A tech visionary who wrote the blueprint for the Reagan economic revolution and predicted the invention of the smartphone says the U.S. government’s move to build an antitrust case against the tech giants is harmful and unnecessary.
“I completely oppose an antitrust attack on these vital U.S. companies already under attack from Europe and China,” George Gilder, the author of “Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy,” told WND.
Gilder warned in a previous interview with WND that the “powers of government can be devastating” and contended antitrust action isn’t necessary.
He argued that historically, antitrust action tends to be “mobilized just at the point that the companies are going over the hill.”
“Whether it’s Standard Oil, AT&T, Digital Equipment, IBM – they were criticized and targeted for antitrust at the very point their so-called monopoly power was disappearing,” he said.
“And I think that the same thing is true about Google and these other companies,” he said, while noting Amazon is “still ascendant.”
But he argued the online retail giant “is breaking up more monopolies than it is establishing.”
Further, Gilder contends there is no antitrust case against Google’s parent, Alphabet, which “already has broken itself down into a whole bunch of separate entities.”
“For us to pile on with the Europeans in attacking the American companies that now constitute the four biggest market cap entities on the face of the earth – a brilliant triumph for American technology – is so perverse, and I don’t think we should be doing it,” he said.
“The Europeans are jealous and are invidiously attacking Google for trivial little offenses that really don’t make any difference,” asserted Gilder, referring to the European Union’s record $5.1 billion fine in July 2018 for alleged abuse of power in the mobile phone market.
The fine was almost double the EU’s fine against Google in 2017 over alleged unfair favoring of its own services in internet search results.
Gilder emphasized the government “should stay out as much as possible.”
“If we’re going to win these debates, conservatives can’t expect some antitrust action to solve our problem,” he said.
The government’s “effort should be to clarify and simplify the legal structure so it represents a reliable and secure environment toward creative enterprise.”
Iain Murray, a senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, addressed the argument that tech giants are monopolies, which is illegal under the Sherman Act.
He said in a column for Fox Business that first of all, conservatives “should oppose any and all antitrust law as a violation of private property rights.”
But anyone, he said, should look skeptically at claims of monopoly.
“There are quite a few Big Tech firms, and they all compete fiercely against each other in many different areas,” he wrote. “The result has been significant innovation and a driving down of prices, which is the exact opposite of what you would expect from monopoly.”
On Monday, amid reports that tech giants Google and Amazon were under scrutiny by the federal government for possible antitrust violations, came news that Apple and Facebook also are in the crosshairs for investigation.
The Justice Department has been given jurisdiction to probe Apple’s practices as part of a broad review into potential anticompetitive behavior among big tech companies, Reuters reported, citing two sources.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Monday that the Federal Trade Commission is examining Facebook’s practices. On Saturday, the Washington Post reported Amazon could face heightened antitrust scrutiny under a new agreement between U.S. regulators that puts it under closer watch by the Federal Trade Commission, three people familiar with the matter said. On Friday, the Journal reported the Justice Department is preparing a probe of Google.
‘Top-down’ digital world about to end
Gilder’s 1981 book “Wealth and Poverty” was Ronald Reagan’s guidebook for his economic revolution, and his 1990 book “Life After Television” predicted the current digital world with astounding specificity. The 1994 revised version described a future personal digital device that sounded almost exactly like the iPhone that was introduced 13 years later by Steve Jobs, who read Gilder’s book.
In a three-part, WND interview series on “Life After Google,” Gilder explained what he sees as Silicon Valley’s “fundamental flaw,” showed why Google’s “free stuff” isn’t free” and described a new internet, “after Google,” of limitless entrepreneurship and prosperity rooted in human creativity.
In his new book he predicts the tech giants and their centralized, top-down hierarchical world is about to end, largely because their “neo-Marxist, deterministic” worldview is “fundamentally flawed.”
Gilder believes the demands of many members of Congress to regulate “fake news,” effectively politicizing search and other delivery systems, have opened up a Pandora’s box.
“The worst thing that can happen is the government makes these companies responsible for the content of the billions of posts that they carry,” said Gilder.
“That’s not their business. Imagine we required the phone companies to suppress fraudulent phone calls.”