A column in USA Today this week argues that President Trump should break up Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Netflix in the same vein as President Teddy Roosevelt.
USA Today opinion columnist Glenn Harlan Reynolds explained his feelings on Monday about the increasing power of technology companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Netflix. Reynolds specifically pointed out how President Teddy Roosevelt broke up big businesses when he was president.
Roosevelt built a strong reputation by going after the trusts, huge combinations that placed control of entire industries in the hands of one or a few men. He broke up John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, the Google of its day. He shut down J.P. Morgan’s Northern Securities Co., which would have monopolized rail transportation in much of the United States. And he pursued numerous other cases (45 in all) that broke up monopolies and returned competition to markets.
Reynolds goes on to argue that monopolies are an economic threat due to their overwhelming influence on certain industries.
Big monopolies aren’t just an economic threat: They’re a political threat. Because they’re largely free of market constraints, they don’t have to put all their energy into making a better product for less money. Instead, they put a lot of their energy into political manipulation to protect their monopoly.
Monopolies of the 21st century are even more powerful than those in previous generations. Why? Because modern monopolies, especially those in the social media space, wield tremendous political power as a result of their ability to control mass communications.
And these new tech monsters have a one-two punch that Standard Oil lacked: Not only do they control immense wealth and important industries, but their fields of operation — which give them enormous control over communications, including communications about politics — also give them direct political power that in many ways exceeds that of previous monopolies.
You can read all of Reynolds’ column here.