As Google Chairman Eric Schmidt prepared to face a grilling today before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, some media outlets were reporting that Google is trying to broaden its political connections. As it faces antitrust scrutiny for its business practices, the company appears to be trying to shed its longtime reputation as a liberal company tied at the hip to the Obama campaign/administration. In spite of these politically expedient moves to make overtures to the right and perhaps protect itself by making free market claims, facts speak louder than words.
Google had long been a funder of the Democrat party and liberal causes, has disregarded personal property rights and has been a longtime cheerleader for government intervention. Conservatives and supporters of the free market should be leery of Google’s attempts to change their perception and should steer clear of trying to protect a company that does not share its values.
Just this past week, Schmidt (the Executive Chairman), who practically declared himself Obama’s running mate in 2008, endorsed the White Houses’ disastrous stimulus plan and referred to spending cuts as “ludicrous”. Many in the business community are calling for serious plans to address runaway spending and dismiss the punitive attacks and threats of higher taxes on businesses and job creators. Yet, Schmidt’s embrace of these plans show where Google’s leaders stand on one of the most significant policy debates of the day.
It comes as no surprise however. Google has donated over $1 million to the left wing group moveon.org. A 2008 Fortune magazine story was entitled “Google and Obama: A Love Story,” and it detailed the cozy ties between the administration and Google. Goggle executives donated over $800,000 to the Obama campaign in 2008. While the company has tried to hedge its bets a bit with the recent victory of Republicans in 2010, they have steered most of its donations to Democrats. This year, Google has donated thousands to the Democratic Governors Association, the Democratic Attorneys General Association and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, with no contributions to the corresponding Republican groups. We live in a free market system and companies are welcome to donate to whoever they want, but the record shows which side Google is on in the debate over the future of our country on spending, taxing and the role of government.
On the policy and business practices front, the companies’ record is even more illustrative. For years, Google has been the leading proponent of net neutrality regulations. The company has allied itself with some of the most anti-business, anti-innovation and left wing groups in the nations on this important issue. These regulations are the most serious and dangerous attempt to regulate the Internet to date. Net neutrality will decrease investment and innovation by Internet providers to help the bottom line of companies like Google.
Property rights is another issue near and dear to the hearts of conservatives. The protection of property, whether its physical or intellectual, is critical to our economy. Google has long shown a disregard for those rights. Time and again, the company has been accused by content creators of profiting from the theft of their work and has shown an utter disregard for intellectual property. In rejecting the Google Books Settlement, a federal judge criticized Google for “engaging in wholesale, blatant copying without first obtaining copyright permissions.”
As conservatives pay attention to this afternoon’s hearing and watch Google’s attempt to reinvent itself as a more conservative company, they should consider the record. Google’s long history of funding Democrats and left wing causes, support for the Obama agenda, cheerleading for government intervention and trampling on IP rights makes clear that it is a company whose values do not match with the conservative movement.