Monopoly

Conservatives Are Wrong to Call for Government 'Trust Busting'

Censorship is when government limits speech, and tech firms are not monopolies. They are successful private businesses; others are free to compete with them.

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One bedrock principle of American conservatism has been its commitment to a freer marketplace. As Ronald Reagan noted, "The societies that have achieved the most spectacular, broad-based progress are neither the most tightly controlled, nor the biggest in size, nor the wealthiest in natural resources." What unites them, he added, is their belief "in the magic of the marketplace." In an about face, conservatives these days are increasingly likely to view markets as a dangerous form of dark magic that must have more government control.

For instance, Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor and prominent right-of-center blogger, last week penned a USA Today column arguing that President Donald Trump ought to follow the lead of trust-busting Teddy Roosevelt and use his power to bust Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google. TR was a Republican, but he was a progressive, which makes him an odd hero for conservatives. Busting might sound benign, but it means government regulation and control.

Reynolds describes these "new tech monsters" as monopolies and quotes TR complaining that "when aggregated wealth demands what is unfair, its immense power can be met only by the still greater power of the people as a whole." This kind of rhetoric usually emanates from the political Left, which finds every inequity in the capitalistic system to be unfair. Its solution—and it always amounts to the same basic solution—is to empower the government (working on behalf of "the people as a whole") to tax, regulate and even commandeer private companies.

Nevertheless, I expect many populist Trump supporters are nodding their heads in agreement to this proposal. In fact, blustering about the tech industry has become something of a talking point on the right. The reasoning has little to do with principles and more to do with expediency. They don't like that these big, mostly Bay Area firms seem to be run by progressives. They argue that such companies have used their market power to "censor" conservative opinions. These critics offer some compelling examples of troubling behavior, even if they need a lesson in word usage. Censorship is when government limits speech. And these firms are not monopolies. They are successful private businesses, but others are free to compete with them.

Responding last month to conservative calls for breaking up tech companies, the Foundation for Economic Education's John Phelan noted, "In February 2007, The Guardian asked: 'Will Myspace ever lose its monopoly?' In April 2008, Facebook overtook Myspace in the Alexa rankings, and in 2009 Myspace lost half of its user base."

Indeed, the market shifts quickly and brutally. Companies that only a few years ago seemed as if they were permanent monopolies have gone away. Meanwhile, conservatives want to use the public-utility model to bust up these big companies, yet utilities are the nation's only true monopolies because the government uses its muscle to forbid any competition. Conservatives used to understand such elemental free-market ideas.

As Phelan detailed, the years of monopolized public telephone utilities were years of low innovation. Only after deregulation did the cell phone and all the other immense innovations take place. There's definitely a connection. Utilities are guaranteed a profit and protected from competition, so they don't innovate. They also are protected from liability, which explains some of the intractable problems and rising prices that take place on their watch. If you are guaranteed a profit based on a formula rather than your competitive prowess, how competitive will you be? If conservatives get their way with regard to the Internet, imagine how that will hobble its growth. And if you're worried about censorship now, just wait until the federal government—and Republicans won't always be in control of it, you know—gets its grubby paws on it.

Internet regulation isn't the only example. President Trump has brought many conservatives aboard his quest to expand tariffs, which are an aggressive form or taxation and regulation. The government slaps enormous taxes on companies that produce particular products to shield favored companies from competition. It also shifts trade decisions from private companies to bureaucrats. It's a pernicious form of crony capitalism that allows the government to pick winners and losers.

There always has been an anti-market element within the GOP, but that faction hadn't been in ascendancy until recently. Now such ideas are spreading. I remember when Fox News' Tucker Carlson complained that many of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' "employees are so poor" and that "you're paying their welfare benefits. And he's not the only tech billionaire offloading his payroll costs onto taxpayers. Why is only Bernie talking about it?"

Conservatives ought to think long and hard before heading down the Bernie Sanders path. It might be fun to stick it to private companies they don't happen to like. But it's never worth the price to abandon the magic of the marketplace in favor of the heavy hand of government.

Steven Greenhut is Western region director for the R Street Institute. He was a Register editorial writer from 1998-2009. Write to him at sgreenhut@rstreet.org.

This column was first published by the Orange County Register.

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144 responses to “Conservatives Are Wrong to Call for Government 'Trust Busting'

  1. It’s an argument I sometimes have with friends about anarchism/minarchism: they’ll sometimes grant that government can be terrible and has a monopoly on force, but they point out that, without it, giant corporations would rule and would also claim the right to use force.

    That’s when I point out that it is through government that corporations exist in the first place. It is through business regulations, licensing and tax structures that a growing business can suppress or limit competition. They can use government to make the barriers to entry for potential competitors very high.

    You don’t like Google? Just try to start your own Google-alternative. See how long it takes to give them a real run for their money.

    This isn’t to say I favor trust-busting, but removing customers because you don’t like their ideas is not that different than removing customers because you don’t like the shade of their skin.

    1. Duckgoduck bro.

    2. You don’t like Google? Just try to start your own Google-alternative. See how long it takes to give them a real run for their money.

      I think this is part of the argument for “trust-busting”.

      Facebook overtaking MySpace in 2008ish is nothing like trying to compete with Facebook or Google now.

