The Corner

Economy & Business

The Best Case Against Breaking Up Amazon

Amazon boxes stacked for delivery in New York City, January 29, 2016. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

The New York Times published this excellent argument why we shouldn’t break up Amazon. It boils down to this: Amazon is a genius at giving consumers what they want, and because it faces a ton of competition, the company innovates like crazy. All that’s missing from this piece is the argument that government’s ineptitude at running Amtrak and the postal service, along with a great deal of other evidence of political operatives’ failure to achieve their goals, should make us skeptical of the ability of bureaucrats to break up Big Tech. Here are some choice excerpts from the article:

“Amazon is a genie of consumerist wishes, and it keeps growing more irresistible.”

“As a fervent Amazon customer, I love that its platform keeps getting more convenient.”

“[E]ven as Amazon gets bigger, it still faces relentless competition in the retail business, and is therefore not slowing in any obvious way to act like a lumbering monopoly of yore. The company keeps innovating — and as it does, the possible harms critics have long warned about may look increasingly distant to its customers.”

“What consumers may come to see in Amazon, instead, is what I’ve started to notice — it’s an inescapable, all-consuming retail paradise.”

“Amazon is pushing a level of speed, convenience, and selection in shopping that millions of customers are integrating into their daily lives.”

“Amazon is a trillion-dollar retailing phenomenon that has transformed almost everything about the way Americans shop, but sometimes it seems to operate as a charitable operation for well-off consumers who just want to try out this or that high-priced consumer fancy.”

Exactly! Did I mention that the author is sympathetic to the idea of breaking up Big Tech? But he worries that if Amazon continues to be so good, it will become harder and harder to make the political case to break it up. You can’t make this stuff up.

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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