Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Elizabeth Warren Proposes Breaking Up Tech Giants Like Amazon (nytimes.com)
733 points by chadmhorner 15 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 711 comments



How about going after Comcast and Verizon first, the actual tech monopolies? I already don’t use Facebook, I buy things online from places other than Amazon, and have email accounts that aren’t hosted by Google. However, all of that goes over Comcast’s network because that’s my only viable choice for Internet service. Also, while FAANG occasionally do things I don’t approve of, they don’t actively lobby congress for things that will make my use of the internet objectively worse (NN, SOPA, etc...).

But no, because Comcast has -bribed- donated to way more congresspeople than Google, because they’re better at playing that game.


>But no, because Comcast has -bribed- donated to way more congresspeople than Google...

Lobbying is tracked and google spent over 33% more than Comcast - in your own words - bribing members of Congress.

The bulk of Google’s lobbying expenditure was for immigration, tax reform and antitrust. I’d say Google’s far better “at playing the game” after all no one is randomly sticking up for Comcast.


You're right, I should have checked the facts before speculating on which company spent more on lobbying. However, the things they are lobbying for/against also matter. As a recent example, Net Neutrality involved massive amounts of lobbing and had very clear "pro-consumer" and "anti-consumer" sides.

From https://www.opensecrets.org/news/issues/net_neutrality/

> Not only was Google the pro-net neutrality organization that spent the most on lobbying in 2014 — $16.8 million in 2014 — it was the 10th biggest spender on federal lobbying that year. Impressive as that sounds, however, it still ranked behind both Comcast and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

And it seems like every dollar that Comcast spends lobbying is directed towards efforts that will have a negative impact on my life, and the lives of everyone not on Comcast's board of directors. At least with Google, sometimes our incentives align, so that's another point in favor of attempting to break up the Comcast monopoly before the Google one.


>As a recent example, Net Neutrality involved massive amounts of lobbing and had very clear "pro-consumer" and "anti-consumer" sides

This isn't as uncontroversial of an opinion as it might appear to be in a place like HN. What you're admitting here basically is that you think Comcast should be broken up because they lobby for things you don't like, but FAANG is fine because they lobby for things you do.


No, you're putting words in my mouth, or misunderstanding my point.

> you think Comcast should be broken up

I think efforts to break up tech monopolies should first be focused on telecommunication companies.

> because they lobby for things you don't like,

Not just me, but are objectively harmful to 99% of the people they would affect

> but FAANG is fine because they lobby for things you do.

I'm mostly focusing on Google here, and yes, they at least occasionally lobby for things I like because sometimes their interests and the interests of the public in general happen to align.

With Comcast (and other ISPs), you have only one choice, and they spend tons of money and effort making sure you only have that one choice, and continue to have only that one choice. Comcast recently spent nearly $1M to prevent Fort Collins from creating a municipal ISP[1]. That is actively anti-competitive and monopolistic by definition.

[1]: https://muninetworks.org/content/totals-are-comcast-spends-9...


> With Comcast (and other ISPs), you have only one choice, and they spend tons of money and effort making sure you only have that one choice, and continue to have only that one choice. Comcast recently spent nearly $1M to prevent Fort Collins from creating a municipal ISP[1]. That is actively anti-competitive and monopolistic by definition.

I'm sure if the U.S. government was proposing to sell public bonds to build a search engine or ride-sharing service, you'd see a lot of lobbying from Silicon Valley. It's not "actively anti-competitive and monopolistic by definition" to oppose government backed and funded competition in your industry.


It's municipal, so the magnitude of threat you're implying (oooh Government) is a misdirection. GP's point is that consistently lobbying to shut down the existence of any competition, public or private, is monopolistic behavior. And it is, pretty much by definition.


GP used an example of lobbying against the government entering what had heretofore been a private market. Pushing back on that is not "monopolistic" by any sense of the term. If you have examples of Comcast lobbying to prevent private competition, I'd like to hear them. The biggest impediment to private competition actually comes from the public interest sector, which insists on build-out requirements that make it very difficult to start competing ISPs, on the theory that it's better for nobody to have competing choices than to only have wealthier areas have competing choices.


Monopoly refers to being a sole provider. It is completely by definition monopolistic to take action to prevent a second provider from emerging.

Is it possible for them to have other strategic incentives for their action, such as preventing a type of competitor from emerging? Yes. And if you take the perspective that government is a uniquely troublesome competitor, it's understandable to feel extra strong about it.

But it's still monopolistic in context. A counterpoint to "competition from the government is uniquely unfair" is "having only one provider is uniquely unfair". One is from the perspective of a profitable $100B corporation, the other is from the perspective of the consumers.


Comcast lobbied heavily everywhere that Google was looking to build our their fiber. Eg, https://consumerist.com/2016/09/20/comcast-att-try-again-to-...


Exactly what is happening in my town.

The city wanted to launch a municipal internet service. Predictably, it failed because the requirements were to provide service everywhere and the bids all came back too high.

Meanwhile they continue to resist private ISPs who want to expand into neighborhoods where they think they can do so profitably.


Search engine and ride-sharing don't seem to be natural monopolies however. Communication infrastructure in most part of the USA clearly is.

Still I agree breaking up Comcast is not the solution. You will just end up with smaller more localized monopolies. That's pretty much what happened with Bell after all.

The solution would be either nationalizing the infrastructure and leasing it to operators or forcing existing operators to rent their infrastructure to their competitors for a set price. The later is actually working quite well in France. Short of that you will never get competition. It's simply not profitable.


It's working terribly in France. France has some of the slowest broadband in the OECD: https://www.akamai.com/fr/fr/multimedia/documents/state-of-t.... Just 18% of French households have connections faster than 15 mbps, versus 48% of American households.


That's mostly because France never used copper cable as a TV distribution system and is going straight to fiber. Deployment is admittedly slower than it should be especially in the countryside where it will never be profitable due to low density. Meanwhile, people are stuck with ADSL and VDSL which give connections closer to 10mbps than 15.

Cost wise however, you can't even compare the USA and France. In France, a full speed FTTH subscription with no data cap cost 25 euros and you can pay 20 more to get a cell phone plan with unlimited call and unlimited data. If you are ready to switch provider yearly, you can bring that down to 25 euros all included.


According to the December 2017 OECD data, France and the U.S. are basically tied in terms of fiber deployment (12-13% of total broadband connections): https://www.oecd.org/sti/broadband/1.10-PctFibreToTotalBroad.... Which is pretty remarkable because in the U.S., fiber is a relatively smaller upgrade, because fast cable alternatives are available in almost every fiber market. (Just 1/3 of people who can get FiOS actually subscribe, for example. Google fiber has struggled to break 40% too.)

And how quickly is France's number going to grow given that France's second largest ISP recently cancelled its plans to deploy fiber? https://www.reuters.com/article/altice-sfr-france/altice-aba....

Also note that the French deployment is being heavily subsidized by the government (to the tune of $24 billion). Except for a small amount during the post-2008 economic stimulus, broadband deployment in the U.S. is not subsidized. Whereas the French government is paying a direct subsidy to build fiber in rural areas, in the U.S. rural deployment is financed by a cross subsidy (taxing ISPs in urban areas to subsidize ISPs in rural ones).


> And how quickly is France's number going to grow given that France's second largest ISP recently cancelled its plans to deploy fiber? https://www.reuters.com/article/altice-sfr-france/altice-aba....

Most likely unaffected. You rightfully pointed that the state is paying for much of it. A significant part of the deployment is actually done directly by the state (via the equivalent of counties) which owns the infrastructure.

> Also note that the French deployment is being heavily subsidized by the government (to the tune of $24 billion). Except for a small amount during the post-2008 economic stimulus, broadband deployment in the U.S. is not subsidized. Whereas the French government is paying a direct subsidy to build fiber in rural areas, in the U.S. rural deployment is financed by a cross subsidy (taxing ISPs in urban areas to subsidize ISPs in rural ones).

I don't really see what this has to do with my initial point: mandatory leasing of ISP private infrastructure to their competitors successfully create competition.

It is not subsidies to ISP by the way. Most of this money goes to counties so they can build their own infrastructure which they then lease to ISP. It makes a lot of sense because while this infrastructure wouldn't be profitable if privately built they have a significant positive economic impact on the region where they are deployed.


Wasn't Verizon given billions in subsidies for FTTH (which they installed on the east and west coast, the most profitable areas) and then sold off vast areas they didn't touch to companies like Frontier?


They certainly weren’t given cash like the french government is doing. The most you can say is that Bell Atlantic, Verizon’s predecessor, was allowed to accelerate depreciation of their copper network more quickly than under the previous tax rules.[1] Whether that amounted to a subsidy depends on how quickly the value of the copper plant decreased after fiber was built. The accelerated depreciation was based on the quite reasonable assumption that the value of the copper network depreciated more quickly after fiber was built. I’ve never seen a calculation refuting that premise.

[1] When you build an income-producing capital asset like copper wire in the ground, you can’t deduct the cost from your revenues immediately for tax purposes, like you can with say employee salaries. Instead, you gradually deduct the capital cost over the income-producing life of the asset. If the government allowes you to depreciate an asset faster than the value of the asset actually drops, that nets you some tax benefit due to the time value of money. On the other hand, if the accelerated depreciation reflects the fact that certain types of assets depreciate quicker, then it will result in the correct amount of taxes being paid. For example IT equipment in data centers can generally be written off immediately—unlike wires in the the ground it’s pretty much worthless after a few years.


