Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren's Plan to Break Up Big Tech Would Be Bad for America

Don't give the government more power to pick winners and losers.

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Presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren has a new plan to break up big tech companies. The proposal entails appointing a bunch of regulators to undo mergers that her administration would deem anti-competitive. Warren's plan would classify any company that runs a marketplace and makes more than $25 billion a year as a "platform utility" and prohibit them from selling their own products.

Considering the prevalent knee-jerk loathing of big tech and capitalism in general, it's likely to be a popular idea. Many conservatives, angered at social media platforms, will also find the notion of breaking up these companies agreeable. But there are number of good economic and idealistic reasons to oppose Warren's plan.

For starters, Warren's plan wouldn't only strip the incentive for big companies to invest in growth and innovation; it would inhibit small-business innovation, as well. It's true that big tech frequently swallows enterprises to eliminate competition. Yet many times smaller tech firms don't have access to capital that allows them to bring big ideas to fruition, or they simply can't take the risk. Big corporations can do both.

Does anyone believe a gaggle of technocratic political appointees are going to do a better job of allocating investments?

"Twenty-five years ago," Warren writes, "Facebook, Google, and Amazon didn't exist. Now they are among the most valuable and well-known companies in the world. It's a great story—but also one that highlights why the government must break up monopolies and promote competitive markets."

The fact that Facebook, Google, and Amazon didn't even exist 25 years ago tells us the exact opposite. It highlights how quickly innovative ideas can transform the marketplace in an era of relative deregulation. I'd tell you to ask the executives at Woolworth's or Blockbuster—and soon AOL, MySpace, and Sears—but there aren't any.

Apple or Amazon were early adapters of the market's new realities. Now, some of their businesses are forced to compete with other giants like Walmart or Samsung. This has been beneficial for consumers. Now, if Twitter and Facebook want to stay on top, they probably should stop antagonizing half of their marketplace. Then again, in 25 years, it's quite likely that a bunch of new platforms will overtake both, no matter what they do.

That hasn't stopped Warren from acting as if tech companies like Google are the new Standard Oil. "I want a government that makes sure everybody—even the biggest and most powerful companies in America—plays by the rules," Warren claims. This misleading turn of phrase has become standard on the left, which often acts as if companies are breaking the law or using "loopholes" when they fail to adhere to the imaginary regulations. Tech companies aren't breaking any rules by ignoring Warren's fictitious strictures. We already have a place to adjudicate the usefulness of mergers, and it's called the Justice Department. They already do a terrible job without any more help. And if the DOJ is susceptible to partisan pressure—Democrats are now arguing that Trump ordered it to block the Time Warner/AT&T merger—surely a second regulatory body based on capricious progressive concepts of the common good would likewise be ripe for abuse.

A number of voters, regrettably, seem to believe that increasing regulatory oversight helps alleviate the destructive relationship between government and business. Yet, by giving politically motivated regulators expansive powers to dictate how and when companies can grow, Warren would not only imbue government with more power to pick winners and losers, she would further incentivize CEOs to placate government officials and politicians rather than do what's best for their companies and consumers. It would be a lot more productive if we left markets to compete and instead broke up government power.

"Curious why I think FB has too much power?" Warren recently asked on Twitter after Facebook took down some of her ads. "Let's start with their ability to shut down a debate over whether FB has too much power. Thanks for restoring my posts. But I want a social media marketplace that isn't dominated by a single censor."

A person doesn't need to be exceptionally perceptive to notice that Warren's grievance regarding a "single censor" shutting down debate on social media is weakened by the fact that she went to a competing social media platform to perpetuate the debate. Nor did it take much work to find out that virtually every major news site had thoroughly covered her plan to break up Big Tech.

Her own tweet debunks the notion that a sole social media site can dominate news coverage or a national debate. Taking Instagram away from Facebook would do nothing to induce the social media giant to embrace truly open debate. However, forcing a private entity to run ads that call for its own destruction is an unambiguous attack on free expression.