      Not that I am pro-“trust-busting” because conservatives are being censored. The only monopolies I care to see busted, or regulated differently, are ISPs. Either treat them like a utility, or STOP giving them the perks of utilities without the regulation of utilities. ISPs are the best counter-example right now of “muh, but utilites don’t innovate”… well, ISPs right now don’t fucking innovate. So, force them to actually compete (“trust bust”), or force them into utility status (government monopoly). Anything is better than the status quo.

      1. ISPs actually do innovate. Such as the local storage agreements with Netflix to reduce national bandwidth on their most popular content.

      2. Google will be around a while. Facebook is already fading.

    3. Whether or not conservatives are wrong to call for government trust-busting is something I don’t feel qualified to opine on any more than I feel qualified to opine on whether or not the tenets of Buddhism proscribe the wearing of roller skates – I wouldn’t know, I’m neither a conservative nor a Buddhist.

      What I do know is that only a bare handful of people give a shit about principles any more, the Rule of Law is dead and the Law of the Jungle has regained the throne. FYTW and Might Makes Right are the only arguments you need to know. All the high-minded arguments and rationales and citations of principles are just a pretty mask to disguise the underlying “because we can” truth of the matter that government is force and you’ll do whatever it takes to be the one in command of that power.

      And I’ve gotten to the point where I just have to shake my head at the sheer stupidity of people who clamor for more government to protect us from the depredations of more government. Just stop it.

      1. Most of the writers I read that support limiting Google or Facebook do so from an anti competitive practices angle. Ie it is their behavior to buy out or shut down competitors that is the issue. I haven’t seen much call for trust busting based on censorship, that is more of a call to remove their legal immunities for violating neutrality.

        1. So they say but I don’t buy it. There are plenty of competitors it is just that none of them are as successful.

          The other thing is nobody needs to use these companies there is nothing essential about Facebook. Lots of us happily live without it. So you can’t make the argument that they did with the Bell phone company for example.

          This is political. It is about government control and nothing else. The lefties, we know want that control. What was conservatism is now Trumpist nationalist populism and it wants the same thing.

        2. No one makes competitors sell out.

  2. How is refusing to serve conservatives different from refusing to serve transgenders?

    1. Depends on what you mean by “serve”. Trans people are not a dominant political force, so until they are, they can only demand others to “serve” them as customers. Conservatives and liberals, on the other hand…

      1. Trans people just got special carve outs for people advocating for science on Twitter. Not powerful my ass. Deadnaming is now a thing.

        1. Deadnaming is a rude thing, trans or not. If you have your name legally changed to James, it would be rude and dumb to insist on calling you Frank, only because your parents chose that name. I agree no one should be punished for it, but it is a sign of being an asshole.

    2. To my knowledge, political affiliation is not a protected class.

      and in SJW logic, trans people are a victim class and conservatives are an oppressor class.

      1. “To my knowledge, political affiliation is not a protected class.”

        True and of course aggregation sites aren’t allowed to object to content on political affiliation either. If they do, they lose their immunity.

    3. Or people of particular religions. That’s probably a better parallel since both are just sets of beliefs and ways of looking at and behaving in the world.

    4. How is it consistent to complain about government forcing one company to do something, then complain that the government should force a different firm to do something else?

  3. “Censorship is when government limits speech.”

    Yes, but it’s also when private parties, individuals or corporations (acting through individuals) act to suppress speech, public communication, or other information, on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or “inconvenient”.

    When the government censors, it is often unconstitutional. However, when private parties censor, it is usually within their rights. Regardless, both acts are still “censorship”.

    1. Being within their rights doesn’t make it acceptable. Would be okay for a business owner to put up a sign that says customers are not allowed to speak Ebonics and, if they do, they will be refused service?

      How about if a factory owner declares that all employees must speak English at all times, and speaking Spanish (even for personal conversation during breaks) is forbidden? Or how about if job candidates are asked about who they voted for before they can be hired.

      Sorry, I dislike government as much as anyone around here, and yet there is plenty of “censorship” that can happen that doesn’t originate with government.

      1. Not sure exactly who you’re asking the question of…

        As to your comment of “Being within their rights doesn’t make it acceptable.” I would ask you how you define “acceptable”. If it’s not acceptable, do you just avoid the private party, urge others to avoid the private party, urge government to sanction the private party, or perhaps something else?

        “Acceptable” is a tricky word. If it’s not “acceptable” does that automatically make it “unacceptable”? And what does it actually mean to future behavior/actions of the individual making the determination? I’ve deemed a business action unacceptable and have refused to do any further business with them – even probably paying more elsewhere just to avoid the “unacceptable” business.

      2. Ironically… businesses have been sued for not allowing Spanish speakers to speak natively at work.

      3. Yes, it would be OK to me for private companies to ban Ebonics in their businesses….Civil Rights laws that try to FORCE private businesses to run their places a certain way are UNCONSTITUTIONAL!…Let the Free Markets decide!

      4. The difference with your examples, and what big tech is doing, is that your prohibitions are explicit, while big tech uses terms like “objectionable” and defines what that means, almost exclusively in the direction of progressive dogma.
        Thus conservative postings get the “objectionable” label, and banning, while progressive, or favored by progressive, postings remain.
        eg: Alex Jones is “objectionable” for his “conspiracy theories”, while Louis Farrakhan’s anti-semitism goes unremarked upon.
        One gets banned, across multiple platforms, while the other is unchallenged.

