Tags: hawley | antitrust | technology | free speech

Why Is a GOP Senator Brandishing Hammer and Sickle Against Tech?

Why Is a GOP Senator Brandishing Hammer and Sickle Against Tech?
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) speaks with reporters about Iran and a potential Senate impeachment trial in the Senate Subway at the U.S. Capitol January 6, 2020, in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Monday, 13 January 2020 03:42 PM Current | Bio | Archive

A year ago, after Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai testified before a painfully clueless Congress, I wrote at the techie site Hacker Noon: “Innovate Don’t Regulate: The Message of George Gilder’s Life After Google:

“Incongruously, some big league conservatives are calling for what used to be considered conservative heresy: using antitrust law to break up big companies — call it the Hammer. Or to, at least, regulate them hard — call it the Sickle.

“Even worse, there is truculent talk in some circles about changing the law governing online content to hold companies like Google, Facebook or Twitter liable for material posted there by users.

“Doing that would effectively ‘break’ the Internet.

“Unclear how many of our Senators and Congressmen grasp this key fact.”

Then things took a turn for the worse.

Freshman Republican U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, of Missouri, knows that his jihad against successful internet companies would, if enacted, break the internet. What’s worse? He revels in the prospect of breaking the internet.

Emily Stewart writing at the stylishly leftish Vox's Recode just before last Halloween observed:

“[Hawley’s] thinking on the tech sector feels almost punitive: He doesn’t just want to rein in Big Tech. He might prefer a world where it doesn’t exist at all.… In a way, Hawley was a pioneer — this September, state attorneys general from across the country launched antitrust investigations of their own into both companies…. Hawley has built his career with tech in the crosshairs....”

Emma Green, writing for the smart, center-left The Atlantic digs down quite approvingly into Hawley’s long term agenda to “end the GOP’s free market worship for good.”

“For good.” Or ill, if you prefer the prosperity free markets bring to the heavy hand of Big Government.

Even that curmudgeonly dissident George Will has gone to town on Hawley. Recently, in “Josh Hawley sounds like he has too much faith in government” Will steals a phrase from William F. Buckley to ridicule Sen. Hawley’s ridiculous anti-tech posturing. Will calls Hawley: “a pyromaniac in a field of straw men. Through the smoke of burning straw one can see in Hawley’s social diagnosis the belief, held by many progressives and an increasing number of conservatives, that individualism, as expressed in and enabled by capitalism, is making Americans neither better off nor better.”

Will then deftly wields facts to humiliate Hawley’s misguided arguments against liberty, individualism, and capitalism.

Will is not alone in his contempt for Josh Hawley. My friend and sometimes colleague George Gilder, author of “Wealth and Poverty,” the bible of Reaganomics, founder of the Discovery Institute, distinguished futurist, wrote of Hawley:

“Oh my, am I going to have to worry about my conservative friends joining the dims in a Luddite turn against technology?

“A communitarian desire to deny the claims and accomplishments of individuals easily glides into socialism, or worse. In his short career in the Senate, Hawley has not been able to resist the temptation.

“If telephone companies had been liable for any hate speakers or news fakers using their lines, we would still be communicating by some upgraded pony express. If providers of internet platforms had been required to ensure that no lies, frauds, hate speech or fake news passed through their facilities, they could not have functioned at all. There would be no internet.”

Trump’s trusted advisor and Heritage Foundation Distinguished Visiting Fellow Stephen Moore, with whom I served on the President’s Commission on Privatization under Reagan and with whom I recently spoke, told me: “One of the Reagan White House’s first actions directed the Justice Department to cease and desist bullying businesses with antitrust actions. It desisted. The new infatuation of a few Republican Senators and state attorneys general with antitrust is a brick through the plate glass window of the Reagan Library. Bullying Google – on spurious grounds no less! – spits in the face of the Reagan legacy.”

As for me, I’m an old school small government conservative. I was a Reagan White House junior official. I went on to become a Tea Party leader. I remain, as chairman of The Capitalist League, a passionate, full spectrum conservative.

As a small-government conservative I favor having the rhetorical torches and pitchforks in the hands of the people, not the politicians. The spectacle of powerful Republicans brandishing the hammer of antitrust and the sickle of regulation over the heads of some of America’s greatest companies is confounding. Companies such as Google and Facebook are part of what makes America great.

Sen. Hawley? You don’t have to be anti-free-enterprise to be pro-family. Stop crying victim and stop pushing Big Government. That’s the progressives’ game. It is conduct unbecoming for you to play it.

Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $83T. He served as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House, has worked closely with the Congress and two cabinet agencies, and has published over a million words on politics and policy in the mainstream media, as a distinguished professional blogger, and as the author of the internationally award-winning cult classic book "The Websters' Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World." He has served as senior advisor, economics, to APIA as an advocate of the gold standard, senior counselor to the Chamber of Digital Commerce and serves as general counsel to Frax.finance, a stablecoin venture. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Sen. Hawley? You don’t have to be anti-free-enterprise to be pro-family.
hawley, antitrust, technology, free speech
Monday, 13 January 2020 03:42 PM
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