The era of antitrust is over, and selective enforcement of rules

From Eric Weinstein

After some notable success in the 20th century, such as the breakup of the Bell System, the era of antitrust is over. The DOJ wasted half a decade and billions of dollars trying to breakup Microsoft to no avail (Microsoft would eventually prevail through appeals), and is not going to make that mistake again. Today’s tech giants are many times larger and more powerful than Microsoft was 2 decades ago, so any hope of breaking them up is much lower than it was then, especially given that the political imputes is no longer there. A major reason why the US economy has done so well post-covid despite lots of deaths compared to other countries, which are still struggling (even countries with lower per-capita death and case counts), is in large part due to the contributions of these massive tech and retail companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, Walmart, and Microsoft, so the government is not going to kill the golden goose.

Regulators such as the SEC and FTC are largely useless and enforce the rules selectively; for example, taking just year to investigate and arrest Bannon and his co-conspirators for the ‘build a wall’ campaign (which was a scam, but it shows that government agencies will crack down quickly for some scams if it’s a means to a political end), but will alow blatant scams such as James Altucher ‘crypto insider’ newsletter scam and others like it to run for years undeterred.

Speaking of scams, the Bitcoin/crypto scam (although I would call it more of a ‘bad investment’ than a scam) continues to unravel, falling everyday to no end. Over the past 3 weeks, $1 trillion has been wiped out and it’s going to get worse. That’s like 20 Madoffs in terms of wealth lost. If the goal of these agencies is to protect consumers, how about cracking down on individuals on YouTube, Twitter, etc. who hype crypto, which has cost consumers billions. Make it illegal to hype Bitcoin, and arrest or fine those who do, as well as fining and breaking-up the platforms which host such content. That would do much more in terms of consumer protection than shutting down a random gofundme page or shutting down q-anon Facebook pages. The SEC continues to overlook Elon Musk, Tyler Winklevoss, and others who are hyping Bitcoin and other bad, risky investments: again, selective enforcement of the rules.

The Sherman Act is hard to enforce owing to the vagueness of what constitutes anti-competitive practices, and most of the targets tend to be small. Big, notable cases that involve a large company being broken up instead of just paying a fine, such as Standard Oil or the Bell System, are very rare. Forcibly breaking up companies goes against the ‘ethos’ of American capitalism, and is not something that is undertaken without extreme deliberation.

I am not even sure what this tweet is supposed to accomplish or what purpose it serves given that it will never happen. Foment populist anger against a universally hated target, that being Facebook? The left hates Facebook obvious reasons (2016 election, Covid misinformation). Conservatives hate it for censorship. If Trump could not do anything (I correctly predicted in 2019 that Trump’s threat of antitrust against Google, and then in 2020 when he threatened to ‘shut down’ TikTok, were empty, symbolic threats that would go nowhere and would not be followed-up on, and was right on both counts, having told readers to buy Google stock on the dip after it fell on the news), what makes anyone believe that a Biden administration and a democratically-controlled House will? It stands to reason that for Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to appease their new masters, that censorship of the dissident/alt-right is only going to get worse.