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Drunken Explanation of United States v. Alphabet

So, periodically, me and a friend will be hanging out having a drink and my favorite bar and after one too many bluehounds, I'll explain a current legal matter, case of interest, legal principle, or Supreme Court decision. Frequently these explanations can be illuminating, easy to grasp, and fairly entertaining, they then usually make it to these pages. The recently-filed lawsuit by the DOJ against Alphabet, Google's parent company, is ripe for such an explanation, which follows:

 

The basis of this case is in anti-trust which is just the way lawyers say "Monopolies are bad."

 

Okay, so the first thing you need to understand is that Bill Barr is a boot-licking crony scum-bag who believes it is completely acceptable for the president to send the DOJ to attack his political enemies. The second thing you need to know is that the President considers Google a political enemy. The third thing you need to know is that the fact that the motivations for this suit are hot, boiled BS doesn't mean that the legal basis for the lawsuit isn't so rock solid you could build the Statue of Liberty on it.


So, the basis of this case is in anti-trust which is just the way lawyers say "Monopolies are bad." And this particular case is based on well established caselaw from when Netscape sued Microsoft. Remember Netscape Navigator? No? So, you know how Explorer sucks; that's not new. It always sucked. But it used to be on everything, including Macs, because they paid other companies to put it on there. Modernly you download either Chrome or Firefox. Back about 25 or 30 years ago, you downloaded Netscape Navigator. Netscape had trouble getting a foothold because basically everyone used Explorer because it came with everything, not just Windows, and most people didn't bother to download Netscape Navigator because that took forever.


Netscape goes, "Hey, Microsoft, this isn't fair, the fact you make the Operating System and have a ton of money shouldn't mean you get to basically block me from being the browser because your browser doesn't require them to download it." Microsoft was all, "Hey, dude, no big, both are free, they just have to click the little button, yo!" Netscape sues. Suit goes: Netscape wins. There are a ton of appeals. Microsoft loses over and over and several years later, after Netscape has gone bankrupt and become unviable as a company, they win, and Microsoft pays out. This is part of the reason why Apple has its own browser and why Explorer sucks so much: Microsoft spent a TON of resources that might have made Explorer suck less on fighting the lawsuit. They never really caught up.

 

So a whole bunch of state attorneys-general are like, "I'm getting in on this, I wants me some sweet sweet Google-bucks!" And their claims are pretty legit.

 

The modern suit goes thus: Google pays other companies to set Google as the default search engine in browsers when they ship rather than having people pick the first time they use the browser or something. The suit focuses on that search issue. The suit says that's monopolizing search. Google is like, dude, you can just go to another engine and tell your browser to switch it up. People don't do that because they're all "Google's my Jam!" The DOJ is all, "Most people don't do that because they don't even know that's an option. Get bent!" It's basically the same lawsuit: Machines shipping with specific tech is monopolization. Seems pretty clear. That the thing is free isn't the issue.


So a whole bunch of state attorneys-general are like, "I'm getting in on this, I wants me some sweet sweet Google-bucks!" And their claims are pretty legit.


Here's the deal: The case is pretty credible, but Google can fight this thing for years, and really, the law limits damages to $100,000,000. Google is worth one trillion dollars. That's $1,000,000,000,000. Yes, one hundred million dollars is a lot of money, but were the company to suddenly issue $100,000,000 in new class A shares, it would only dilute share prices one percent of one percent. At the moment I wrote this, Google's cost per share was, $1,610.41, so that dilution would be a $.16 drop. Meanwhile in the time it took me to write that sentence, the share price changed to 1,610.04, so that difference is, quite literally, less than the typical volitility of 30 seconds normal trading. So, Google will fight as long as they can and not care and when they inevitably lose, it will be an unnoticeable drop in the bucket.


This case is literal evidence that we need to look at our anti-trust laws and increase the maximum penalties. Because the numbers don't matter when we consider the value of modern multinational corporations.

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