In the end, Facebook contends that they removed Warren's ads because they violated company rules against use of its corporate logo. "In the interest of allowing robust debate, we are restoring the ads," the company explained. That makes the tech giant a far more robust space for free expression than your average news channel. And as sure as state intervention into TV news "fairness" would backfire so, too, will opening the door to big tech intervention.

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59 responses to “Elizabeth Warren's Plan to Break Up Big Tech Would Be Bad for America

  1. It seems such a perennial problem, of politicians thinking they and their bureaucrats can centrally guide an economy better than millions of independent knowledgeable people with their own skin in the game. My theory is that business is its own skill, and those who have never been in business simply have no more knowledge of what it entails that they do about designing rockets or power plants or airliners.

    Thus Hollywood makes movies where business people are venal, shallow, greedy rascals, who modus operandi is shouting orders — where’s that report? — tell him if he doesn’t take my offer, I’ll bury him — and politicians, who are jealous of the people who do so much and make so much money and control such big companies, think that’s all it takes — and guess what politicians do?

    Thus politicians simply have no idea of the skill required to handle such complexity. They are literally as ignorant of business as they are of rockets and nuclear reactors. Heck, they couldn’t even understand “I, Pencil”.

    Which explains the natural appeal of government control, whether socialism or not.

    1. Whoa, hold on just a sec there, fella. That sounds awful libertarian for this here Reason comments.

      1. Very true. Libertarian principles have been supplanted by conservative beliefs in these here comments.

        1. You know, I suppose I’d probably be considered among those with conservative beliefs by most of the crowd who like to police the equilibrium of the “pox on both houses” we must maintain at all times!

          I just calls ’em as I sees ’em.

          1. It’s not so much a “pox on both houses” as “allegiance to neither.”

        2. Are you implying a libertarian can’t hold conservative views?

          I would say the only reason (drink) I tend to call myself libertarian is that I hold both liberal and conservative views. I have no wish to impose them on anyone, but that doesn’t mean I won’t talk about them freely, though.

          1. No. Ever heard of a Venn diagram?

            1. Start 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.

              +_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+……… http://WWW.PAYSHD.COM

        3. I get paid over $180 per hour working from home with 2 kids at home. I just got paid $ 8550 in my previous month It Sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it.
          ?????AND GOOD LUCK????? http://www.Theprocoin.com

      2. I knew an astrologer who was very good at reading people face to face — she even bragged/admitted that she could give better readings face-to-face with minimal data than when she had all the accurate data in the world. She was too smart to stay in college and get a degree, and I always felt she was fascinated by engineers, with their books full of tables and equations, calculators and computers; and astrology provided a simulacrum of that, providing all the trappings of being an engineer without having to spend all that time studying.

        I’ve noticed a lot of that kind of professional jealousy over the years in all sorts of fields.

    2. Movies and books about actual business villains amplify the problem. But those books are popular because those villains typically deal with very large dollars that they steal, etc. After reading the book about Theranos a friend asked if business people are unusually unethical versus other people. This guy was an ex DA, and he’s asking if business people are more unethical than other people!

    3. I get paid over $180 per hour working from home with 2 kids at home. I just got paid $ 8550 in my previous month It Sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it.
      ?????AND GOOD LUCK????? http://www.Theprocoin.com

  2. Elizabeth Warren has the demeanor of an incompetent substitute teacher.

    1. Heh. +1

  3. Along with her ‘wealth tax’ it seems she wants to wipe out a ton of value in the stock market. Sorry about your 401 k, it’s for the ;greater good’.

  4. Sure, Warren is a fountain of bad ideas, but I’m not about to go to barricades over this one. Big tech went out of their way to insult the political right, who should have been their natural allies. Maybe they figured they’d be exempt from the wrath of the left because they’re “cool” capitalists, but the reality is that the left will hate the successful no matter how much they ape the party line.

    So now when they’re in a jam, it turns out that conservatives aren’t particularly thrilled to come to the defense of companies who wave rainbow flags in their faces. Big tech has no friends left, nor do they deserve them.

    Is this a bad idea? Hell, yeah! But am I going to squander any energy coming to their defense? Hell, no!

