Robert Reich backs Elizabeth Warren's plan to break up Big Tech

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If one accepts (as i do) that the best functional form of society is a well-regulated market-based form of capitalism then periodically there needs to be a healthy bit of newly evaluated regulation. Examples in the history of the U.S. of these upticks have been associated with the railways and the breakup of AT&T. That is, as technology progresses as we like it to, then regulation must always play a lazy sort of catch-up. That time has come with the current crop of internet tech companies. And then as now there will be moneyed interests which will fight such regulation tooth and nail, while the ‘rest of us’ will slowly come around to “i guess it’s time for it again”.


(looking for the “reboot” button. It has to be around here somewhere…)

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There’s two contradictory notions at play: that competitive markets produce more efficient outcomes, but also that capitalism tends toward monopoly. So, government must from time to time use the hammer of antitrust to clear the logjams. When government puts aside that tool, power concentrates in a way that is not healthy for the overall economy. It becomes difficult for ordinary citizens to untangle themselves from the vampire squid. I mean, who can resist an amazing deal on Bic pens?


Roger That!


Tick-tock, Zuckerberg.


Somehow parsed the title as Steve Reich…

One thing I haven’t been able to figure out is whether the big ISPs (AT&T, Comcast, etc) are part of this “break up Big Tech” push.

Seems that logically they’re part of the same problem. Particularly as they all buy up media companies and try to become walled gardens and, of course,they’re in the best position to watch everything to you do on the internet and monetize it. But I haven’t been able to find much mention of the ISPs in this conversation.

Does any have any information about where Warren and other stand on the big ISPs? (or do they just have better lobbyists…)

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Breaking up a monopoly is one way of solving the problem, but there are others. We could also consider having a state or national company that does the same thing.

Take Amazon, for example. I want a widget, so I search for widgets on Amazon, because they are likely to have the most widgets. Out of a heap of prototype-Amazon companies, they came to the top by being cheap, and they did that by treating their employees badly. Now they are big, they will squat on that number one spot unless something major knocks them off. Split Amazon into four equal bits, and either those four equal bits will compete and drive down worker’s conditions, or the four bits will work together and nothing has effectively changed.

Suppose we have some state-owned body that provided the same service. It might be like the Post Office, but for selling stuff. Unlike Amazon, it would gain no advantage from state subsidies, or expecting the workers to also claim state aid.

Don’t let’s kid ourselves: old-school nationalisation had its problems. But the alternatives aren’t looking that great either.


An important step.

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