    2. “When the government censors, it is often unconstitutional. However, when private parties censor, it is usually within their rights. Regardless, both acts are still “censorship”.’

      What about when the government uses leverage to force corporations to censor or they just promote the corporation in a competitive environment that censors the way government wants them to?

      1. “What about when the government uses leverage to force corporations to censor or they just promote the corporation in a competitive environment that censors the way government wants them to?”

        Ah, the *indirect* censorship – sort of like what NY is trying to do to insurance companies with the NRA. I think that is roughly the same as direct censorship and should probably be treated as such. However, as with most things, specifics matter.

    3. My read is that if both of the following are true:
      a)private parties are doing the censoring on a communications platform and
      b)govt is protecting the proprietary data that enables that communications platform to be priced as ‘free’

      then govt is effectively violating the 1st Amendment by establishing a monopolized mode of speech/press

      1. Good point. Now we need only prove that the communications platform is a religion. But that is so obvious from a glance at daytime teevee that it surely would’ve ben broken up like Standard Oil… if not for Nixon’s Anti-Libertarian law subsidizing presstitutes who whore for entrenched looter parties.

        1. Establishing speech or the press has exactly the same effect as establishing religion. If Pravda is free and only Pravda is free and Pravda knows everything about you and everything else costs money, the pricing system ain’t gonna work to undermine or compete with Pravda. There will be no de facto alternative to Pravda so true freedom of speech/press will be abridged.

          You can play semantics all you want. But the only purpose of that is to prove that you don’t give a fuck about the 1st.

      2. There’s no monopoly on speech. Start your own blog. Build up a following.

        1. There’s no restrictions on human flight either. Just flap your arms on the edge of a cliff and jump.

    4. “”Censorship is when government limits speech.””

      No, that’s bullshit. Censorship is a broad term. It’s just not illegal among private parties. You can be censored by all kinds of groups other than the government. The hecklers veto is an obvious one. A platform refusing to carry your content is another.

  4. When you tout your service as an open forum or unbiased source of information and don’t actually behave that way, then you may be in breach of contract with your users and committing fraud. Either of which can and should have legal repercussions.

    1. They don’t though. Every platform’s TOS says they can ban you from the service at their discretion, according to their rules, which they make and can change at any time.

      1. And broad terms that are solely in the favor of the business get tossed out all the time. You can’t grant yourself an I win button in a service agreement. That’s now how our laws work.

    2. I was wondering about this. Is it even a contract, since you, the user, haven’t paid anything?

      1. You paid with a valuable commodity, your data.

    3. Except they’re not charging you to use the platform, and you’re free to go.

  5. Reynolds doesn’t identify as “right of center.” He calls himself a libertarian.

    Of course, to the leftitarians at Reason that makes him right of ‘center.’

    1. And Greenhut, the whole guilt by association schtick is weak even for you.

      1. Or are we to conclude that you think a progressive can do no right?

        1. Pretty much.

          1. Second that

    2. A lot of people place libertarians right-of-center as they consider economic liberalism a conservative thing for some reason. There are also quite a lot of libertarians who are conservative in many other ways.

    3. Well he is slightly more libertarianish than the rest of the folks at PJ Media except for Stephan Greene. There is nothing libertarian about what he is suggesting here.

  6. This summary of Reynolds’ article seems to me to be a bit disingenuous and strawmanny. Reynold’s is mostly talking about his take on anti-trust today after reading a book by Tim Wu on that subject. He quotes Tim Wu that market concentration leads to political corruption and that the concentration of megatech is based on controlling the means of communication via proprietary data that can’t be replicated but that is the true cost of something offered for ‘free’. There is a legitimate issue here about whether new competitors CAN arise – if their product must also be ‘free’ but without the data that actually pays for that ‘free’. And I suppose it is entirely possible that anti-trust IS the only way to address it.

    idk whether Reynolds is actually summarizing Wu’s thinking accurately – or if there is flaw in Wu’s argument that leads to gulags and socialism – but I sure as fuck know that Greenhut isn’t even bothering with that and clearly hasn’t read Wu either – and is just resurrecting tired irrelevant ideological meme that the market will always tend towards competition/deconcentration even if the big capture govt/political.

    Me? I think I’ll have to put Wu’s book on my reading list to see if he’s saying something worth reading. Epic fail there Greenhut.

  7. Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google are direct competitors.

    Amazon, Netflix, and YouTube TV are in the process of remaking the TV industry as we know it through their streaming efforts.

    Also, these companies keep competing with each other in various ways. Google+ may be a total disappointment in terms of offering an alternative to Facebook, but at least there are other options.

    I think it might behoove these tech giants to rethink their insane commitment to the left. There’s a political cost for that, and if they don’t get smart about it, they’ll pay a high price.

    1. It’s why I don’t give two shits if they die. Hate me? Fine. I dislike you too. It’s why I also no longer oppose taxes on the wealthy. Too many of them like to vote Prog and hope conservatives will save them from the negatives of their preferences. Well, fuck them.

      1. Being a libertarian for me is often about sticking up for the rights of people I don’t like, but it’s the rights I’m sticking up for rather than the people.

        I don’t think much of payday lenders, people who sit around smoking weed all day, pornographers, terrorists, Scientologists, et. al. But I care a lot about my right to do business with whomever I like, getting rid of the expensive and stupid drug war, freedom of speech and the press, the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, and freedom of religion–because those are my rights.

