President Trump has hailed the records set by the stock market in past months, saying, “It means 401Ks, it means jobs. Four trillion-dollar companies: Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft. You have MAGA. The trillion-dollar club.”
This praise not only heralds economic good news but is perhaps a small step toward a much-needed détente between a president who wants a strong economy and the cutting-edge enterprises that have helped create it and can ensure it in the future.
The numbers are impressive. Apple and Microsoft each have market capitalizations of $1.4 trillion. Amazon is at $1.1 trillion, and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is at $1 trillion, reflecting the prices of those companies’ outstanding stocks. That’s a $4.9 trillion total, more than the entire annual GDP of Japan!
Apple and Microsoft started as small, ragtag operations in the mid-1970s and spearheaded the personal computer and communications revolution. Amazon, which is only about a quarter-century-old, has led the e-commerce revolution. And during that period, Google has put nearly all of the world’s information just a few clicks away—on devices enabled by Apple and Microsoft.
Unfortunately, Trump’s relationships with these and other tech giants have been rocky, to say the least. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post. That publication has for years distorted the news as part of its vendetta against Trump. Trump, in turn, has been pushing the U.S. Postal Service to raise its rates for delivering packages from Amazon beyond what makes economic sense or is even legal.
Charges that Google rigs search engine results against conservatives were strengthened when the company’s head of “responsible innovation,” Jen Gennai, was caught on video talking about how the company might handle “the next Trump situation” and needs to weed out “algorithm unfairness.”
Twitter and Facebook have also been accused of banning conservative ideas and individuals. The administration has considered moves to have these social media classified as publishers, which would subject them to lawsuits for materials published on their sites. This would be a change from their current status as platforms, which allows them to escape liability.
Apart from the incredible wealth and empowerment of individuals who have come from these companies, their efforts promise an even brighter future. Google Calico invests hundreds of millions of dollars in research to combat aging. Google AI is pioneering artificial intelligence, and Microsoft is working on similar projects.
Amazon will be pioneering drone deliveries, and Bezos’s company Blue Origin is pioneering private rockets that aim to put humans in orbit and on the Moon. Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which already carries cargo to the International Space Station, seeks to colonize Mars.
The entrepreneurship of these companies reflects the United States at its best and can bestow incredible benefits on Americans in the future. What’s more, they can help us meet the China challenge, something President Trump is deeply concerned about.
In an ideal world, Chinese and American individuals and companies would view each other as economic partners and customers in the win-win quest for growing prosperity. Since the late 1970s, China has instituted free-market reforms that have allowed its entrepreneurs and companies to become world leaders and tech innovators. The country’s rate of abject poverty went from nine in 10 individuals to one in 10 in just four decades.
But the Chinese Communist rulers see themselves in competition with the United States. They want China to be the world leader in tech and economics and to be the next political hegemon.
Sadly, the Communists are not allowing the country to evolve toward an open, free society. In recent years, they’ve blanketed the country with cameras and listening devices and used computer prowess to track the actions of every individual. It’s Orwell on steroids. All of this is to support a “social credit system” that deprives those who are not subservient to the party line of jobs, the right to travel, and much more.
The free citizens of Hong Kong have rebelled against attempts by Beijing to limit their liberty. The dishonesty and incompetence of the Communists in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak reveals to all the deadly results of a dictatorship. And it is an open question whether the iron fist of the state ultimately will cripple the entrepreneurship of Chinese businesses.
Trump and all Americans who want a prosperous economic future and who desire to see the U.S., rather than a communist, spirit infuse the culture of the world should understand they need the innovation and creativity of tech titans like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. And the tech titans should understand that it is economic liberty and an open society that have allowed them to build their enterprises and have the capital to pursue even greater achievements in the future.
We shouldn’t expect the trillion-dollar club to start wearing MAGA hats. But we should expect them to return Trump’s shout-out, and for each side, one step at a time, to move toward a détente that will benefit all Americans.