Of course, there is still a long way to go before any of the report’s recommendations become a reality. Even within the committee, there is not unanimity, with some Republican members expressing concerns over breaking up companies in particular. Republicans will also be more ideologically opposed to adding regulations or removing companies’ ability to arbitrate disputes themselves, rather than through the courts.
And then of course there is the enormous collective power of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google – some of the world’s largest and richest corporations – who will be willing and able to do anything to protect their markets and profits.
I note, for the record, that AT&T was broken up long before Citizen’s United was decided, when our government still worked, because both sides actually compromised on legislation. I also remind everyone the the Supreme Court is NOT, in fact, the final say in our laws. If Congress doesn’t like the way a decision went, they can write a new law in light of what was decided.
But do you really think that a bunch of Congress-people are going to forego campaign funding from Silicon Valley by voting to break up four of the biggest corporations in the world? Even if they weren’t getting money from those companies before, you can bet their primary challengers would, the next time around. You can’t fix our corporatocracy until you get rid of Citizen’s United, and we will never be free of it now. As if we didn’t have a big enough problem with it before, the decision guarantees regulatory capture forever. Campaign funding and the life-and-death polarization of our two-party system will never allow for reversing it.
There’s no public interest in these hearings. There is literally zero chance that anything will substantively change. Even if they do break Instagram out of Facebook, or YouTube out of Google, what will that really do? Nothing. If this is really about the advertising market, then all you’re going to do is split your existing spend, and if there are just 4 entities involved in the market instead of 2, they’ll collude on pricing, as a middle finger to the government. And, like AT&T before it, they will eventually just reassemble themselves into something even more monstrous than before.
This is about money. It’s always about money. Congress thinks that these companies should be giving more of their money to their campaigns, and this is how they go about getting that done. Watch campaign contributions rise in the wake of these hearings, note that nothing effectively changes, and then remember I was right. This isn’t rocket surgery. We’ve seen this before from the Microsoft trial.