        Fuck progressive elitists, yeah, but let’s not throw the babies out with the bathwater.

      2. Collective guilt is fun.

        A lot of poor and middle income people vote for progs too. Fuck them all, I guess.

    2. I’m sorry, what part of Netflix provides a search engine?
      What part of Facebook offers same day delivery of physical product?
      Etc.

      1. They don’t all compete with each other in every way, but they do compete with each other.

        Which of those companies has a business line without significant competition?

        Alphabet’s driverless cars are in direct competition from a number of companies.

        Amazon competes with other major retailers–for instance Wal*Mart.

        “Because they suck” certainly doesn’t make them trusts.

    3. I’d have an easier time arguing for anti-trust actions if these companies didn’t spend so much time and effort alienating existing and potential customers.

      Hard to call them anti-competitive when they spend so much time creating market opportunities for someone else.

  8. Some business owners simply don’t care about the comfort of their customers. They play favorites, promoting some customers and making others feel unwelcome. I wish it was just internet platforms. Just this week, Reason had a story about how a very attractive libertarian woman was chased out of a Brooklyn restaurant by a shouty crazy woman. The operators of the place did nothing; the crazed idiot was not removed.

    It’s one thing to be kicked off social media and quite another to be denied a meal you are paying for.

    1. Yeah, Kat Timpf (would!).

      I’m not surprised that restaurant in NYC wouldn’t care about a customer who isn’t a prog. Still, they might want to start getting a handle on it; sooner or later it’s going to be someone who will refuse to flee and will fight back instead.

      1. And Welch tried to “both sides!” it.

  9. The government should take some action. The government should explicitly tell the tech companies that if they edit content then they forfeit the ‘common carrier’ protections, and pass whatever legislation is necessary to coerce activist Liberal Left judges to rule in that manner.

    1. Or quit enforcing ransomware clicktracts whereby Apple takes your money under no-refunds, then says to sign verbiage six times the size of the Constitution with all its amendments and signatures–or the thing won’t work. Perfectly reasonable for the political State to charge a fee for registering a contract–especially if it is wordier than the Declaration of Independence. And it would make good precedent for soft machines to go back to passing terser laws.

    2. No need for new legislation. Simply point to the actions that void section 203 protections; like not being impartial.
      Let the class action lawsuits begin – – – –

  10. TR was a Republican, but he was a progressive, which makes him an odd hero for conservatives.

    I’ve noticed they tend to bring him out when they want to start a war.

    1. Missing citation;
      When was the last war we started, as opposed to joined?
      Not Korea, not Vietnam, not anything in the middle east, not the mess in the Balkans, neither of the numbered wars.
      Help me out here, what was the one we started (OK, after the one in the early 1860’s)

      1. Okay, start a war or join a war already in progress. Happy now?

      2. The Obama administration carpet-bombed LIbya for no reason (and essentially birthed ISIL and ISIS that way too)

      3. The second Iraq war? We invaded because… I forget why.

  11. Censorship predicated on the enforcement of private property rights, while it may not be desirable or just, is and should be legal.

    Censorship predicated on the government initiation of force, is not only unjust, it ought to be illegal.

    1. Well put.

    2. So still ignoring the special immunities that these businesses receive. Good work Jeff, no need to ever learn.

    3. Even if the govt enforcement of that private censorship de facto eliminates a 1st Amendment right of the citizen? Isn’t that the same damn thing as direct govt elimination of that 1st Amendment right?

      1. Sorry, I’m not following this too well. I don’t see that I have a 1st Amendment right to post on Twitter. Or am I misunderstanding your argument? (Not being sarcastic; I suspect I really am not getting it.)

        1. You don’t have a 1st amendment right to post on twitter. Nor do I think there is any obligation for twitter to provide universal communications platform – like eg the post office. But the 1st isn’t a Zen koan – What is the sound of someone speaking when no one else can hear? The 1st implies for both speech/press that others can hear you – that the distribution of that message is not abridged either. Otherwise the 1st is effectively pointless. That’s imo why the post office was deemed so important to be enumerated even before postage stamps were invented and long before there was a funding model for it beyond taxes – a universal (ignoring the Comstock crap) distribution system for that communication.

          idk the answer. But the technology that has destroyed the funding model for the previous 250 years of distribution of speech/press (post office and printed media) runs a serious risk of destroying the right itself if that technology becomes purely selective pay-to-play and govt protects that – and forces the universal system to be basically the communications equivalent of a militia with muskets.

          1. Okay, I’ll have to think about that. But considering that technology is a moving target, so to speak, I’m not prepared to say for sure that twitter or anybody else will be able to keep things locked down for long.

            1. That may well be. But nor do I think ‘hope’ or ‘faith’ in some future unknown technology/model is a particularly sound basis to put the 1st ‘on hold’.

              I really do think the 1st is under threat because of a lot of things that are happening that the law/institutions have not kept up with. It was imo the sound reason underlying Citizens United – that in today’s society the regular individual CAN no longer effectively speak without joining with others to fund the message to a mass audience. The potentially crappy reasoning is ‘property has free speech rights’ which just serves to further disadvantage the human individual.

      2. Even if the govt enforcement of that private censorship de facto eliminates a 1st Amendment right of the citizen?

        A person’s First Amendment rights are far broader than just being allowed to tweet on Twitter.

