Some libertarian commentators in the US are concerned that as Google has become extremely successful in its varied businesses, the company may become the inevitable target of an antitrust suit.
William Anderson for example, writing at the Mises Blog, considers there may be political pressure by the Republican administration to punish Google -- now a publicly-listed company -- for becoming "too big," for which read "too successful."
Google has become big due to innovative products that include its indispensable search engine, and the very blog platform on which you read this post. "Its success," notes Anderson, "is driven entirely by customers' positive evaluation of its quality -- Google innovates, but it is the market that renders the verdict." The market, so far, has been very happy thank you very much with what it has seen from Google, and it is this success that some are now saying needs to be punished with an antitrust action. Political pressure to bring an antitrust suit against any corporation is not based on anything even halfway clear or obvious.
In fact, antitrust law does not even constitute good law: the "violations of the law" with which antrust concerns itself -- non-concepts such as "restraint of trade" or "monopolising a market" -- are not readily defined. As no real legal proof is needed for the courts to act against the alleged "monopolist", the vagueness of antitrust law makes it easy for government to heap abuse upon those firms that are out of favour at any given time; all that is needed for prosecutors to begin proceedings is an allegation and a friendly judge, and prosecutors and the all-too-predictable media frenzy will perform the rest of the job. Remember Microsoft?
If all this seems rather distant from little 'ol New Zealand, consider that as recently as today Communications Minister David Cunliffe was still resisting industry pressure on him to force Telecom to 'unbundle' its local loop network despite strong lobbying by Telstra-Clear and telecommunications groups. However some agreement has been reached that Telecom will offer wholesale broadband services to rivals on the local loop to foster competition. Telecom must provide wholesale bit-stream services at viable rates otherwise the minister will "refer the matter back to the Telecommunications Commissioner. "
Yes, Virginia, that is a threat.
Kiwis generally like to give others a "fair go", but only until they believe that some large corporation or (horror) multi-national is controlling the market to the detriment of the public. The Telecom case above is our NZ version of antitrust action, political interference in the marketing policies of private companies.
Linked Article: Target: Google
Related topics: Economics, Politics-NZ, Politics-US