Truly unlimited data?

For 4G data, your bandwith get capped ridiculously low after 60GB. For broadband, it's seems really unlimited yes. As it's often supposed to be for residential use only, I guess they will start asking you questions if your usage becomes very noticeable. I personally don't know anyone who ever had an issue.

How about we stop trying to come up with "solutions" that just cause more distortions, and exercise a bit of patience?

The 'cost vs. benefit' analysis should reveal similar ROI as "the wall."


No, it's worse.

What's the purpose of monopoly laws? What is their spirit? Consumer benefit, right? If that is better served by municipal utilities, then while it may not violate the word of antitrust, it certainly violates the spirit.


> I'm mostly focusing on Google here, and yes, they at least occasionally lobby for things I like because sometimes their interests and the interests of the public in general happen to align.

There’s definitely an argument to be made here that their interests don’t align with the public, and that they should therefore be targeted first — public interests is a subjective phrase.


Isn't the point of government to represent the people? Sure, the parent poster is but one person, but on the whole, Americans were in favor of Net Neutrality.

Perhaps outright defending FANG is going too far, but the parent definitely has a point that ISP's should be looked into when we're discussing "breaking up" companies.


There are multiple ways to represent the people and their best interests. It is not always the role of the government to do what is most popular. Raising taxes instead of increased deficit spending is an example of something that is often unpopular, but in many cases the objectively better option.


> Raising taxes instead of increased deficit spending is an example of something that is often unpopular, but in many cases the objectively better option.

I don't think that you could get any reasonably representative range of economists in a room to even agree that this is ever a better option, so I think your claim to objectivity is unwarranted.


Well, if the pre-existing taxes were zero, you could probably get a most economists to agree that raising taxes was better than increasing deficit spending.

Beyond that...yeah.


> What you're admitting here basically is that you think Comcast should be broken up because they lobby for things you don't like, but FAANG is fine because they lobby for things you do.

Far from being a shocking "admission," it's the least surprising thing in the world that people support policy they like and oppose policy they don't. And ignore policy they're indifferent to.

(People may also at times support policy they don't like and oppose policy they do for various practical political reasons, but that's a different discussion.)

This might be more of an issue in areas where things people do/don't like are arbitrary matters of taste. I'm certainly not saddling up to lead a state-backed charge against the company that produces Peeps despite the fact that I think they're a terrible excuse for candy.

But net neutrality is not an arbitrary matter of taste.

Nor, really, are immigration, tax reform and antitrust issues.


> What you're admitting here basically is that you think Comcast should be broken up because they lobby for things you don't like, but FAANG is fine because they lobby for things you do.

The original point of anti-trust law was to make things better for the consumer. If Comcast is using their power to lobby for anti-consumer practices then they should be broken up. Naturally consumers are going to disagree with anti-consumer practices.


It's uncontroversial to say Net Neutrality is pro-consumer on HN because we're the people who know the technical aspects of the concept; it's uncontroversial anywhere people know what it's about.

But the point is well made. We can't be breaking up companies that don't do what we want, if they're playing by the rules.

The real answer is to change the rules. Warren is running on some populist anger, and that's a dangerous thing to praise.


This is only true if you think that "the rules" can't include breaking up companies when they reach a certain level of market control. I hope you agree that Warren is running to change or enforce some rules; the reason you run for political office is to become a rulemaker or executor.


That's fine also, but I don't think they're mutually exclusive. If lax laws have allowed monopolies to take hold, then the job of the government is to protect consumers by creating a free market - and that may mean breaking companies up. In the case that the monopoly is natural or sufficiently hard to prevent, the government should either take over the industry and run it as a non-profit or intervene in such a way that creates a free market.


In absolutely no way should the government do any of those things. The government should instead pass laws that reflect how the people want corporations to behave, and until they do so, not punish or harm corporations for playing by the rules.

The government running an entire industry, even the threat of such a thing, is a great way to completely destroy innovation in that industry. Why would I invest in research if it's a real possibility the government can come in and take everything from me for nothing?

What you're suggesting doesn't create a free market, it creates a dead market.


OFC that is the measure. If they have lobbied for things that actually make our life better or make it worse. Lobbing is inevitable and Desirable too.


Not sure about desirable. I'm not a huge fan of the company/person with the most money to donate basically dictating the direction of our country (as it is now).


I believe net neutrality is a regulatory capture move, and gives Google and Netflix a stranglehold over the industry: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19316513 Marketing to the contrary, I believe there are good, strong justifications for against net neutrality, as a consumer and someone excited about the future of technology.

Additionally, and far more importantly: Comcast is a regional monopoly. They have a lot of power in some geographic areas of the United States. Google is a global monopoly that has power in nearly every home on the planet. You shouldn't be willing to strengthen a global monopoly to try to fight a regional one.


How so? If I don't like my internet provider, my only other option is dialup. If I don't like Google, there's multiple alternatives for all of their services that I use


While you can place your data in services which are not Google, if you want to consume data, you are often going to have to deal with Google. For instance, almost anyone who shares any sort of video whatsoever puts it on YouTube. It doesn't matter if I'm not a YouTube user, I have to go to YouTube if I want to watch someone else's videos.

And Google is far more than just where you go to search or store your email. Somewhere around 90% of the web uses Google Analytics, Google Ads, or Google Fonts, so they can track you regardless of where you go online. And that's before you get into the fact that plenty of websites are on Google's cloud services, which you may not even know. (I left Google Docs for another service, for instance, but it's still hosted on Google's servers.) Even if you're not logged into a Google account, Google is tracking you and profiling your behavior across the web. (Google also collects credit card data, so they can track you in brick and mortar stores now too.)

Using Google's browser to access the web is also becoming increasingly inescapable, now that the company with the second largest market share in web browsers is switching to Chrome's codebase. Firefox is nearly the last remaining holdout against Chromium. In fact, the very protocol we use to talk to the web is constantly being revised primarily on Google's lead and direction. HTTP/3, QUIC, DNS-over-HTTPS, etc. is all about moving the web's standard to something more palatable to Google's business models, and making them harder to block or filter out.

It's incredibly naive to believe you can escape Google. I've spent years de-Googling, and there's plenty of data Google still has on me.

ISP monopolies are a big problem, but they won't follow you when you move. A high bar for escape, to be sure, but escaping Google likely requires an even higher bar: Entering the witness protection program and getting a new identity.


What a joke. To claim that for example using Chrome is “inescapable” is pure hyperbole. You’re worried about Google tracking your credit card purchases but not worried about credit card companies tracking that? Because I assure you they do. And ISP monopolies do follow you when you move: across huge swathes of the US you have one or maybe two options for internet access.


> Firefox is nearly the last remaining holdout against Chromium.

And the reason they don't have more market share is because Chrome is still faster and provides a better experience on average than Firefox does. I switched (back) to Firefox a few years ago, and I'm mostly happy with it. But when I try to get others to switch, those that end up not switching try for a few days and run into horrible performance issues that cripple their browsing experience. Clearly this isn't a universal issue (my experience is fine), but it's a big enough issue that it likely hampers further adoption.

I pretty much never hear "Firefox doesn't work properly on X site" as a reason they can't use Firefox. In the end, people use Chrome because it tends to give a better experience for people, even given its lack of respect for their privacy.


AFAICT, Firefox almost exclusively has performance issues on Google's websites. Which is a reinforcing point to the threat of Google's monopoly.


The only website I've been to that Firefox struggles with is roll20 for some reason


That doesn't make sense - while Google may have a dominant position in a winner takes all ISPs can exclude others from the market far easier. If Google becomes grossly unreasonable it is easier to leave them - in a Geographic area your options are more constrained by physical availability and prices can be raised largely arbitrarily.


You have claimed that it's a stranglehold, but never explained what actually makes it so, given that any would-be Google and Netflix competitor would have access to the same pipes as those two, and on the same terms.


Economy of scale. For instance, Netflix has CDN boxes all over the planet, colocated by the ISPs. ISPs have to colocate them for free, because with net neutrality, they have to either accept the massive network traffic over their peering connections, or accept the box. Any smaller provider would need to pay for the privilege of colocation in an ISP's datacenter, and they'd also have to supply all of those boxes, that a company on Netflix's scale can easily afford.

Without net neutrality, ISPs would be free to charge big players like Google and Netflix more money, and that would leave a lot more room for smaller players to get involved. Getting "the same terms" as Google and Netflix is not always, inherently, a good thing.


> Without net neutrality, ISPs would be free to charge big players like Google and Netflix more money, and that would leave a lot more room for smaller players to get involved.

When ISPs decide that they should charge more for all video traffic, the smaller companies can't pay it but the larger ones can. Why would the ISPs act in the benefit of small companies when they can make more by charging more for all streaming video.


Except this usually works out the exact opposite, where the big companies get discounts in exchange for (predictable) volume.


That logic assumes ISPs would be interested in helping out smaller players.

That seems suspect to me...


Google learned from Microsoft's mistake.

You pay your bribes or the justice department comes knocking. Google made antitrust investigations just vanish into thin air.


I am puzzled to this day how IE + Windows was a monopoly but Android + Chrome is not.


>>Lobbying is tracked and google spent over 33% more than Comcast - in your own words - bribing members of Congress.

That's just members of Congress. What about local governments? Keep in mind a lot of states don't have laws that require publicly disclosing lobbying efforts.


