In courting government power, Google faces its wrath
Net neutrality advocates argue that the government should force large network service providers like AT&T and Comcast to charge all of their customers the same rate, regardless of the bandwidth they consume. While no one would defend forcing restaurants to offer only a fixed price, all-you-can eat menu to every customer, that is essentially what the many prominent corporations and politicians who support net neutrality are proposing to do with Internet service. Among these proponents is Google, which maintains a public
policy blog heavily geared toward arguing that it should be illegal for one broadband customer to be able to pay for better service than another.
Google’s targets are now using the same tactics against it. AT&T has complained to the Federal Communications Commission that Google is violating net neutrality principles by restricting calls made through its Google Voice service (Google currently blocks calls from small rural areas that carry a high connection fee). And those who want favorable treatment from Google’s search engine are now calling for the FCC to force Google to feature their websites more prominently.
What’s Google to do? In advocating for net neutrality laws, it has endorsed the idea that business decisions should be determined by politicians, not by individual companies dealing freely with one another. It has forsaken the idea that businesses should be allowed to operate free from government interference, and as a consequence must now engage in the only recourse: making as many friends in Washington as possible.
This competition for the government’s favor is one of the hallmarks of a mixed economy (a system combining free markets with government restrictions). The proper solution to this mess is not to put more control in the greased hands of politicians, but to remove government coercion from the equation and allow a free market to operate. A company should have no weapon but its own ability to compete through honest production and trade.