Break Up Government, Not Tech Companies

By Max Gulker

Tech companies have had a rough few months from a PR standpoint. Amazon proudly announced a $15 minimum wage for its employees, which was quickly revealed to be nothing more than substituting more hourly pay for incentives and stocks. For act two, they pitted American cities against each other for tax breaks, announced they were taking their talents to New York City, and were quickly run out of town by an AOC-wielding mob.

Google continues to be the 21st century’s dominant information gatekeeper, able to alter the foundations of truth with editorial decisions. And then there’s Facebook, forced to self-flagellate this week after last year’s revelation that they sold extensive user data to a firm working with the Trump campaign. Given half of its users would rather go off the grid and communicate with smoke signals than help the Trump campaign, Facebook was overdue for a pivot.

The Public Option

Even Senator Bernie Sanders, the avowed socialist in the 2020 campaign doesn’t have the private-sector micromanaging chops to save us from Big Tech. Enter Senator Elizabeth Warren, the 21st century’s answer to Dr. Frankenstein. Warren announced plans this week to break up these three tech giants.

You might think Warren’s goal is a society where we aren’t watched and controlled by large powerful entities. You’re wrong, but don’t worry, that’s why she’s running for enlightened despot...er...President. See, Warren knows the real problem is that watching and controlling people’s lives is a natural monopoly, and should be the exclusive realm of government.

Why do we need Amazon to pay its workers low wages when the government already does it so masterfully. Nobody has more monopsony power in the labor market than the government.

Google, with its editorial decisions about what to include in search terms, must seem quaint at the various government intelligence agencies whose historians are kind enough to write entertaining accounts about black ops a couple of decades after the fact.

And why not just suppress information directly? As my colleague Phil Magness wrote, AIER founded E.C. Harwood was pressured to tone down the Institute’s criticism of the new deal, even as he was away in the military and not in charge. Luckily, AIER ignored this “editorial decision” from on high.

Finally, as Warren and thousands of others in our government know, there is only one nation sanctified to meddle in other country’s democratic elections. From Iran to pre-Putin Russia, why trust the private sector with something our government does so well?

Too Big To Rule

This article is a tongue-in-cheek response to Senator Warren’s very scary philosophy and approach to government. Warren thinks the problem is who has the power. She’s tragically wrong. The problem is power. She likely won’t be our next president, I certainly hope she won’t be our next president, but the possibility that power could be handed to her means government is what we ought to break up.

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Max Gulker

Max Gulker is an economist and writer who joined AIER in 2015. His research often focuses on free markets and technology, including blockchain and cryptocurrencies, the sharing economy, and internet commerce. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, especially on blockchain technology. Max’s research and writing also touch on other economic topics, including governance, competition, and small businesses.
 
Max holds a PhD in economics from Stanford University and a BA in economics from the University of Michigan. Prior to AIER, Max spent time in the private sector, consulting with large technology and financial firms on antitrust and other litigation. Follow @maxgAIER.