This "tracked" lobbying is drop in the dark matter of political money. There are huge numbers of "career" congressman with disproportionate amount of wealth even though their only supposedly legal income was less than $200K. Magic? You don't get private dinners with presidents with just legal lobbying money.

https://www.rollcall.com/news/hawkings/congress-richer-ever-...


curious: Do you think tech giants' lobbying is responsible for the recent shift in allowing more highly-skilled H1B visa holders to enter USA? it would, i imagine, lower the companies' cost of labor.


Yep, and given their data mining capabilities google is far more dangerous. Tbh they shouldn't own Android and YouTube, those companies should be spin off from alphabet.

Can you please provide source links to this 33%? I assume it is public info but where do I find that.


Opensecrets.org will let you search public companies lobbying spend (and other info).

Or you can un-ironically google “google lobbying” and find more detailed articles about Google’s lobbying published by time, fortune, Bloomberg, etc...


By "spent more money on congress people" @psadauskas is not simply just referring to "who spent more money last year", he's implying that the foothole that a Comcast or a Verizon has in the capitol goes much further than say a Google. And that makes since right? Especially from a government's perspective. If you can be chummy with an ISP, you hardly need the help of a downstream application builder (e.g., Google).

His statement still holds


Lobbying is tracked and google spent over 33% more than Comcast - in your own words - bribing members of Congress.

Probably because they saw what happened when Microsoft tried to ignore Washington, DC. altogether. Can you blame Google for realizing that they couldn't just turn their backs on the game?


Google has long used lobbying for business objectives. For example, because Google profits from being a middle man for content created by other people, Google has lobbied for weaker copyright protections. Joel Splosky calls this "commoditizing your complement": https://www.gwern.net/Complement, and it explains Google's political positions to a tee. The idea that they were "forced" into it is wishful rationalization.


That's one perspective. Another school of thought says that both the extent and duration of copyright protection is counterproductive if not batshit insane, and lobbying for copyright liberalization benefits almost everyone regardless of the underlying motivation.


It's an unfortunate side effect of the current system. Either no one should be able to influence legislation, or you're going to be negatively impacted by choosing not to.

That said, I'm in favor of the former. Citizens United has been a pox on representatives representing their constituents, which has made lobbying all the more effective and easy.


Also, does the public have the image of Comcast and Verizon CEOs as being specific people who are really rich and dislikable? So that taking them down a notch will make the public happy? And so taking them down a notch is a good political stance?

To be fair, I think there is some argument that some of the larger tech giants would benefit consumer welfare by being broken up. Facebook probably less so since people already have choice.

Warren does herself no favors by using $25 billion as the threshold of a monopoly. What a real monopoly is is when there is no consumer choice at all, leading to large corporate profits that hurt consumers at the pricing level.

By not using consumer choice or harm as the standard (which is what the court uses), Warren comes across (and perhaps actually intends) to be against large companies, regardless of welfare.


In the past couple years, a new legal theory proposed that the definition of monopoloy needs to be updated for the 21st century.

Instead of focusing on consumer welfare, antitrust law should focus on 'anticompetitive behavior'. In this argument, amazon is the platform through which all other online sellers go to market, like railroads in the late 19th century. Behaving as both a platform and participant is anticompetitive, regardless of whether programs like 'amazon basics' make consumers happy.

NYT article about the author of the original law paper https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/07/technology/monopoly-antit...

I don't have strong feelings on the issue, but this may help explain warren's stance, which isn't directly related to consumer choice.


The original paper is pretty readable, the NYT article doesnt really add anything but context. https://www.yalelawjournal.org/note/amazons-antitrust-parado...


It's not a new legal theory, though. It's a return to the old one that predated the current state of affairs. In other words, it's a return to what the people who originally wrote our anti-monopoly laws meant them to do.


Yep people forget the economic impact of monopsonies aswell as monopolies


so we are ok with removing the only thing we as people have going for us, consumer welfare consideration and focus only on how to make it easier for businesses to screw us. Should I feel better that the business that is screwing me is a "small business" instead of a giant? is that the new standard?


It's not either-or. The problem is that the current interpretation only looks at consumer impact, and ignores a lot of anti-competitive behavior that makes the market less free overall. In practice, this still hurts consumers, it's just that much harder to prove because of indirect effects - and so monopolies get away with it more often than they used to.


>>In practice, this still hurts consumers.

I Don't agree with this view. It surely has the potential to hurt the consumers in the future but IF and WHEN it does consumer impact at that time can be used to fight it (break up etc). No need to actually hurt the consumer NOW for the fear that they might be hurt in the future.


>so we are ok with removing the only thing we as people have going for us

The way that the 'consumer welfare' protection is currently implemented has no teeth.

Consider the Comcast/TWC mergers. The companies involved pay 'experts' (Of their choice) to spin fairy tales about how they project that costs to customers will go down. Five years down the road, when they don't (Or, customers suffer because other intangibles degrade, due to lack of competition), nobody actually holds them accountable, after the fact.


the old hay is, if you charge less than your competitor, you're engaging in anticompetitive behavior, if you charge the same as your competitor, you're engaging in collusion, if you charge more than your competitor, you're price gouging, so as a business, the only way to survive is to lobby politicians enough and buy yourself protection.


Amazon Basics is a tiny part of their revenue. The conclusion that they participate in their own platform and therefore need to be broken up makes no sense.


> What a real monopoly is is when there is no consumer choice at all, leading to large corporate profits that hurt consumers at the pricing level.

Well, sure, 100% national market share is obviously a monopoly. But you're also a monopoly if you distort a market (generally markets with less than 3 major players) or have control or distortion over individual markets (you can have a monopoly in NYC but not the US, for example).

I think this obviously applies to telecoms, which often have monopolies over certain areas (and often granted by local government! thanks a lot Philly city council).

I think there's a whole host of bad behavior that's non-monopolistic. That's what I think needs to be cracked down on. Some of these do relate to market share, but I don't think it's as simple as a boolean monopoly / not-monopoly. It's a gradient, and much of the behavior in that gradient should be dealt with. There's often collusion between companies on pricing, or agreements not to compete, etc...


>I think this obviously applies to telecoms, which often have monopolies over certain areas (and often granted by local government! thanks a lot Philly city council).

That's a key distinction. Are there any actual monopolies (I don't mean companies that are merely dominant) that are not backed by government?


Healthcare, insurance often do? I haven't really thought about that too much. According to the FTC, having a monopoly is not in and of itself illegal.

Let's clear up what we're talking about. I don't find monopolies to be a very interesting subject.

What I have a problem with is anticompetitive behavior (which is illegal but the US has been notably slacking on enforcement for years). When a company uses their position as a platform for sales to start pushing into selling actual products in markets they've determined to be profitable, or a company bundles their applications with their mobile platform thereby dominating the app market, or when a company runs the largest platform for search but simultaneously distorts it through advertising and mysterious delisting or account shutdowns, then you have problems. These companies are anti-competitively distorting markets in ways that consumers can't understand and requires regulation.

There are two ways tech companies are often uncompetitive. Predatory or below cost-pricing, https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/competition-guidance/guide-a... is first among them. Think Uber, where they lose money each ride. "Free" services also seem like they violate this, as they prevent anyone from competing in that market. You can't sell private email services so long as free email exists. App and service bundling falls under the other condition, https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/competition-guidance/guide-a.... Mysterious delisting or shutting down accounts without reason or recourse falls under refusal to deal, https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/competition-guidance/guide-a....


To be fair, I think there is some argument that some of the larger tech giants would benefit consumer welfare by being broken up. Facebook probably less so since people already have choice.

It's only kinda choice. They have such a dominance over the social graph, most people who "leave" them don't actually completely leave. Most of them keep Facebook around as an address-book+messaging. People who "leave" by actually deleting their account then turn around and create obvious dummy accounts.


It's worth remembering that the career antitrust officials at the FTC felt that Google should face antitrust action back in 2012.

It was the political appointees (from both parties) who shut the investigation down.

>The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday faced renewed questions about its handling of its antitrust investigation into Google, after documents revealed that an internal report had recommended stronger action.

The 2012 report, from the agency’s bureau of competition, said that the agency should sue the Internet search company for anticompetitive practices…

In early 2013, the agency unanimously voted not to bring charges after an investigation.

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/20/technology/take-google-to...

Google's lobbying investment levels appear to have been quite adequate.

However, I would agree that the telecomm companies are also ripe for antitrust action.


Why not both? Dumping on someone’s policy because you don’t who they target first doesn’t really help.

God knows I’d trust her to break up ISPs before pretty much any other candidate.


That's a fair point, but I think that there is also a valid concern about distraction. Does focus on FAANG companies result in less attention given to the potentially more dangerous ISPs? Could the ISPs use concern about Amazon, etc as an argument that they are actually less dangerous and should be ignored?


I'm not "dumping" on her policy, I'm dumping on her choice of targets. I'm not happy about the App Store monopoly, but I'm actually upset at Comcast's behavior in every area they do business.


"Elizabeth Warren Slams Comcast, Wants More Antitrust Enforcement" https://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Elizabeth-Warren-Slams-C...

2016, but still..


good evidence its just politician talking and nothing will come out of it


Has she done anything since?


What actions do you expect from one legislator in a house where the controlling party has been deregulating ISPs?

Suggest bi-partisan regulations sounds like a bare minimum. Gather information from specialists. Suggesting to split companies requires a minimum effort: understand what interactions exist now between the teams. I don’t have the impression that she’s done that.