    1. You won’t defend these companies on principle because you don’t like their politics?

      1. I would defend them on principle, but hope they would learn a lesson about who their real friends are. I don’t have much hope, though.

      2. “You won’t defend these companies on principle because you don’t like their politics?”

        Do not be so exclusive in your principles. All for free markets until a company gets too big to fail that it violates my principles by getting a government bailout or getting too big to trust.

        You believe it’s principled to be supporting big corporate “politics” like engaging in the lobbying/corrupting of public officials to hinder competition and/or willfully erode individual liberty with it’s influence and resources.

        You better pick your friends better than the prioritization of your principles. The ability to save money with bundled services is too high a principle for those who cannot appreciate that it’s too high a price.

        #MeToo2NoCorporateAssFuckingsOnPrinciple

        1. All companies are going to take advantage of what they can get. If they didn’t they’d be stupid. Individuals do the same thing.

    2. Mostly agree. I’d go further than you and say that big tech is in bed with the political left and has largely done whatever has been asked of them. I see no reason to jump to big tech’s defense. To paraphrase Mencken, big tech deserves to get it good and hard.

      But yes, bummer about my 401k.

    3. That’s all very well, but like the slime one ends up defending to protect the First Amendment, what’s important isn’t their behavior but the power the proposal grants unelected bureaucrats (which they will inevitably abuse).

      What’s needed with the ‘Tech Giants’ is very simple; withdraw the protection from lawsuits they enjoy because they supposedly are not editors of the content they host. They want to censor content they disagree with? Fine; then they are editors, and can run the same risks that newspapers and TV stations run.

      I doubt like hell they’ll be pleased.

      As for Warren; she’s such an idiot that if she came out publicly in favor of breathing, I would want to check other sources.

      1. I agree, sort of. Make section 230 crystal clear — if they censor, modify, edit, or in any way exercise any control over the content they host, then they take ownership of it all, excesses included.

        Leave it alone or own it. Own it, and be pwned.

        1. “Leave it alone or own it.”

          But, we’ll get it right THIS time!

          1. I’ve been listening to that excuse since I first got interested in politics, and for years now my answer has been, “You had a whole century in which to get it right. It was tried in multiple contexts, with multiple approaches. The best you managed was economic stagnation. The general result was environmental disaster, misery, and mass death. No more. We’re going to do something – anything! – else.”

  5. In regards to these big tech companies, Fauxcahontas is wrong. But there are instances where we do need to step in to work to keep the markets free. Generally I oppose mergers and acquisitions because it decreases competition and innovation. I am currently in the process of having to changes banks. My current regional bank (SunTrust) is merging with another like size bank (BB&T) to form the 7th largest bank in the nation. Of course, it is so they can serve us better (but we know it is all about paying the investors). I seem to recall something recently about banks being “too big to fail”. So of course, let’s allow others to become too big.

    1. You’re using your perceived failings of one of the most heavily regulated industries in America to extol the virtues of more regulation? BTW, why does the merger force you to change banks?

    2. Billy Bones|3.15.19 @ 8:28AM|#
      “In regards to these big tech companies, Fauxcahontas is wrong. But there are instances where we do need to step in to work to keep the markets free.”

      Yeah, regulations make things “free”.
      Fuck off, slaver.

  6. Liz Warren leading America in madatory morning calisthenics: “You still owe me nine more Iroquois twists! One ha-yaya, two ha-yaya!”

    1. You would need the calisthenics to have any hope of staying awake during her lectures.

  7. Elizabeth Warren is a communist asshole

    Fuck you Elizabeth Warren, you fucking commie ass hat.

    1. Yep. Call this what it is, back door socialism.

      1. Socialism is the transition state of a nation before Communism.

        Most people can be conned into some incremental Socialism.

        Most people don’t accept government saying that they own everything overnight (Communism).

    2. I doubt like hell she’s consciously Communist. Like Shrillary, she just thinks that everybody should do what she says, and that she’s above criticism. Basically Lucy Van Pelt all grown up.

