The present administration is anti-business—it’s that simple.
By Benjamin Seevers
The Biden administration has been and will likely continue to be a disaster throughout 2024. The actions of his administration and the federal government since 2021 have taken on an overwhelmingly interventionist character in regards to the economy. His failed economic policies come with little to no silver lining. The executive’s approval of antitrust policy is no exception to the failure of the Biden White House.
Antitrust laws are intended to discourage the formation of monopolies. But in reality, antitrust laws are mostly extended to fight any business that attempts to acquire any market power, therefore, stamping out competition rather than enhancing it.
The Biden administration has repeatedly stepped in the way of companies attempting to merge. This is unfortunate because mergers are always an attempt to improve consumer satisfaction. The acquiring company’s goal is to take the acquired company’s assets, increase the value, and hopefully make a profit by doing so.
Economics teaches us that obtaining higher profits indicates that a company successfully served the interests of consumers. Ludwig von Mises, one of Grove City College’s guiding stars, excellently explains this phenomenon. Consumer sovereignty, as Mises calls it, is the idea that all production in a voluntary economy is ultimately for the satisfaction of final consumers.
Because of this, the consumer guides all economic activity, like a captain at the wheel of a great ship. All mergers are, therefore, at the direction of the consumer, and likewise for the satisfaction of consumer desires.
So, how has the Biden administration prevented this beneficial economic activity? Let’s examine the antitrust actions of this past year. 2023 began with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) bringing antitrust action against Microsoft. What was Microsoft’s crime? Microsoft tried to acquire a smaller video game firm, Activision Blizzard. The percentage of the market Microsoft would hold after merging with Activision Blizzard would have been a measly 10.7 percent, which is hardly anything to write home about.
Microsoft’s competitor, Sony, alleges that Microsoft would gain an unfair advantage in acquiring Activision. In other words, Microsoft would not be acting competitively. Conversely, it is the FTC that is helping to create an unfair advantage. The FTC preventing Microsoft from acquiring Activision Blizzard is an anti-competitive measure because preventing the merger serves Sony, who currently has the advantage of owning the rights to the PlayStation 5, a game console that has proven to be much more popular than Microsoft’s new Xbox.
Here lies one of the biggest contradictions of antitrust policy. Antitrust is intended to protect and improve competition, but it actually ends up limiting competition and protecting more efficient firms. Sony’s strong market power is undeniably harmed by Microsoft’s acquisitions.
A Year of Anti-Business
So what other antitrust actions has the Biden admin taken this year? Google has been subject to the Justice Department’s whims over allegedly holding a monopoly in the internet advertisement space market. While this accusation may be strong, what is the FTC leaving out?
Google, by selling advertisements along with metadata, provides many people with a free and effective search engine as well as various services such as Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets, which are all free alternatives to Microsoft’s products such as Bing, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. This lawsuit embroiled Google in hearings all year and wasted funds that could have been directed toward providing consumers with new products and services. If the government comes out on top, the consumer will suffer, and perhaps only Microsoft and their politicians will benefit.
Most recently, Amazon has come under fire as well. This should come as no surprise. Lina Khan, Biden’s anti-Big Tech crusading FTC chair, has had Amazon in her crosshairs since her time studying at Yale Law School. She wants to break up the company, which would be an absolute disaster. The quick and easy shopping that the average person has access to would disappear or become much less efficient. Countless other services that Amazon provides would be eliminated or limited and any innovations that Amazon brings about in the future would be snuffed out before they ever see the light of day. We should pray that Khan never succeeds.
Stepping away from Big Tech, the Biden administration has gone after a number of airline companies as well. The Justice Department attacked a partnership between JetBlue and American Airlines. What was so bad about this partnership? Nothing! The partnership lowered costs for travelers across the Northeast region of the U.S., and it increased competitiveness as well. Neither JetBlue nor American held a significant market share in the airports this partnership affected. In fact, breaking up this partnership benefited the dominant airline companies in the region.
Now, JetBlue is refocusing its efforts on appealing the suit against its merger with Spirit Airlines, which was filed earlier in the year. Let’s hope it succeeds. Have you detected a theme yet? The major antitrust actions taken in 2023 benefit large firms at the expense of their smaller competitors and consumers. Consumers are harmed for political advantages. 2024 is likely to be no different.
About the Author
Benjamin Seevers ’23 is a economics PhD student at West Virginia University and holds a BA in economics from Grove City College. He was a 2023 Mises Summer Fellow. His research interests include private governance, public policy, and libertarian ethics.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the writer alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grove City College, the Institute for Faith and Freedom, or their affiliates.