  12. How, exactly, do monopolies and trust fit in with Libertarian ideology? An atomized market is one Libertarians should champion, not one with entities big enough to engage in wholesale regulatory capture.

    1. Competition destroys monopolies naturally via market mechanisms.

      1. That is nothing more than an assertion. May be true most of the time (here is a white swan. There is a white swan. Over there is a white swan). But you can’t get from there to All swans are white.

        1. No, it’s because monopolies tend to become bloated un-innovative behemoths who no longer serve well the interests of the customer. Because they no longer have meaningful competition, they don’t respond well to what the customer wants, and instead just demand that customers buy what they are selling even if it’s what they don’t really want. So in essence they turn into something like a government agency. Competitors find the market niche left unserved by the giant monopolist and use that as a wedge to ultimately force the downfall of the monopolist firm.

          1. Explains why all of the microbreweries are challenging Bud et al. Because dynamism is more important than money and ability to control regulations.

            At a certain point, government protects the monopoly. Always.

            1. Well…

              http://www.usatoday.com/story/…..057374001/

              Competition IS hurting all the big breweries.

              1. Marijuana competition was also hurting the big breweries (and excise revenue) in 1936, so The Political State leapt into action, both barrels blazing–again. This was a replay of what it did when breweries and distilleries competed with glucose syrup and yeast plants two decades earlier.

              2. Annheuser-Bush InBev bought SABMiller. The government forced them to divest of the Miller and Coors brand beers to complete the purchase.

                Anti-trust forced them to not become a monopoly as they certainly were set to become one.

                1. Take a look at the article.
                  All three of those brands – Budweiser, Coors, Miller – lost market share.
                  The Goliaths are being taken down by the Davids consisting of foreign competitors and microbreweries.

                  1. And the reason is exactly as I described.
                    All three of those brands, whether they are run by the same Board of Directors or not, serve mass-market swill. More and more people are not satisfied by that, and want something better. So along come smaller competitors who serve what more of the public *actually wants*. The big behemoths can’t turn on a dime and deliver products to satisfy those who do still want the cheap swill AND those who want the craft beer.

                    Have you seen some of the recent Bud Light ads? They basically are sneering at the craft beer drinkers. They’ve given up on even bothering to appeal to those who want something better than piss water for beer.

            2. Which is the fault of the government, not of the market that would allow the presence of a monopoly only for limited time. Especially if themonopolies in question, which aren?t really monopolies, operate in the virtual space. Which is why they aren?t and never were monopolies, they just have a strong position on the market.

          2. OK. Explain baseball.

            The reality is that their exemption from all anti-trust (and they are one of the few industries that IS exempt from anti-trust law) is exactly the ‘competitive environment’ that should result in their downfall if ‘competition eliminates monopoly via market mechanisms’. Competition has done nothing of the sort. Precisely because the monopoly is able to kill off the competition. Yes – baseball is shrinking (200 teams -virtually all MLB or MLB-controlled – now instead of 500-1000 teams around WW2). It is repelling most athletes from pursuing it – driving them to other careers. But that is well within how one expects a healthy monopoly to function. There is in fact no competition now. The teams are extraordinarily profitable/valuable. And they have more power than ever to extract anti-competitive kickbacks from cities, fans, media, etc.

            Fact is baseball is exactly the ‘this swan is black’ that renders your entire ‘all swans are white’ case falsifiable and thus untrue. More significant also since it is one of the only industries that DOES function outside the restrictions imposed on everyone else via anti-trust.

            1. I am not sure that is why baseball is losing fans. It had a golden age when almost every American was a fan. Basketball and football were nothing much.

              People are just less into it. When I was a kid we all played baseball and knew the stats. Now it seems basketball is more the thing. Personally I prefer the NBA as well.

              Why are ketchup and breakfast cereals losing sales? No trust issues there.

              I really don’t know if the idea of monopolies failing is true or not but there are other forces at work.

              1. Attendance isn’t shrinking though. It’s being concentrated among (generally) fewer teams. The teams that suck each year can remain very profitable – sometimes even more than when they are good – and their talent doesn’t get poached. Athletes are switching – but they are on the cost side of baseball and baseball still is essentially able to not pay them at all for the first six years they play.

                Seriously there is a big difference between the way a monopoly/cartel shrinks its market vs the way an industry facing competition declines – and baseball’s the prototype for the very healthy cartel.

    2. The best defense against ‘too big to fail’ or ‘just too big’ is a lack of federal legislation preempting states. “A confusing patchwork of conflicting laws and regulations” is the ideal defense against large anythings.
      So the Libertarian ideology of smaller and lower level governments fits right into that.

    3. “How, exactly, do monopolies and trust fit in with Libertarian ideology? An atomized market is one Libertarians should champion, not one with entities big enough to engage in wholesale regulatory capture.”

      Libertarian idealogy precludes the option of regulatory capture duh.

  13. No need to trust bust, just start pursuing action against them as the publishers they are and not the platform they claim to be.

    When they allow open and direct threats against conservatives to persist, but even mild criticism of progressives can be call for bans or restrictions, it becomes obvious that they’re picking viewpoints and what they support and/or endorse.

