About
Content
Store
Forum

Rebirth of Reason
War
People
Archives
Objectivism

Post to this threadMark all messages in this thread as readMark all messages in this thread as unread


Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Post 0

Tuesday, November 14 - 10:15amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Suppose an entrepreneur invents something that hasn’t yet existed. He will then have a monopoly on that product, because no one else produces it. For example, Steve Jobs invented the iPhone, which had not previously existed. Is his invention anti-competitive and therefore in violation of the antitrust laws? Should he be forced to give it away to anyone else who wants to produce it? If not, then what justifies the antitrust prohibition on monopoly power?

 

Recently, Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods has come under fire as vulnerable to antitrust legislation. The leftist website Slate is now demanding that we "Crack Down on Amazon." But what law did Amazon violate that permits the government to step in and interfere with the company's business practice? What Jeff Bezos did by acquiring Whole Foods and increasing Amazon's market power was entirely legal.

 

Therefore, isn’t antitrust essentially ex post facto law, and doesn’t it, therefore, violate the Constitution? Indeed it does. Article 1, Clause 3, Section 9 of the U.,S. Constitution expressly prohibits ex post facto laws, to wit: “No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.” Antitrust law is retroactive, and penalizes companies for actions that at the time they were taken were entirely legal.

 

Moreover, if a business outcompetes its rivals, how can we say that its action is "anti-competitive”? Isn’t the purpose of competition to win — to beat one’s rivals? Yet antitrust law penalizes companies for doing precisely that — for being successful at what is the very purpose of competition.  Suppose that, instead of being rewarded, tennis pro Rafael Nadal were penalized for winning the French Open ten times, on the grounds that his continued success was anti-competitive. Of course, that would be absurd. But how is it any less absurd to penalize a company like Amazon for besting its competitors on the grounds that its action is anti-competitive?!

 

As Ayn Rand would say in assessing a moral or legal theory: Check your premises!

 

(Edited by William Dwyer on 11/14, 11:42am)



Post 1

Wednesday, November 15 - 5:18amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

What are your thoughts on mass media platform monopolies that censor speech and filter searches based on the values of the CEOs?



Post 2

Wednesday, November 15 - 10:45amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Luke,

 

Isn't it the same as a newspaper that "censors" letters to the editor?  The paper can decide what's printed on its pages.



Post 3

Wednesday, November 15 - 4:06pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Luke, 

 

I don't think any of the mass media platforms have a monopoly.  No one is prohibited from creating competition for Twitter, Facebook, or any of the other platforms. 

 

I hate the dishonesty and hypocrisy of their pretense at being open, fair, and unbiased when they are actually engaged in pushing their progressive views.  But it is a free market.

 

What we need to attack are the ideas of progressivism.



Sanction: 9, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 9, No Sanction: 0
Post 4

Thursday, November 16 - 4:13amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Well, okay, Luke, since you asked: What are your thoughts on the subject? It is pretty easy to liken "mass media" or "social media" platforms to newspapers. But newspapers were not born from printing houses built, paid for, and regulated by the government.  So, just how privately enterprising are these media?  I ask because I remember well the local monopolies handed to cable television companies by cities and townships, as just one example. Steve's claim that "... no one is prohibited from competing..." is not quite true. I don't know how he connects to post here, but I warrant that if he needed commercial bandwidth for millions of customers, his provider might consider whether it was in their interest to deliver it, whether that be for physical or political reasons. And, failing that, how, then would he create the infrastructure without some kind of government permission?  I do not know enough about the transport layer to answer those questions, so they are not rhetorical.

 

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 11/16, 4:21am)



Post 5

Thursday, November 16 - 6:01amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

I have not put a lot of thought into this, but I agree with MEM about the deeper role of government infrastructure in the question.  Consequently, government intrusion might be warranted.  I see comments from the Breitbart crowd all the time about this.  If those in power wanted to do more to assure people of all persuasions have a voice on the Web regardless of the views of the CEOs, I will not get too upset about it.



Post 6

Thursday, November 16 - 11:27amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Luke,

 

In my answer, I said that there was no monopoly since there currently are no government restrictions on who can or cannot create a competing app.  I know that there are strong political pressures growing to regulate communications for political reasons.  They come from the progressives who want to implement political correctness as law.  I have no doubt that they would use regulations to grant some kind of monopoly to progressive media outlets, or to regulate such as to deny access to media infrastructure... if they could get away with it.

 

I, of course, oppose any such regulations.  And I believe that the legal root of these problems lies in the government regulating things they shouldn't.
-------------

 

Marotta wrote:

 

Steve's claim that "... no one is prohibited from competing..." is not quite true. I don't know how he connects to post here, but I warrant that if he needed commercial bandwidth for millions of customers, his provider might consider whether it was in their interest to deliver it, whether that be for physical or political reasons. And, failing that, how, then would he create the infrastructure without some kind of government permission?  

 

He says that my claim is not true- and he offers no evidence that it isn't - just vague supposition.  But it is true.  He says that if I needed commercial bandwith my provider might consider whether it was in their interest to deliver it... for political reasons.  Marotta really doesn't know, does he?  Bandwith is not a problem.  If the government started using its regulatory power to push bandwith providers, that would be an instance of censorship - not monopoly.  And I assure you, after a lifetime in the software business, there would be no problem creating a competing app and getting the bandwith.

 

There is a terrible problem and it is edging on generating censorship, and that is political correctness being exercised by government.  At this point, it is the owners of social media software platforms that want to limit access on the basis of political correctness.  I hate that, but it is their right.  Anything that government might be doing to interfere in what is transmitted or accessed is, of course, wrong.

