Business News for the Mississippi Delta

Tech Giants and Antitrust

By chip pickering

America’s tech giants are not the problem and antitrust is not the solution. As we enter into a new age of competition and rivalry with China on strategic, on national security, on economic grounds, we have a lot of people in Washington who are wanting to now either break up or heavily regulate the internet companies just at the wrong time and in the wrong way. As you look at every measurement of consumer welfare—lower prices, more innovation, greater investment across all parts of the economy—American tech companies are creating greater growth, lower prices, better services—and that’s a hallmark of a very competitive market and not a concentrated monopolistic market.

Ask yourself, is it not the American way to encourage innovation with our brightest minds? Do we want to stifle our ideas and productivity, which is what I would argue is the very thing that has put us on top. Fourteen of the world’s top twenty tech companies are American; we are in a new age of competition and rivalry with China. The U.S. tech industry’s global market position is at risk and has huge ramifications for re-starting the American economy and our long-term prospects. It’s clear the American technology and e-commerce sector drives U.S. growth. States are aggressively competing on a daily basis for good technology jobs. Our universities and colleges are investing in more and more technology and public-private partnerships. Lawsuits will definitely damage our fastest growing industry and threaten these American jobs.

With a global pandemic threatening the entire world, again ask yourself where would we have been over the last six months without technology to assist our businesses to continue to operate, to educate our children with distance learning, and to provide much needed health care by the use of telehealth? In a recent nationwide survey by the Connected Commerce Council, 93 percent of small businesses reported they were disrupted by COVID-19 and nearly 3 in 4 increased their use of digital tools with COVID-19. A majority of small businesses found digital tools more helpful during COVID-19 than before it. Most also plan to continue to use more digital tools after the pandemic.

By attacking U.S. companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, the Justice Department, members of Congress, and some state attorneys general have taken a step back in time and are forgetting the hard work that has been done on the issue of antitrust. Companies being too large or successful is not a violation of antitrust laws. Antitrust was established to focus on the consumer and there is a robust consumer welfare standard in our antitrust laws now. Plus, many of the technology companies that are currently being attacked provide free services to our families, services that we use every day in our lives. Comments have been made about political bias within our technology companies from both sides of the aisle. There are solutions to political bias, but mistakenly using antitrust is not the right way to encourage free speech.

Politicizing antitrust by attacking our technology companies and filing federal and state antitrust lawsuits are not the way to go for our country’s future. Lawsuits are a distraction from real issues that need to be addressed and a waste of taxpayers’ money. Solutions are out there; decision makers and our technology companies can find them together. Lawsuits will only cause delay, distraction and economic losses. Our technology jobs and our future are at stake. DBJ

Pickering represented Mississippi’s 3rd congressional district as a Republican in the United States House of Representatives. First elected in 1996, he chose not to run again in 2008. He is currently the CEO at Incompas.