      *spit*

      1. How often does Trump talk about individual freedom?

        Is it more or less often than he talks about the Brown Menace?

        If you individual liberty guys can be duped into supporting an obvious racist nationalist, what hope is there for the rest of the idiots in the country?

        1. Tony, there is an important distinction between legal hispanic immigrants, and illegal alien hispanics. The illegal aliens are vulnerable to exploitation in a way and to a degree that the legal immigrants aren’t. I have never heard out read of Trump targeting brown skin. Granted, after the first three months of hysterical Leftwing hyperbole I was no longer that interested in checkin; the Left had proven conclusively that it couldn’t talk sense about Trump. But whenever I have checked, I have found that what was being trumpeted as proof that Trump was a fascist was in fact targeted on a specific group our individual actually guilty of violence and/or lawlessness.

          We need to stop the flood of illegal immigrants, because until that spate of cheap labor is stopped the vermin who exploit it will fight tooth and nail to avoid reforming the immigration laws so that those they exploit could get in legally…and have the protection of the law.

          No do not need and cannot afford to have a large population living in a legal limbo, because as nice as most illegal immigrants may be, much worse can hide in their subculture. No, we will never be fully rid of the shadow underworld. But we need to shrink it as we can.

        2. Careful Tony, that sounds a lot like the whataboutism you’re always accusing “our tribe” of resorting to.

          Wouldn’t want us to think you’re a hypocrite. In addition to us already thinking you’re an idiot.

    3. She repeatedly defends herself as a capitalist.

      If you think capitalism means a market without laws, then you aren’t a capitalist but a kleptocrat.

      1. Elizabeth Warren is the textbook definition of a kleptocrat.

        Elizabeth Warren would get a 100 rating from the Washington Kleptocratic Institute.

        Elizabeth Warren only gets anything by pointing, whining, and using the tyranny of the majority to steal.

        Kleptocrats around the world are reading Elizabeth Warren’s books, watching her instructional videos, and hoping that one day they will steal and plunder as much as she has.

        1. Kleptocracy, from Wikipedia:
          ” Political corruption
          Concepts
          Bribery Cronyism Kleptocracy Economics of corruption Electoral fraud Legal plunder Nepotism Slush fund Political scandal Simony
          Corruption by country
          Part of the Politics series
          Basic forms of government
          Power structure
          Separation
          Associated state Dominion Chiefdom
          Federalism
          Federation Confederation Devolution
          Integration
          Empire Hegemony Unitary state
          Administrative division
          Power source
          Democracy
          power of many
          Direct Representative Liberal Social Demarchy Others
          Oligarchy
          power of few
          Anocracy Aristocracy Plutocracy Kleptocracy Kakistocracy Kraterocracy Stratocracy Synarchy Timocracy Meritocracy Technocracy Geniocracy Noocracy Kritarchy Particracy Ergatocracy Netocracy Capitalist state Socialist state
          Autocracy
          power of one
          Despotism Dictatorship Military dictatorship
          Others
          Anarchy Theocracy
          Power ideology
          Monarchy vs. republic
          socio-political ideologies
          Absolute Legalist
          Constitutional
          Parliamentary Directorial Semi-presidential Presidential
          Authoritarian vs. libertarian
          socio-economic ideologies
          Tribalism Despotism Feudalism Colonialism Distributism Anarchism Socialism Communism Totalitarianism
          Global vs. local
          geo-cultural ideologies

          1. Continuing, from Wikipedia:
            Kleptocracy (from Greek ??????? kl?pt?s, “thief”, ?????? kl?pt?, “I steal”, and -?????? -krat?a from ?????? kr?tos, “power, rule”) is a government with corrupt leaders (kleptocrats) that use their power to exploit the people and natural resources of their own territory in order to extend their personal wealth and political powers. Typically, this system involves embezzlement of funds at the expense of the wider population.