> Also, while FAANG occasionally do things I don’t approve of, they don’t actively lobby congress for things that will make my use of the internet objectively worse (NN, SOPA, etc...).

Is this true? It depends on your use of the internet and definitions of “worse”, but I know that both Google and Facebook have been strong opponents of state-level Internet privacy legislation. They also spend huge amounts on lobbying, SV outspending Wall Street about 2:1 for the last few years. Do telcos spend more?


Alphabet spends about 50-75% more than Verizon or Comcast on lobbying. Which is amazing considering they’re not in a regulated industry. When you’re in a regulated industry, regulators micro-manage your business so there is a lot of lobbying involved dealing with relatively mundane and uncontroversial things. Not big picture stuff, but like cities vetoing fiber nodes because they’re ugly. Tech companies don’t deal with that, so it’s amazing they manage to spend more.


Could the fact that they spend so much on lobbying be one of the reasons their industry is still unregulated?


Is the Pope catholic?


Google does have Fiber though I imagine the extent of that is still much lower than a full Telecoms company. I think the exceptional spending on lobbying comes from the sheer breadth of services that Google provides:

> "Google said it lobbied on dozens of issues, reflecting how integral its services have become to American lives and commerce. The filing cited privacy, data security, antitrust, taxes, tariffs, trade, the opioid crisis, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, autonomous vehicles, immigration, the future of work, encryption and national security."

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-22/google-se....


> Tech companies don’t deal with that, so it’s amazing they manage to spend more.

It's not really that surprising, because they're not only affected by it but on multiple fronts.

There was a time when Google spent hardly anything on lobbying. Meanwhile Hollywood was promoting things like SOPA, Microsoft was at one point operating a major anti-Google lobbying campaign, ISPs want to violate network neutrality, etc.

It's one thing to not want to fight, something else to not respond when provoked.


IMO, that is not the point. Lobby spending can be more indicative of a looming regulatory threat than to protect monopolies that harm consumers.

I also think that Warren is dead wrong. The internet/FB/GOOGL allow smaller businesses to flourish. 15 years ago, only major brands could afford to advertise or reach an audience, now niche companies can exist with a national or international presence.

If anything, these tech monopolies hurt the previously established, Coke/Kraft/Sears and they hurt VC's who can't find a way to scale a niche brand with smaller TAM's or compete directly with Amazon, etc.


No doubt the internet itself has created new opportunities for small businesses, but why do you say that huge companies like Facebook and Google needed to accumulate market power to achieve that?


> because Comcast has -bribed- donated to way more congresspeople than google

Is that true? [1] indicates Google spent more than Comcast in lobbying in q1 2015. I have no idea how this varies quarter by quarter and since 2015, but Google spends a lot lobbying.

I would not be surprised if that extends to campaign contributions as well. Google donates a ton of money to a ton of politicians.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/apr/21/google-co...


While I don’t know what Google spent their money lobbying for, so I’m not going to pick a side in my comment. I’d say the more important thing isn’t who spent the most money but what they spent it on. If for example Google spent some of that money fighting for Net Neutrality then that is better in my mind then Comcast spending most of their money fighting against it. I’m not saying this is the case or that Google has lobbied for good things. But knowing generally what they lobbied for would be a more useful piece of information.


She's called out Comcast before too — don't jump to the conclusion that someone can't chew gum and walk at the same time without at least a 10 second Google.


Forgive us for taking her campaign speeches at face value. She chose to make FAG the highlight of her campaign, not Comcast.


Maybe rethink that acronym.

I figured people would take a couple minutes to educate themselves about the candidates, but I forgot that I wasn't in my home country.


True. Another commenter linked to an article about Warren ragging on Comcast... back in 2016. What has she done about Comcast since then? Anything?


She's an outspoken supporter of Net Neutrality, which is definitely a stick in the eye for both Comcast and Verizon.

Is there a candidate that has done more than Warren in this regard? (not criticizing, I'm legitimately curious)


What actions do you expect from one legislator in a house where the controlling party has been deregulating ISPs?

A counter-argument is that even someone like you who doesn't use facebook, amazon, and google is still irrevocably affected by their power and behaviors. You seem to think you've escaped them, but you surely have a Shadow Profile in facebook, you browse websites that show you AdSense ads (google), and oh yeah, your civic institutions are manipulable via popular opinion on facebook. Hmmm, you do have a strong point about Comcast and Verizon, but I think there's a false choice in there.


And how would breaking them up prevent any of that? Facebook doesn't have a monopoly on data collection, Google doesn't have a monopoly on display advertising, and Facebook doesn't have a monopoly on peer pressure.


The value and impact on commercialized surveillance depend critically on the ability to generate large databases, both on the any specific indivual, and on the the number of individuals thus affected. Breaking up dataminers probably would help.

And if we take a step back: this isn't necessarily only about privacy, but about capitalism and competition. Data-miner customers, and data-miner subjects might both get a better deal if there were competition between the middle men, at least more than now.


They have monopolies on the political leverage that comes with all of the above.

Verizon and Comcast could play the same game, but they're still more about money than influence - which is why they've chosen to make their stand on killing net neutrality, not on influencing referendums and elections.

FB particularly is incredibly toxic to genuine democracy - not necessarily more toxic than some of the other monsters in the mainstream media shark tank, but certainly not a company that should be allowed to run riot without oversight.


agree, ISPs, cable-providers and wireless carriers should also be on the top of the list. Same here, there is no alternate to Comcast in where I live offering a similar service. They have been doing very slight improvements in service while almost doubling their prices.

Paying $110/month for a business line with 50 down / 10 up, while recently i was offered then refused a promotion upgrade to $140/month with 150 down / 25 up for 3 years. After three years, the pricing goes close $300. Unbelievable deceiving offerings for reduction in current pricing. Totally stuck... :(


On the other hand, the reasons that ISPs are territorial monopolies (local, state, and federal regulatory capture) are hard to address. Splitting territorial monopolies into smaller territorial monopolies is unlikely to help.


>Splitting territorial monopolies into smaller territorial monopolies is unlikely to help.

It seemed have helped in the Ma Bell[0] days[1].

[0] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_System

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakup_of_the_Bell_System


Splitting a large monopoly into smaller territorial monopolies gets you all the drawbacks of a monopoly with none of the benefits of centralization. Pretty much a total loss. Improvement in US telecom probably had more to do with demonopolization wholesale at the national level rather than the formation of the baby bells.. which pretty much all failed.


>...rather than the formation of the baby bells.. which pretty much all failed.

The general premise is that the smaller companies allows competition to enter the market. It is precisely because of this competition that the smaller bells all failed - because they were still stuck in the mentality that they needn't compete, whilst also lacking the resources to drive the competition out of town (e.g.: lobbying, buy them out, etc.). They didn't control the whole chain, anymore.

That's supposed to be the idyllic of the capitalist system, yeah?

I'm genuinely not trying to be contrarian, here, but trying to understand how breaking up a monopoly, such as Bell, didn't have any direct consequences on the territorial monopolies.

For example, if Bell had an agreement with 'x' area that they were the sole provider in that area, then as soon as they were no longer Bell, that monopoly agreement essentially hit dissolution, yeah? In principle, that should have an almost immediate net-positive effect on the area, I would think?


How did the Baby Bells fail? AT&T and Verizon are Baby Bells that merged with other Baby Bells.

They did drive out the competition. The Baby Bells inherited the existing infrastructure. Most competing carriers relied on regulations that allowed them to lease access at wholesale rates. The Baby Bells got those regulations overturned. Investors weren't lining up to fund duplicate infrastructure anyway but especially not when the Baby Bells could tie up any project in court for months or years.

Dividing a national monopoly into regional monopolies did almost nothing to improve competition. Vertical disintegration did while it lasted.

The only companies that really managed to compete with the Baby Bells were cable companies, which had built out infrastructure before they started competing.


Comcast (et. al.) monopolies are largely due to local/municipal franchise agreements. Breaking up Comcast into a bunch of little baby Comcasts would not do any good if they are still granted local monopolies by little town boards and city councils.


Exactly. That's what happened to Ma Bell, and lo and behold! AT&T / Verizon still hold a large part of the country in a chokehold.


Because this is a political move and it is being done for political reasons.


There was a recent podcast by Chris Hayes on this topic with Kashmir Hill. It's not as easy to avoid FAANG as one would expect at first glance.

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/how-block-big-tech-kas...


Also worth noticing that Comcast owns NBCUniversal/NBC/Chris Hayes. Not saying they instructed him specifically on how to opine on this one issue but there is a general conflict of interest.


In addition:

We had 27 large banks in the early 90's. These have merged into four enormous ones today [0].

We had 50 media corporations in the early 80's. They have merged into six today [1].

[0] https://www.visualcapitalist.com/the-banking-oligopoly-in-on...

[1] https://www.businessinsider.com/these-6-corporations-control...


"How about going after Comcast and Verizon first, the actual tech monopolies?"

Haha, the actual "but no, because" is that Comcast and Verizon said "why not the platforms first" in response to net neutrality.

Regulating one of these industries isn't at all in any way whatsoever in a first-second relationship with doing the same to the other industry.


Sorry if I'm asking something which is obvious to most people, but is it apparent that Comcast has out lobbied FAANG?

I recall Google having the highest expenditure on lobbying for one of the last few years.

The point about Comcast's anticompetitive practices still holds, but not as a "they do this worse than them" IMO.