    1. This. Let them be sued like the editors they are.

  14. While I can understand the motivation for wanting the government to do something about a platform like Twitter, it might be a good idea to look ahead to the future. You might be on the receiving end tomorrow. The Trump presidency should have taught us all that there’s just no telling who’s going wind up in charge.

    1. Exactly. What if the government bans sandwiches in the name of good nutrition?
      We would miss you.

  15. Sometimes I wonder if reason writers attempt even basic research. Monopolies are fine when they don’t have anti competitive business practices. Facebook and google are filled with stories of anti competitive practices such as buying competitors out to shut them down, having inventors in for product pitch ideas and then stealing those ideas, etc. Then there is the obvious illegal practices like tr as cooking users who have opted out of being tracked, gmail scanning your personal emails, etc. No conservative or libertarian is against going after monopolies acting in such manners.

    1. “Facebook and google are filled with stories of anti competitive practices such as buying competitors out to shut them down, ”

      How is that anit-competitive ? If anything it’s cooperative

      1. Is this an ironic or satirical comment?

        1. No, buying a less successful competitor is a normal business practice.

          1. Buying all of them becomes monopolizing.

    2. I agree their invasion of privacy should be punished, if it exceeds what the users agreed to, but buying competitors out is not an “anti-competitive” practice, and definitely shouldn?t be subject to regulation, as long as no unethical and unlawful practices such as blackmail is involved.

    3. I agree to; Anti-Trust laws as well as most/all criminal laws should be better enforced.

      But also agree with ThomasD comment up a ways —
      “I’d have an easier time arguing for anti-trust actions if these companies didn’t spend so much time and effort alienating existing and potential customers.

      Hard to call them anti-competitive when they spend so much time creating market opportunities for someone else.”

  16. …tech firms are not monopolies. They are successful private businesses; others are free to compete with them…

    That’s a ludicrous argument. ALL monopolies are “successful private businesses”. They wouldn’t BE monopolies if they were failures!

    …others are free to compete with them.

    Of course “others are free to compete with them”, but the chances of Apple, Microsoft, Google, or Twitter being overtaken by some new start-up is growing increasing unlikely. And for rather obvious reasons: the sheer amount of money required to be able to compete. Apple, Microsoft, Google, & Twitter are all multi-billion dollar corporations with billions of dollars in infrastructure alone. No start-up is going to be able to compete with them.

    Certainly no one working out of their garage is going to produce a competitor against the likes of Google. You might as well expect a competitor for (say) General Motors to start operating producing cars from their Dad’s backyard toolshed.

    The only likely competitor for one multi-billion dollar corporation is ANOTHER multi-billion dollar corporation. And just as GM or United Airlines is unlikely to start moving onto Google’s turf anytime soon so the most likely competitor to (say) Google is likely to be ANOTHER giant tech company.

  17. “Free to compete” exactly how? How do compete after you’re deplatformed by your ISP, your domain name is seized by your DNS registrar, and MasterCard pressures your payment processor to drop you because they don’t like the cut of your jib?

    Sure you’re free to compete. Just start your own bank, your own ISP, and your own domain registry. Then you can get around to thinking about building your website. No problem at all!

    1. Just start your own bank, your own ISP, and your own domain registry.

      You mean, like using cryptocurrency, using VPN’s and encryption, and the so-called “dark web”?

      The competition is there, the demand is there, the infrastructure is there (sort of). It won’t ever be as big as Google, probably, because not that many people care that much about having a totally unrestricted uncensored internet to go through the trouble of reconfiguring their devices and their entire online experience to enable that. But it’s out there.

      1. “Sure you can compete with McDonald’s. As long as you open your restaurant where no one can see it.”

        1. Oh boo hoo. And the restaurants on the bad side of town can’t compete as well with the restaurants in the nice parts of town either.

          People CAN see the so-called “dark web”, they just don’t know how to reconfigure their devices and/or don’t bother to care about it all that much. If you want people to shop at your “restaurant” then you need to provide them with a “map” on how to get there.

          “But Google doesn’t need a special map! They get to compete on the ‘nice’ side of the web!” Yup that’s right. Life’s not fair. You are starting at a big disadvantage. Like all competitors, when they attempt to compete with one of the Big Boys.

          Oh and by the way. Most people when attempting to compete in the marketplace don’t need to go all the way to having to build their own ISPs or build their own DNS services. So what you are positing is a bit of an extreme example. And yet it’s STILL possible.

          No one said it was going to be easy.

  18. The notion that Twitter isn’t a monopoly is farcically ludicrous. Reason’s own writers habitually use Twitter post themselves to illustrate points in their articles. They often link to articles other sites, but only Twitter posts are inserted holes-bolus into the text of their articles. If Twitter were NOT a monopoly you’d expect to see other, similar sites being treated in the same fashion. But the reality is that that there is no alternative to Twitter out there.

    So too with Facebook.

    As for Google’s Youtube, yes there are other video platforms out there (e.g. Dailymotion, OK.ru) none of them has the penetration or dominance of Youtube.

    The case of Apple and Microsoft is even more stark. Thirty years ago there were a wide range of personal computer operating systems out there. Today there are only three: Apple’s Mac OS X, Microsoft’s Windows, and Linux; and Linux is essentially a bit player. Apple as a corporation is huge, but it only has about 10% of the PC market. Most of the other 90% is made up of computers that use Microsoft Windows. If even Apple cannot break the Windows stronghold and become a more equal competitor with Microsoft for the PC market then the reality is that nobody can.

