I do have a problem with them being the best search engine, top online ad platform and a developer of the top mobile OS, top video streaming service, top internet browser, top mapping/navigation service, among other things, at the SAME time.
Their assets give them undue and unsupervised influence over a very big chunk of what's happening online. This gives them ability to control big part of collective human consciousness, across languages and borders.
This kind of power for a good reason has been historically reserved for elected governments, made accountable to the people. At least in theory (a man can dream).
It's different if a company like Google establishes its dominance via one great product (search) and then wields that power to artificially protect its other lines of business through e.g. contracts, the same way Microsoft did with OEMs.
Sure, nothing "illegal" about it, but ultimately, it fits the de facto understanding of antitrust being about "consumer welfare." A company leveraging its dominance in one business to exert control over others =/= a company having success because it built the best products.
Their advertising business was built on a number of acquisitions (DoubleClick, AdMob) - strategic acquisitions, surely, and they improved on them since - but it is not as if they bult the business from the ground up. The same goes for video streaming (YouTube - after attempting to create their own), and mobile OS (Android).
With Android in particular it can be argued that it would not be what it is today without them, but they also heavily leveraged their other services to promote and maintain control over Android.
They did. But youtube.com wasn't that big when they bought it. In fact by definition most of the things they bought (like maps.google.com) weren't big. The obvious corollary is Google is very good buy scaling something up while keeping it rock solid.
And, they are. Examples of original things that did come out of Google are Kubernetes, the Site Reliability Engineering Handbook, and pulling off something I thought was impossible: Spanner, a global distributed ACID database. From what I can tell they have constructed the fastest, most reliable distributed computing platform on the planet.
They are the Toyota's of the computing landscape: nothing particularly outstanding in any particular model of car, the secret sauce is the infrastructure and processes they've developed to manufacture those cars that ensures they are both cheap and reliable. And so it is with Google. They aren't particularly good at coming up with new products. In fact they often buy them. But then those products get moved onto best computing infrastructure on the planet. If the products are any good, they seemingly grow without effort to become a dominant player.
YouTube then wasn't then anything like it is now, but it was by far the largest video website of its type. I felt like they bought it because Google Video failed to compete with it.
The same applies to FB and Instagram as well, fwiw. Though imo, not as much for WhatsApp, which already had 400MM users and would have organically reached 1B+ users on its own.
YouTube had 65 employees when they were acquired.
I do agree that they were not a startup. This word should only be used for companies that are starting up; getting their legal structure together, hiring, and initial R&D. Once you are offering widgets (ad space), you are no longer a startup. Profitability is immaterial to startup status.
Not every company that's successful and has millions of users needs to have a bloated org
The Android acquisition is a redherring - manufacturers started adopting Android en mass because it was royalty free(ish) and they had to compete against Apple's new app store mostly with feature phone OSes entirely unfit for the job.
Neither Youtube nor Google's selfless "donation" to the consumer electronics industry would have been possible without the ad business. IANAL but that looks like textbook predatory pricing (and in Android's case, can't be defended by pointing at Apple, since they don't participate in the smartphone OS market).
Step 1, in 1997, was to build the world's best search engine.
Step 2, was that running the world's best search engine allowed them to create an ad network that most accurately knew what the largest number of viewers were looking for, best ad platform and massive revenue. All others follow from that.
Steps 3 and on were to start an email service (what are people talking about), create an image search tool (shows what pictures people are looking for), acquire/develop a mapping application (where are people and where are they going), acquire a video hosting platform (what are people watching), create a mobile OS (get more people on the Internet and especially on their parts of it), create a web browser (get more people on the internet and especially on their parts of it), etc. etc. etc. Those other properties only work because they're financed by and create value for Google's ad network.
IMO the main problem is the existence of an institution that is (arguably) more powerful than any government in the world.
That's not necessarily a problem on its own.
It becomes a problem when those same institutions have a very small number of people with specially concocted classes of shares that give people like Zuckerberg majority control of the company despite owning < 30% of actual shares.
I don't want to live in a world where 1 person can have such immense and unchecked power. Especially when that 1 person is immune from, for example, being removed as CEO.
I'm not sure if it's still the case today, but I believe Sergy / Larry had 51%+ control of the company despite only owning ~10% of shares.
Which is why the US government has been collecting all the data they can from google. It's a perfect means to perform mass surveillance on everyone and google has no power to refuse to hand that data over or even to tell anyone about it.
They only way I can think of to solve this would be to limit the amount of data that companies are allowed to collect, but can we expect the government to vote for that until google does start to abuse what they have on us? Right now they can take that data and benefit from it as well.
People are worried by their power.
Too much power is dangerous.
Google works at global scale, if even the US want to stop them from becoming even more powerful there must mean something.
If you think about it the NBA draft was invented to avoid that the best team chose the best players year after year
It's what you call "punish their success"
I cal it "enable competition"
Google is king of the keywords (products and services), Facebook is king of targeting (brand awareness)
But they are not really competing against each other on the contrary the gap is widening
Google made 61 billions more than FB in 2018 and 65 more in 2019
That's why FB is moving towards a marketplace based on their own cryptocurrency
Also, there's the issue of public trust. We have no choice but to trust Google not to skew its search results. It's not obvious this trust is justified.
Google can literally make individuals, companies, and events disappear from the Internet. You can put up your site or your business and if Google removes you from search you might as well not exist.
A moment's thought will suggest that this is exactly the same as the YouTube problem, but on a larger scale. And that's an unhealthy amount of power for a corporation that isn't subject to any oversight or accountability.
Most people prefer this. What you're suggesting is to subsidize the rich by removing free products thus making everyone share the costs for the premium services.
I.e., this is not a local maximum preventing the global utopia of premium services for the rich. The current design serves the world better than that exclusionary, elitist dream. (Though the market is actually open for such elite products as well, when the rich actually want to pay their own fees; Hey.com is a thing.)
We're very much at risk of being a world in which people either have to be rich or not participate in society to avoid privacy invasion by companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft. If you're poor, you can have a free email address, but that comes at a cost of allowing Google to read your email (and pass it to their ad customers) so they can serve you ads. The answer to this hegemony is not "Well, Google provides free email addresses, better let them keep doing what they're doing so we don't discriminate against the poor", it's to regulate them so they're not allowed to read your emails, or otherwise provide some alternative service that can provide email addresses for cost plus a small profit margin.
And yes, I know that in this particular example there are other free or inexpensive email providers, but they're not world-dominating products; the market is distorted because the few willing to pay are signalling something pretty strong by rejecting the free, high-quality option offered by Google.
Google doesn't show ads based on email contents.
"When you open Gmail, you'll see ads that were selected to show you the most useful and relevant ads. The process of selecting and showing personalized ads in Gmail is fully automated. These ads are shown to you based on your online activity while you're signed into Google. We will not scan or read your Gmail messages to show you ads."
> otherwise provide some alternative service that can provide email addresses for cost plus a small profit margin.
As I said, for email specifically, because we already have the necessary interop, there are solutions such as hey.com. What more do you want?
PS: It's much more efficient for your government to just subsidize open-source solutions based on their usage levels.
We don't know if they make the best services. Perhaps there would be much better mobile OS or search engines made by others, if it were not for Google's dominant position discouraging new entrants or crushing them in their infancy.
No it's not. The best XXX run by a single company, is super-effective! Allowing it, we know from all of human history, is anti-consumer.
