A recent article from AIER by Art Carden named Google is Not a Monopoly calls for a rebuttal and is a great example of "vulgar libertarianism", the term coined by Kevin Carson for libertarians who have trouble distinguishing free markets from government-backed corporations when they're looking at actual examples.

First, Google isn’t the only firm in the search and search advertising space–or web browsing, or word processing, or any of the other fields in which Google does business. Within my Google Chrome browser yesterday, I was able to switch my default search engine from Google to DuckDuckGo with just a few clicks. I could delete Chrome and have Safari, Opera, Firefox, or Brave running the way I want it in a matter of minutes. I’m typing this in Google Docs, but it wouldn’t be hard to switch to Word, Pages, a typewriter, quill and ink on parchment, or another word processing solution.

It's true that Google isn't a strict monopoly in any of these spaces, but it's worth pointing out that Opera and Brave are based on Chromium, which means they're effectively also developed by Google, and Safari is, with some caveats, restricted to Mac and iOS. That leaves only Firefox as a true alternative to a Google browser for most of us.

And I hope "a typewriter" and "quill and ink on parchment" are a joke. That does not at all accomplish the same thing.

I don’t use Google products because they’re the only feasible option or because switching from one platform to another is particularly onerous. I use Google products because they offer convenience and quality at a price of $0.

Oof. $0, really? This is where I think the article gets really bad, because it's where it really should've mentioned all the government subsidies Google receives. Any libertarian should immediately recognize that this is not free service, but service we're being forced to pay for either way.

The article doesn't go on to mention the subsidies. If the author doesn't know, that's a serious failure of research; irresponsible. If he does know, it's still an egregious failure of messaging to write an article called "Google is Not a Monopoly" without mentioning all the ways in which Google does receive direct government privileges that move it toward being a monopoly, even if it isn't all the way there (yet).

Also, Google owns many patents. I don't know what Art Carden or AIER believe about intellectual property (and my own stance is not the libertarian standard), but they should at least recognize and mention the injustice of patents, which can be enforced even against independent invention. Therefore, by owning patents Google is actively communicating threats to use state violence against innocents.

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