On Wednesday, Congress brought before them Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, for the company’s plans to create a new currency called Libra. After several hours of hearings, Chairwoman of the House Services Committee, Maxine Waters, replying to a question about whether she had been assured, answered: “absolutely not.”
I’ll forgive you if you roll your eyes at her response. This, the response coming from a longtime Congresswoman who has presided over the tech bust, the housing bust and allowing massive financial institutions to shaft everybody under the sun. Now, she and Congress will be our saviors?
Facebook is not exactly innocent in all this. Under Zuckerberg, they have presided over massive invasions of privacy, arguably allowed millions of Russian bots to infiltrate the site, and made a deal with the devil in supporting progressive causes only to be shocked when conservatives and liberals alike found reasons to dislike them.
But the hearing Wednesday was specifically focused on Facebook’s plans to create a new cryptocurrency. I don’t claim to be an expert on the topic but cryptocurrency is a huge, unregulated cash cow. Of course, Facebook wanted to jump on the bovine.
It is true Congress holds 100 percent of the monetary power the Constitution grants our government. For a refresher, those are the powers to tax, spend, borrow on credit, coin money and regulate it as well as regulate the value of a foreign coin.
Yet, one would have to be living in an alternate reality not to acknowledge the government has made a mess of it. Case in point, the value of a one-dollar reserve note has dropped a whopping 97 percent since 1971. You can’t blame Zuckerberg for that.
Zuckerberg hardly was compliant during the hearings and he has a reason to be defiant. He was basically accused of abetting terrorism and helping Donald Trump get elected.
I am referencing the AOC, Zuckerberg spat where the former bartender questioned Zuckerberg over when he became aware of Cambridge Analytica. AOC, despite having some solid moments (because, yes, Facebook admitted it to the SEC in 2017), rehashed the tired trope of how it elected Donald Trump. For the record, the FTC fined Facebook $5 billion for its part in the Cambridge Analytica scandal in July of this year.
Nobody, let alone me, thinks Zuckerberg is innocent in this spat. But, to listen to a bartender, who comes from a state where lies are the norm, question Zuckerberg as if the government was some white knight coming to save the masses was gag-inducing.
Not to be outdone, just before, Maxine Water’s opening statement left open the very real possibility Congress might break up Facebook. Good luck with that one.
There is no love lost between Facebook and Congress. Zuckerberg is well known for the following statements which leaked in a July meeting regarding Elizabeth Warren’s Presidential campaign.
“If Warren is elected, I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge. And does that still suck for us? Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government … it’s like, we care about our country and want to work with our government and do good things. But look, at the end of the day, if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight.”
That’s probably how Zuckerberg feels after these hearings. He has few, if any, allies left in Congress, and his company has cheated, lied and monopolized many aspects of social media. Conservatives can hardly stomach him any more than progressives.
Still, why would anybody believe Congress and the government not only would behave better but can actually regulate Facebook? This is the same government that still has a bunker in Pennsylvania with physical copies of everybody’s Social Security Cards.
Even if Facebook was broken up, the odds of any strong regulation of MULTIPLE companies gets worse. Private companies innovate. By definition, the government does not because it does not have to. Which is why governmental agencies so often rely on agency representatives to help them regulate their charges.
Nobody came out better off from these hearings. Zuckerberg continued to look like the sleazebag he is but the pontificating from Waters, AOC and others, over Facebook and pretending like they represented American interests was eye-gouging.
In the end, nobody comes out a winner in this spectacle. If anything, Americans were reminded why whenever anybody says “I am from the government and I am here to help”, they should run as far and as fast as they can away from that person. Because, as Bert Gummer would say about AOC’s secret lover (hint, the government), ” You guys (the government) do what you do best, find something simple and complicate it.”