Stephen Moore: Is Google Guilty of Being Too Popular With Consumers?
The perspectives and thoughts expressed in this op-ed are the exclusive purview of the author.
You may have heard the Biden Justice Department is suing Google in federal court for being a “monopoly.” That’s a bizarre charge given that few, if any companies in all American history have lowered prices more than Google — which provides access to information that used to take hours or days to find — with merely a click of a button, and instantaneously. And it does it basically for free.
Wait, I thought monopolies are bad because they RAISE prices. Google does the opposite. If you’re a consumer and a user of Google searches and you feel aggrieved, raise your hand.
Actually, the Biden lawyers aren’t even trying to make the case that Google harms its users. Instead, it has invented a new legal theory that Google is hurting its competitors — many of which aren’t even located in the United States. This would be like Burger King suing McDonald’s because more customers are choosing the golden arches.
It appears that the crime that Google is being charged with is that the company is TOO successful, and consumers like and use it TOO much.
That is the essence of the hollow case of Biden v. Google.
It’s true that many conservatives don’t like Google’s left-leaning politics and bias in some of its search algorithms. Neither do I. But it’s their product, and consumers can always walk away. But if the issue is what is in the national interest, the villain in this case is the Justice Department, not Google.
Let’s back up a minute. The reason that the U.S. emerged as the massive winner in the tech wars of the last three decades is that Congress made a rare wise decision by passing a law in the mid-1990s (thank you, Rep. Chris Cox) that essentially declared this new and revolutionary communications device called “the internet” tax-free, regulation-free and lawsuit-free. Tech companies weren’t to be encumbered with nuisance lawsuits like this one.
This laissez-faire strategy sparked a Wild West gold rush of creativity and entrepreneurial explosion — unimpeded by government — that created tens of trillions of dollars of wealth and sprouted trillion-dollar companies from Google to Apple to Amazon to Facebook. They are all predominantly owned by more than 100 million American shareholders. And we have shared in the trillions of dollars of wealth created.
America won this tech race big time. We blew away the Europeans, the Japanese, the Chinese — all who got left picking up the crumbs.
Google wasn’t the first search engine. It took the Silicon Valley company more than a decade to win over users and seize control of this market.
It’s a great American success story. Google now dominates 79% of the U.S. search market and about that same share internationally. Why? Not because it’s a monopoly or because government gave them handouts. There are scores of search engines from Apple’s Safari to Mozilla to Russian, Chinese and European rivals. Google dominates for the same reason the Boston Celtics won 11 titles with Bill Russell. They have a superior product. Period. It processes a mind-boggling 100,000 searches per second, and some 8.5 billion searches a day.
Now we find in the first days of the trial, as reported by the folks at NetChoice, that one of the allegations that the Biden lawyers are making is that Google is unfair competition to a Russian internet company. Can you believe it? So now President Joe Biden is siding with President Vladimir Putin and the Russians against a red, white and blue American company? How is this possibly in the economic or national security interests of the United States?
It’s not just Google facing witch hunts from the Biden administration. In a similarly inexplicable action, this White House is trying to block a merger between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard, a computer game producer. Both companies are American, and the biggest player in the industry is Sony, a Japanese company. Most countries have approved the merger, but not the one country that stands to benefit the most: America.
In the case of Google, the government’s lawyers and regulators are three moves behind the industry on the high-tech chessboard. In the months ahead, there is going to be a flood of new competition in tech, and it isn’t coming from government regulators but from the creative gales of destruction in the artificial intelligence orbit. This will require massive search and recognition capabilities.
This could be bigger than the internet. Don’t we want America to win this race?
In the case of Biden v. Google, let’s hope and pray the government gets sent packing.
Google all the way.
Stephen Moore is chief economist at FreedomWorks and is a co-founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity.
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Last Updated: Monday, Sep 18, 2023 12:56:07 -0700
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