Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Small: Power grab in Washington could harm Oklahoma

Power grab in Washington could harm Oklahoma
By Jonathan Small

Proposals to penalize “big business” often work to instead hammer small businesses and harm job creation in states like Oklahoma. A new federal effort to break up certain large tech companies falls into that category.

The Biden White House, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and members of Congress are pushing to give authority to unelected bureaucrats to break up certain businesses. The premise is successful companies must be anticompetitive and therefore penalized. But big service providers are a key component in the success of many non-tech small businesses.

More than 8,000 small Oklahoma businesses were dramatically impacted by the pandemic and associated shutdowns. It was the technology sector – not the government – that immediately provided small businesses with the resources necessary to keep businesses afloat by delivering new ways to connect with customers and sell goods.

Companies like Amazon, DoorDash and Google allowed many local businesses to provide services “contactless” to customers. Had those tech services not been available, many more non-tech businesses in Oklahoma might have closed their doors.

Amazon’s investments contributed more than $530 million in GDP to the Oklahoma economy and helped create 4,100 indirect jobs. Google had a $1.3 billion economic impact in Oklahoma and provided $3.3 million in free advertising for small businesses.

In addition, Tulsa and Oklahoma City have seen double-digit growth in technology professionals in the last half-decade. Any potential antitrust move could impact those Oklahoma workers and stifle emerging industries in the state.

Oklahomans instinctively understand the folly of trusting big government to do the right thing for small businesses. And if full government authority is turned over to the unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats of the FTC, that authority will never be turned back. Unlike members of Congress, Americans can’t vote bureaucrats out of office.

And while this “big is bad,” anti-business philosophy may target the tech industry today, there’s no reason to think anti-business bureaucrats won’t expand their reach to other industries over time. Oklahoma’s agriculture and energy industries appear especially likely future targets.

We have weathered the pandemic, but are now experiencing the highest inflation since the 1980s. Any legislation that would reduce the cost efficiencies provided through technology will only add to the price of goods and services. Voters understand that. New polling released by NetChoice shows 85% of Americans are concerned that proposals to regulate tech will make inflation worse.

Oklahomans are understandably concerned about the consolidation of power in the hands of some tech companies. Notably, those who have abused that power have been mostly on the political left—yet now we’re to believe a big government that favors progressives will suddenly regulate technology in ways that benefit conservatives? That’s nothing but a political promise made to be broken.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.


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