URLs du Jour

2020-10-24

[Amazon Link]

  • Back on October 16 we wrote about how Amazon refused to make the documentary "What Killed Michael Brown?" available on its streaming platform. The documentary was directed by Eli Steele and narrated by his dad, Shelby Steele.

    Its thesis was apparently out of sync with Amazon's wokeness. At the time:

    In an email, Amazon informed the Steeles that their film is “not eligible for publishing” because it “doesn’t meet Prime Video’s content quality expectations.” Amazon went on to say it “will not be accepting resubmission of this title and this decision may not be appealed.”

    So I told you all that to tell you this. Amazon has apparently "reconsidered." From the film's website:

    Given today’s volatile culture war, I believe this was a positive step. They will have this experience on their minds going forward and one hopes they will improve their policies so that all American perspectives are included. They certainly did not have to reach out, but they did and that gesture is meaningful.

    I do want to thank the writers at Wall Street Journal, Fox News, National Review, and many other places for writing about this. Without this publicity, we likely would never have reached this resolution. Thank you.

    I guess the moral of the story is that if you have the WSJ, NR, Fox News, etc. throwing bad publicity at Amazon, you might have a chance of getting them to treat you fairly.

    Unfortunately, viewers will have to shell out cash ($19.99 for HD) to watch the documentary, but it's our Amazon Product du Jour.


  • Google is another misbehaving behemoth. But according to Ryan Young at National Review, the Google Antitrust Lawsuit is Heavy on the Politics, Weak on the Merits. Assuming you've heard about the basics:

    Many Republicans are upset about perceived anti-conservative bias in the tech industry. That explains the Google suit’s timing — and the likelihood of a similar suit against Facebook before the end of 2020.

    While the DOJ and most state attorneys general have been investigating Google for some time, many DOJ lawyers did not believe they had yet built up a solid case, and opposed Barr’s rushed pre-election timing. The New York Times reported in September that some staffers refused to sign onto the complaint. Some even left the case over their objections.

    From the contents of the complaint, it is clear why. One of its listed grievances is that Google has become a verb. By this logic, as lawyer Cathy Gellis notes, Kleenexes, Band-Aids, and Popsicles have a potentially unlawful edge in their markets. The complaint’s more serious arguments fall equally short.

    Ryan goes on to observe:

    1. Any consumer can switch away from Google's search engine pretty easily. Even Google's Chrome web browser makes it easy to change. (Settings → Search Engine).
    2. Google leads in "General" searches, but other sites (Amazon, eBay, …) grab lots of traffic for more specialized purposes.


  • At AIER, Art Carden piles on the DOJ: Google is Not a Monopoly. Despite the headline on the DOJ press release ("Justice Department Sues Monopolist Google For Violating Antitrust Laws)…

    Google is the biggest player in the world of internet search and the company has come under fire in recent weeks for allegedly rigging search results for political reasons, but Google isn’t a monopoly. There are a lot of firms in the spaces where Google does business, and as far as I know they don’t have any special privileges from the government that deliberately bar people from competing with them. Big? Yes. A “monopoly?” No. I’m sure if we looked closely enough we could find people at the Googleplex committing a host of sins. Being a “monopoly” isn’t one of them.

    When people use the word “monopoly” they mean “really big company with a lot of market share.” There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this. “Monopoly” means, however, either “the only firm in an industry” or “a firm with explicit, government-granted privileges that prevent other people from competing with it.” I don’t think Google fits the bill.

    Google's nefarious scheme is to provide you with a lot of fantastic services and products for free. Obviously this must be stopped!


  • No, it shouldn't be stopped. Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek agrees: Leave Google Alone. Sharing a letter sent to an antagonist:

    Perhaps it’s true that Google’s customers, while they can switch, must incur significant costs to do so. But doesn’t this fact testify to Google’s excellence rather than evilness? To me it appears that the reason such switching isn’t ‘easy’ is that Google is so very superior to any of its rivals. For this offense you wish to sink into Google the fangs of antitrust?!

    Please study the history of antitrust. It’s a sleazy parade of economic ignorance and lawyerly arrogance marching alongside rent-seekers grasping for protection from competition. The DOJ’s current action against Google is part of this parade.

    I might stop blogging about this someday, but it's another irritation from a government that's not fit to tie Google's shoes.


  • At the Josiah Bartlett Center, Drew Cline asks about another bad idea that keeps rearing its ugly head: The minimum wage, again?.

    Like a good horror movie villain that just won’t die, the minimum wage has risen again. It reemerged in the presidential debate on October 21, and the same legislator who introduced the $15 minimum wage bill vetoed this year by Gov. Chris Sununu has filed another minimum wage bill for next year. 

    In the presidential debate, the moderator surprisingly acknowledged the cost of higher minimum wages in her question to former Vice President Joe Biden.

    “We are talking a lot about struggling small businesses and business owners these days. Do you think this is the right time to ask them to raise the minimum wage or support a federal $15 minimum wage?”

    My only quibble is about the "good horror movie villain" language. It's more like "the same lousy villain from a bunch of movies that weren't very good the first time."

    Bonus: at the link there's a nice picture of a young lady rolling her eyes. You don't want to miss that.


  • And I liked Steven Landsburg's take on Vaccine Testing.

    There are (at least) two ways to test the efficacy of a vaccine. The Stupid Way is to administer the vaccine to, say, 30,000 volunteers and then wait to see how many of them get sick. The Smarter Way is to adminster the vaccine to a smaller number of (presumably much better-paid) volunteers, then expose them to the virus and see how many get sick.

    A trial implementing the Smart Way is getting underway at Imperial College London. In the United States, we do things the Stupid Way, at least partly because of the unaccountable influence of a tribe of busybodies who, having nothing productive to do, spend their time trying to convince people that thousands of lives are worth less than dozens of lives. Those busybodies generally refer to themselves as Ethicists, but I think it’s always better to call things by informative names, so I will refer to them henceforth as Embodiments of Evil.

    Steven has an ingenious idea about how to outwit the "ethicists", which unfortunately won't be implemented. We are stuck on stupid.


Last Modified 2022-09-30 3:24 PM EDT