Col. Schlichter and the New Rules

I like Kurt Schlichter's stuff, generally speaking. Right now he is pushing government regulation of businesses going against conservatives:

The liberal elite is using its social and cultural ties to those at the helm of big companies to essentially blacklist the NRA, and thereby the tens of millions of Americans who support gun rights. But oppression is oppression whether it’s done by a government bureaucrat or a corporate one, and our principle of non-interference in business assumes business stays out of politics. But now National, Hertz, and others are cutting ties to the NRA, and liberals are advocating banks do the same. Their intent is clear – what they can't do in politics they will simply do by not allowing the representatives of people whose politics they don't like access to the infrastructure of society. And we're not supposed to do anything about it because, you know, free enterprise and stuff.  You know, our principles.
I think he has more of a point with companies like Google. Not giving a discount to a particular group isn't the same thing as denying its members "access to the infrastructure of society." On the other hand, an algorithm that keeps traffic away from a site because Google doesn't approve of its politics kinda does, to a point. Then again, there's always Duck Duck Go.
No. They are exercising political power. We have our own political power, and we need to exercise it - ruthlessly. ... 

The first step is an executive order at the federal level directing that no federal contract can go to any company that discriminates against an organization based on its advocacy or exercise of an enumerated constitutional right. We wouldn't allow a company to do business with our federal government if it discriminated on other grounds, so why should we do it discriminate on political grounds? Why should taxpayers be subsidizing people who hate them? When those government employees start walking past the Hertz and National counters, the liberal jerks who run those companies are going to find that they're posing and posturing has a price. 
Well, I'm not opposed to such an executive order, but it wouldn't affect the companies disassociating from the NRA. Not giving or dropping a discount to an organization isn't really the same as discriminating against it, is it?
Next, Congress needs to pass a comprehensive non-discrimination regime designed to protect us into law and allow individuals and entities the right to sue any business that discriminates on the basis of the advocacy for exercise of any constitutional right.
Hm. That's pretty wrong-headed on free enterprise and free speech grounds, though I wouldn't mind a law that turns the above executive order into the law of the land.

He is also pushing to "Regulate Google and All of Silicon Valley into Submission." He claims that the conservative view of free enterprise was that businesses could do pretty much as they please, as long as they "generally stay out of the cultural and political octagon."

But the Woke Weenies of Silicon Valley, flush with cash, power, and unearned smugness, decided that they just couldn’t keep on the sidelines and make their money. No, they had to make change, as in, changing us. They violated the most important of the old rules – they chose a side. In the past, when a company or even an industry crossed the line, it rarely made much difference. ... 
Not so with the Googles, the Facebooks, and the Twitters. Their antics are not necessarily protected by the First Amendment, their internet monopolies choke out alternative channels, and, unlike the line-crossers of the past, they possess enormous amounts of personal information that can be used to manipulate, intimidate, and punish political opponents – you know, us. ... 
Now that's interesting: "not necessarily protected by the First Amendment". Apparently, a service legally considered a "neutral public forum," which Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter seem to claim to be, benefit from a form of legal immunity, and in exchange they don't get involved in politics. So, discrimination against people for their conservative views might actually be a legal problem for them. (However, John Samples over at the Cato Institute disagrees with that analysis.) Anyway, back to the good Colonel:
... They discriminate against conservatives, they actively assist leftist partisans like Felonia von Pantsuit, and they aggressively silence conservative voices within their apps ... 
There’s sometimes a moment when a system is unstable because one participant has changed the rules, but the other side hasn't yet reacted ... That imbalance cannot persist forever; eventually the people on the other side feel like suckers, so they stop playing by the old rules. That’s when the new rules arise. And that's why conservatives now need to savagely regulate companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter. We need to use our political power in Congress and red state legislatures to incentivize Silicon Valley to return to a system where its companies embrace political and cultural neutrality, or suffer crippling consequences. 
Yeah, I know that heavily regulating private businesses is not “free enterprise,” but I don’t care. See, “free enterprise” is a bargain, and they didn't keep their part of it, and I see no moral obligation for us to be played for saps and forgo using our political power to protect our interests in the face of them using theirs to disembowel us. I liked the old rules better – a free enterprise system confers huge benefits – but it was the left that chose to nuke them.

He has a number of actions in mind, including using anti-trust legislation to break up "Silicon Valley's giants" like Google and Facebook. He points out the power Google, etc., have in having access to everyone's information and suggests federal and state legislation "that will impose staggering, gut-wrenching monetary penalties for ... even for the mere failure to safeguard it ..." He further suggests forcing these companies to make their algorithms open to the public so we can look for bias.

Sen. Cruz has also expressed concern about this and has questioned representatives of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter about it.

What do folks here think about all this? I'm fine with the federal government deciding that companies that get federal contracts need to remain politically neutral, and I like making Google, etc., responsible for safeguarding private information. However, I'm pretty wary of the government attacking a company for political reasons, which is what some of these suggestions seem to amount to.


Grim said...

What he's really advocating is doing back what's been done to conservatives. Punishing their businesses for cultural reasons is how we got 'gay marriage bakery' cases, which the courts have been inclined to allow; it's also how we got the corporate boycotts that forced gay marriage in some places, and the destruction of unwanted monuments in the others.

