The misguided antitrust attack on big tech
Phil Gramm and Jerry Ellig
Despite the many troubles of 2020, Congress has made more time than ever this year to target a different purported threat: America’s tech giants. This month the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee will hold the latest of several recent hearings on the issue, with one on Google’s online advertising influence on Tuesday and another on general antitrust enforcement Sept. 30. Yet after all this sound and fury, will Congress actually dismember the goose that laid the golden egg? Antitrust action against leading U.S. tech companies would shrink American dominance of the world’s fastest-growing industry and imperil the enormous buildup of stock equity that secures the retirements of some 78 million American workers.
Progressives want to use the antitrust laws to break up big tech companies because they believe that bigness is bad and leads to a host of other evils, including malign political influence. Conservatives want to use antitrust as a club to get social-media companies to curb their alleged political bias.
While there is a long and rich history of using antitrust laws to try to implement policies that proponents can’t enact into law, both parties would be wise to focus on consumer welfare, which has defined recent antitrust jurisprudence. No one can seriously challenge the hard evidence that big tech companies have delivered enormous consumer benefits. You don’t have to look any further than online shopping, smartphones and social networking.