Those are hard because the are natural monopolies. In the UK it was decided to privatise the national telecom provider and open the market up to to allow other suppliers. We got one other supplier who built all their infrastructure during a few years in the 90s and only in the choicest urban areas. The old monopolist is now solely responsible for supplying all the hard to reach rural areas.

The best solution is probably to accept the national monopoly and socialise the infrastructure, but like that will ever happen...


Comcast's monopoly is held in place by regulation that prevents competition, not market forces. It doesn't need to be broken up, just relax those regulations.


Also Comcast is more politically mature and dangerous, and more capable in manufacturing consent around issues of monopoly.

The average person will have an easier time understanding the concept that his favorite pundit is less discoverable on Google properties than his political opponent than the concept that Comcast owns Sky, MSNBC, Rotten Tomatoes, Universal Pictures, Telemundo, E!, Vox, The Verge and has all manners of pervasive influence in your thought.


Don't forget Spectrum (the result of the Charter and TWC merger) as well.


Saying Google == email is a bit naive. Google is search, and the internet starts with search. They definitely have a monopoly on search and it's what's essentially powering almost all of Google revenue right now.


Their revenue comes from ads, which happen to be on their search, which is used because it is the best, not because people are forced to use it.


If that was purely the case they wouldn’t have paid Apple and Mozilla billions to set Google as the default.


Ad revenue is powered by the content that draws eyeballs to the ads.

Ads are worthless on their own.


That odd SV myopia. The trend in broadband has been more competition. Verizon competes with Comcast in almost its entire FiOS service area. These days it also competes with cellular—15% (and growing) of households have abandoned wired broadband in favor of cellular. There are four major cellular providers.

In tech, the trend has been in the other direction. If you don’t consider Sprint a viable competitor to AT&T, what does that say about Bing and the search market? If cellular isn’t competitive, what about mobile, where there is just Android and iOS?


It would be odd if it were SV myopia, since I'm 1000 miles from there. In 90% of Denver Metro, your choice is Comcast or 1.5mbit CenturyLink. I just bought a house in a new neighborhood, and one of the major selling points was that both CenturyLink and Comcast offer 1gbit service. CenturyLink's service costs about 3/4 of Comcast, and Comcast's service here is already about 1/2 of what they change for gigabit in other areas that don't have competition.

Sure, Google has the search monopoly, but they don't actively squash (or try to get laws made against) any other company trying to build an alternative search engine. I use DDG for most things, but occasionally have to repeat the search on Google because its just better.

Also, my point isn't that FAANG are perfect citizens and don't need any regulation at all, its that the Telecom companies are far worse If we're gearing up enough citizenry outrage to do some monopoly busting, lets start with them instead.


I've got that SV myopia here in Chicago too ;)


Chicago has Comcast, AT&T Fiber, Spectrum, and RCN.


How many households can choose between all of them?

> The trend in broadband has been more competition.

In the past decade I've lived in three different cities, and in each one Comcast was the only provider available. Do we really not think Comcast has a monopoly?


Google has 90% search market share--Comcast doesn't have that even in areas where it is the sole high-speed wired provider (because DSL and cellular are viable alternatives for a significant part of the population). And over large swaths of its service area it isn't the only high-speed wired option. I don't know where you're located, but I've lived in Chicago, Atlanta, DC, Baltimore, Annapolis, New York, and Philadelphia over the last decade. Each place except Baltimore has multiple providers. And Comcast competes with cellular everywhere.

If you take the view that cellular or DSL aren't legitimate competition (despite having double-digit marketshare even where Comcast has no other competition), then Bing and Yahoo! aren't competition for Google either. In which case Google has a nationwide monopoly in search.


It isn't about market share. It is about consumer choice. Access to google alternatives are available to everyone. Many people don't have a reasonable choice when it comes to broadband.


Economists traditionally analyze market concentration in terms of market share, not the mere existence of choice. I will point out that you felt the need to qualify "choice" with "reasonable"--because Comcast competes with DSL and cellular almost everywhere. But that some qualifier applies to search. Even in markets where Comcast is the only cable provider, it usually doesn't have anything close to 90% market share, because DSL and cellular are a "reasonable choice" for quite a lot of people. (About half of households don't subscribe to any streaming video service.) Thus, judging by market share, Google alternatives are apparently even less viable in the search industry than DSL and cellular are in the home broadband industry.


Competitive markets tend toward monopolies because everyone wants the best product. Monopolies are only prevented by vendor lock in or natural barriers (like geography, which mostly does not exist on the Internet), which is why you have a few pseudo competitors in broadband and cellular.


> Economists traditionally analyze market concentration in terms of market share, not the mere existence of choice.

Actually, many economists - and perhaps most of them - argue that what's fundamental to monopolization concerns is the presence of undue barriers to entry that make the market non-contestable. "Market share" and "choice" are not helpful on their own, because a big market share could be entirely due to the incumbent pursuing efficiency and the consumer's best interests, so as to keep themselves ahead of any possible competitors. But this is a benign dynamic that will be quickly corrected should the incumbent fall behind, as competitors would quickly enter the market.


> The trend in broadband has been more competition.

I'm not in SV, but this is 100% not true in my area. Where I live, my choice for broadband providers consists of Comcast. There is no alternative, nor is there any sign that competition is coming.


Why do you think that is?


I don't know -- I have no data to even speculate on. But I do know that there's nothing unusual about my situation. It's common across the country.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_allocation_scheme

Only that you don't need an agreement to make it happen. Tacit understanding works just as well.


You have to look at areas where Comcast is the only choice, what the prices and speeds available are there, and the prices and speeds that are suddenly available when a competitor arises.

And phone service is not a viable alternative. Even 50gb (the standard cap it seems nowadays before throttling) gets you only 10-20 hours of video at high quality.


Sure, in some areas the lack of ISP competition is particularly acute. But on the flip side, lack of competition in tech is a nationwide problem. I’ve got gigabit through both Verizon and Comcast at my house. It’s much easier for me to switch between the two than for me to switch off gmail (which has years of my emails), or to switch off Facebook (which all my aunts and uncles use).

As to cellular—it’s a viable alternative for lots of people. Many people don’t need more than 10-20 hours of high quality video per month. 20% of people are already smartphone-only users, and that figure is growing. At the same time, those data caps are growing. Verizon’s 5G service has no data cap. Even if there is a soft cap of a few hundred GB, that’ll be a viable wired replacement for most people.

The trend in tech, by contrast, is the opposite. We’re not on the precipice of increased competition in search or mobile OSs. Indeed, with Microsoft throwing in the towel on Windows Mobile, there is less competition in that space than ever.


You are fortunate to be in one of the few areas where there is true ISP competition. For most of the country there is none. Yes, it may be hard to move off of gmail but it isn’t impossible unlike changing high speed internet providers for most of the country. You can leave Facebook and communicate in other ways. I’m sure your aunts and uncles have phones so you could text or call them.

I don’t see how splitting up Apple or Google would increase the number of mobile OSs. There have been companies in the past that have tried building a mobile OS either for a specific phone or as an open source OS and none of them have really gained traction. There have been rumors for a couple years now of some of the phone manufacturers talking about building their own OS to use in place of android, yet those still haven’t appeared. Microsoft failed at mobile because they were too late to the party, people already knew which mobile experience they preferred.


> You are fortunate to be in one of the few areas where there is true ISP competition. For most of the country there is none.

That's not true, and I'm not sure where people get that idea. Slightly over half the country has two or more wired choices at 25 mbps, and that's as of a few years ago.

And if you're saying that texting my aunt in Bangladesh is a viable alternative to sharing pictures of my kids on Facebook, then it makes no sense to discount satellite, DSL, and cellular as viable alternatives to Comcast. (And indeed they are for many people--just over half the households in Comcast's footprint actually subscribe to its service.)


Upvoted, seriously this, all the talk about Google, Amazon, Facebook hides many of the real problems and monopolies. These 3 don't even make it to a top 100 list of problematic companies.


By sheer company size i think you are undervaluing them.


You don't get it. She's aptly taking advantage of a liberal trend which is negative sentiment to companies causing income stratification in their respective and potential locations.

She doesn't really care about the underlying cause. If that was so then your points would be valid.

But look at how many news articles got published and how many people are getting excited about the thought. Being against successful technology companies is currently what liberals want and she's feeding her party.


Fascinating. This implies that Facebook, Amazon, Google are hated because they pay their rank and file employees well, instead of senior management and shareholders ahoarding all the wealth like traditional big companies do.


>She doesn't really care about the underlying cause.

She's been calling out large companies for her whole political career, motivated by the inequity she saw in her previous career in bankruptcy law.


because Google/Amazon/Facebook are more consequential to our life and society. But I agree cable companies should also be looked at. TBH there's no hope competition will ever be a thing where heavy infrastructure spending is at play, those companies should be made public and the infrastructure provided for businesses by the government through fees, just like roads and other basic infra.


You can replace Google/Amazon/Facebook in seconds.

You can not change your cable provider in a large number of areas, and even many of the ones that you can, you only have 2 choices between Comcast/Verizon/ATT/Centurylink.

And, miraculously, as soon as a competitor arrives, you see prices drop and speeds increase. It happened in just about every area Google fiber rolled out to.

Comcast also charge $10 for an extra 50GB of data after hitting the cap, and Comcast just happens to own a major network (which if you stream your tv shows, you won't be watching). It just seems incredibly clear that Comcast and other cable companies are clearly taking advantage of their monopoly status at the expense of customers, which is exactly when trust busting is supposed to come into play.


