Does Conservatism Require Free Markets?

by Libby Krieger

For years now, conservatives have held to the free market platform in regard to economic policy. But is big tech forcing it to become a position of the past?

Sen. Josh Hawley is expected to introduce a bill today, titled the Bust Up Big Tech Act, aiming to diminish the monopoly power of woke corporations like Google and Amazon.

Specifically, Hawley’s office told Fox News that it would ban companies that own online marketplaces or search engines from owning online hosting services.

If the bill was signed into law, it would prohibit Amazon from selling Amazon-branded products on Amazon Marketplace. Additionally, it would allow the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to monitor company compliance with the law and give authority to state attorney generals and individual citizens to sue companies in violation of the law.

“Woke Big Tech companies like Google and Amazon have been coddled by Washington politicians for years,” Hawley shared in a statement. “This treatment has allowed them to amass colossal amounts of power that they use to censor political opinions that they don’t agree with and shut out competitors who offer consumers an alternative to the status quo. It’s past time to bust up Big Tech companies, restore competition, and give power back the American consumers.” 

Hawley has made it clear that he is willing to work with Democrats and Republicans alike to face the big tech problem head-on.

“I’m willing to work with her and anybody of any party and any background,” he said.

Given the power of big tech has become more clear in the past several months, including Twitter’s permanent removal of journalist James O’Keefe and most social media platforms kicking off former President Donald Trump, the pressure is on politicians to address tech power.

However, does this proposed government regulation on private business contradict the free markets that conservatives have so long clung to?

Well, consider this: conservatives supported free markets due to the fact they, in theory, promote the most human flourishing with competition. In essence, free markets are a means to an end, not an end in itself.

So, what if unrestricted free markets in regard to big tech actually yield the opposite result: where a few top companies have the power to ostracize anyone who disagrees and monopolize the market in order to kill the aspirations of competitors?

If the means are no longer achieving the ends in which it was seeking to achieve, it would be prudent to re-evaluate the means.

In this way, conservatism does not require free markets now that the unrestricted actions of woke tech companies has actually diminished freedom. To those arguing that conservatives have abandoned what they’ve stood for with free markets, I say this: free markets was a mean, not an end.

Hawley, along with other conservatives and even some Democrats, is correct to re-evaluate whether restrictions on big tech companies are necessary to promote more economic freedom and flourishing.

Though the bill is unlikely to pass in its current form, bipartisan action may actually lead to Congress busting-up big tech.

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