They bought Android in 2005, Youtube in 2004? and all of their other, non-search successes.
So yes, Google did purchase Android but Google didn't purchase their mobile success story by purchasing Android.
They prevented Windows Phone users from being able to access Google Maps by checking User Agents.
They didn't release a native Youtube app for Windows phone, and when Microsoft wanted to make one themselves they restricted them to HTML5 and non-native access. This penalized battery life on Windows Phone platforms for 2 very large and important services.
Google got success with Android by frankly bullying every other viable competitor out of the market (Amazon Fire, Windows Phone) by again bullying in regards to play store services.
As for "the bias on HN"—when it comes to $BigCo arguments, it's very much in the eye of the beholder. The people with opposite views to yours (for example, who like G and dislike A) complain of exactly the opposite "bias".
Also this large influence is additionally strengthened by the fact that no other company can offer services (above mentioned) that match the quality of the product Google is giving.
And, again with respect to video hosting there are plenty of very valid competitors technologically - with respect to search if you secretly rebranded google to bing I doubt anyone except the most techie would notice a difference - they win in search because everyone "googles it" - they used to win because alta vista, ask jeeves, lycos and yahoo were all trash, but now there is legitimate competition.
And I agree that most "common" users could use Bing and not know the difference, but then again that destroys the U.S's whole case of a "monopoly" market.
This is more of a discussion of walled gardens than typical monopoly abuse.
Some video game streamers on youtube reach 50k+ viewers regularly and donations of $10+ just keeps raining in with that audience. That isn't any less than top Twitch streamers, and the Youtube will only grow since it is so much easier for people to discover Youtube streaming than Twitch streaming.
So really I don't see Twitch being a major player in a few years. There is no reason for content creators to stay with Twitch once youtube gives them a bigger audience and more money.
If you're interested in some tips on a game and search for it (maybe "In game X I'm having trouble on this level") chances are you'll get some hits from youtube of people running the level as a walk-through - twitch highlights don't tend to be as indexed or as accessible since the metadata about what's actually in the video is a lot weaker by default.
Those hits on folks looking for a walk-through will end up with some conversions to stream subscribers and I think that's why Twitch is really destined to struggle.
Youtube is attempting to move into Twitch’s space with live-streaming, but Twitch is certainly not competing with youtube as a video hosting product. Vimeo is the primary competitor there, and I have no idea how good a job they’re doing really.
When Google is not the best I don't use it. I use Audible and Kindle not Google Play Books. I use a opensource pod catcher I like rather than what ever the google android podcast app is. I use Open/LibreOffice rather than Google Docs. I have Chrome installed, but can't remember the last time I opened it as I much prefer Firefox as my daily driver because its superior in the measures I care about extensions, customization, and privacy.
Google only has me a as a customer as long as they offer me better service, if they don't I go elsewhere easily.
How would the common folk avoid Analytics or Ads?
Google benefits from me even when I visit completely unrelated websites.
This is somewhat similar to TikTok's situation. There's currently no other company that can offer services that match the quality of the product TikTok is giving. The US government's solution? Force ByteDance to divest unless it wants to get banned. This is Big Tech protectionism, perfected.
In the same vein, the US is going to force Google to break itself into fragments. This can also be seen as a Big Tech protectionist measure, because Google has no incentive to improve its monopolistic byproducts. In fact, it routinely kills them. Spinoff companies of Google will compete with each other and undoubtedly yield much better (and pro-consumer) products, no matter which way you look at it.
2) top online ad platform
3) top mobile OS
4) top video streaming service
5) top internet browser
6) top mapping/navigation service
Okay, you listed 6. What should the law say is the new limit for how many they should be able to have?
REG: Yeah. All right, Stan. Don't labour the point. And what have they ever given us in return?!
XERXES: The aqueduct?
XERXES: The aqueduct.
REG: Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that's true. Yeah.
COMMANDO #3: And the sanitation.
LORETTA: Oh, yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like?
REG: Yeah. All right. I'll grant you the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things that the Romans have done.
MATTHIAS: And the roads.
REG: Well, yeah. Obviously the roads. I mean, the roads go without saying, don't they? But apart from the sanitation, the aqueduct, and the roads--
COMMANDOS: Huh? Heh? Huh...
COMMANDO #2: Education.
REG: Yeah, yeah. All right. Fair enough.
COMMANDO #1: And the wine.
COMMANDOS: Oh, yes. Yeah...
FRANCIS: Yeah. Yeah, that's something we'd really miss, Reg, if the Romans left. Huh.
COMMANDO: Public baths.
LORETTA: And it's safe to walk in the streets at night now, Reg.
FRANCIS: Yeah, they certainly know how to keep order. Let's face it. They're the only ones who could in a place like this.
COMMANDOS: Hehh, heh. Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.
REG: All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
XERXES: Brought peace.
REG: Oh. Peace? Shut up!
> Their assets give them undue and unsupervised influence over a very big chunk of what's happening online. This gives them ability to control big part of collective human consciousness, across languages and borders.
I say focus on worker capture.
The only “market” Adam Smith mentioned is a free labor market, which is free by its ability to move between offers fluidly.
We have that to an extent in tech but not really and it’s hardly pervasive.
If the problem is the billions to influence culture, IMO its employee culture spend that’s the biggest downside to monoliths.
Wealth-caring becomes the corporate mantra. Or Jesus in the old days. It’s clear there is a biological addiction to privatized monoliths boxing in agency to fetishizing the monolith, by tickling our limbic brain just right and repeating “New trend we’re selling!” all day.
Let’s not let them do that, but let people work.
"I do have a problem with them being the best [six things], at the SAME time."
It's reasonable to read that as the OP thinks the number should be less then 6.
Yes, they also said other things, but I think I'm giving them a fair read of that sentence.
Obviously that's a bit over simplistic but probably a good place to start.
I remember browsers before Chrome and Firefox. They were terrible. I'd love to see why Google should be punished for making a good product. I'm open to a good explanation.
Same for Youtube. I cut my cable because we now get all our entertainment from Netflix and Youtube. We dont get locked into 2yr cable agreements, dont get magical regulatory recovery fees, $100 of charges, and stations that disappear (e.g., Disney on Fios). I'd hate to lose it just because the product is too good
But the various de-monetization and search algorithm changes show that Youtube retains full control over distribution (and ability to make said living). The creators are totally at the mercy of Youtube and their advertising.
Imagine if there were Utube, Vtube, and Wtube, and a creator could shop around for the best placement and ad deal. It would not be better for the viewer (more like which network now has my favorite show, and do I have to subscribe to all 3), but it would be better for the creators.
Come to think of it, I'm surprised Netflix hasn't gone after some of the big YouTube channels or that Patreon hasn't expanded into curated video hosting. Imagine if Netflix Community had 100's of what we now call Youtube channels--all the respectable ones and none of the dreck.
Except there is already a Utube, Vtube, and Wtube and they have been around for 50 years. They are called ABC, NBC, CBS, and there are also like 50 others.
You can "shop around" your product to them, but you have to:
1. Have to gone to the right schools to meet decision makers
2. Have the right connections
3. Not be a minority (there is literally almost no diversity in the industry amongst decision makers.)
I publish on YouTube. There is no way I could publish on ABC, NBC, CBS, Disney, or almost any other broadcast service. Even though I meet criteria 1 (ivy league degree), I dont have the connections and "dont have the look"
Before we burn down YouTube, can we step back and consider how much YouTube has enabled people? Can we also see the very obvious ulterior motive the MSM has to dislike YouTube?
