In an important essay this week entitled “Silicon Valley’s ‘Suicide Impulse’,” Wall Street Journal columnist L. Gordon Crovitz warns that “Silicon Valley has long prided itself on avoiding the lumbering relationship between big government and most industries, but somehow it has become one of the top lobbyists in Washington.” Crovitz is worried that Internet and technology companies are falling prey to what Milton Friedman labeled “The Business Community’s Suicidal Impulse”: the persistent propensity to persecute one’s competitors using regulation or the threat thereof. “Rather than lobby government to go after one another,” Crovitz argues, “Silicon Valley lobbyists should unite to go after overreaching government. Instead of the ‘suicide impulse’ of lobbying for more regulation, Silicon Valley should seek deregulation and a long-overdue freedom to return to its entrepreneurial roots.”
Crovitz’s essay touches upon a dangerous trend I have written about here and elsewhere in the past: the increasing politicization of the Internet and information technology sectors and the gradual rise of rent-seeking (i.e., favor-seeking) over time. I’ve written about this problem in essays like:
- “The Sad State of Cyber-Politics” (Cato, 2010)
- “The Troubling Growth of High-Tech Regulation, Lobbying, and Rent-Seeking” (Dec. 2, 2012)
- “On Facebook ‘Normalizing Relations’ with Washington” (March 29, 2011)
- “DC’s LivingSocial Cronyism Experiment Already Going off the Rails” (Nov. 29, 2012)
These essays have documented how tech companies are increasingly vying for the attention of legislators and regulators in Washington, statehouses, and international capitals across the globe.
Why should we care about the increasing politicization of the information technology sector? Continue reading →