    It’s the same with Facebook and Twitter. There are no competitors, nor are there likely to be any any time soon. And anyone who does try will likely have to be a giant corporation themselves to have the capital and resources to be able to compete.

    1. The only reason Apple has not taken over more than 10% of the OS market, is their marketing decision to shut out non-Apple products. You want to use Mac OS X, you damn well buy an Apple box.

  19. None of these companies are monopolies, no matter how much you choose to delude yourselves. What’s more, you have no ‘right’ to a bully pulpit, no more than a ‘right’ to food.
    Regardless, read A-1: “Congress shall make no law….”
    And quit whining.

  20. “One bedrock principle of American conservatism has been its commitment to a freer marketplace.”

    Reason holds conservatives to a much higher standard than liberals and progressives. And they’ll take shots for funsies because I guess martinis taste better when consumed with progressive journalists

    1. SNIF! You pooor BAYBEES!! Somebody trust-bust those Reason writers immediately!

      1. Conservatives are happier, donate more to charity, support the constitution, and freedom in general

        And they’re hardly poor… as they make more money

        But they like it in America, which bothers the fuck out of leftists

    2. The conservatives are the ones who claim to be in favor of free markets and of freedom in general. But they aren?t, so they deserve all the criticism.

      1. Be sure and let us know when this “aren’t” is happening. This Republican will certainly ring some representatives bells when such a thing happens.

  21. I find it bizarre that people think of Google, Twitter, and Facebook as dangerous monopolies. Aren’t their services basically free? They aren’t charging people for their services, let alone gouging them.

    Plus, these platforms are huge and successful for a reason…they’ve provided incredible value to people. Thing is, that’s becoming less and less so as they continue down their paths of banning people, seemingly based on political ideology. Well, just give it time and the cries for more platforms will grow and it will happen…Twitter will have competition.

    There’s no reason to have the government regulate these platforms when the market does so for free and without coercion.

    1. They all receive billions in tax breaks that the rest of us do not get. They then use that money to lobby and kill competition.

      Don’t hate the player, hate the game

      1. THIS is the problem, not the fact that they are big and strong on the market.

      2. The same goes for pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, hospital groups, insurance companies. They are all using a portion of their profits to lobby government for tax breaks and other preferential treatment so that they can maintain their profit margins and spend more money lobbying government for more tax breaks and subsidies etc. This will go on ad infinitum because corporations are people and money is free speech.

      3. That’s a rather hard claim to defend being that multiple sources have found the top 1% paying 50% of the federal budget. I guess they didn’t get that “tax break” memo?

  22. Google and FB are used as sign on systems for a bunch of other stuff so they are more ’embedded’ then Twitter.

    Twitter could fold up tomorrow and most of the country wouldn’t even notice.

  23. please government save us from the facebooks? is a thing?

    1. Sadly, yes. It’s a thing primarily among conservatives who spend far too much time on social media.

      1. Most conservatives would prefer the government not pick winners and losers, especially when the winners lobby to kill competition, lie to users about their policies, and break campaign finance laws

      2. Not entirely true. All my liberal contacts are foaming at the mouth to have the feds regulate Facebook or even nationalize it.

        1. Sure, but it isn?t that surprising when it comes from openly leftist people.

      3. i’m not and i don’t … life is much more pleasant.

  24. It’s a culture war thing.

    We shouldn’t want such blatant censorship on platforms that are close to universal amplifiers because a culture that accepts that as good is a step closer to enacting it with government in a democracy (please don’t tell me we are in a republic – our representatives do not function that way).

    But it doesn’t mean government should shut it down.

    It means the public at large needs to respond. This “it’s their right and I don’t care” doesn’t actually stop it from progressing to the ballot box… and once it reaches the ballot box, the culture is lost and so’s the right.

  25. Nothing to do with economics or principles.

    These are media giants and Trumpists hate that they cannot control them. This has been a key theme of Trump all along. It is no secret. Bezos, Zuckerburg and the like are constantly pilloried on right leaning and trumpy web sites.

    1. Well, you surely are a spinner.

      Existing in your own little echo-chamber.

  26. This article really isn’t about anything but Greenhut practicing some mind manipulation –

    “This kind of rhetoric usually emanates from the political Left” ….. “Internet regulation” ….. “President Trump” ….. “expand tariffs” ….. “which are” ….. “taxation and regulation” ….. “shield favored companies from competition” ….. “pernicious form of crony capitalism” ….. “anti-market” ….. “GOP” ….. “Conservatives” ….. “Bernie Sanders path.”

    So one “Progressive” right-of-center (supposedly) person spouts a article proclaimed Bernie Sanders/Democratic ideology and all the sudden the Conservatives/GOP are anti-market leftists??? Evident by Trumps Tariffs which are actually anti-trust issues? lol… hahaha….

    1st – Tariff is tax; not regulation
    2nd – Tariff isn’t picking winner/looser; its tax across ALL companies of said product.

    Last I checked; foreign tax (i.e. tariffs) didn’t fit into the Anti-Trust bill. The Constitution does give the federal the authority to tariff foreign trade (i.e. Business) just as it does domestically. What the idea here anyways – tax domestic business but give foreign business a FREE RIDE on taxpayer funded infrastructure????

