It’s Google’s Turn to Be Plundered
by Jacob G. Hornberger
A couple of days ago, the New York Times profiled Margrethe Verstager, a former “minister of the economy” in Denmark who is now serving as the European Union’s “commissioner of competition.” In her current position, she is going after Google in the hopes of seizing a potential sum of $6 billion from the company.
Verstager is going after Google for supposedly violating the EU’s antitrust laws. She claims, according to the Times, that Google has been suppressing competition by “systematically favoring its own comparison shopping service over those of its rivals.”
Oh, wow! Just think: favoring your own product over the product of competitors! Oh, my gosh! What a heinous crime! I wonder why the EU isn’t criminally prosecuting Google executives.
Let’s face it: raising taxes to fund Europe’s ever-burgeoning welfare state is not an easy process, politically speaking. It’s much easier to plunder and loot big, wealthy foreign companies. The process reminds me of how local communities here in the United States impose exorbitant taxes on hotels and motels under the idea that it’s politically better to tax “foreigners” than one’s own residents. Or U.S. asset-forfeiture laws that enable cops to fund their departments with cash seized from highway travelers rather than through the normal taxing process.
Economic liberty entails the right to come up with your own product and do your best to out-compete everyone else by providing a product that other people are willing to pay for. Economic liberty does not require a company to provide “equal time” to its competitors.
If a company succeeds in satisfying consumers, as Google obviously has, it grows prosperous and big. But as everyone knows, consumers are a fickle bunch. The minute they find what they consider to be a better product or service, they’re gone.
That’s why you don’t need government to go after big firms that achieve success by satisfying consumers (as compared to the many firms that succeed by satisfying public officials). If a big firm fails to continue pleasing consumers, it loses market share and maybe even goes out of business.
If we were to examine a list of the top 30 U.S. companies in 1980, I’ll bet that very few of them are on the same list today. That’s because they failed to continue satisfying consumers. They lost market share.
This is not the first time that the EU has gone after a big American company. In the late 1990s, the EU went after Microsoft, which was the economic boogeyman at that time. The charge was similar to the one they are making against Google — that it “unfairly” promoted its own products as part of its operating system.
Microsoft ultimately was plundered to the tune of $2.3 billion, which apparently satisfied the voracious EU parasites. But according to an article in the Wall Street Journal,
Some lawyers question whether the remedies the EU applied had much effect on Microsoft itself. Very few people purchased the special version of Windows. Moreover, the marketplace has moved on, making requirements for Microsoft to offer competing Internet browsers less important, given the rise of Google’s Chrome browser.
Maybe Margrethe Verstager will go after the U.S. Postal Service, a big, abusive government monopoly that delivers mail to Europe. Don’t hold your breath. European statists love big government entities. It’s the big, successful private ones they wish to plunder and loot.