That's what this current push against the NRA is about. They've gotten all these corporations to cut ties in order to isolate the NRA and to demonize it. Of course, the NRA doesn't run a business, properly speaking. Not being able to offer discounts on rental cars and airlines, well, you know, I never knew they did offer them. When I've joined the NRA, it's been because I wanted them to fight gun control and defend gun rights. I don't care about the rest of it.

So my guess is that the boycott move isn't hurting the NRA much. It's probably costing them very little money, in return for a big spike in membership. That means that their campaign arm will be able to direct-mail many new voters to keep them apprised and energized during this election cycle. The left is making its situation worse, burning capital in a way that actually hurts their cause.

If it teaches right leaning politicians to start fighting back, it'll be a disaster for them. They don't control any part of the Federal government, and relatively few statehouses. If they start losing the cultural power, I don't know what's left besides them trying a revolution. (Some say they have already tried a coup via the Russia 'investigation,' but it depends on the very project -- retaking Congress -- that their current behavior is making harder.)

MikeD said...

When people asked me why I support Net Neutrality, it is for things exactly such as this. Everyone always assumes that as a libertarian, I'd want LESS government involvement in the internet. But the problem is, you get these companies like Google, that think of themselves as "woke social arbiters". I can absolutely see them suppressing search results for pages (like the NRA's) that they don't like. And in a free market, they absolutely have a right to do so. They can configure their search algorithm in whatever way they see fit. And if you don't like it, then you're free to choose another one.

But most people don't even know HOW to choose a search engine. I work in a newspaper, and you'd be shocked how many really just don't understand even the most basic of computer functions. And these are educated people. So if you have what is recognized as the most widely used search engine hiding political opinions they don't like, then that amounts to censorship that has no public recourse. It's one of those areas where we actually need the government to have a hand and say "you may not censor stuff just because you don't like it".

I know, I know, you give the government an inch, it will take a mile. I know. I believe that as well. But there are things we need governments for (which is shocking to people who assume "libertarian" is the same thing as "anarchist"), and I think this is one of them.

Ymarsakar said...

Google exists to make people adopt more totalitarian methods. In this fashion the DS wins by the strategy of Divide and Conquer.

jaed said...

RIght now if you go to Google's "Shopping" tab and enter "rifle", it comes up with no search results.

If you misspell it ("rfle"), it shows the usual results. showing that Google does in fact have shopping results for the term. They've just put in a hack to prevent them from being presented to users.

(NB: As far as I know, Net Neutrality would not affect this sort of behavior in the slightest.)

Tom said...

Well, I know it's cliche, but just because they do it doesn't mean we should. We are supposed to be the ones who care about freedom. If we give up on it and start down that road, no one will be left to pull us back when the current danger has been overcome.

Also, "They don't control any part of the Federal government," except the biggest part, the unelected bureaucracy, which is deeply entrenched. We can't seem to fire, much less jail, any of them regardless of what they do or fail to do.

Net Neutrality had nothing to do with what Google (or Amazon or Twitter or Facebook or ...) could or couldn't do. It only meant that the companies like Comcast that own internet infrastructure couldn't charge different rates for different kinds of users. So, under Net Neutrality, if Comcast has to upgrade their infrastructure to handle the bandwidth Netflix is using, they can't just charge Netflix more to help pay for that. They either eat that cost or spread it to all of their customers.

Google, on the other hand, was completely free to rig their search results to exclude the NRA or any other group they wanted to hurt. Net Neutrality did nothing about that.

Here's Robert Tracinski on it.

I don't really know what the answers to Google, Facebook, etc., are, but I generally oppose options that lead to less freedom. Maybe we can use anti-trust laws to break them up. Maybe we can pass some kind of "truth in advertising" law that makes them reveal their algorithms. Maybe something else. But the government punishing companies for political actions isn't something I really want to get into.

On the other hand, we can educate people about search engines. Picking a new one is as simple as typing "" or "" into their browser. Setting one of them as default is equally simple in most browsers.

Of course, there's a lot going on here that I feel like I don't know enough about. Google has competitors; are they really a monopoly? Of course, we don't just stop monopolies; I think the anti-trust laws cover "anti-competitive" behavior. There are so many important details in all this that I struggle to form good opinions.

douglas said...

"But most people don't even know HOW to choose a search engine."

I would argue that they're also deliberately not teaching people how to properly use the internet (or computers in general). I've been perturbed that so far, it seems the larger part of the technology curriculum my kids have gotten is mostly long-term useless lessons in particular software platforms. What they need is a quick BASIC course, or whatever the current version of that is. Then you learn logic, and how a computer 'thinks', which is of vital importance in using the tool and not just being a consumer.

Tom said...

Yeah, what should be taught and what is taught is a whole other can of worms. I think it has more to do with fads in education theory rather than any conspiracy, though.

If you're into teaching coding to kids, a lot of schools are using Scratch for that, now.

douglas said...

Thanks. I'll look into that.

"I think it has more to do with fads in education theory rather than any conspiracy, though."

True (among the rank and file), but those fads start in ed schools, and those theorists aren't moving in that direction accidentally.