by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
When Daniel Oliver, the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under Ronald Reagan, comes out in The American Spectator in favor of realigning antitrust law to break up large corporations — “big can be bad after all” — it should be news. The only thing more counterintuitive would be an Instagram post of current FTC chair Lina Khan engrossed in a copy of Free to Choose.
Oliver’s change of heart, like that of many leading conservatives, is fueled by white-hot anger at woke corporations — social-media giants that cancel posts and stamp warning labels on conservative opinions, online retailers that blacklist books, and other businesses that throw their economic might behind progressive causes. While I am skeptical of Oliver’s claim that the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop cost Donald Trump the election, he’s not wrong to imagine woke legions in content departments always at work like diabolical elves, suppressing what they see as indefensible points of view. The result is an ideological bowdlerization of social media that ought to — and does — make every conservative’s blood boil.
Things are so bad now, Oliver informs us, that Judge Robert Bork, who saw consumer welfare as the anchor of antitrust law, would today be paddling furiously away from his life’s work. But as Judge Bork’s son, I have to say I doubt it. …
… Oliver’s crusade might not be worth remarking upon, if it didn’t threaten to lead other conservatives down a slippery slope to the end of capitalism and the rise of political management of the economy. Don’t believe me? Consider the recent evolution of the FTC.
During the Reagan years, Oliver restrained the powers and ambitions of the FTC. Under Lina Khan, a Democratic majority of commissioners recently replaced the commission’s chief administrative-law judge with a political appointee.