As the sibling comment states, Twitch is an alternative, but I think that however big the gaming and live video market is, it doesn't generalize to most YouTube content. I'm not sure if Vimeo has ever reached the same level, every time someone on HN mentions them, a creator has said they tried and got no traction/views on Vimeo.
Patreon is odd, they host some exclusive content, but it seems nearly all creators retain their YouTube channel for discovery and Patreon is mostly for processing the donations. I guess in a way, they have siphoned off some YouTube functionality, taking the cream off the top (paying subscribers), and letting YouTube do the expensive part of hosting the content.
I suppose that short of the feds swinging the anti-trust hammer and breaking YouTube into 3 equal companies that compete in the same market, the YouTube monolith is here to stay by market forces alone.
Youtube has real issues with de-monetization and search algorithms that should be addressed in some way, but I don't see how it's anti-competitive that they have built a platform that attracts tons of viewers, nor that they've found a way to monetize those viewers.
Now show me another major media network that allows that.
These are questions we possibly should have asked in the 60s or 70s with the Automakers.
Heck, let's think about THAT for a moment. When we look back at history we see that the big 3 took a number of anticompetitive actions over the years while managing to usually avoid government action through careful planning. (GM at times would hold back products in those decades, knowing if they went over a magic number of market share it was bad news.)
But look at the RESULT. Look at 2008. Look at the future of self driving cars and the future of the trucking industry.
By letting large monopolies run unchecked, they embed their ways of dependence into society such that impacts can be felt for generations.
Maybe its not about the number but what the damage is.
Edit: hit reply early, sorry.
The big 3 managed to get taken down by the factors of the oil embargo and the growing Asian auto industry, but we still felt the effects I listed above.
And, to that end, its worth restating that GM specifically tried to 'avoid' fitting the government definition.
If some other innovative company “started in a garage” or whatever does challenge one of those, Google has the power to kill it before it becomes a threat, cripple it while they copy the technology or poach the development team, acquire the company with a truckload of money, etc.
So in the end, Google will always come out on top, and consumers will always be stuck with them. The only remedy to that situation is government intervention.
Today, Google shares the majority of it's presence in online ads market with Facebook.
Did Google try to "kill" facebook? Yes, they tried super hard in 2011 with the launch of Google+. And that completely flopped and now Facebook is a major rival for Google.
If we look at Facebook - facebook probably tried to kill snapchat and tiktok, major rivals to Instagram, and look how well those services are doing.
Microsoft couldn't stop iOS or Android.
The list goes on...
Furthermore, as other point out, how do you even objectively count these categorized "things" correctly?
Even once you do have a number of "things" specified in a law, and this is somehow "objective", remember that objective reality cannot be perceived outside of the lens of the subjective.
Therefore, your honor, your laws on blood alcohol level when driving are asinine and I rest my case.
If we're not careful we may simply lose democracy to corporations. Some argue that it might already be too late.
A search engine is a number of components - e.g. a crawler, an index, and a user interface.
Why should one company be able to own all three of these? Why not just one? Perhaps crawling should only be able to be sold as a wholesale commodity.
The extreme version of your argument would have companies own the IP to a particular for loop's iterator variable name.
“My” argument is a generalization of the argument people are making that Google should only be allowed to operate “one” service.
We need to seriously reconsider SEC rules for approving acquisitions.
The OP is arguing that this case is about default settings, similar to the Microsoft case.
In practice, someone else is deciding what is the "best" search engine for the vast majority of users, as these users never change default settings.
It is arguable Google is paying millions of dollars to remove choice, and the question of what is the "best" search engine. If there were no "search from the address bar" or other "built-in search" with Google set as the default, what would happen. Would users choose Google. We cannot know because Google's distribution agreements have foreclosed the issue. Even if we all agree users would choose Google anyway, because it is unquestionably "the best", this does not explain why Google, with its monopoly on search, pays millions to become the default.
Because the use of a search engine has been made a matter of "settings", e.g., address bar as search box, and not a conscious choice, e.g., typing the address of a search engine, Google's distribution agreements have removed user choice. The choice of search engine has already been made for them.
It is like crapware that comes pre-installed on computers. One can argue users make a "choice" whether to use these programs or not, but the choice of whether to install them in the first instance has been removed, in exchange for payments. Sometimes the distributors make it difficult or near impossible to remove these programs, assuming a user even knows how to remove programs.
Thanks to Google's negotiations with distributors, in order to "not use Google search", users have to change "settings". Generally, relatively few people ever modify settings. Hence there is a certain permanence to "settings". Companies pay millions to become the "default". There is nothing inherently "illegal" in making such agreements. However when the company paying millions to become the default already has a monopoly, then we have to question what is the true purpose of these distribution agreements.
It's definitely crossing a line for them to covertly influence the political leanings of their customers.
When I search Google, there is no disclaimer that they are slanting the results to match their political leanings in order to influence me away from mine.
I actually think that if the current government administration (or any administration really) had power over search, news and YouTube, it would be more abused than under Google.
It’s also possible that the groundwork has been laid already with Google, Facebook, and Apple (along with other non-tech companies).
IMHO every dollar you spend is more of a vote than the political votes.
IMO, not even governments should have this kind of power. The same way we desperately needs to break big companies, we also need to stop big governments.
Putting their own hotel/rental metasearch above the fold on mobile when searching for a hotel.
Buying ITA and freezing out other users.
Impose laws that don't allow Google to share information between their services/products?
The antitrust law already exist.
> That, though, is why it is a mistake to read the report as some sort of technocratic document... it is exceptionally difficult to make the case that any of these companies are causing consumer harm, which is the de facto standard for antitrust in the United States. Indeed, what makes Google’s contention that “The competition is only a click away” so infuriating is the fact it is true.
> What matters more is the context laid out by Letwin: there is a strain of political thought in America, independent of political party (although traditionally associated with Democrats), that is inherently allergic to concentrated power — monopoly in the populist sense, if not the legal one.
> Hatred of monopoly is one of the oldest American political habits and like most profound traditions, it consisted of an essentially permanent idea expressed differently at different times. “Monopoly”, as the word was used in America, meant at first a special legal privilege granted by the state; later it came more often to mean exclusive control that a few persons achieved by their own efforts; but it always meant some sort of unjustified power, especially one that raised obstacles to equality of opportunity.
> In other words, this subcommittee report is simply a new expression of an old idea; the details matter less than the fact it exists.
I think this reflects a lot of discourse I've seen on HN -- one commenter condemning Google/Apple/etc. for being a monopoly, and a second commenter observing the company doesn't meet the legal standard of a monopoly, but it's like both sides are talking past each other.
It's because most people don't actually care about the meaningful technical definition of a monopoly -- they just don't like it when companies get too big, period. At the end of the day, it's like there's something inherently satisfying when the big guy gets knocked down, the idea that being big is bad in and of itself.
I think that's a really valuable observation that Stratechery makes.
It's not just that the laws are different; it's the goals of the laws. The European laws (in general) attempt to stave off competitor harm. They're historically sourced to guild protections and seek to create a situation in which companies can compete. Small players in the market are seen as inherently a good thing, regardless of whether that actually makes a better market for consumers (which it is not guaranteed to; laws protecting the existence of small book stores keep prices of books artificially high in a world of extremely inexpensive data copying and book fabrication. French book buyers are essentially paying a hidden tax to have corner book shops exist, whether or not they care if corner book shops exist).