You're both arguing like its an either-or proposition, and arguing over which one is the absolute best ensures that nothing will get done.


> You can replace Google/Amazon/Facebook in seconds.

This is largely false: look at market share of all their competitors — network effects are really hard to replace.


Google doesn't even have a network effect, they just have the World's best search engine. If it ceased to be the World's best, you could leave immediately. Amazon you can replace by just ordering from any of the other countless online vendors.

Facebook is harder to replace, but people thought Myspace would be around forever for the same reasons.


People said the same thing about AOL, Yahoo, and Myspace


What's an alternative model for telecommunications operation to what's in place today? We broke up Ma Bell, and now we're thinking about breaking up her descendants.

Even if Comcast et al. get broken up, we'll probably just end up with poor customer service from the resultant components until they merge.


Can you avoid using services that run on AWS, though? Or avoid sites that advertise and get analytics from Google? These companies are so dangerous not only because of their consumer-facing services, but the fact that they've made themselves an integral part of our online infrastructure.


When visiting a site you have the choice to visit or not. Site owners have the choice of what to put up and how to host it.

That's like asking the government to break up the react framework because more sites are using it and you have no jquery option.


> When visiting a site you have the choice to visit or not. Site owners have the choice of what to put up and how to host it.

Not really — my option is basically "indirectly support AWS" or "forego large swaths of the Internet." Site owners have to choose between directly supporting AWS, indirectly supporting AWS via intermediary services that use it, or giving up the economies of scale that AWS's dominance allows.

> That's like asking the government to break up the react framework because more sites are using it and you have no jquery option.

This is not analogous. AWS is a company. React is an open source project.


Would anything meaningfully change if React was a paid product?


Sure it might be hard to avoid AWS but 1) Azure is coming for it fast and 2) from a customer standpoint using AWS is pretty independent of selling products on Amazon. If amazon were deranking products whos owners had switched from aws to azure, i might have a different opinion.


How about going after all these companies...and to make it simple - start alphabetically.


So start with Alphabet?


agree, ISPs, cable-providers and wireless carriers should also be on the top of the list. Same here, there is no alternate to Comcast in where I live offering a similar service. They have been doing very slight improvements in service while almost doubling their prices.

Paying $110/month for a business line with 50 down / 10 up, while recently i was offered then refused a promotion upgrade to $140/month with 150 down / 25 up for 3 years. After three years, the pricing goes close $300.

Quite deceiving pushy sales people and their offerings with reduction in current pricing. I am considered a loyal grandfathered customer, yet i am totally stuck... :(


that doesn’t get the headline as much. don’t worry she won’t break anything up. she just wants to stand out in primary


> However, all of that goes over Comcast’s network because that’s my only viable choice for Internet service.

An antitrust breakup of Comcast would be one or both of:

1. splitting off different lines of business, such as the content production parts from the physical cable service part, or

2. splitting them into different companies geographically.

Neither of these would do much to increase your ISP options.


> Neither of these would do much to increase your ISP options.

The first one works if you do it properly. One of the lines of business just operates the physical infrastructure. It not only doesn't provide video service, it doesn't even provide internet service -- the end user is never their customer, their only customers are third party ISPs, who all get the same terms.


There is no "proper" way to do this. The U.K. does what you're describing, and U.S. broadband speeds blow away U.K. broadband speeds: https://www.speedtest.net/reports/united-kingdom/#fixed (UK); https://www.speedtest.net/reports/united-states/2018/fixed/ (US).

The physical infrastructure is what makes everything on top of it possible, and at the same time it is one of the most expensive pieces to build, upgrade, and maintain. There needs to be adequate returns on investment in the infrastructure, and that's hard to do in the unbundled model.

If you want high-quality infrastructure, you need to let the infrastructure builder capture a sufficient portion of the value created by that infrastructure. Consider trains. Trains create value for people using the train to get around, but also value for the real estate by the train station. If you only let the train company recover from the rider, you won't incentives that reflect the true value of investing in the train.

Look at Japan, where train service is exceptional. The train company gets to charge both sides. They charge fares to riders, but also are major land owners around train stations, and charge rent to the businesses who benefit from having train service near them. If you had your model in Japan, where train companies just own the tracks and get a modest fee for allowing people to use them, you would not see that kind of high-quality train service.


> The physical infrastructure is what makes everything on top of it possible, and at the same time it is one of the most expensive pieces to build, upgrade, and maintain. There needs to be adequate returns on investment in the infrastructure, and that's hard to do in the unbundled model.

Why is it hard? You charge a price that reflects the cost of building the infrastructure. 200Mbps service can have a higher price than 50Mbps service, providing an incentive to build the capacity necessary to offer it. Which is still true even if the price for the faster service falls to approach the price for the slower service as upgrade cost is paid off. And then there is another upgrade and 1000Mbps service becomes the more expensive one compared to the now more affordable 200Mbps etc.

> Consider trains. Trains create value for people using the train to get around, but also value for the real estate by the train station. If you only let the train company recover from the rider, you won't incentives that reflect the true value of investing in the train.

You're essentially arguing against there being efficient Coasian bargaining. But the arguments against it are usually related to transaction costs, which don't seem to help you here. If Comcast can't charge anything to Netflix and as a result Netflix service is slightly less expensive to the user and internet service is slightly more expensive to the user, the user is not engaging in any new transactions and the net to the user is approximately zero. Moreover, then there is no transaction happening between Comcast and Netflix, which reduces the overall number of transactions that have to occur.


I think local loop unbundling in the UK might only apply to telephone lines, not cable or fiber lines. If that's the case, then the speed comparison should be between UK and US DSL service, not UK and US broadband in general.


...so maybe it is time to finally admit that ISPs are natural monopolies, just like the water company or power company, and regulate them as a utility and ensure that local municipalities who want to provide these services for their residents have a legal path to do so?

The situation right now is so ridiculous that some states have laws outright barring municipal ISPs. If a breakup into regional private monopolies is the stepping stone to reducing ISP influence on government enough to get a more sane legal framework, I'll take it.


More effective than breaking them up would be imposing regulation. Force the incumbents to allow 3rd parties to use their infrastructure at a regulated wholesale rate, and then compete on service.

In Canada, there's a bunch of smaller cable resellers. For instance, Shaw does cable/phone/tv and also has some wifi infrastructure deals with various commercial businesses, and provides "Shaw Go Wifi" access to internet subscribers.

In my local area, we also have LightSpeed which resells access to Shaw for a cheaper rate, but you need to buy your own modem, and there's no wifi access around town. Trade-offs, and a slightly more healthy marketplace.


"But we need to do X first!" is not a good reason to not do Y, a different-but-still-good thing. All of these companies need to be broken up, and the Department of Justice Anti-Trust division has enough employees to do it.

These monolithic companies are sucking up all of the power in our economy and have destroyed the competitive markets. As the Economist recently said "Profits are too high. America needs a giant dose of competition." https://www.economist.com/briefing/2016/03/26/too-much-of-a-...

Capitalism without competition isn't really capitalism, but feudalism.


Splitting up "monopolies" won't create competition, especially in the case of vertical integration. What would help competition is intellectual property reforms, deregulation, tax simplification, occupational licensing reforms, etc. But almost everyone weaving the "evil monopoly corporations" narrative explicitly ignores practical policies that address those.


I agree that the primary cause of all this is government interference regarding barriers to entry. However, did the regulation help insulate these companies against competition in the first place or did they use their money and power once established to pass laws that would keep competitors at bay? Lobbying reaps disproportionate rewards---those CEOs who stick by their non-rent-seeking principles are leaving big money on the table and will likely be replaced by shareholders. (Econ Talk had a good podcast on this recently.)

Regarding trust busting, it is worth noting that these tech giants give an immense amount of money and support to the left. Might as well give Warren some bipartisan support so we can thrash them a bit---it would be sweet poetic justice to attack these statist zealots with the very government power they worship.


Google is effectively has monopolies on search and online advertising.

They should be broken up.


actual how-about-ism detected in the wild. more of a debating trick than a comment.


That's a really good point. Let's nationalize the ISPs!


On the internet it's hard to tell if that is real enthusiasm or sarcasm.

Enthusiasm: Telco cartels need more oversight, make them government run, so they are beholden to the people. They serve themselves at a nice profit at everyone's expense, but internet communications have become so intertwined in culture, commerce, national security, that there really is no reason they shouldn't be part of the government apparatus.

Sarcasm: Government run telcos will cost taxpayers even more money, work worse than they do now, and increase government pensions to be payed out. US Internet will stagnate as a result of people getting into telco as a cushy government position.


Enthusiasm, as a matter of fact.

There's precedent to this in the USA. The US Government once passed regulations that caused one of the largest companies in America to break up into three smaller companies. Today those, three companies are entirely independent, employ over 400,000 people combined, and have a combined net work of over $400B.

Those companies are Boeing Aircraft (153k employees, $244B market value), United Technologies (202k employees, $148B market value), and United Airlines (88k employees, $33B market value).[0]

What most people perceive as a threat to the market is when one company takes over an entire single market. And that is a problem, no doubt. But in the case of Boeing, the problem was that one company had such an advantage vertically- lose money on planes in order to make money on shipping, or vice versa, as needed. It meant it could win in whichever market it wanted to and slowly come to dominate all of those markets. The synergies of doing it all internally meant it could win at everything.