    1. P.S. Article I:S8:C1 – Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises …. but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be UNIFORM throughout the United States.

      Although the U.S. ( Yes, the government ) has Constitutional powers to tariff and/or even block foreign trade through the treaty power; The trade we do engage in should be UNIFORM taxation as the Constitution outlines for the Union of States.

      It certainly isn’t right to be subsidizing it like we are doing today (hint: USPS foreign freight). They should be taxed at the appropriate amount to cover any/all debt incurred by the U.S. in handling the foreign trade/freight/infrastructure.

      Frankly; If the U.S. would get rid of its subsidizing habits, cut its debt, then a UNIFORM and FAIR tariff would be minuscule and so would domestic tax. But….. Until that happens our government should treat !!AMERICA 1st – NOT LAST BEHIND FOREIGN INTERESTS!! like it has been doing. A Tariff shouldn’t be considered anything more than domestic tax applied across foreign borders and should represent that amount uniformly.

    2. If you don’t know the difference between the words “loser” and “looser”, then you’re unworthy to write anything, anywhere, in the English language.

      Go fuck yourself, Looser.

  27. Why do Millennials like socialism more than libertarianism? It’s simple; the people who control the news media, movies, TV, and even education all lean to the left, and for decades they have been indoctrinating the young with a steady diet of leftist ideology.

    Why don’t libertarians and conservatives make their own movies and TV shows? Well, it costs a lot of money to produce movies and TV shows. Even if they find the money to subsidize such ventures, they don’t control the media for distributing their work.

    So that means they have to assemble the capital to finance cable TV networks and movie studios. That represents a bigger hurdle. There are people on the right who could afford to subsidize such ventures, but they are quite sensibly investing in left-leaning media ventures that are already making a profit.

    The only place libertarians and conservatives have made inroads against leftist narratives is on social media. An enterprising young libertarian or conservative can record videos in their kitchen and reach an audience of millions with a very small investment of cash.

    The next generation is polling farther to the right than millennials, largely due to the influence of libertarian and conservative voices on social media. If the tech giants get away with marginalizing those center-right voices, the generation after them will be lost to the lunacy of leftist ideology, just like the millennials were.

    1. We never marketed libertarism correctly if at all. Most millenials do not know we exist.

      Socialism is a well established brand and there are places where what we call democratic socialism work just fine for most people.

      They have an easy sell. They promise to deliver more at the expense of the rich.

      We promise to deliver less.

      They say free tuition. We say eliminate student loans.

      They say free health care. We say pay for it yourselves.

      Tough sell.

      Sure we argued for things like legal pot and gay rights which they are for but we don’t get credit because we never elected anyone major. In reality we probably had little to do with it other than in the market of ideas.

      1. “Socialism is a well established brand and there are places where what we call democratic socialism work just fine for most people.”

        Where might that be?

        Oh, and after you answer, I fully expect you to sell your home, pack up your things, and move there to live for at least the next 3 years.

      2. The first rule of libertarians is, “drop your precious WE”.

        WE failed to do nothing at all. YOU did.

        1. Must have missed that rule.

          Someone should notify the Libertarian Party.

          “As Libertarians, WE seek a world of liberty: a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and are not forced to sacrifice their values for the benefit of others.

          WE believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.

          Consequently, WE defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world WE seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.”

  28. Teddy-style trustbusting for all big corps is a must, since corps=govt now.

    1. You sound like Sigmund Freud, who was merely the root cause of the problem that he purported to cure.

  29. Weird; republicans are usually so consistent

  30. “TR was a Republican, but he was a progressive,”

    And early 20th Century progressives were such wonderful examples for those of us in the 21st Century:

    “One “progressive” president, Theodore Roosevelt, wrote that the decimation of Native Americans was necessary to prevent the continent from becoming a “game preserve for squalid savages,” and that in nine out of ten cases, “the only good Indians are the dead Indians.” Another, Woodrow Wilson, was a white supremacist who kept black students out of Princeton when he was president of the university, praised the Ku Klux Klan, cleansed the federal government of black employees, and said of ethnic immigrants, “Any man who carries a hyphen about with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic whenever he gets ready.” A third, Franklin Roosevelt, drove a hundred thousand American citizens into concentration camps because they were of the same race as the Japanese enemy.”
    – The Better Angels of Our Nature ? Steven Pinker

  31. Silicon Valley’s crony capitalism doesn’t allow for much in the way of competition.

  32. “As Phelan detailed, the years of monopolized public telephone utilities were years of low innovation. Only after deregulation did the cell phone and all the other immense innovations take place. There’s definitely a connection.”

    Uh, no. All the deregulation in the world wouldn’t have made a difference without the technological innovations that had been motoring right along, with or without regulation, that made electronic miniaturization and cell phones etc possible.

    1. Yup. The first handheld cell phone was demonstrated by Motorola in 1973. Bell was not broken up until 1982.

      Bell labs and AT&T were very involved in developing radio phones and cellular technology before 1973 and produced them although they were primitive by today’s standards.

      Bell labs was a top innovator in countless technologies dating back to 1900s. Radar and sonor technology, the first transistor, proximetry fuses, fiber optic and satellite communications and a long list of other accomplishments.

  33. Working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.

    HERE http://www.SalaryHD.Com

  34. Working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.

    HERE http://www.SalaryHD.Com

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