FTC documents show that antitrust economics establishment and Obama-era corruption led to a monopoly takeover of our economy. Joe Biden can undo the damage.
I'm an economist. The problem isn't economics. The problem is the fraud known as neoclassical economics. Classical economists like Adam Smith, David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill focused on distribution. Monopolists were the enemy, notably landowners who "got richer in their sleep." In the late 19th century, the inventors of neoclassical economics, notably John Bates Clark, shifted the focus from distribution and monopoly to ask how can an economy be more efficient?
I have a hard time believing Biden will do much different than Obama. Most of his policies right out the gate are Obama-era reversals of Trump-era moves, and they seem to be bigger on halting gun ownership and raising corporate taxes than breaking up monopolies.
In Gmail, Substack articles from Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss all go into my main Inbox tab. Substack articles from Matt Stoller and Glen Greenwald all go into my Promotions tab.
To make sure I see them all, had to create a label that automatically tags everything from Substack. Have to watch the label for when new messages arrive.
The part about bad search results for rehab programs reminded me of another issue. Try googling "Obamacare plans." You'll see the top sponsored results are all non-governmental, non-EDE websites that take people looking for ACA/Obamacare plans and pushes them into short-term health insurance or health-sharing ministries, exploitative products that don't legally qualify as health insurance and don't comply with the ACA. These ads explode during Open Enrollment Period. Google has been asked by many in the government to only allow government health insurance exchanges and EDE partners (basically companies that partner with the federal government and are allowed to show all ACA/Obamacare plans to consumers) to advertise on search terms like "Obamacare" and "Affordable Care Act insurance," but Google has refused.
Thanks, Matt, great post. I work in the area of agricultural transportation, and monopolization there, as you've written about in Goliath, is as old as time. From the Interstate Commerce Commission reduced to the Surface Transportation Board; to carriers, including railroads and ocean, dictating the terms for shippers and producers, while enforcers shirk their regulatory authority; to immense vertical integration of ag processing/transport so that Archer Daniels Midland can essentially "own the pipes"; to the most recent merger between Canadian Pacific with Kansas City Southern to form "the first Mexico-US-Canada freight rail network" (CNN)... throughout, and obscuring itself, private government governs food production. Watching the antitrust subcommittee revive democracy in the tech sector ("today's most elegant example of monopolization" as Lina Khan calls it), I know that the subcommittee wrote its recommendations to be broad and far-reaching, so hope that Congress sets its scopes on agriculture soon. Cheers,
The discussion of scammers is the weakest part of here. What is said about Google can be said about the phone book. I’m not sure we need Google playing ad hoc FTC and state AG.
More evidence that economists in general are clueless and have too much, way too much power!
Matt, have you considered the value and benefit of TAXING AD PLACEMENTS and TAXING THE RUNNING OF ADS as a strategy to reduce the glut of useless, destructive ads ruining the psychic commons? I understand this is a congress-level issue. However if we don't talk about taxing ads, we never get there.
The furthest I got in my visioning on this is CRITERIA: Which ads would you tax? Which ones would you not want to tax? Which ads would you wish to tax into oblivion?
My best fantasy on this so far is to have an un-elected, appointed board of criteria setters who have the power to tax ads and how much. Just empaneling such a criteria board would draw fire away from the taxes themself, a good thing.
Plenty of challenges with such an idea: diversity? Cancel culture?
Attacking ad culture directly thru taxation would create a huge media frenzy. Use this as in akido to get people talking about what a healthy psychic commons could be.
If you make who's on the board and who's not the center of media attention, the more basic activity of taxing ads detrimental to the psychic commons can proceed with less push-back. Let all the media attention be on personalities. Any taxing of ads, at any rate, starts creating a new norm of considering the public good. Similar to the Robin Hood tax on all stock trades.
Seems like the FTC memo is as much about Microsoft as Google. Also relevant that Julie Brill the then Commissioner of the FTC is now Microsoft's Privacy Lawyer. In 2011 as the head of FTC she hosted China at Microsoft's campus to teach them how to data mine. This isn't just about search results or antitrust. This is a National Security issue.
I dunno. Silicon Valley is definitely full of monopolies. But it seems slightly disingenuous to leave out all relative context. The financial world was imploding and hanging by a thread 2008-2012. It is a very big and probably unrealistic ask for Obma to take on the tech titans since it seemed to be the only part of the economy to be working back then. Even if he was inclined which he probably wasn't. Shortsighted but somewhat understandable. I know the economy is just as bad/worse now, but it seems the golden boy view is reversing for tech finally. Which is a good thing.
IDK Matt I think you're being a bit too optimistic. Biden is as corrupt as they come.
Lina Khan and Tim Wu, while promising picks, were appointed to positions with not a great amount of power. Typical corporate democrat move; throw scraps to the base while ultimately maintaining the status quo.
I think Yglesias' take there was always somewhat tongue-in-cheek. If you read the rest of the post you linked, he adds, "It’s also the most terrifying competitor in the world. My main point is simply that the key here is Bezos’ relatioship with shareholders. Lots of companies would, I’m sure, love to delight their customers by slashing prices to a zero-margin level. The problem is most companies would worry that plummeting profit margins would lead to fired executives and mass layoffs of rank-and-file employees. But Bezos has the confidence of the investment community and earns a staggering P/E ratio for his company."
Though in some ways perhaps this is _more_ damning -- the possibility of Amazon devouring the market and becoming a monopolist was always visible, and the fact that this was a primrose path to perdition should've been made more explicit in commentary, not downplayed in favor of looking at the temporary upside.