There is an increasing level of political and cultural momentum aimed toward the regulation of, or breaking up of Big Tech. Facebook, Amazon, Google, and others are deemed by those on the Left and the Right to be too big, too influential, and thus too dangerous.
Something must be done, the narrative goes, and that something can only be achieved by government force.
We’d argue that it is not Big Tech that is dangerous (they don’t have quite the level of power over us as is imagined); it’s government, and the masses that would animate them to start breaking up free markets ‘for the greater good.’
The disturbing trend is summed up well, here, by Reason‘s Nick Gillespie:
“One of the most remarkable statements ever made by the CEO of a major corporation generated relatively little notice or pushback. But just a couple of weeks ago, there was Tim Cook, the head of Apple, spitting in the eye of the very economy that made his company the highest valued corporation on the planet.
“I am not a big fan of regulation,” Cook told Axios in an interview. “I’m a big believer in the free market. But we have to admit when the free market is not working. And it hasn’t worked here. I think it’s inevitable that there will be some level of regulation… I think the Congress and the administration at some point will pass something.”
Holy hell! Regulation of the tech industry and the larger economy (both of which are already pretty heavily regulated, if we’re being honest) is inevitable? The free market isn’t working? Well, maybe not quite as well as it used to for Apple, which been a little droopy over the past several years in terms of killer new devices and mega-hits. Right around the time Cook was prophesying, Microsoft and Amazon both could lay at least temporary claims to be more valuable. Maybe in that sense the free market isn’t working so great anymore…for Apple. But come on already. Factor in the housing bust from a decade ago, the Great Recession, mall closings, the opioid epidemic, and whatever else you want to, and any semi-serious analysis is going to conclude that over the last few decades, “The living standards of Americans have vastly improved during the past 50 years, with the quality of available consumer products steadily rising even as their prices have steeply fallen.”
And it’s not just Americans, of course. Just a week before it ran its dour interview with Tim Cook, Axios reportedly cheerily that “half the world is now middle class.” The world is becoming more equal, not less. So two cheers for capitalism (for more on how income mobility and broad-based economic gains are the rule and not the exception in America too, go here for starters).
But the facts on the ground—however disputed they might be—are irrelevant when titans of industry, such as Cook, declare that “the free market is not working” and that regulation is “inevitable.” His opinion carries more weight than yours or mine. And he’s not alone. […]”