            “Kleptocracy” ?
            Kleptocracies are generally associated with dictatorships, oligarchies, military juntas, or other forms of autocratic and nepotist governments in which external oversight is impossible or does not exist. This lack of oversight can be caused or exacerbated by the ability of the kleptocratic officials to control both the supply of public funds and the means of disbursal for those funds. Kleptocratic rulers often treat their country’s treasury as a source of personal wealth, spending funds on luxury goods and extravagances as they see fit. Many kleptocratic rulers secretly transfer public funds into hidden personal numbered bank accounts in foreign countries to provide for themselves if removed from power.

            1. Continuing, from Wikipedia:

              ” Kleptocracy is different from a plutocracy; A kleptocracy is a government ruled by corrupt politicians who use their political power to receive kickbacks, bribes, and special favors at the expense of the populace. Kleptocrats may use political leverage to pass laws that enrich them or their constituents and they usually circumvent the rule of law. ”

              According to this, in NO way is Warren a Kleptocrat. This definition is the living embodiment of President Donald J. Trump & Company.

      2. What the hell are you talking about, Tony?

        1. Listen to Sen. Warren and you might learn something about capitalism.

      3. “I’m a Capitalist”….. But…. The Government *must* choose for you which market resources are winners and losers. The #1 MONOPOLY in this country is the government (no competition at all). We are here posting on a non-Facebook, non-Google and non-Amazon service BY CHOICE! There is no monopoly!

        1. Absolutely not the government. When just two mega-agribusinesses control the entire world’s food supply & distribution systems, those are Monopolies. Constant mergers, growing companies to huge proportions, create non-competitiveness. The U.S.’s brand of capitalism is closer to the current Russian model: oligarchic kleptocracy ~ simply because Capitalism, in its purest form, has NO moral compass. It’s up to a company’s leadership to provide that ~ something that’s sorely lacking in today’s business climate. Very few of these companies ‘contribute’ to their communities; when they do, it’s always with an ulterior, selfish motive (the write-off). It’s the middle- & lower-class’s payroll taxes that fund the corporate welfare that’s so prevalent these days, a la tax ‘incentives’ states & cities just give away to entice relocation. Most companies did not function this way prior to Ronnie Raygun’s Reign. I’m old enough to have seen the changes & they’re not for the better. It’s his policies & subsequent (usually Republican) admins that have created the vast disparity between 10% & 90%. I’m sorry, but that’s what deregulation does: it permits a Wild West mindset where winners MUST have losers.

          1. Hey – I’m in Agribusiness. If you decide those (2) mega-agribusinesses aren’t serving society better I’m right here waiting to take orders!!! In fact there are many like me; they join together and setup farmers markets…

            Yet – REGULATION is exactly what curbs those choices and FORCES Capitalism into a monopoly. Your idiotic self-justification is, “Hey, if we have choices that’s a tyrannical unfair disparity.” HOW STUPID can you people get?

            But keep parroting Marxist excuses until everyone’s ears start to bleed; We’re still down here at the corner offering YOU and EVERYONE ELSE a FREE-CHOICE alternative.

        2. exactly — break up Big Government. Let people decide which party they choose to be governed by. Give elections real consequences. the physical territory of the USA could support a 66 million person Democrat govt, a 63 million person Republican govt, a 4 million person Libertarian govt, a 1 million person Green govt, and a 100+ million unaffiliated group.

          Disputes between people belonging to different governments can be easily resolved — they already are between people living in different geographic states.

          1. ALREADY DONE! — 50 Sovereign States… That’s the WAY it was suppose to be!

            That’s how the USA was founded under the Constitution! It’s the ‘left’ who keeps using our military complex (Union of States for a strong defense) as their own personal local government. Federal Healthcare, Education, Welfare, Inter-State Regulation, etc.. etc.. etc.. ITS ALL UN-CONSTITUTIONAL!

            The left does this to STEAL by forceably ‘Power’. Why do people rob banks? Because that’s were the money is (Biggest Monopolized Centralized entity). Why do leftists insist the whole nation be dictated/robbed/enslaved? Because that’s were the most money is.

  8. Put Simply — Elizabeth Warren IS Anti-Efficiency (destructive to prosperity).

    Say goodbye to Walmart, Home Depot, Costco and all major players who sell for less because they are more efficient using low prices and massive-sales than Mom & Pop shops who have less-sales and require more profit to survive.

