What is a smoke screen? It's a cover to hide what's really going on behind it. We can likely label every government economic activity a smoke screen, as the true intentions are never what is sold to the taxpayer. Antitrust actions are simply the latest angle reborn. So, let's attempt to understand the truth, not the politics, and be able to analyze the intentions behind the smoke screen.
Antitrust initiatives attempted to breakup Microsoft in 2000 when a federal judge ordered it split in two. Bill Gates fought back aggressively, George W. Bush was elected, and the case was reversed on appeal with Microsoft paying a juicy settlement to the government. In the '70's and '80's, the government attempted for thirteen years to break up IBM. IBM is now irrelevant in the big picture and in 2019 spent a third of its market value to acquire Red Hat, praying that cloud services will save its future. See a trend here? See how markets take care of themselves if governments stay out? Microsoft would have given us tremendously more innovation if Bill gates hadn't said, "Okay, if that's what you want, screw it. I'll be over here trying to save the world from malaria." [One day read about how the Gates Foundation's world impact, however remarkable, is a mere fraction of the poverty-killing, medicine-creating, economic growth his technology produced, and would have produced much more].
Antitrust is the current tool used by governments to work the masses into a froth to overthrow the King and redistribute the wealth. Vive la France! By contrast, the theme should be: Don't spend all of this money, energy, and political will rallying the public against successful companies. Instead, spend all of this power helping the thousands of small businesses become big also. Focus on abundance, not scarcity.
Economically, antitrust activity has simply caused more harm than good. Fortunately, since Robert Bork authored "The Antitrust Paradox" in 1978, most Administrations have focused not on the size of the company, but whether its actions harm consumers. Antitrust scholar Joshua Wright wrote in 2016, "Economic analysis has more often than not trumped ideological politics for the past 35 years. Let's keep it that way." Barak Orbach, University of Arizona law professor and member of the American Antitrust Institute, stated, "The energy for antitrust reforms is not in science and facts, but in accounts that can move public emotions."
So, remember when Elizabeth Warren publishes her 1,700-word blog titled "Here's How We Can Break Up Big Tech," and the Attorney General opens Department probes of Google and Apple while the Federal trade Commission (FTC) attacks Facebook and Amazon, none of this has anything to do with protecting U.S. consumers and taxpayers. (Of course, we must stop them from canceling free speech, but that's another Blog).
These are simply narratives to grab votes and extort huge sums of money from Main Street and Wall Street to give to Washington. Congress and the Administrative State are deeply troubled that the European Union blackmails Google for $5 billion using the antitrust smoke screen of "unfair searches." Google pays the $5 billion to keep playing the game. U.S. politicians scream, "You can't do that to America's successful companies - at least until we get our own slice/vig/taste/tax!" The Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury prop up Wall Street with $4 trillion printed out of thin air, and then fine Bank America $17 billion for fraudulent mortgages. It's all nonsense. All a scam. Our job, if we choose to keep playing the video game, is to at least not believe the narratives.
State attorney generals also love a great blackmail - tobacco, opioids, vaping, big tech. Why don't all of these extorted dollars get returned to taxpayers, whose money it was in the first place? How can government agencies grab "forfeited" assets and fines and keep them for their own operations and kingdom building? Are they appropriated the constitutional power to tax?
Life is really a James Bond 007 movie in which you truly never know who is working for whom - unless, of course, you follow the money. Over 50 people in the Justice Department alone are working on tech antitrust cases. Instead, give that tremendous amount of money to startup incubators and accelerators. Makan Delrahim, Head of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, had said more than a third of his 100-plus open criminal investigations involved the government as the victim who gets the extortion money. Take the budget for 100 investigations, and instead give it to the Chambers of Commerce in Nebraska, Arkansas, and Ohio. Do good, not harm.
In 2016, 433,000 businesses were born in the U.S., but 400,000 died. Spend the bulging budget not on fighting dragons, but on helping real people like these entrepreneurs.
As a JAM VIEWS reader, you of course know the real solution: Keep your own tax dollars, unleash laissez faire free-market capitalism, and spend your own money for your own self-interests. Maybe Microsoft and IBM will thrive, or maybe they won't. Thousands of other innovations and miracles will be created and thrive. Half the studies show the bulk of innovation is created inside large companies, while the other half always claim most new technology and services come from small companies. Pure capitalism gives both. Put on your face mask and see through the smoke screens!
"He who permits himself to tell a lie once finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells a lie without attending to it, and truths without the world believing it." - President Thomas Jefferson