Let’s Decentralize Stupidity
BY JUSTIN OWEN
My head nearly exploded into a million pieces earlier this week when my good friend Ben Cunningham sent me an article titled, “Let’s Nationalize Amazon and Google.” I’m not even going to link to the main article to spare you the brain rot, but you can…ahem, Google it if you want to find it. I will, however, run counterpoint to the asinine article’s main arguments from rendering unto Caesar these tech giants: These companies’ existence is thanks to the government-created Internet, so the government has a right to all they’ve built thereafter. Giving government exclusive control over everything that derived from the Internet—or anything else it happened to have a hand in creating—would lead the entire world back into the stone ages, and innovation would be annihilated. And under that same logic, can the private sector then take back everything that it created from the grasp of government? Healthcare, education, professional licensing, our sports teams (and their names), just to name a few. Google and Amazon are necessities without which we cannot live. My wife will tell you that I’m an Amazon junkie (I bought nails online this week to avoid the store), so I can empathize with the whole necessity angle. But in economics, public goods must be (a) non-excludable, meaning that freeloaders can use them even without paying, and (b) non-rivalrous, meaning that if one person consumes or uses the good, it doesn’t reduce the good for another. National defense is perhaps the best example of a public good. If you don’t pay taxes, you still benefit from our military; and your “use” of national defense doesn’t reduce its availability for someone else to use. Under no circumstances could Google and Amazon be considered public goods and thereby subject to exclusive control of the government. I can’t just take toilet paper or shoes from Amazon without paying, and when I purchase those things, someone else can’t have them. It fails the public good test, no questions asked. They’re at near monopoly status and they abuse their power. Yeah, so let’s turn them over to government where they will be true monopolies and have the force of law to abuse their power even further. Would you conduct your personal searches on IRS.com? Do you really believe that package is going to arrive on time when you use the Post Office over FedEx? If so, then sure, let’s make Google and Amazon public utilities. They got tax breaks and handouts in their quest for world domination. I’m going to actually agree with this criticism, though not the ultimate solution. Companies should not get special treatment like tax incentives or handouts. But because they do does not entitle the government to take them over…or does it? Maybe companies should be wary of all those incentive packages, lest they let the government creep too far into their operations. It’s like an iron fist inside a velvet glove. Again, if you want to actually read the article, Google it while you still can. Given the recent rollout of Healthcare.gov, once we have Google.gov, you’ll probably have a tough time turning up the right search results. -Justin Owen Enjoy the Beacon blog? Help us keep it going with a tax-deductible gift.