Does the word that just popped into your head show up here? Find out:

04 January, 2013

Don't Be Evil

Google is not a monopoly, or at least not a dangerous one, or at least (following the late Bork's lead on anti-trust law) not very damaging to consumers. This is according to the Federal Trade Commission, which declined to prosecute Google and instead entered into an agreement in which Google will voluntarily not be an evil monopoly.

This upsets some has-been and would-be monopolies who compete with Google, and some news stories have covered that angle, quoting Microsoft counsel for the most part. 

But, as usual, a salient fact is missing from most stories. That is, FTC staff, the professionals and experts who actually understand what's been happening, recommended last year that the FTC come down on Google. Then the Commissioners, political appointees who pride themselves on being big-picture people and leaders, but who probably understand less about the facts, decided to ignore staff recommendations and let Google continue on its merry way. 

This is how we govern in our country. Experts know that fossil fuel use warms the globe and is unsustainable in many ways, but the government continues to subsidize it. Scientists know that evolution by natural selection is a fact, but politicians insist that we give evangelical Christian creation mythology equal shrift in our schools. 

True, "experts" dont know everything, they often develop such specialization that they cannot consider other important variables, and they too can be coopted. But agencies like the FTC have some of the best-informed people in the country on the issues they regulate, and it is frustrating to see them do so much work, only to have it swept aside time and again by their political bosses.

And so we are left, often as not, with regulations waived, penalties averted, and justice deferred. All we have is the hope that, despite being a massive corporate monopoly, Google will stick to its pledge, "Don't be evil."

No comments:

Post a Comment