A look and state and local anti-trust issues from Microbusiness Strategies

Duluth News Tribune posts a letter from Ron Wacks, from Microbusiness Strategies consulting firm. My knowledge of anti-trust is pretty shallow but I always appreciate a look at what appears to be tangential policies because often those policies more directly impact expanded use of broadband than one might think. It’s difficult for policy to keep up with technology to support innovation and keep citizens safe from security and privacy breaches. Wacks offers…

Local leaders in Minnesota have dedicated considerable resources to transforming our state into a thriving community of young innovators. The spirit of innovation, encouraged by state policies like the “angel” tax credit for start-up investors, should not be met with heavy-handed and sweeping rhetoric at the federal level that disregards the benefits of business dynamics.

The problem is a fundamental misunderstanding of how our antitrust laws were designed to protect consumer rights. The intention of the U.S. antitrust framework is not to protect firms from their largest competitors; it’s about protecting consumers from corporate malfeasance. Antitrust laws are designed to ensure customers’ access to a competitive, fair market. But as the structure of digital businesses takes on a new shape, many leaders interpret any market shift or expansion as a threat.

These misconceptions, deliberate or not, ignore the role that digital platforms actually play in bringing buyers and sellers together. Today’s tech platforms are different than AT&T in 1920 or Standard Oil at the turn of the last century. These are incredibly competitive markets, ones in which the success of preeminent companies doesn’t limit innovation at any level but rather encourages it.

Online platforms aren’t for-sale products; they’re resources that drive innovation and allow flexibility for companies across the board — from the small businesses transitioning to digital sales through websites and social-media pages during COVID-19 to medical systems expanding telehealth services to keep patients safe and healthy.

He offers a recommendation…

In Minnesota, the stakes are real. Our internet-based innovation economy supports more than 100,000 jobs and represents $32 billion in economic output, according to the Internet Association. From homegrown startups to larger players investing in our skilled workforce and setting up operations here, we are an example of how the innovation economy can lift up communities and connect them to opportunity and access.

In the end, this digital marketplace is both a product of innovation and a driving force behind it. In today’s hot-button antitrust discussions, lawmakers should be more careful in asking who benefits from preventing innovation and expansion in the tech industry.

This entry was posted in economic development, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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