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Big tech companies are digging their own graves with their ingratitude toward the economic liberty that allowed them to become the richest companies in history.
Let’s just take one example. Google was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. With the world’s now-dominant search engine and other services under the parent company Alphabet, it is valued at over $700 billion. The free market allowed it to offer services to customers without heavy-handed government regulations getting in the way, yet it acts against the liberty that allowed it to flourish.
Google top brass as well as grass roots employees have always leaned left. They were major donors to President Obama and the Democratic National Committee. Government control and manipulation of the economy now seems to sit well with the tech giant. A leaked video in 2016 featured Page, Brin and others in shock at Donald Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton. Opposition to The Donald doesn’t necessarily mean three cheers for socialism. But during the current election cycle, engineers and programmers who, at Google, have salaries in the $250,000 range, have been big donors to Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), socialism’s poster children.
Both candidates are on a jihad against “Big Tech” and have called for breaking up Google and other big tech companies. Weirdly, many Google groundlings think this is not a bad idea, opining that it might mean more competition. Google’s now-former CEO and chairman and still a major stockholder, Eric Schmidt, doesn’t agree, stating that “I don’t see a basis in law for a break-up.” That’s nice. But in a recent Project Veritas hidden camera video, Jen Gennai, Google’s head of “responsible innovation,” said of Warren “I love her but she’s very misguided.” Why? Because breaking up Google would result in “smaller companies who don’t have the same resources we do” that will be “charged with preventing the next Trump situation.”
In hidden camera videos as well as internal Google documents, it is clear the company not only supports statists who would destroy them but manipulates its search engine to weed out “algorithm unfairness” to offer users results in line with what Google leftists want them to see.
Not surprisingly, the Trump administration also is exploring ways to go after Google both for its manipulation of search results and for possible antitrust violations. The European Union recently fined Google $5 billion for antitrust violations because of its Android operating system. Trump complained that “we should be doing this. They’re our companies.” The U.S. government should be attacking what Trump sees as monopolies and racking in those fines!
Some argue that in a free society, Google should be allowed to operate as it wishes, excluding content it does not find appropriate. But there’s a hitch. Currently, it is treated as a common carrier not responsible for its content. A newspaper, by contrast, chooses its content and, thus, is subject to libel and slander laws. If Google manipulates its algorithms to filter out content that is true but not in accordance with the politics of its owners, then it could be a publisher, not just a platform. And if Google does not explain to advertisers who pay it in order to better reach certain audiences how it limits access, it might have a contractual problem on its hands as well.
But the real issue is this. Google as well as other tech companies have grown and prospered because of the liberty a free market affords them. They should be the strongest defenders of the market system. It is moral ingratitude and hypocrisy to support policy makers like Warren and Sanders who wish to limit that liberty, making future Googles impossible. And it is bizarre, guilt-tripped, sanction of the victim suicide to support those statists who call outright for the destruction of the tech achievements in which Google’s creators should take pride. If Google executives and company techies alike want to make a better world, they should support the liberty that allowed them to profit by profiting others.
Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.