Senator Elizabeth Warren made national headlines with her recently released plans to break up tech giants Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple, making it one of her signature proposals as she campaigns for the presidency. She is not alone. But now we have the first stirrings of an intra-party debate on the subject: Beto O’Rourke has explicitly opposed the Warren proposal to break up Amazon, arguing that “it is not the proper route to pursue ‘to ensure dynamism in our economy,’” according to a recent Business Insider report by Joe Perticone. Although he doesn’t cite other companies, the “economic dynamism” argument would presumably apply to other big tech companies, as far as O’Rourke goes, although he has not yet fleshed out further metrics to make his case. There’s no question that Senator Warren’s idea resonates in our political memory—Teddy Roosevelt made his name as the trust-buster, for going after the great monopolies of the early 20th century in the name of the public interest. Twenty-first-century populist economics in America continues to be adorned the century-old piece of political syntax, “break ’em up.” But would breaking up the big tech giants actually reduce the dynamism of the American economy, as O’Rourke suggests? Warren’s essential rationale is that these tech companies act as monopolies and need to be cut down in size in order to promote more competitive markets, via traditional antitrust instruments such as the Sherman Act. Furthermore, as legal scholar Kelsey Mullane highlights, Warren is also advocating “new legislation that would… [Read full story]
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