My former GMU colleague – now the holder of the Hugh H. Macaulay Chair in Economics at Clemson University – Tom Hazlett brilliantly exposes the many intellectual fallacies that fuel “hipster antitrust.” A slice:
Every business acquires inputs and then sells outputs. In between, some magical process creates new value. Cooperative deals between suppliers and buyers today may well erupt in rivalrous tension tomorrow. That’s actually a good thing: We want to encourage shifting alliances. Customers change; technologies advance; firms learn; efficiencies evolve. Amazon hosting its retail rivals is no weirder than Costco displaying its own Kirkland champagne side-by-side with Veuve Clicquot or the Dodgers hosting the Giants in Dodger Stadium.
Antitrust scribblers may imagine Amazon squelching independent sellers and stealing their profits, but that’s not the reality according to the vendors. Hundreds of thousands of third-party sellers have made Amazon “the Everything Store.” From 1999 to 2018, Amazon’s own share of the products it sells dropped from 97 percent to 42 percent. And even that overstates Amazon’s vertical integration. Marketplace—the platform for third parties who offer goods through Amazon—now accounts for 68 percent of the platform’s retail revenues.
Here’s a family tale shared by Arnold Kling. And here’s Arnold’s insightful and wise conclusion:
Today, ironically, it is the left that is most eager to name, shame, and ruin people for espousing unpopular views. Have they not learned about the bullying that took place in the McCarthy era? Or do they think that anti-Communist bullying was bad because it was done by right-wingers, but left-wing bullying is good?
I have no sympathy for bullies. In my opinion, people who think that the answer to left-wing bullying is to support Mr. Trump’s transformation of the “bully pulpit” (original meaning: great fun pulpit) into a pulpit for bullying are wrong.