Big Google isn't necessarily a bad Google

Monday, December 20, 2010; 8:50 PM

Steven Pearlstein complained that antitrust laws "were meant to restrict" acquisitions by monopolists and asked how much bigger do "we want" Google to become ["Time to loosen Google's grip," Dec. 15] . He's wrong. Merger law in the United States (the Clayton Act), which was by congressional command from the beginning, applies only to transactions reducing competition in the "narrowly defined" markets to which Mr. Pearlstein objected.

In America, we do not make laws applying only to one person or one company. It is the market itself - which represents "us" as consumers - and not the government that decides the size to which any company can grow. That's so we also don't penalize a corporation just for becoming big. Big is not bad; bad is bad.

Mr. Pearlstein's proposal that Google should be barred from making further acquisitions is archaic. Even the extraordinarily aggressive competition authorities in the European Union would never dare go so far. If Google is in fact using acquisitions "to expand and protect its existing monopoly," current antitrust policy is able to prevent such deals. But singling out Google and pretending that antitrust laws can be used to achieve something completely different than their history and purpose call for is a masquerade in which U.S. competition enforcement officials should not engage.

Glenn B. Manishin, Fairfax


© 2010 The Washington Post Company