    Breaking up such large and efficient companies WILL cause mark-up to rise significantly thus making it HARDER for the “poor” to be able to obtain the resources they need. It’s Counter-Constructive.

    Everyone has a choice to shop at Mom & Pop shops versus Walmart, Home Depot and Costco.. What did EVERYONE decide?????????? Efficiency WON!!! Government has to step in to stop and return “progress” to 1950 levels to satisfy ‘Power’ moochers who want to dictate the peoples resources??

    Google has major competition – Wolfram, Yahoo, Dog Pile, Web Crawler (Why do people go to Google??)
    Facebook has major competition – Instagram, Snap-chat, LinkedIn, Twitter (Why do people go to Facebook??)
    Amazon has major competition – eBay, Craigslist, AliExpress, Google Shopping (Why do people go to Amazon??)

    Elizabeth Warren WANTS to take those choices AWAY from the consumer and return everything to a LESS EFFICIENT Mom & Pop Shop.

  9. Elizabeth Warren is old enough to remember the government’s breakup of AT & T. “Big Phone” was evil and had to be destroyed to “help” the consumer.

    A few years after the breakup, the smaller companies enjoyed some of the highest profits. I’m cynical enough to believe that Warren is doing this so that she can make a killing in the market from the Google and Facebook babies.

    1. I could be wrong; But from what I remember AT & T actually did have a monopoly by the means of “owning” the entire physical communication network (i.e. lines). The only way others could’ve competed was to bury multiple lines that did the exact same thing in the exact same paths.

      From what I remember (I was still fairly young) it was either AT&T or no phone at all and I remember their prices were utterly sky-rocketing.

      In the end cellular did wipe them all out; but from memory I’d rank AT&T an Anti-Trust issue and monopoly by the limited *resource* (access) to planted communication routes. I often wonder how power companies don’t end up in the same type of monopoly with only one set of power line routing (/network).

      But if Warren thinks the limited resources of physical line distribution is an issue with such things as Facebook, Amazon and Google the she’s pretty technically stupid since none of the three actually owns the entire internet connectivity network.

      1. That monopoly was, surprise surprise, granted by the government.

        1. Ya, that’s rather interesting — It was actually the Government price fixing that jacked the rates in the 70s & 80s..

          Between 1921 and 1934, the ICC (Interstate Commerce Commission) approved 271 of the 274 purchase requests of AT&T. With the creation of the Federal Communications Commission in 1934, the government regulated the rates charged by AT&T.

  10. Duh. Warren is dangerous and should be laughed off the stage.

  11. Start 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.
    >>>>>>>>>> http://www.GeoSalary.com

  12. This reader ponders what could possibly be the consumer benefit of government breaking up of companies who are worth some arbitrary amount determined by government officials who may or may not having an inkling of the processes by which the company became worth that amount. Just because a company is large, does NOT mean that it arrived at that size by doing underhanded things. The concept of getting larger because of superior products and/or services just might be a concept outside Ms. Warren’s education.

    The author’s paragraph debunking Ms. Warren’s conclusions about the fact that Facebook, Google, and Amazon didn’t exist 25 years ago and should be derailed for that reason, is right on target. Businesses like buggy harness manufacturers, vinyl record producers, video tape producers, video tape rental stores, and others who are unable to see their marketplaces disappearing around them are doomed to failure, while those who see the changes occurring around them and respond to the markets and the consumer trends will succeed, IF the government stays out of the process.

    Jim Smith

  13. My neighbor’s mother makes $64 hourly on the laptop. She has been out of work for five months but last month her payment was $15080 just working on the laptop for a few hours.

    Go to this web site and read more. ?????? http://www.TheproCoin.com

  14. I call her Lizzie the Loony, she’s cuckoo, she belongs in the Loony bin.
    BTW has anyone noticed how Lizzie moves and shakes her pin head constantly when she speaks?
    She moves her pin head side to side, up down, and all around like a bobbing head chicken.
    Or is it like a bobble head?

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