Justin’s note: Is it time to break up the tech giants?
A lot of people think Google, Amazon, and Facebook have become too powerful. Some even say that they’re bad for capitalism.
And maybe they’re on to something. After all, Google collects 77% of all advertising revenue from online searches. Amazon takes in 70% of all e-book sales and 30% of all U.S. e-commerce. And 75% of all social media traffic goes through Facebook or one of the companies it owns.
In other words, there’s no denying that these companies are extremely powerful. But I’m still not sure if breaking them up is the answer. So, I recently called up Doug Casey to get his take…
Justin: Doug, are today’s tech giants a threat to capitalism?
Doug: Well, first, capitalism doesn’t exist in the United States or anywhere else, for that matter. What we have is fascism, which is conveniently confused with capitalism instead. Now, I need to explain what I mean by this because most people, when they hear the word fascism, think of black shirts, jack boots, and so forth. But fascism and capitalism are economic systems; spiffy uniforms have got nothing to do with it.
Let’s define some terms, so we actually know what we’re talking about.
Capitalism is a system where both capital goods—like factories and farms—and consumer goods—like cars and houses—are privately owned and controlled. Fascism, on the other hand, is a system where the means of production and private goods are privately owned, but not privately controlled. The government controls and regulates everything. It’s easy to see where the confusion arises. We don’t have capitalism in the US or anywhere else.
With fascism, the government and industry work together very closely. It’s a “private-public partnership,” as they like to say. They’re tied together, like an Italian fasces, which is an ax with rods bound around it to make it stronger. The idea has been accepted since at least the days of Woodrow Wilson—who, incidentally, was certainly among the three worst US presidents. Although there’s lots of competition for that distinction.
You may recall the Mercury dime, which was minted from 1916–1945 and circulated until the mid-’60s, when silver was taken out of US coinage. A fasces was on its reverse. I’m not sure anybody is still familiar with those. The fasces, of course, is the symbol of fascism. At some point, we should discuss how the decline of the US is reflected in its coins and currency…
I should mention that communism is where both the means of production and consumer goods are owned and controlled by the state. And in socialism, the means of production are owned and controlled by the state, but consumer goods are privately owned. Every country in the world today is either fascist or socialist—the large majority fascist. Including Russia and China.
Anyway, in a capitalist system—which I advocate—the government would have no involvement in the economy.
Justin: So you don’t think the government should break them up?
Doug: No. The government broke up AT&T a generation ago. But that was actually a good idea. How can I say that? Because it was created as an official regulated monopoly. The government protected it. It was a political monopoly. It should have been broken up because it would have never existed in a free market.
But Facebook, Google, and Amazon are different. They weren’t set up like that. They weren’t granted a monopoly by the government. So the government should leave them alone.
But it’s a bit more complicated than that, for several reasons. For instance, Amazon is indirectly subsidized by the US government. That’s because many packages that they deliver go through the Post Office. And the Post Office loses money on each shipment. It’s an indirect subsidy. Of course that’s not Amazon’s fault. It’s an argument for privatizing the Post Office, which blows about $5 billion of capital every year.
But the government doesn’t really want to see these corporations broken up. It’s too convenient for the NSA, FBI, and CIA to use them as a direct pipeline to things.
Justin: What do you mean?
Doug: The US will follow China’s lead. They’ve set up a social credit system where they have not just your credit score, but absolutely every conceivable type of information about you. Who you talk to, what you like, where you go, what key words you use a lot, what groups you belong to, and a thousand other things. Absolutely everything on your life. And your score is seriously affected by the scores of people you talk to.
From the government’s point of view it’s the perfect social control system. People compete with each other to show they’re good little lambs. There are lots of privileges with a good social credit score, and lots of disadvantages to having a bad one.
Companies like Facebook and Google are essential to monitoring and controlling the masses. The last thing the government wants to do is damage them.
Justin: OK, so I get why the government doesn’t want to break up these corporations. But, as you know, the interests of the government and the general population rarely align. So wouldn’t the average Joe be better off if these corporations weren’t so powerful? After all, it seems like they’re only helping the government gain even more control over the common man.
Doug: Well, let me say that I hate Facebook and everything it stands for. I don’t use it, even though I set up an account many years ago, because somebody suggested it was an easy way for old friends to get in touch. I’d delete the account but, at this point, why bother? So, perhaps I’m the wrong person to ask. I hear, however, that kids don’t use it because they think it’s unhip. In my dreams, the company goes bust before Zuckerman can use it to get into politics.
Google’s corporate culture is probably even more repellent than Facebook’s. From what I’ve read, it’s probably the most politically-correct corporation on the face of the earth. Heterosexual white males are actively discriminated against there.
So I dislike both Facebook and Google. Nonetheless, the government should butt out. What will probably happen is they’ll be regulated like utilities. That way the NSA, FBI, CIA, and the rest of them will even have more control than they now do. The public, idiotically and predictably, will think it’s a good idea, for their protection.
Justin: You got that right about Google. In fact, I’m sure you heard about James Damore who was basically fired for saying Google’s corporate culture is intolerant toward white conservative males.
I also just read a story about how Google censored search results for people trying to buy guns online. Pretty appalling if you ask me.
Doug: Google does the same thing with YouTube, too. They censor people like Alex Jones. People who aren’t PC are quashed.
Still, government shouldn’t get involved. That’s asking for even more trouble. If people are so disgusted with these big corporations, they should use an alternative.
But I don’t know what the alternative to Google is. At least they should use DuckDuckGo to do online searches. And ProtonMail for email.
Look, these corporations aren’t dangerous. They can’t put you in jail. They can’t tax you. They can’t regulate you. They can’t send a SWAT team to your house at 5 a.m.
The market will figure these things out. The government’s use of them is the real problem. The government loves big corporations. They’re easier to deal with than a bunch of small enterprises.
Justin: So it sounds like the public’s anger is misdirected. They should be talking about breaking up the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Defense, and Internal Revenue Service. Is that what you’re getting at?
Doug: Exactly. Look, I don’t like these companies. I don’t like their cultures. I don’t like what they stand for or represent. But they aren’t active dangers, in themselves.
People should, instead, be demanding that the government be dismantled, piece by piece.
Justin: You got that right. These companies and the government appear to have the same interests anyway. In fact, I recently read an article about how the European Union (EU) was encouraging Google, Facebook, and the other tech giants to remove terrorist content from the internet or face sweeping new legislation.
What do you think about this? Are you at all surprised?
Doug: It’s totally improper. They shouldn’t do it, especially when it comes to something like terrorism. Why? Well, for starters, there are about 100 different definitions of terrorism floating around. Anybody can be a terrorist. It’s like the old saying, “I’m a freedom fighter. You’re a rebel. He’s a terrorist.” All you need is an accusation to destroy someone today.
But terrorism is just a method of warfare, a tactic—like cavalry charges or artillery barrages. That’s all it is. It’s not a discreet thing. So, there shouldn’t be any government intervention in this area whatsoever. If a common law crime is committed, it’s a matter for the police—end of story. It’s a slippery slope. One thing is going to lead to another.
It never ceases to amaze me what the average person will believe these days. They’ve all become whipped dogs. They don’t realize that the actual enemy of humanity is the state itself.
Justin: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today, Doug.
Doug: My pleasure.
Justin’s note: If you haven’t read my other conversations with Doug, I recommend checking out the most recent ones below. They’re all fantastic discussions on today’s biggest topics…
What are your thoughts on today’s interview with Doug? Are there any topics you’d like to see us cover in future Conversations with Casey? Let us know here.
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