 

Marotta is speaking like Obama who said "you didn't build it."  The fact that goverment has been inappropriately involved in taxing and borrowing to build infrastructure doesn't mean that someone has to build separate infrastructure.   No one, at this time, is being denied the use of existing infrastructure in the way that Marotta suggests.  That is a total non-sequiter.



Post 7

Thursday, November 16 - 1:02pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

I guess what I had in mind was an Internet Service Provider (ISP) application of the "Fairness Doctrine in Education" as Ayn Rand described in her essay of the same name.

 

As I said, I have not researched this well at all, but I do know Steve Bannon has made rumblings along the lines of contending that the mainstream media (MSM) has become owned by too few people and needs breaking apart to assure a larger diversity of voices to protect the spirit of free speech.

 

Make of that what you will.



Post 8

Friday, November 17 - 8:03amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Luke,

 

You asked Bill: "What are your thoughts on mass media platform monopolies that censor speech and filter searches based on the values of the CEOs?"  I reserve the use of the word "censorship" for government actions - but I understand what you mean.  Also, they are only "monopolies" in the sense that a vast majority of the customers chose to use them rather than their competition.  And new competition can spring up in a very short time.

 

But progressivism's political correctness attempts to control thought and, as a set of beliefs, it has worked its way through the universities, the news media, the entertainment industry, government workers, and even K-12 schools.  What we see coming our way is like the effects of a government enforced censoring of expression on what are the only social media platforms allowed.  

 

Too many people have become too indoctrinated and now they are choosing to participate - their participation is what drives all this media.  The media allows for different views and people are choosing those threads, and to "like" expressions they agree with.  This division is the normal result of the left moving farther left, gaining strength and confidence, and the resulting backlash from the right.  The "censorship" is the progressive leanings of the people in control of the platform (which initially was totally blind to ideological differences) starting to place obstacles in the way of any opposition to progressive positions.

 

Here is a good article from a conservative perspective: http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/2017/11/the-race-to-censor-internet-news.html



Post 9

Friday, November 17 - 8:06pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Antitrust is--unless applied to government chartered corporations? Aren't LLCs et al. essentially fascist? As such why not anti-trust them? The government gives and the government takes away.

 

--Brant



Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 6, No Sanction: 0
Post 10

Saturday, November 18 - 3:06amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Brant,

 

Government is heavily involved in marriage, and that should be handled differently.  But would it be appropriate to say that marriages are fascist and/or theocratic? 

 

Why not say: For many couples, marriage is the best option available under the present system.  For many companies, an LLC is the best option available under the present system.  In both cases, people should be given more freedom, not less.



Post 11

Tuesday, November 21 - 12:14amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

In an odd way, anti-trust laws and coercion function as advertised. They preserve economic competition, and thus raise product quality while lowering prices. In today's nightmarish welfare state world, Big Business has the strong ability and practice of bribing the legislature to pass laws and regulations to keep out their competition. Thus big companies become established entities. The market is no longer all that open to new rivals. So we seem to need and benefit from this anti-trust coercion and surface evil. For example, I slightly fear the current proposed merger of industry giants and category killers Staples and Office Depot.



Post 12

Tuesday, November 21 - 5:01amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

It is the regulatory state that creates 'Big Business'.  Very large enterprises have the volume needed to deal with regulations, where small and medium-sized business are at a strong disadvantage.  Then the corrupt politicians accept money from the lobbists - a practice that favors large organizations -money in exchange for regulations that further hurt competition.

 

In other words, this whole problem is created by immoral and unconstitutional government intervention in the economy.  Adding more government in the form of anti-trust is not the way to go.  And worst of all, anti-trust laws are non-objective and can not be applied rationally - diminishing the very idea of a nation of laws.  



Post 13

Tuesday, November 21 - 7:30amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Just for one example from history about property rights in electronic communication. See this Gizmodo article about the days when communication lines crowded city skies.  Not clearly perceived then were that "air rights" were being violated. It is a principle in real estate law that your property is defined at the surface, but is an infinite cone from the center of the Earth into outer space.  Of course, it does not work like that now. For one thing, in the name of future generations, maybe 20 years ago the State of Michigan took ownership of all unclaimed mineral rights.  And you never really had the right to stop airplanes from flying over your home. And likewise, you never had any expectation of privacy against aerial surveillance by the police. (We were given Supreme Court cases in my criminal justice classes 2005-2010.) But, by the same flawed standard, when people complained about the pollution of railroads, their claims were rejected on the basis of public good. However, in the city, businesses can and do sell the right to build over their establishments. See Wikipedia image here.

 

Ayn Rand wrote briefly about "The Property Status of the Airwaves."  Those fundamentals are applicable, but how they are to be applied, considering the technologies, is not clear to me. Just for instance, you know that your home computer network broadcasts to the street. If you do not secure it, are you hosting a block party, inviting everyone to stop in and visit?  It was so argued well about 30 years ago when hackers said - and a court agreed - that Digital Equipment's "Welcome" screen meant just exactly that.

 

Then, we come to the highways, which are publicly owned. Can a government ban offensive bumper stickers? They do reject applications for offensive license plates: 4Q... and all the rest. Yes, in a truly capitalist society (no blanking here) that would not be an issue. But it is an issue in a mixed economy.  And that speaks to the problems of sorting out the premises and applications of so-called "open access" regulations.

 

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 11/21, 7:34am)



Post to this thread
User ID Password reminder or create a free account.