If one uses that situation as a precedent, one can start to see the parallels in many of the FAANG companies today.

[0] "The Air Mail Act of 1934 prohibited airlines and manufacturers from being under the same corporate umbrella, so the company split into three smaller companies – Boeing Airplane Company, United Airlines, and United Aircraft Corporation, the precursor to United Technologies." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing


The problem is this type of vertical splitting doesn't solve the problem of large tech companies. It's like treating a burst appendix with a kidney transplant.

The problem of Amazon is that it is effectively the only online shopping place, and thus can act as a Monopsony in hiring it's workers for warehouses, splitting AWS out of that doesn't fix that problem. Maybe you could require that distribution centers be owned by separate companies. This might work but locally each Center would still be a Monopsony and thus cause the same problem. Maybe if you capped the size of distribution center you could force lots of smaller ones to be built, but at this point I worry that you are going to end up making shipping slower and more expensive.

The problem of Google is they are very dominate in the Ads space splitting out the Ads portion into another company would not solve that. Facebook's problems is everyone has put their data in Facebook has friends in Facebook and feel compelled to keep using it. I don't see how splitting up the company into, Instagram, What's App, and Facebook solves the network effects of those apps.

Splitting up tech companies is not a punishment to make the CEO feel bad or change their ways. It is a technique to change how we need the market works to benefit the large population. As such we need to think about how to split them, the effects, and most importantly if the effect achieves the intended result.


If we had a progressive corporate tax, I think all the problems would sort themselves out.

You want to build a trillion dollar company? Fine. Corporate tax rate of 50%. You're a small business with less than $1M in revenue. Cool. Corporate tax rate of 0%.

Big companies will break up to take advantage of the tax code. Problem solved.

Instead, the bigger you are, the harder you can lobby for tax breaks. Currently, if you're a $1M company, that sucks. You pay 20%+. If you're Amazon, you pay $0.


Only profits are taxed, and they're only vaguely related to revenue, and both profit and revenue are vaguely related to whether a company is a monopoly or not. Profit is an okay-ish measure of how much a monopoly a company is, but not great. Comcast and Amazon turn profits of ~10 billion. Apple is 60 billion, microsoft is 16 billion. Amazon is much more of a monopoly than either of those, and Comcast enjoys a much stronger natural monopoly as well. The industries are just different sizes and the supply/demand curves are different, and for some reason people are just super willing to pay an absurd premium for Apple products.

A progressive corporate tax still makes some sense, and there's basically no excuse for their taxes being less simple than a citizen's. However active management is still required. Markets are fast and efficient but they are often dumb.


> Amazon is much more of a monopoly than either of those

In what market are they a monopoly? Seriously. Amazon retail competes with walmart and target both of which offer online sales and AWS competes heavily with Azure and Google cloud. In what way is Amazon a monopoly?


Taking morality out of it for the time-being, taxes serve as an additional barrier to entry for smaller companies; these tech giants have hordes of lawyers and accountants to make sure they pay very minimal taxes (if any). These companies are also multinational, so they can keep money overseas and search for tax havens globally---a choice smaller companies don't have.

The point is: you can give big companies whatever rate you want, but they're in the strongest position to circumvent it, and they will. The better choice is to lower taxes substantially and give the smaller companies a chance to accumulate capital faster, so they can compete.


I agree 100% and have long felt this is the right approach. Basically the bigger you get, the harder it gets to keep getting bigger.


I feel like all that will create is "partnership contracts" where a large company will be split into the "ideal" size tax-wise while still being run by an "advisory board". Compensation gets interesting at that point though, so many its an interesting idea.


a constellation of partnerships happening through more tangible corporate boundaries sounds much better. right now it seems to happen in unclear ways, and I assume is much less observable from outside forces (e.g. Sidewalk Labs & Google & Intersection, etc.)


What you propose break economies of scale which are often needed to do something cheaply.


Netflix, Amazon, Boeing, Verizon, these companies are already dodging the regressive taxation we have. How will we enforce progressive taxes?


Perhaps actually funding and staffing the agencies that enforce it?


The IRS is pretty awesome and incredibly underfunded, yes.

But we could simplify the tax code... The bigger the surface area, the easier it is to find a vulnerability / loophole. And anymore, the tax code is basically being written by BigCos to protect their interests and provide breaks for themselves.

Enforcing a tax code that's 20-feet tall when printed out when companies are as complicated as they are -- it's a wonder anyone pays taxes. It would take years in court to figure out what a company honestly owes.

If it's simple -- you make x profit or y revenue -- then you pay z dollars -- for any public company, good luck grossly cheating that.


People always ask this as if it's impossible to change laws or have agencies that actually want to follow through on their missions. As if corporations are so devious and brilliant they are unfindable. It's just not true. If you vote for people who actually want taxes, the enforcement takes care of itself. It works the exact same the other way, because these people gut agencies and replace them.


The issue is not enforcement. That would suggest the issue is tax evasion; which it's not.


Taxes don't solve these problems. In your setup, companies would "break up" but only on paper to take advantage of tax code. Outside of papers filed in Delaware no one would even know these were separate companies. Many billionaires often have few 100s LLCs filed in such a complex graph of ownerships that would take days to decipher.


> Taxes don't solve these problems. In your setup, companies would "break up" but only on paper to take advantage of tax code. Outside of papers filed in Delaware no one would even know these were separate companies. Many billionaires often have few 100s LLCs filed in such a complex graph of ownerships that would take days to decipher.

An essential point any plan like the GP's would be to make conduct like you describe illegal, and make sure those laws are adequately enforced and have enough teeth to be a deterrent.


I agree it should be harder the bigger you are, but it's not the tax rate. Right now, FAANGs either run a 0% profit margin, or book their profits to Ireland.

Changing tax rates don't fix either of those.


Tax on worldwide profits, credit foreign taxes paid. You know, the same rules as for mortal non corporate persons.

Sales/Use/VAT tax for payments to wholly owned subsidiaries.


I think this is an absolutely incredible idea if it could actually be made in a way such that the taxation and other factors could not be easily avoided. But there's one unspoken problem with taxes and particularly corporate taxes.

Large companies are perceived as being proportionally beneficial to the US economy. If you made the US a place that was meaningfully undesirable for corporations, they can leave. And even if these companies did not leave, you would strongly deter new companies. For instance imagine you were able to create your system such that it could not be simply avoided through various typical methods. So big companies really did risk losing up to 50% of their net. How long would it take before e.g. YCombinator started requiring new companies to incorporate in e.g. Hong Kong (or wherever) instead of the US? Perhaps even moving the entire operation abroad.

So even though I think this would be an absolutely incredible idea, I do not think it would work or be meaningfully considered in practice.


generally, large corporations (and wealthy people) do not, and will not, leave the US because of taxes. people want to live here and companies want to do business here. badly. but they also want an unfair advantage and will say anything (like "we'll just take our toys and leave!") to try to get it.


It was actually common, they still do business here, before the tax law change they would do an inversion so they'd no longer be taxed by the US on their foreign profits (US had worldwide taxation while most every other country did not).

Here's an article about 2016: https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/tax-inversion-tracker/

US citizens can't avoid worldwide taxation, but they certainly move states to avoid taxes.


yes, our tilted tax system let them do that without any repercussion. not only can they keep doing business as they always have, they get extra incentive on top. let's just equalize the tax treatment of individuals and corporations already.


I don't think the relationship between monopoly behavior is directly correlated with size. Your solution is a "one size fits all" approach will would probably cause problems for big markets with non-monopoly players.



Wow. I've never seen this solution before and am a fan. I'm a big proponent of taxing negative externalities and this is definitely an easy one.


A million of revenue isn't a lot.


Splitting AWS out of Amazon isn't the thing that really matters though so much as preventing Amazon from operating a store AND a marketplace on the same site, not to mention having its own product lines. If you want to sell something online and you're not already a household name then you're at a big disadvantage if you're not on Amazon, but if you do sell there then the price is giving Amazon insight into your business. And if Amazon chooses it can basically bury you by promoting your competitors or worse, selling its own copy of your product.


> Splitting up tech companies is not a punishment to make the CEO feel bad or change their ways. It is a technique to change how we need the market works to benefit the large population. As such we need to think about how to split them, the effects, and most importantly if the effect achieves the intended result.

What exactly is that intended result?


In my opinion, Amazon as a platform has leveraged network effects to be both a monopsony and a monopoly: in essence by aggregating both consumers and suppliers, both sides of the transaction feel compelled to use Amazon as a middle man.


This is very insightful. When one considers how a monolith application could be split into a collection of microservices but STILL serve the same user experience, it becomes evident how trust-busting won't affect meaningful change.


We also broke up Ma Bell back in 84 and it looks like they are on their way to fully reuniting as an even larger monopoly.

https://i.imgur.com/rMFqmbt.jpg

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2019/03/att-time-warner...


Ma Bell wasn't created naturally at all. It's monopoly status was granted by the federal government. This is fundamentally different from Facebook, Amazon, etc. If anything, the large ISPs like ATT, Verizon, and Spectrum should be looked at, but solving the problems of ISP monopolization will take a lot more than just breaking up territorial monopolies into smaller territorial monopolies.


Why does it matter whether a monopoly is "natural" or not, let alone that the definition of "naturally" is sort of laughable given the legal framework put in place for our government is the economy in the first place? Just as you get a lot of government run monopolies with pure socialism, you get a lot of "market-driven" monopolies with pure capitalism. Both should be broken up.


