The “They Aren’t Private Companies” Non-Argument


The “They Aren’t Private Companies” Non-Argument

Big Tech is loathesome, yes, but the argument (if you can call it that), that they aren’t private because they do the government’s bidding (I guess that’s the argument) is absurd. 

1) These company’s shares are traded publicly on stock exchanges and are owned by millions of individual investors. That’s literally the definition of “private”.

2) Yes, they can have whatever policies they want, even if that includes things I don’t like. In fact, virtually every company I do business with does things I don’t like. But, being an educated libertarian, I realize that there are tradeoffs to everything and that, if I get value from my dealings with these companies sufficient to overcome my objections, I continue. If not, I don’t. That’s how markets work. 

3) Every company does the government’s bidding. They pay taxes, they follow regulations and laws. They often raise money for the state’s causes (like schools) voluntarily! So, is every company not private?

4) If you’re still using Big Tech, then you’re getting more benefit from your interactions with them than can be overcome by your objections to their policies. So, as I’ve heard libertarians say, if this is the the biggest threat to liberty in the world right now, you have to deal with the fact that you value liberty less than you value the benefits you get from Big Tech. 

If you really hate what they’re doing, praxeology says that you’d have participated in the market and left them for greener pastures. 

5) For the sake of argument, let’s say that Big Tech really isn’t private. Now what? I really hope that the answer isn’t, “now we can get the government to force them to do what we want”. If that’s the argument, you really, really need to work on your naivete. The government loves Big Tech censorship, fully backs it up and, is possibly coercing them into doing it. If you still think the state is there to do good for the people, you’re utterly hopeless. Those evil bastards are never going to do anything for you if it goes against their interests. I’m amazed that anyone can’t see that. 

6) If, in 5, above, the argument is for government action against these companies, you’re advocating that force be used against private interests in order to enforce your own preferences. You aren’t a libertarian.

7) I don’t know, but I suspect that the basis for the “not private companies” argument is really about spoiled, whiny, 1st-worlders not wanting to wait for the market to work. They want what they want right now(!) and they should never have to endure any inconvenience, whatsoever, at any time. 

Can’t they just move to another platform? Sure! But that would require doing something! That might mean making sacrifices (oh no!). These people have high time preference and they don’t want to wait for the market to do its thing. 

End List

Look, I’m fine with people, even libertarians, continuing to use Big Tech. I don’t criticize them for that, because I understand economics. They get value from it. That value exceeds the costs. That value is subjective and the amount to which someone values something is neither right nor wrong. What I do criticize is the lack of self-awareness, the lack of introspection and the willingness to throw principle out the window at the slightest hint of resistance. There is a clear solution: stop using Big Tech. Hell, just cut back a little, for god’s sake. That’s how markets work. If you’re still using Big Tech, fine, but stop confusing libertarian philosophy in order to virtue signal about your preferences. You like the benefits of Big Tech more than you hate what they’re doing. That’s the bottom line. Just admit it. That doesn’t make you a hypocrite. That doesn’t mean you can’t complain about their terrible policies. That doesn’t mean you can’t lobby them to change. Buy their stock and vote in the shareholder’s meetings. But please stop twisting libertarian philosophy. Climbing that hill is hard enough already.

Conceptual logician, libertarian philosopher, musician, economist, almost-ran businessman and other stuff.
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