frontier within an administration that is already there has long been great technology in his sights, but lately he has become more brazen.
Just a few weeks ago, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki called for streaming audio programs such as Spotify to “keep doing more” to combat so-called “misinformation” on its platform.
The timing seems ironic, as millions hoped for major technology companies during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Americans were forced to do almost everything online from home, and at a time when international political and economic instability seemed to be growing as well.
At the forefront of the administration’s efforts to combat big technology is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), headed by Chair Lina Kahn. Kahn spoke about her views on what one of the FTC’s missions should be – to make our society fairer through punitive action against market manipulators, no matter how it defines manipulation.
Because agencies are given ample freedom to interpret Congressional intentions when they enforce legislation, and because courts tend to respect the agencies’ interpretations, it is reasonable to assume that the effects of that legislation will affect the wide range of services Americans rely on.
Klobuchar argues that her bill will give the FTC the power to boost antitrust, protect consumers from companies that hinder competition, restrict mergers and acquisitions, and make it illegal for firms to use their platforms to benefit their own or their products. partners.
For vertically integrated companies such as Amazon and Google, this means that the government takes substantial control over key aspects of their day-to-day operations, as well as over growth strategies, both domestic and global. This essentially punishes American companies for being too successful.
But why is this a problem? The struggle between Walmart and Amazon for expanding its market share has led to the proliferation of offers and services at lower prices and with greater convenience for consumers of all income levels. These companies did not do this using legal loopholes or using immoral tactics. They have achieved their success through innovation and the creation of unusual products and services that Americans have loved and enjoyed in their daily lives.
Consider, for example, Google Maps. Do you like it when Google shows you the nearest restaurant you want to try? Or consider membership in Amazon Prime? Two-day delivery of large quantities of products allows consumers to quickly and easily get what they want when they want it.
Both of these services will become illegal under the “self-preference” statute – a sales tactic used for literally 100 years. Of course, consumers can completely abandon these services.
The point is clear: Klobuchar’s bill means less choice and convenience for consumers, the likelihood of rising prices and more power in the hands of choosing winners and losers in the economy.
Far from solving real problems, the bill is little more than a Trojan horse for a progressive policy that affects the largest companies in our country simply because some in Congress consider them too powerful. Addressing Conservative concerns about censorship, progressives have formed a coalition under the guise of updating antitrust laws that can succeed.
Congress must step back and view these efforts as they are: a massive extension of state control to the private sector with the potential for catastrophic consequences for consumers. Congress should not choose winners and losers, giving bureaucrats the freedom to centrally plan the economy. That is why in our history antitrust law has been used wisely because of its enormous impact on the economy.
The principles of the free market that define the American system have proven time and time again that they are conducive to innovation, value, and consumer choice. The government should create conditions in which businesses can grow and thrive, not handcuff them and punish them for success.