Longtime readers of this site will know that I am no fan of the tech industry. Over the years, I have criticized Google for its censorious behavior, Facebook for fostering an “always online” culture of hypersensitiveness, Amazon for trying to seize the US government’s intelligence assets, and Twitter for just being terrible, period. I have long warned against the evils of the rising liberalism of the tech industry, to say nothing of its tendency to facilitate domestic authoritarianism, and applauded Congress for its steps toward curbing that industry’s power.
It is this last bit of applause that appears to have earned me a rebuke from Conservatism, Inc, who are shocked, shocked, that some on the Right have a problem with huge monopolies that have marked their preferred candidates and causes for death. Thus, AEI scholar and inveterate #NeverTrumper James Pethokoukis has criticized yours truly for having the temerity to attack tech in general, and Google in particular.
Pethokoukis’ complaint is that, firstly, I misstated a statistic, claiming that Google receives over $600 billion in subsidies, rather than $600 million.
Fair enough. I’ve asked to have the piece corrected, and it has been.
But while millions aren’t billions, that’s still a large chunk of taxpayer change. Pethokoukis argues that the $630 million in government subsidies really isn’t that much money when compared to Google’s profits.
Okay, so why give it to them in first place?
Pethokoukis reaches back to the hoary days of 2012 and implies that I’m joining hands with those evil, -esque “progressive populists” and accepting the same frame of mind as former President Obama, in his infamous declaration to entrepreneurs that “you didn’t build that.”
Allow me to invoke Obama (for the first time) here and say 2012 called, it wants its True Conservative ™ talking point back.
But to the point, no, I never claimed that Google, or any other tech company, didn’t build itself or was in any way not responsible for its own success. My point is that they are maintaining their bottom lines with government help. And frankly, Google didn’t even rank as my primary example to prove that point: That title belongs to Amazon, which has been in the slow process of colonizing huge chunks of U.S. government data and may be about to receive roughly $10 billion in taxpayer dollars for doing so from the Department of Defense. That’s right, $10 billion for a single cloud contract.
Is that big enough to merit concern? Or is it now Pethokoukis’s position that massive subsidies are fine, provided they go to Randian supermen who write checks for #NeverTrump?
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