American Thinker: Trump FTC begins privacy and anti-trust investigations against tech giants

https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2019/03/trump_ftc_begins_privacy_and_antitrust_investigations_against_tech_giants.html

Not sure how I feel about this. I’m skeptical of regulatory interference, but I’m also skeptical of Silicon Valley’s ethical moorings.

8 thoughts on “American Thinker: Trump FTC begins privacy and anti-trust investigations against tech giants

  1. Ethical moorings are not a part of the free market capitalism that is left to its own devices.

    So we might just forget about looking for them.

    Ethics are only valid when talking about relationships among people and businesses that are rooted in the essentials of honesty, expectations of fair dealings, respect, etc..

    Freewheeling capitalism has one premise that often precludes all others: if you can’t compete, you take over and absorb the competition. Problem solved.

    Silicon Valley giants are all about big data, how to get it for next to nothing and sell it for high prices. Facebook is the prime example. Get customers hooked, addicted really, with a slot machine psychology of “likes”, family photos and “me events” and they will give up everything. And they cared less about providing platforms for propaganda so long as there were eyeballs on the screen.

    And they bought out most threats. So they provided a monopolistic service.

    And startups are actually hoping to get bought out for a few billion.

    Europe has much more stringent privacy requirements. We are so fixated on and sold on by the lobbyists, that regulators are not considered protectors but rather meddlers. Even Greenspan admitted that markets cannot regulate themselves. Of course this is after the Recession.

    Back to ethics. In our form of capitalism, the only ethics are those that are imposed by government.

    And oddly enough, it’s the conservatives who complain about wanting more regulation. For example Twitter seems to biased. But it is a private company after all. Of course it is the only game in town, so…

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    1. RE: “Ethical moorings are not a part of the free market capitalism that is left to its own devices.”

      Why not? Do you dispute that Adam Smith’s “unseen hand” operating in the marketplace tends to produce the greatest good — the wealth of nations, in fact — for the greatest number?

      RE: “In our form of capitalism, the only ethics are those that are imposed by government.”

      I wouldn’t give the government that much credit. In my experience, business people spend a significant amount of time grappling with ethical issues which are completely outside of government influence or the law.

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      1. The “unseen hand” has nothing to do with ethics. It is the economic result of people pursuing their own selfish interests in a free market. The businesses could be ethically run or not. And they could be in the marketplace helping drive that unseen hand for years, even decades.

        For example:

        Wells Fargo has been fined billions for a continuing series of intentional efforts to defraud customers. Over several years. Under multiple executives. What kind of ethics grappling do you think was going on in one of our biggest banks?

        VW purposefully defrauded customers about clean diesel engines.

        Boeing is now in the hot seat for probably overselling the cost of switching to new planes. Hundred killed. And the problem was known for at least 6 months.

        These are not crap companies or scam businesses. Where are the ethics? And if government was not ultimately there, we might never know. As it may turn out, Boeing got some help by a complicit FAA. That is, not stringent enough oversight.

        Closer to some hearts, Trump U was a major scam. $25 million settlement just the cost of doing business? Anyone grappling with ethics there?

        And Carnegie didn’t make US Steel the biggest because he made better steel. He drove the competition out of business by brute force. Then raised his prices.

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        1. RE: “The ‘unseen hand’ has nothing to do with ethics.”

          You could make the case that in themselves the laws of economics have no ethical dimension, just as the laws of physics do not, but it won’t take you very far. The obvious response is to argue that it is unethical to create an economy that impoverishes people, just as it is unethical to use a lever to kill people.

          Your examples also do not show that businesses are unethical. They only show that you find the businesses you list to be unjust according to some standard of social responsibility you are using to judge them by.

          My view is that business has no objective social responsibility, but that doesn’t mean they are unethical or even amoral.

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  2. “ They only show that you find the businesses you list to be unjust according to some standard of social responsibility you are using to judge them by.”

    I suppose you have little problem with the actions of those businesses.

    Each one is breaking one of the basic laws of our Judeo-Christian history. (False witness and stealing if I need to specify). So it is not my standard at all.

    Businesses are run by people. Hiding behind a corporate veil doesn’t absolve them of socially responsible behavior. Stealing, lying and killing are not socially acceptable behaviors in any culture.

    (Killing? Think Ford Pinto and opioids)

    Bottom line is that business does indeed have social responsibility. They are subject to the same laws as individuals. And truth be known if the leaders of errant companies were held responsible, you can bet a little less fraud might take place. 20 years is a mighty strong incentive in egregious cases.

    IMHO

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    1. Did you notice, as you wrote your comment, that you are now arguing the exact opposite of the point you started out with? First you said, “Ethical moorings are not a part of the free market capitalism that is left to its own devices.” Now you are saying, “Bottom line is that business does indeed have social responsibility.”

      If you are trying to say that capitalism is inherently defective but law and social responsibility are the cures, I can go along with that a little bit, sort of, but not very far. I agree that laws are based on ethics, but I note that businesses can behave ethically without paying attention to laws. Similarly, I regard social responsibility as a legitimate, but not a necessary topic of concern to people in business. Most businesses fulfill their basic social responsibility just by being successful. Besides, my own ethical code includes a rule against accusing others of ethical shortcomings when I don’t know all the facts.

      My main quibble, though, is with the premise that capitalism is inherently defective. To me, that’s like saying gravity is defective. You might as well claim that spirits live in rocks or trees.

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  3. Capitalism is an economic concept. It is either ethical or not depending upon how it is used by people.

    Businesses in a capitalist economy are run by people. They are always subject to ethics.

    No arguing the same side of the stone.

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  4. Capitalism is not inherently defective. But like any construct it needs to be controlled.

    A gun is not evil by itself. But if used to destroy life, it might be.

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