The US lacked a similar guild history and, instead, historically experienced the threat of government overreach privileging the existence of incumbent companies over new players. The US therefore has laws crafted to protect against the major threat the US historically experienced: one company making life miserable for consumers (i.e. the Rockefeller threat, or going back further, the British East India Company threat). Neither US law nor US monopoloy philosophy traditionally care whether small-time market players can compete at all ("why should it," runs the argument, "maybe Starbucks is ubiquitous because their coffee is actually better. What's the value to the consumer of propping up bad coffee?").
It feels like 90% of arguments on HN on the topic are unaware of that philosophy gap.
The major disagreement, instead, seems to be from the people taking the position that a corporation can't monopolize a market by intentionally isolating it. They want to claim that Google Play doesn't have an effective monopoly for Android apps, even though it has something like 90+% of the Android app market, because the iOS app store exists, even though you can't actually use it to distribute apps to Android devices.
Whether that's the case under the law is something the courts will have to decide, but the harm to consumers is transparent. It creates an insurmountable barrier to creating a major app store competitor, because a challenger would have to establish a major phone platform in order to do it, and the resulting suppression of competition gives the incumbents market power and leads to higher prices. And also prevents the two incumbent app stores from having to even compete with each other.
But as I understand it, that isn't the topic of the lawsuit.
But it's the same general principle here. If Google uses Android to cement Chrome's as the only browser engine, consumers are harmed because they lose access to potential competing browsers that might e.g. respect privacy more. And the fact that iOS exists doesn't much help because they're even worse -- Chrome is the default on Android but at least you can install real Firefox, whereas on iOS they're all skins over Safari. So a third party has nowhere to take hold.
To me a literal monopoly is obvious, no other competitor comes even close to Google in performance of search ads, but Google keep increasing in hostility too, they do everything they figure out they can get away with, like blatantly allowing click fraud, making fighting fraud harder, allowing people to use it's tools for extortion via fraud, and so on.
I really want to not use Google, but I have to.
> it is exceptionally difficult to make the case that any of these companies are causing consumer harm, which is the de facto standard for antitrust in the United States.
My fundamental issue is that "consumers" are not the customers here, the customers are the ad purchasers, and those are the ones where it's very easy to show the harm.
Why is google allowing one cannabis play but not the other?
I'm the ad consumer being harmed. My prospects are possibly harmed because my product is hidden.
I also really dislike the use of the word "hatred" here, which is a loaded word deployed when a writer wants to make those they are arguing against seem overly emotional and irrational.
Everyone I know that typed that on google, wanted to visit the John Hopkins map: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html
But to me, and to many other people I know, it starts with Google own map and statistics, then some ads, then some random crap, and finally near the end of the page John Hopkins map.
EDIT: just a note, I am not living in US, so the top-most boxes don't show US stuff.
I see a link to the Johns Hopkins map at the very top, along with the New York Times map. And below that a bunch of statistics broken down by geography -- which is usually what I'm after, I don't care so much about the map itself.
What I don't see are any ads (and I'm not using an adblocker), or links to other Google properties except for their Coronavirus information site.
I realize you may get different results depending on where you are, but in particular, I'd be surprised if you saw ads or "random crap" for this search.
Bear in mind, the first real search result these days requires scrolling to get to. Everything up top is either for Google products or paid ads that Google profits from.
This is because by the time anything reaches that point, the damage has already been done to the market.
It doesn't take a time traveller to tell you what is going to happen once it reaches a particular point.
I appreciate both perspectives, but openly take my position.
Just like it didn’t take a time traveler to know that Kodak, Microsoft, and Sears would grow to be unstoppable?
Google’s been very clever to survive and thrive up until now, but has had to navigate a number of life-threatening hurdles to do so. Had either Chrome or Android failed, neither of which were inevitable, Google would already be on the way out. It did lose social networks and messaging which opened the way for Facebook to eat half their lunch. More people are using Amazon directly to search for products. Apple’s charging a fortune for access to iOS users while simultaneously funneling more searches to the Siri backend. Google’s losing in cloud even though they invented it. There are plenty of ways Google can, and eventually will, lose power without anti-trust.
Edit: Also, Microsoft belongs with the other examples as well since the anti-trust action had nothing to do with their fall. They also dominated a market that became no longer relevant and missed the pivot. They really still have that monopoly but no one cares anymore. And they became huge again because they were successful in catching the next pivot. They’re a great example of how the anti-trust action was irrelevant and just an distraction compared to the realities of the dynamic markets and their competition.
If, on the contrary, you view the rise of Computers and Internet as a once in 500 years event, then the Kodak of the world were very unlucky to have achieved power at the wrong time.
Looking at technologies today, I see plenty of inefficiencies, but not too many potentials for a large scale market turnover. IMO Facebooks is weakest since social media is subject to changes fashion. The rest are deep seated with pretty foundational roles.
I see the political climate or larger economy more suited for rapid change than the tech giants being unseated in the current political economy.
The problem isn't that they came to dominate search, it's about what they do now that they have. They leverage it into control over browsers, video hosting, mobile operating systems. Which makes the monopoly stickier, and creates more of them which reinforce each other, because Google is the default search engine on Android and Chrome is the default browser on Android and Google is the default search engine on Chrome and Chrome is the browser promoted on Google.
And here's a fun one for them: Android has an effective monopoly on mobile phone operating systems from the customer of the OS itself (i.e. the device OEM), because Apple won't sell them iOS licenses. So what's the implication of that when they leverage it into the dominance of Google Play for Android apps, or Chrome?
But one specific point, you mentioned leveraging Search to win in mobile operating systems, which stood out since that’s one case where they definitely did not. Quite the opposite, they provided the iPhone with all of their best features from day one; no one bought Android phones because it was the only way to get Google search or any Google service. If anything, Google just leveraged having a lot of skilled engineers handy and the strategic foresight to come up with the Android business model. The entire industry was caught flat-footed and Google was the first one to make a viable me too (and gave it away for free).
iPhone is the competing platform that wasn't flattened. Do they also provide all their best features on Tizen, Ubuntu Touch, PostmarketOS, PureOS etc.? Were they on Windows Phone before it was abandoned?
Nitpicking: Apple has that crown
This is not pure schadenfreunde. I like the free market, not dogmatically, but because it gives you choices. Breaking oligopoly is thus good for the future
It is surely true that some people see it that way, but I think most people would be fine with Google being gigantic if they perceived the company and it's services as being strictly beneficial for everyone.
If there were no concerns about abuse of power, loss of privacy, squashing of business competetors via ethically questionable means, etc -- if people believed that the phrase "don't be evil" was being 100% followed at Google, I don't think most of them would have a problem with its size.
I think most tech aware people are wary of Google, at best.
I think most people people don't care. They use Google to search things every day and it seems to work for them. They might hear about privacy every once in a while but don't give it any thought. Most people think Android is synonymous with Samsung.
I spend a lot of time with non-technical people, so I don't think that perception is tainted by a tech bubble.
Note that the legal standard of consumer harm is not only uniquely American. It's a creature of the post-war judiciary, arguably, on the basis a specific reading of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890's intent .
In particular, courts disagree! See the Qualcomm verdict: https://pacer-documents.s3.amazonaws.com/3/19-16122/00913201...
There are plenty of reasons to break a monopoly besides just wanting to see "big guys get knocked down".
By slowly cornering off huge areas of the web, tilting favor, inlining answers into search, releasing free competitors (assistants, cloud, email, maps, docs, travel, shop, the list goes on and on) they’ve flat out killed more potential business than any other company I can think of.
I actually think about this often, if Google had real competition I really believe we’d be in a renaissance. Instead, too much power fell into one company and they’ve literally choked out countless startups and small businesses. The scope of their anti-competitive behavior is hard to fathom.
Is this lawsuit an honest attempt at knocking down the big guy everyone hates? Or is it Google's competitors using the power of the state to knock it down for them because they know they can't win honestly (cough Oracle, see also TikTok cough)? With things like Citizens United it's hard not to believe it's the second, especially as they're going after Google search, which your average consumer absolutely loves.
US wise, the threat isn't the money in politics or where it goes but that two parties have near exclusive say on what is allowed and what is not. It took someone with the fame and money of Trump to defeat both of them and that extreme of an example should have made it obvious to people the real issue; that for any other party to gain traction is impossible and every attempt to limit how people may assemble and spend money only needs to looked at when it is done through the two established parties. As in, they need reigned in, not political movements looking to get into the game
To the contrary, we have HUGE problems with them. I'm not sure there's any company more vilely detested in America than Comcast.
Alas, for some reason the Democratic party hasn't shown any real interest in regulating them or promoting competition, which is a failure of democracy. I don't personally know why -- I could guess something about campaign contributions and lobbying but if anyone actually knowledgeable could speak up I'd love to know.
Is it possible that the American government doesn't represent the will of the people? Just spitballing here...
This always strikes me as a weak argument. Facebook users can't go elsewhere because their friends aren't on other platforms. It doesn't matter if there's a more privacy-focused social network out there that people want to switch to. Network effects generally trump consumer choice.
There was nothing stopping another company from stringing wires across the country and building their own telephone network separate from the Bell System. But they don't just have to build all that infrastructure, they have to have the customers that are already under the Bell System. So they would have to pay gigantic amounts of money to people to switch, because if they didn't, there wouldn't be a value to switching for that consumer.
There are a lot of analogues to these two companies. And the argument against breaking up Facebook would be similar. It's wrong that they're being punished for building something that so many people have found useful. They spent billions building the network, and now they're shattered into multiple companies because of it?
It's hard to know what the right thing to do is, in terms of benefitting the public, maintaining the incentive for future new technology & infrastructure to be built, and being fair to Facebook & its employees, shareholders, and customers. There's a lot to balance out, and it doesn't seem like there will ever be a right answer. But, I find the similarity to the Bell System very striking, and I do think that it being broken up was on whole the right thing to do for the country and its citizens, which is what a government is ultimately tasked with doing.
> This, in turn, leads Google’s suppliers to work to make Google better — what is SEO but a collective effort by basically the entire Internet to ensure that Google’s search engine is as good as possible?
Feels pretty confused to me. IMO, crappy sites with good SEO make Google worse for lots of queries.
Really. Go ahead and stifle a company, because in this particular case, they make Google’s search results worse.
> Third, Google will argue that its deals for Android distribution and the tying of search defaults to Google Play Services (including the Play Store) (...) but is also Google’s just reward for having invested in the creation of Android. This last argument didn’t work in front of the European Commission, but it may be more effective before a U.S. judge. The Justice Department, meanwhile, probably has the strongest case on this point: sure, Google created Android, but it also made the choice to open source it, and if its attempts to re-seize control through blatant tying aren’t illegal then it’s hard to imagine what could be.
This argument did not work with EU presumably because they look at it from the current stage perspective and hurting of choices vs just rewards for innovation. Android is open source, but very few manufacturers fork it because they are incentivized not to. There are customizations, and something better could come up if more people work on it. (slightly cheeky, but then maybe Google would not look to Apple to decide what features to add). I remember one time when Samsung was trying to create an OS for its smart TV based on android but decided against it and signed an exclusive MADA with Google years ago (and renewed in 2019 as well).
The question I have here is: what if Google decides to take android private and claim ownership? It wont be well received in the dev community, but are they even allowed to do it? What would be the repercussions of the same?
I'd imagine this would be a huge clusterfuck.
If push comes to shove, I would expect most manufacturers to continue using Android instead of using Fuchsia or Zircon.
They have a valuation of around 1T, which is now less than half Apple, and a third less Amazon.
Search has naturally become less essential to accessing the internet when people are spending more and more time on closed platform native apps, streaming services, gaming, etc. They seem to have put all their eggs in the search basket, which looks risky in a world where the most popular platforms keep people off the open internet.
Surely Google either knows who I am, or has cross referenced my interests over the years to similar individuals.
Google also knows my emails.
On mobile Google probably knows my GPS position, and anything with a maps context benefits from that.
The search has a lot of implicit input that, apart from just the keywords alone which would still be problematic enough from a privacy standpoint, would be insanely consumer harming to share at all.
Therefore as competition in this space is naturally limited I would rather see a third option than status quo or break-up; recognition as a natural monopoly and regulations to benefit consumers.
The concern here is that government, especially lawyers, are not good at coming up with remedies. If the court rules Google is a monopoly, then what? What changes will be demanded, and will they "fix" the issue that the government is trying to solve?
A specific example - Google pays Apple billions of dollars each year to make Google the default search engine. That wouldn't be allowed. What Apple does in response isn't outlined.
I was trying to say that lawyers aren't good at solving business problems, not that they don't try to do it. The question I was posing is: Will the remedies that government asks for, actually solve the problem?
The parent comment mentioned that one of the remedies for Microsoft was just to ask people which browser to use as their default, which seemed to be too little too late, so to speak.
Just because I am a GMail user does not automatically mean that you can trace all my web search.
In addition, I'd demand removing Captcha-alike when using VPN services, to avoid them from tracking my IP.
I mean, even if you are not logged-in, they can still correlate IPs across products.
You'll demand that from whom? Is not Google that plops the captcha in your face, is the particular webiste/app that is doing it. Is the same thing as with the Facebook trackers/buttons.
This feels like a random, irrelevant complaint.
On the contrary, it seems like an advantage for other search engines that people aren't trying to game their system.
This reads like a text-book definition of a "moat." It's no surprise to people that have been paying attention that moats are anti-competitive in nature, yet it'll be interested too see what, if any, impact anti-trust will have on the common wisdom of building moats.
In this instance, marginal value asymptotically approaches marginal cost, which in the case of software is zero. Ironically destroying the incentive to participate.
The only alternative to moats is intellectual property, which is arguably far worse.
Minor dig at the generally very good article: complaining that something has become politicized in 2020 is almost quaint. Ya think?
Google doesn't just control the operating system or the OEMs. Their agreements with OEMs benefit their own applications over the competition's, effectively allowing Google to leverage its power as a platform to benefit its apps developed for its platform. We've seen the exact same dynamic play out with Amazon and its products. It's only this year that Apple has allowed third party apps to serve as replacements for its default web browser and other apps on iOS. This particular kind of anticompetitive behavior definitely meets the standard of negatively affecting consumers because of the extent to which it intentionally limits the end-user's ability to choose the competition.
I think that was always a bit inevitable. Antitrust is, at its heart, a tool to subvert the rules because the rules aren't fair; left to its own devices, unfettered capitalism is full of positive feedback loops that encourage winner-take-all situations in any case where resources are finite and one set of resources can be spent to acquire another (such as money and attention). Recognizing that doesn't make for a good world to live in, we have laws structured so that when you get so big you're hurting consumers, the government can step in and break up a company.
But the questions of how big is too big, what constitutes "consumer harm," and how one breaks up a company aren't encoded in the law (because the law can't predict the evolution of the market itself). Those questions are always going to be obviously "judgement calls" and therefore very political.
I understand there are economies of scale here, but if a few investors got together what's to stop them from achieving this?
The reality is that Bing sucks. Hard. It can't even return Microsoft's knowledge base for a search term that Microsoft explicitly set up. Every time, I cut-n-paste the term into Google and that is how I resolve my question. (Of course being linked to Microsoft's own website! They wrote the software. They wrote the documentation. But their own search can't find it!)
The problem is not Google being anti-competitive here. It's Microsoft that can't compete. They don't have two employees that said "hey, we should set up a monthly sync to make sure all the help in Windows gets linked to our knowledge base in Bing" between someone on the Windows team and someone on the Bing team. And that's the kind of thing that makes your company go out of business. The government can do very little to help you with that.
Not sure if it works on all Windows 10 editions though.
In order to be disrupt Google, you don't make a better Google. You identify something Google doesn't deliver and which people care about enough to use your search engine. I don't think anyone knows right know what that hypothetical killer feature is, and most probably assume it doesn't exist.
On another level, though, incumbents have a habit of buying potential threats (which can be a pretty good deal when you're in venture capital land and need to show your shareholders high returns). Google's bought a number of companies with a different take on search over the years, such as Like.com and Clever Sense.
The problem arises when a company leverages a monopoly to suppress competition, implement predatory pricing, or manipulate competition in another market. Using a monopoly in search to compel tying agreements prohibiting browsers or manufacturers from including other search engines or apps would qualify. If it turns out that agents of the company (Directors, VPs, etc) internally communicated an intent to suppress competition that would be more than enough to bury them.
By that same argument, companies that aren't huge can't compete with Walmart, UPS, McDonald's, etc.
That argument basically breaks down to "Small companies can't compete against huge companies without finding a way to become huge themselves."
Isn't that just capitalism?
I think you may have replied to the wrong post, because your post doesn't make a lot of sense as a reply to the parent.
The same way an entire class of people (looking at you, Grandma) think that Microsoft Windows IS the computer, many people think Google IS the internet.
And to some degree they aren’t wrong.
Overcoming that perception is going to be insanely expensive and time-consuming. Not to say it shouldn’t be done. Not to say it couldn’t be done, but man, talk about an uphill battle. Especially as Google will naturally mobilize their own machine to crush this new competition.
The internet, however, is different in both the frequency of interaction and the import of being transparent.
Also, as far as I can tell, it would be an order of magnitude cheaper to start a new photocopying machine because the tricks and tactics that Xerox could ostensibly use to slow down your new startup are relatively benign.
Google controls (more or less) the way anyone, anywhere (who isn't tech-savvy) will find you as an online business. Kinda scary.
Nothing, but that's always been the case, with every monopoly. There was nothing stopping anybody from running telephone lines and competing with AT&T in the 80's except for AT&T's massive incumbency head-start.
Google monopolized search with the great product they developed, and then tied it to an ever increasingly aggressive ad product which in turn makes all of the web practically unusable without filtering.
There’s noting inherently expensive about serving http, and it should be getting ever cheaper as Moore’s Law progress along its merry way, but for this middle man we’ve all gotten addicted to.
Serving http is getting cheaper, therefore the filtering problem is getting harder, therefore it's harder for new competitors to emerge.
Either way, I agree that ads are the root of the problem because it makes serving garbage http so cheap or profitable. Force people to make informed decisions about where to spend their time and money. Right now people just click away on anything so garbage clickbait is one of the most profitable models.
Every 12 years, take the largest 10 companies and break them up in chunks.
If you want to advertise on the internet what options do you have for Ad platforms? Not many. That's why Tech Giants are now bigger then countries. We might be moving to the Ultra Capitalist future of Demolition Man.
In what country does the author live?
Americans are so used to concentrated power that they don't bat an eye when they need to pay $100/mo for DSL, $2500 for an ambulance ride, or 1000%+ retail cost on lifesaving medication. Or when their boss (usually acting in the capacity of a multi billion dollar conglomerate) insists they pee into a cup or be constantly tracked and spied on in their workplace. Or when a single company siphons 100+ basis points off their tax payment (Lockheed, military budget). Or when we allow a handful of private companies to put human beings into prison. Or when five companies own nearly all television output. Or when three companies decide arbitrarily whether we can participate in the financial system (credit ratings). Or when 2% of every single transaction goes to one of two companies (Visa or MasterCard). Or when billions of dollars are spent each election cycle by only a handful of players. Or when a handful of individual bankers destroy the entire country's pensions and retirement funds, and are rewarded millions of dollars for it. To Americans, ceding power to a entity controlled by a half dozen stupendously wealthy shareholders is as natural as breathing.
Or, yes, when two companies (for most, just one company) control the flow of every single bit of information we see and hear online (Facebook or Google). Our allergy to concentrated power is the same one that a patient dying of AIDS would have against influenza. Though, let's be fair: HIV is a pre-existing condition.
This lawsuit probably sputter, though, because it doesn't adhere to the working legal definition of monopoly. Which itself suffers from the same blindness to power shared by the super-majority of Americans.
New laws for a new era? Look at who is on the judiciary. Look who is writing laws. Look at -- oh who am I kidding. We have made our choice the past few decades, and we are making our choice now.
The problem is that there is no coordination of the people to actually change the status quo. Too many people are still content with it. From both sides movements like BLM, Antifa, Occupy, the Tea Party, the alt-right, etc represent at most a tenth of the nation. And by-and-large the other 80% not participating in political activism at all largely either A. don't believe in the ability to organize a movement for change or B. don't want it at all.
This is not to say it would not be in the self interest of a vast supermajority of Americans to seek such change - for example, universal public healthcare would be a tremendous boon to like 4 in 5 people at least. Better elections, with election day being a public holiday, universal mail in voting, and any of the myriad alternatives to first past the post voting would all improve the conditions of like 95% of the country. The problem is that most people were taught and conditioned to be non-participatory and largely will not become so no matter what anyone else does or says . Even if things did get bad. Even if there were tangible impacts to their day to day experience. Conditioning is an extremely potent force and a combination of American corporate news, American public education, the cultures of swathes of the country raise their kids on, the material conditions you live through and your life experiences within them, etc all contribute to the apathy and attitude.
Thankfully the dial is moving in a positive direction, I think. Anyone under the age of 40 to greater and greater degrees was unable to grow up in an isolated microcosm of Americana that conditioned them into non-participation. The numbers still aren't great, but they are getting better, and unless we see systems collapse take us all offline it will hopefully keep improving moving forward, albeit centralized private social media has done a lot last decade to stymie progress.
I believe America is desperately in need of voting reform. And I believe the only way to achieve that is by voting against the establishment. I won’t be voting left or right this election. I’ll either be voting third party or writing in a strong left/right P/VP ticket.
Which is exactly why it will never happen - both major parties enjoy their power duopoly. The powerful always resist democracy because it takes their power and gives it to the people, be they monarchs, corporations, or political parties.
BS. Americans will happily send half their disposable income to Amazon in the name of convenience.
There is such a thing as coordination, and it's not always easy.
We don't have strong enough democratic social and labor movements that can move the needle yet. If we abandon the individualistic frame, we begin to see the necessity of joining political groups and regularly discussing our problems and how we can try to solve them, sometimes by coordinating with coalitions of groups to increase power.
Grainger. Especially if you're doing commercial shopping and need stuff to actually idk maybe do what it says and not be counterfeit.
I know i know they seem like a dinosaur, their catalog is a disaster and it seems impossible to find a real price. Thats all true, but theres a reason they obfuscate themselves. They’re a walled garden but once you're in its living in the future where this whole amazon problem has already been solved going on decades now!!! Its kinda like walmart to sams or target to costco. But grainger isnt owned by amazon, theyre direct competition and I’d wager if the hn crowd had our way and put consumer pressure on them to expand their market and made them know of our capabilities in helping them expand that vision, that grainger would pivot in a heartbeat to be more common consumer friendly. ... and then maybe we could have a little bit of peace.
But seriously their worth checking out.
That's why I like advocating for it in local elections - it leads to a more wide awareness of the advantages of the system in the minds of electorates.
As an Australian, it makes perfect sense to me.
1. It's held up that it would disenfrancbise voters
2. Tradition (essentially) something being unconstitutional in the US has morphed into an extremely radical idea in the minds of most Americans - the electoral college is established in the constitution, but the US has revised that a bunch of times over it's history including the "undo" amendment (the 21st)
Do you see a possible path for something like IRV nationwide?
That being said, the major issue with relying on states to do this, is that the first states to do this will probably lose out. In a parallel universe with orange and green parties, if, say, the orange state decides to move to proportional electoral college but the green state does not, then the green party will benefit because they get both split votes from the yellow state and the total votes for the green state.
I'd really like to see the US have regional and balancing seats in congress - the former tied to districts and the latter allocated to maximize the correctness of the representation - so maybe the Purple wins all the races in Maine but Green had 40% of the vote in both races - Green would gain a non-regionally tied house seat while purple gets both of the regional seats.
1. Potentially seats depending on how national elections go
The problem with doing it with proportional voting is that you need every single state on board; any state still doing winner-takes-all has much greater power.
Additionally, as long as that proportion is significantly high enough (say above the 66% mark) the two parties that were partially disenfranchised would still be left sharing a strong majority in the house between them and, if something similar happened with the senate, they could coalition up and force through a congressional amendment that would bring the remaining portion of the country in line for the next election.
The Interstate Voting Compact couldn't be precisely similarly applied to congressional elections, it'd need more momentum behind it, but there is a way for the math to work out.
All that said, IANAL and I have no idea if the legal shenanigans used to make the IVC binding could also be utilized for a similar movement around the house and senate.
I would love to see IRV in both places though as it would be nice to see something other than a Liberal or Conservative PM. Near miss with the NDP a few years back.
Canada once had at least 18 active parties, and is now down to five, even with a system that encourages more coalition-building than its neighbor to the south. Eventually it will become two.
As a Canadian - Canada is slipping into a two party system. There are, weirdly, regional variations of parties - that tends to lead toward the appearance of wider representation. I'm in BC and our conservative party is the Liberals while our liberal party is the NDP - with the greens eeking out a few seats on the sunshine coast and occasionally vancouver island in most elections - it's basically a two horse race provincially between the Liberals and the NDP. Since the Conservatives have essentially no chance of winning all their voters jumped on the Liberal bandwagon and made that party conservative (as evidenced by the pro-life Liberal candidate who recently described contraception as a form of eugenics).
BQ is an interesting party that mostly exists because QC still kinda wants to be independent, and the greens essentially don't exist. The same is essentially true of the NDP when it comes to the national elections - please just look at these results with the Liberal party at 157, the conservatives at 121 and the next most represented party at 32 (up 22 seats over the last election) - Canadian elections are essentially a two horse race and a lot of Canadians that aren't already in "safe" NDP, BQ or Green districts end up voting strategically for Conservatives or Liberals - whichever they hate less.
Oh also there's the PPC but honestly they're a joke - I still think they should have a few MPs though (technically, five seats) - they did carry 1.62% of the national vote in a country where an MP represents .3% of the country. Here's a graphic demonstrating the full skew of voting in Canada, it's not nearly as minor as you might think.
The Canadian system has you pick your local representative for your riding (MP) and the party with the most MPs, traditionally™, gets to make their leader the Prime Minister. The popular vote is irrelevant because the popular vote is not how Canadian elections are 'scored.' At all, really. Each race is a race for your specific representative. That it's correlated with the PM-ship is ancillary, since even a plurality of seats doesn't guarantee your party ends up picking the PM. A coalition of two smaller parties can band together and unseat a plurality party for the PM role. A Conservative-NDP coalition (haha) could have installed Scheer as PM after the last selection. A Conservative-Bloc coalition could have done so too. And a Liberal-NDP coalition could have installed Trudeau as a majority leader in the last election.
In the US, they have FPTP voting specifically for their head of state, which is where the rub lies. You have a poll for who should be in charge, but you weight the votes differently depending on which state those voters happen to reside in, and throw some of them away (via FPTP). This is intentional, to ensure that rural states have outsize representation. A good idea? Maybe not, but it's no mistake.
 Re: the BQ, they've started campaigning not on separatism but on social issues, it's cool to see honestly.
If you instead awarded EC votes proportionally, you'd largely wind up aligning with popular vote entirely. It'd also make more states more competitive, since it is much easier to move the margin on one electoral vote rather than say 55.
No, it doesn't. The US has indirect elections for the head of state, but the body which directly elects the head of state literally does nothing else.
The results are passed on via electors, but most electors are bound by law to vote alongside the popular vote of the state. Even when not bound, they have almost exclusively done so, making this particular fact more of a technicality.
An indirect analogy based on the Canadian system, for instance, would be whichever party in the House has the most seats gets to put their leader in the President role. I would consider that to be "indirectly."
Canadians are never asked "Who should be Prime Minister: Justin Trudeau, Andrew Scheer, Jagmeet Singh, Elizabeth May or Yves-François Blanchet?" Parliamentary procedure dictates that.
They don't, though, they vote for (mostly, there's a few exceptions) statewide slates of electors.
> Americans are picking on the ballot between "Trump" or "Biden," not "Republican Elector Steve Ruralson" vs "Democrat Elector Bill City-Slicker."
But that's because the ballot is a lie.
The distinction you're highlighting is a very important piece when it comes to discussing election reform, but I think it's better to classify it as an inaccuracy in the manner in which the electorate votes for the head of state - rather than as the electorate not voting for a head of state.
The problem is corruption and collusion between the parties to maintain the two party tyranny.
You can educate everyone to a PhD in political philosophy or political science for free and it would not noticeably change things unless they're willing to coordinate to vote for a third party (assuming that they can get the votes to change the system everywhere, which they probably can't) or pick up a rifle to break up the two party tyranny by threat (or enactment, should the powers that be not go peacefully) of force.
Do I need more proof that defunding education was a bad thing?
(mine doesn't for a different reason since I'm a foreign citizen)
That's the idea at least, and I think it's worth considering. But yes, speaking as someone looking in to the US from outside, a more proportional voting system would also do wonders for your democratic legitimacy.
The average IQ is 100 - do you consider the capabilities of a person with less than 100 IQ (half the population) to be capable of being informed by your definition of informed? Does a person with less than 100 IQ want to be educated by your definition of educated?
Alternative theory regarding power/politics:
The only thing that's happened in the last 100 years as far as I can tell, is introduction of new ideas has outpaced the human birth/death cycle in most places on earth.
When this happens, people who utilize new ideas to gain power are at odds with people who already have power but aren't ready to transfer it using the natural birth/death cycle.
This causes a great deal of friction. If you don't want the friction to be lubricated by human blood, those who have power need to have the humility to step down and let the younger generation utilize new ideas to keep things moving.
American politicians are incredibly arrogant, they think the populace is going to put up with another 4-8 years of 70+ year old dinosaurs and their dinosaur friends in Washington fine dining their country to irrelevancy. Hopefully we don't end up using human blood to resolve this friction like we've done historically.
If one would accept this description, and I think that it's appropriate from a literal reading of democracy, then wouldn't the structure you're describing where you can only have power if you're a millionaire and you are incentivized not to use it to express the power of the many, lack the emergent attribute of being democratic?
Over last few decades the democratically elected government has been retreating from providing public goods and services. It may or may not have been meticulously engineered but the US is now at a point where just about every aspect of services and goods has been privatised.
It is assumed, at least as per the PR, that free markets are more effective and efficient than elected government in discharging public goods and services. And the government's role has reduced to maintain the quality of the USD currency. Housing, , health, transportation, education, law enforcement, national security and military, public safety -- just to name a few -- have all either been fully privatised or almost there.
Given this, to what extent can public influence the way things are run? The public get one chance in five years to choose a government which has anyway privatised much of its functions. To add to that the political parties get non-trivial funding by these private corporations.
1) You'd be surprised by what people want. As a background principle, Americans don't like government and don't like government regulation: https://news.gallup.com/poll/243662/americans-worry-less-gov.... The percentage of people who want more regulation "of business and industry" hovers around 25%. Even during most of the George W. Bush presidency, those who wanted less regulation substantially outnumbered those who wanted more. Folks who wanted less regulation outnumbered those who wanted more 2:1 in Obama's first term.
The percentage of people saying the federal government has "too little power" has been under 10% over the last 20 years. Since 2005, a majority has said the federal government has too much power.
2) People might want something in the abstract, but that doesn't mean they support a specific implementation with specific trade-offs.
As of 2007, a majority of Americans said they wanted government to guarantee healthcare: https://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/02/washington/02poll.html. but look at the question more carefully: "Americans showed a striking willingness in the poll to make tradeoffs to guarantee health insurance for all, including paying as much as $500 more in taxes a year and forgoing future tax cuts." $500 is just 1.5% of the median individual income. That's not nearly enough to actually pay for European-style universal healthcare.
Unsurprisingly, support for the Affordable Care Act started out well under 40%: https://www.wsj.com/articles/recent-warmth-toward-affordable.... Opposition to the law didn't outweigh support until 2017. And as a result of Democrats pushing through the ACA, Republicans gained 63 seats in the House (a gain bigger than the 2016 "blue wave"). Democrats started out with large majorities of the Senate and House in 2008, and by 2014 Republicans had flipped the situation, with Democrats losing 13 Senate seats and 69 House seats.
In another example, if you asked people in 2008, most Obama voters would have said they wanted clean power. But they don't actually want to pay more at the pump or a higher electric bill. Hence Obama taking credit for fracking a major achievement of his administration: https://apnews.com/article/5dfbc1aa17701ae219239caad0bfefb2
3) Americans really hate taxes: https://news.gallup.com/poll/268295/support-government-inche.... Even in 2019, when 39% of people say they support "socialism" just 25% want a combination of "more [government] services" and "more taxes." (This is an all-time high! It didn't clear 20% from 1993 to 2013.) Meanwhile, 42% want "less services" with "less taxes."
4) People don't necessarily want the same things. Just because 55% of Americans want A and 58% want B, that doesn't mean there is a voting block comprising a majority that wants both A and B.
5) People who agree on a problem don't necessarily agree on a solution. The majority of Americans think income inequality is a problem: https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2020/01/09/most-americans-sa.... But people don't necessarily agree on what causes income inequality and what the solution should be. Democrats want a big government to redistribute income. Republicans want to earn their money, and think that big government creates opportunities for the super-rich to earn income unfairly.
6) America is a Republic, not a Democracy. Elected representatives must balance (1)-(5) to give people what they want, not what they say they want. America makes way more sense if you realize that the government we have is what we can achieve with how much we're willing to pay (not that much) and how much we trust the government to do the right thing (not that much).
The republic versus democracy point is relevant here for a practical reason, not an ideological one. In a direct democracy, citizens can vote on each issue independently of the others. In a republic, they have to pick representatives that don’t necessarily have the exact same mix of preferences, and those representatives are organized into parties. That produces compromises that don’t need to happen in a direct democracy. For example, a major cleavage line in American politics is race. That splits the working class vote between Democrats and Republicans. And it also splits the religious conservative vote. For example, likely voters support the Hyde Amendment (which bans federal funding of abortions) by a 20-point margin: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/06/joe-biden-hyde-a.... But Joe Biden now supports federal funding of abortions. Thats because the social conservative block is split between the two parties. Conservative Hispanic and especially Black people often vote Democrat for other reasons. In a referendum, federal funding of abortion would be easily defeated. But in a system of representative government, it could become law.
Many other issues split this way. Over 60% of people support eliminating qualified immunity (which shields police from lawsuits) and limiting police union power. In a direct democracy, these issues would win easily. But support for these policies is split between the two parties. Moreover, the parties vigorously disagree about how city mayors handled the protests and riots this summer. So discrete issues like these where there might be bipartisan agreement get sucked up into a larger ideological dispute about when violent protests are justified in reaction to police brutality.
Also it's not like those old farts in the congressional seats lift their pens to write laws. They have a team of policy wonks that do that for them. They just present it in the respective chambers to play along with the charade. If you email your senator directly, it's going to be a staffer that fields the email, addresses your concerns, types up a response, and signs the senator's name in the signature.
Anyone who has lived on the Hill for any amount of time know what really makes this country churn, and it isn't the public faces.
I know people on both far-left and far-right who are just as Thompson describes: upset about any concentration of power, whether political, commercial, or religious. Does that mean they refuse to buy internet service or take medicine? The connection you draw seems nonsensical.
I, personally, loathe concentrated power. I, personally, pay an egregious sum of money for a half-terabit internet connection. That price, and my lack of options, is one symptom of the very issue at hand! Since I alone am unable to change the status quo, I pay what is required of me and grumble about it using that very service.
You describe the status quo as evidence that not one single person fits the description, then go on to demonstrate that you yourself seem to fit the description.
As far as hatred of monopoly being a long trend in America, the original birth of this country had avoiding aying tea in Boston Harbor to setting up three distinct branches of government, the rejection of monopoly and concentrated power was, as Thompson reminds us, a habit and tradition.
A significant portion of American's would find this too close to socialism and with too much government involvement for their tastes, even though they would be far better off with these perks. It's depressing how much worse off they would rather be than to have these regulations and government controlled benefits.
> control the flow of every single bit of information we see and hear online
That has to be a gross hyperbole, right? Realistically I highly doubt it even comes close to 50%
Singapore, for what it's worth.