Enshrining Cronyism

If you like your cronyism, you can keep it. For that matter, if you like your income inequality, you can keep that too. Highly reminiscent of President Obama’s similar but less-encompassing “Steps to Increase Competition and Better Inform Consumers and Workers to Support Continued Growth of the American Economy,” President Biden’s new executive order on “Promoting Competition in the American Economy” does the opposite. It is a signaling effort to consolidate sweeping federal power over (going alphabetically) agriculture, airlines, banking, broadband, health, and the technology sector, a list we may presume to be non-inclusive.

The limited areas in which the order is deregulatory are paltry compared to the order’s being heavily directed at so-called, but alas misnamed, “independent agencies” like the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission. Unfortunately, the GOP will be caught flatfooted, as sections like those on pharmaceutical controls could have been written by former president Trump, while the sections on regulation of “Big Tech” might as well be a collaboration between the two dominant political parties. All are unconcerned with the fact that much of Big Tech is itself asking for regulation. That is what we mean by keeping cronyism.

It’s always the same with the Washington careerists; more government power, never regulatory liberalization. There exists such a great opportunity to pursue the latter to be prepared for the next breakthrough technologies—smart cities, artificial intelligence, automated vehicles, and space commercialization. Precedent set by this order means tomorrow’s technologies will be hobbled by Washington in even worse fashion. With some exception, only the government/business alliances will win, not the public invoked by the administration.

For more on the regulatory state, see the new edition of Ten Thousand Commandments.