The point is that they're caused by different processes, and the steps to ensure that it doesn't happen again after you break them up are also very different because of that.


That's a different failure. The government should have never allowed for the subsequent mergers.


The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.


I agree. I don't understand the point of temporarily busting monopolies. With Bell, forcing them to diversify seems to have only made them stronger.


The US also broke up Ma Bell in 1956, forcing the spinoff of Bell Canada and Caribbean operations, and before that in 1925, breaking off other international operations into ITT.


Imagine how much of a larger monopoly they would be now if they were never broken up in the first place.


How would this work in practice though? Eg Amazon. Bezos is a major shareholder. Imagine splitting AWS from the retail arm, which I guess would be a sensible split point. If Bezos controls both, then what would really change?

I'm not critical to the idea nor supportive - I'm just curious to learn more.


That was the case when Standard Oil was broken up and it's not a problem. The retail arm becomes free to get their cloud computing needs from others -- say Azure or Google. Bezos can't force them to get a worse deal at AWS simply because he owns the AWS. A lot of the arguments for breaking up companies come from this. It can make the components more efficient once they're freed from the shackles of being locked in. Likewise, the crappy parts of the big conglomerate can't coast on having a guaranteed customer. This is the whole point of capitalism. Monopolies are the anti-thesis of capitalism.


Except the Standard Oil break-up was considered a failure. The new companies all reported back to Rockefeller.

https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2019/02/15/695131832/anti...


I don't think it's fair to say the break-up was a failure even if in the near term they still coordinated. In the long term, the oil companies competed with each other. Even if Rockefeller became wealthier, it only adds to the original point: breaking up monopolies unlock value for shareholders and increases efficiency. I highly doubt anyone in the main stream schools of economics would call the Standard Oil breakup a failure. That Rockefeller wasn't punished is immaterial to the breakup itself. The point here isn't to punish Bezos or anyone else. It's about efficiency and fairness. In that sense, that goal was accomplished. No single oil company today wields the power that SO once did.

Also, those guys meeting up together at Rockefeller's house to coordinate would likely be illegal today and probably was back then too.


Did you read her proposal? There would be a structural separation from distribution and first party goods. Just like railroads couldn't own interests in the commodities they were transporting, Amazon couldn't operate a market place and also own private label brands.

https://medium.com/@teamwarren/heres-how-we-can-break-up-big...


So what about Walmart who does double Amazon in revenue AND has their own private label brands? They have so much retail power they are known to get manufacturers by the balls and make manufacturers accept the cost they want instead.


or Costco? $130B in revenue and I dont hear clamor for Costco to be split from Kirkland.

By this logic Apple shouldnt be allowed to have Apps in its App store, right? Or are they banned from selling first and third party phone cases in store?

CVS shouldnt be allowed its own generic drugs.

At what point does this become "companies arent allowed to make/sell their own products if they also resell other companies products."

And lets be serious: you want to take away Google's ability to choose the ranking of results? Thats their entire company's purpose. People go to google because they like the order the results come in. If google starts delivering bad results, that opens opportunity for other companies.


> Warren's team said that the proposal would also apply to Apple. "They would have to structurally separate -- choosing between, for example, running the App Store or offering their own apps,


Since multiple people are asking this: it would apply to Walmart and Costco under her proposal because they both have $25B in revenues.

This is just the first step in a new conversation about confronting monopoly in America. There hasn't been a bill written yet.


Walmart isn't a platform (excluding Jet.com). They purchase goods (take on risk) prior to selling them.

Amazon is a marketplace meaning the seller takes on all of the risk and pays Amazon for the privilege. Amazon then uses the data that marketplace generates to undercut the sellers with their private labels.


That sucks because every company that actually cares enough about its customer experience eventually vertically integrates, and it results in a better experience.

For instance, Apple makes hardware, software, services and they all fit together perfectly. Tesla distributes cars in addition to making them, leading to a better buying experience.

Everything Amazon does is in-line with this principle as well.

Is the end game laws similar to what we have for alcoholic beverages and cars? Where distribution and manufacturing are artificially separated?


How would this be applied? I feel like nearly every grocery store chain in the USA has it's own brand competing with same 3rd party brands they carry. Whole Foods had "360", Walgreens has "Nice". It's been too long since I've been to a Safeway, a Lucky's, a Ralph's, etc but it became pretty clear that each one had it's own brand. And let's not forget Trader Joe's which is almost 90% all it's own brand.


From the Warren post:

Companies with an annual global revenue of $25 billion or more and that offer to the public an online marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties would be designated as "platform utilities." … These companies would be prohibited from owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform.

Thus Safeway would be exempt from the regulation because (a) they do not offer an online marketplace and (b) they do not connect third parties (but instead act as an intermediary).

Similarly, it appears that only Amazon Marketplace, not the retail arm of Amazon, would be affected by this regulation.


Where is the demonstrated consumer harm that warrants monopoly treatment? Adding private labels increases the amount of selection consumers have.

You’d think we would hear more about it since basically every physical retailer owns their own brands that they sell in their own marketplaces already.


As Elizabeth Warren makes clear in her post, "demonstrated consumer harm" isn't the only justification for antitrust action. We can't demonstrate the innovation that would occur in a competitive marketplace, but we break up monopolies with the faith that it will. This was the prevailing view until the late 20th century. Hopefully we'll get back to it.


Relevant text:

> ... legislation that requires large tech platforms to be designated as “Platform Utilities” and broken apart from any participant on that platform. Companies with an annual global revenue of $25 billion or more and that offer to the public an online marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties would be designated as “platform utilities.” These companies would be prohibited from owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform. Platform utilities would be required to meet a standard of fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory dealing with users. Platform utilities would not be allowed to transfer or share data with third parties.


One of the perceived risks of breaking up the tech giants is that they will be at a competitive disadvantage to their foreign peers. The degree of competitive risk at the time of Boeing's split was perceived as lower. As long as Americans are ok with losing some areas of advantages, they should move forward.


There are other regulatory tools to level the playing field with foreign companies.


In the US yes, but the US companies would be at a disadvantage to their foreign conglomerate counterparts in foreign markets.


Dems/libs are fools when it comes to this. They never have the backbone to take on foreign Govts. I'm totally against this because we are in a globalized world and these companies need to be large and strong to out-compete with others across the world.


Saying "we are in a globalized world" makes it seem like that is just the nature of things and not the outcome of specific policies taken by primarily the US in the post-WW2 era. Corporate concentration is against capitalism, and dealing with global competitors can be dealt with with the tools we already have, like the current administration is with trade policy.


It is not as simple as it looks. Some degree of globalization already existed for tens of thousands of years, whether through colonialism, Asia-MiddleEast-Europe trade and many more. Even though there are ups and downs in the cycle of regional/global trade, it has continued to move towards more integration, especially due to technological innovations seen in the past 500 years.

Nations that decide to close down in certain areas, may find themselves in a competitive disadvantage to peers making use of data, economies of scale, technology, labour, etc. This is something we have seen happen in history.


Anti-competition law and it's interpretation has changed drastically in the US after Robert Bork's book 'The Antitrust Paradox' (1978). Reagan administration used it as their bible.


Yes. Broadly speaking, the law went from looking at concentration as a bad thing on its own to only looking at whether consumer prices would be impacted. The prevalent idea now is that mega-mergers will reduce prices because of economies of scale.

It also doesn't help that there seems to be academic corruption or at least conflicts of interest driving the new interpretation. https://www.propublica.org/article/these-professors-make-mor...


This is classic example of short term optimization. Sure, prices can be lower now but it might stagnate there for long time because there is no competition allowed. If it is technologically feasible, competition would find the global optimal point eventually in longer term but monopolies will settle in local minima.


Probably why a company like amazon has achieved elusive scrutiny is that they give consumers cheapest prices but squeeze suppliers. Suppliers most definitely hate amazons dominant position.


The law was not changed. The interpretation of the law was changed, as you describe, initially by Republicans but Clinton and Obama maintained the Republican interpretation.


Laws are fluid and can change back to respond to new situations.


I think it was Stigler, the nobel laureate, that had done quite a bit or research on monopolys and the effect of mergers and acquisitions on jobs.

https://promarket.org/stigler-monopolies-competition-tough-w...

It was back in 2001 that I remember reading a newspaper article on this


But the companies will all still have the same owners. So one wonders if splitting them actually helps with anything?


It's a legitimate concern. After Standard Oil was split up, Rockefeller still arranged meetings of the heads of the now-separated companies.

However as long as the companies are well regulated and publicly traded, I think the concern diminishes over time. Each manager has an incentive to look out for their own shareholders, their own bonuses. And if activist shareholders suspect one company is subsidizing another, they can happily buy the undervalued company, raise a ruckus (and maybe some lawsuits), and profit when the subsidies end.


I don’t know about “help”, but it will still change something - over time the different management teams will diverge (in some sense), even if the shareholders stay mostly the same.


Per Das Wiki [1]: "The government had little choice but to return service to the commercial airlines, but did so with several new conditions. The Air Mail Act of June 12, 1934, drafted at the height of the crisis by Black (and known as the "Black-McKellar bill"), restored competitive bidding, closely regulated airmail labor operations,[n 28] dissolved the holding companies that brought together airlines and aircraft manufacturers, and prevented companies that held the old contracts from obtaining new ones."

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Mail_scandal#Effects_on_th...


What about Ma Bell?


Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: