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Thursday, Sep 28, 2023

COMMENTARY–Feds Should Keep Their Noses Out of Business

Few people would point to the federal government as the impetus behind the great shape of our economy, complete with its low unemployment, low inflation, and increasing wages.

The unprecedented success of small, start-up businesses nationwide, driven by the expanding Internet and other new and emerging technologies, is a significant factor in this growing economy. It is the small-business community , not government , that supplies nearly 70 percent of all jobs in this country.

The near record prosperity we enjoy as Americans did not come about by some presidential edict or act of Congress. Our success is driven by hard working, innovative and risk-taking individuals who strive for the betterment of their lives and families, as well as to leave a legacy for their children.

The world’s largest high-tech companies are fundamentally responsible for the huge increase in the numbers of successful smaller companies, as the climate produced through new products, innovation and capital investment has in turn fostered a multi-layered and multi-faceted economic prosperity.

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Yet, success all too often breeds those who want to reap the benefits without having to do much of the work. The government is no exception.

At all levels, bureaucrats are scrambling to devise plans to ensure the government is able to tax the Internet. “The sky is falling” is a constant theme, as many politicians voice concerns over a potential loss of government revenue, due to current unfettered and untaxed Web transactions. It is disheartening to witness so many supposed leaders with no basic understanding of economics.

‘Rising Tide’

A growing economy, largely driven by the very industry they want to tax, has already produced an increase in government revenues, through an increase in jobs, purchasing power, and investing. When JFK said, “A rising tide raises all boats,” he was referring to the “government flotilla” as well.

Unfortunately, the government boats have gotten too big for one common, economic pond. The federal government continues to make waves as if to bust up one of the world’s most successful companies.

Microsoft is a giant among high-tech companies and there are few questions as to the reason. Led by Bill Gates, the company continues to develop products most computer users utilize on a daily basis as standards. Innovative approaches to software and nearly unparalleled marketing skills have made Microsoft one of the strongest and most successful companies in the history of American business.

Beyond Reason

It is absolutely beyond all reason and common sense to put one of America’s great assets on the chopping block so as to cut it up into smaller pieces. Yet, that’s the thinking of lawyers in the Department of Justice who happen to believe “big is bad” and “bigger is badder,” unless it applies to government. These Justice Department prosecutors have for some time had their sights on the biggest fish in the pond and they won’t let it get away.

The Justice Department has used nearly $30 million of our tax monies to bring the Microsoft case to trial. Yet, the government has failed to prove that Microsoft harmed consumers with price fixing or artificially raised prices. The main contention is that Microsoft “bundled” its Internet browser with its highly successful Windows software, thus denying the competitors key opportunities.

The fact is that Netscape, the other browser company in competition with Microsoft , and doing most of the complaining , has sold its product to millions of Internet subscribers. To top it off, Netscape was more recently bought by America On Line, the biggest Internet provider of them all.

So, what happens while the government is chasing after Microsoft? AOL, rich with Netscape customers, buys an even larger company, Time Warner, to create the biggest and wealthiest entertainment conglomerate in the country. Where is the anti-trust division of the Justice Department when you need it? Maybe too busy trying to figure out a way to legally break up Microsoft.

Stay Out Of It

Maybe the real answer is for the feds to keep their noses out of all of it, whether Microsoft or AOL. Business is business, success is success, profit is profit, and the most successful don’t just sit on their profits, they invest them. Even if it’s to create more personal wealth, that is their right. Most importantly, that investment creates a need for products, spin-off and start-up companies, and jobs, thus spurring the economy.

Antitrust is one thing, but when allegations of monopoly start only as an opinion, and a case is built to prove the opinion, instead of first analyzing its merits, something is wrong. In this case, that something is the federal government, run by those schooled in “bureaucratics” instead of the Constitution.

Jantz is a member of the La Mesa City Council and president of Jantz Communications.


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