The left, right and center of the American political system have all decided to apply the federal government’s full regulatory power to the U.S. information technology (IT) sector, and that might be a clue that we all need to reassess our position.
As the coronavirus spreads — jeopardizing livelihoods and the economy at large — it may also be time for the government to reassess its relationship with robust private sector job creators and stop seeking to tie them down and punish them.
Any nation anywhere in history would be pleased and proud to have the American IT sector as its own, and to be home territory for the likes of Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Apple.
And only a recently fully employed America that has so much wealth and strategic depth would undertake a bipartisan effort to hamstring its most dynamic business sector. It is difficult to imagine the Europeans, Japanese or Chinese waging political and regulatory war on domestic companies that dominate the global market in their given sectors.
European tech is, to put it impolitely, a wasteland. Yet the European Union fines and punishes big U.S. technology firms for being efficient, effective and profitable. Is it any wonder EU unemployment is 100 percnt higher than unemployment in the U.S.? The EU appears to be about punishing success, not creating jobs and wealth for their people.
It is odd to see Donald Trump’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Justice Department doing what you would expect from a Sanders or Biden administration, or the European Union. Why does President Trump, who is truly pro-business and faces a tough re-election battle this year, have his administration leading the charge to carve up and slim down these huge job producers and stock market leaders?
To use another example, why would California launch state-level regulatory efforts that could drive their crown jewels out of Silicon Valley to relocate to more friendly locales like Texas, Idaho or even Boston? California has long been the home of technological innovation, but entrepreneurial businesses will turn on a dime if the state government becomes too overbearing.
Is it so awful to have targeted internet ads appear for products that you have shown a past interest in? Why is that different from direct mail or telemarketing? Are we really going to have our voting brains manipulated by a group of Russian-generated algorithms to vote for something or somebody that we probably like anyway?
Our democracy is 244 years old. Are American voters really that frail? And if we are so worried about the security of our medical history, why did the federal government compel the entire medical sector to adopt electronic health records over the last 11 years?
And, I would argue, if you are worried about what someone, some company, or the government, might find out about you, either don’t do anything wrong, or become less dependent on social media and online shopping. Make a phone call, use cash, and go to a brick and mortar store. (Yes, they still exist, and there are some near your house.)
Now that we are in a recession, and possibly a depression, will we remember what our politicians and bureaucrats did to some of our greatest job producers? The IT sector has thousands, indeed millions, of great paying jobs, good benefits, and flexible hours.
People love their products. The iPhone is a miracle, as is everything about Amazon. Apple creates and supports 47,000 American jobs, and indirectly boosts tens of thousands of other jobs supporting their products. Amazon directly employs 798,000 people. Will someone please tell me why this is a bad thing?
As singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell warned us in 1970, “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” We ought to heed that advice when we haphazardly wage political and regulatory war against our most successful companies. It was a big mistake before the corona economic collapse when this nation had full employment.
Words cannot begin to describe it now.