I don’t think that Elizabeth Warren has any great chance of winning the Democrat nomination for president. Once her fraudulent claim to being a “person of color” detonated and her career of grifting off a “family story” was exposed, she had pretty much demolished her standing with just about everyone not named Bill Kristol or Rick Wilson or who self-identifies as a Grifter-American. That said, it doesn’t mean she isn’t giving it a go.
Warren was headlining a rally in Long Island City, a heavily Hispanic and economically depressed neighborhood in Queens, NYC. Long Island City was to have become the new Amazon campus until #SheGuevara (that would be Alexandria Ocasio Cortez) got involved and torpedoed the idea. As near as I can tell, the rationale was that if people have jobs they might start objecting to the taxes screwed out of them by New York City and State so it is safer to go the bread-and-circuses route. Durin her speech she made a case for breaking up Big Tech, like Amazon and Google and Facebook, etc.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who is bidding to be the policy pacesetter in the Democratic presidential primary, championed another expansive idea on Friday evening in front of a crowd of thousands in Queens: a regulatory plan aimed at breaking up some of America’s largest tech companies, including Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook.
At a rally in Long Island City, the neighborhood that was to be home to a major new Amazon campus, Ms. Warren laid out her proposal calling for regulators who would undo some tech mergers, as well as legislation that would prohibit platforms from both offering a marketplace for commerce and participating in that marketplace.
“We have these giants corporations — do I have to tell that to people in Long Island City? — that think they can roll over everyone,” Ms. Warren told the crowd, drawing applause. She compared Amazon to the dystopian novel “The Hunger Games,” in which those with power force their wishes on the less fortunate.
“I’m sick of freeloading billionaires,” she said.
I don’t agree with Warren’s rationale, but I do agree with her prescription.
Right now a lot of sectors of the US economy are being rapidly concentrated in the hands of a tiny number of companies. Amazon has expanded from a bookseller to an online retail behemoth that has an increasingly brick-and-mortar presence after it acquisition of Whole Foods. From my own experience, Amazon Prime trucks are becoming such a frequent site on the roads that I wonder how long it will be before Amazon dominates the domestic trucking industry. Google+Facbook controls about 70% of online advertising. Google has branched out into the telecommunications business. And on and on.
In the early part of the 20th century, the United States had a similar problem. Huge trusts, like Standard Oil, controlled products from extraction through home delivery. Small businesses were subject to tactics designed to put them out of business, like selling below costs. Auto companies bought up streetcar businesses and shut them down, just to create a market for their product. This is how the situation was described in the Supreme Court case of Standard Oil of New Jersey vs. United States.
The evidence is, in fact, absolutely conclusive that the Standard Oil Co. charges altogether excessive prices where it meets no competition, and particularly where there is little likelihood of competitors entering the field, and that, on the other hand, where competition is active, it frequently cuts prices to a point which leaves even the Standard little or no profit, and which more often leaves no profit to the competitor, whose costs are ordinarily somewhat higher.
While Warren doesn’t like the idea of people making money, I’m more concerned to what these monopolies mean for freedom, both personal and economic. Right now, access to Amazon is a must-have for retailers of all sizes yet Amazon retains the right to boot retailers from that network with a) no warning, b) no specific complaint, and c) no real means of contesting or adjudicating the problem. Facebook can and does crush small publishers who run afoul of its politics. All it takes is to have Snopes literally disagree with your opinion and you have the option of pulling a story or having Facebook restrict your reach (I know because this happened to me). Facebook and Google collect all manner of private information on customers and Google even allows third party vendors to read your email.
I’m also concerned about the corrosive effect of these companies on American politics. YouTube demonetizes video producers who don’t follow the SJW line and pushes them out of the top search results. This essentially converts a business into a hobby and silences voices. I may not be an anti-vaxxer but a corporation blocking that point of view is something that, in my view, we should not tolerate. The same goes for Twitter and its vendetta against conservatives. They actually allow anti-semitic slurs to be directed against Jewish conservatives but suspend accounts for sending a (thankfully and rightfully) fired “journalist” a “learn to code” meme.
Big companies provide a lot of advantages to the consumer so long as they stay in their lane. Once they start telling people what to say and what to think as a condition of using their platform or service, they start becoming the enemy of freedom.
That is where we are right now with Google, with Facebook, with Twitter, with Apple. They have stopped being servants and now they are trying to be our masters.
Warren is right, but for the wrong reason.
The fact that they have created a handful of extraordinarily wealthy men is not an issue. The fact that they want to run our lives is.
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