Amazon Gets Sued Bigly

Lina Khan
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom
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Lina Khan is why we can't have nice things: Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued Amazon, accusing it of suppressing competition and "illegally forcing sellers on its platform to use its logistics and delivery services in exchange for prominent placement and of punishing merchants who offer lower prices on competing sites," per Bloomberg.

"Amazon is a monopolist and it is exploiting its monopolies in ways that leave shoppers and sellers paying more for worse service," said FTC Chair Lina Khan to reporters.

The lawsuit attempts to substantiate this claim by noting that Amazon makes other sellers' products harder to find if they find their price has been undercut, so "sellers hike prices… due to fear of Amazon's penalties." (More on this by Reason's Joe Lancaster.)

"If the FTC gets its way, the result would be fewer products to choose from, higher prices, slower deliveries for consumers, and reduced options for small businesses—the opposite of what antitrust law is designed to do," said Amazon's general counsel David Zapolsky.

Check out Elizabeth Nolan Brown's excellent November 2023 cover story for more.

Fraudster-in-chief Judge Arthur Engoron ruled yesterday in a civil suit brought forth by New York's attorney general that former President Donald Trump committed fraud by overvaluing his assets and lying to banks and insurers to secure loans to build out his real estate empire.

"My Civil Rights have been violated," he wrote on Truth Social, "and some Appellate Court, whether Federal or State, must reverse this horrible, un-American decision. If they can do this to me, they can do this to YOU!"

"Under the ruling, limited liability companies that control some of Trump's key properties, such as 40 Wall Street, will be dissolved and authority over how to run them handed over to a receiver," reports the Associated Press. "Trump would lose his authority over whom to hire or fire, whom to rent office space to, and other key decisions." 

Are Republicans really waging war on… poor people? Facing a possible government shutdown at midnight Saturday if they can't agree to spending bills, House Republicans are reportedly working on a proposal to "cut spending on 'discretionary' programs, a category that excludes programs such as Social Security and Medicare, by roughly 27 percent, except for the military budget and spending on veterans affairs," reports The Washington Post. Federal Pell Grants for low-income college students, Head Start programs that serve poor children and families, and affordable housing grants would all be affected by these cuts. 

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (D–Calif.) is hoping to fund the federal government for all of fiscal year 2024 with these concessions to the far-right contingent concerned about government spending running amok, but even with the roughly $150 billion in proposed cuts, the bill may still not be a winner. "House Republican officials have discussed another $60 billion in spending cuts," reports the Post, "but it is unclear if such a measure would prove sufficient to appease the remaining conservative holdouts."

It's not exactly a winning PR move to slash the programs that serve needy toddlers and first-generation college kids, but there's an important fundamental truth at the heart of the fiscal hawks' concerns: government spending simply cannot continue at current levels with no consequences. Higher-than-usual inflation resulted, in part, from the COVID stimulus checks doled out by the federal government. The bill always comes due in the end.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, Republicans and Democrats have agreed to a stopgap bill that would allow the federal government to remain funded until mid-November while devoting $6 billion to the war effort in Ukraine. If brought to a vote, the bill is likely to face massive resistance in the House.

Reports of impending doom are majorly exaggerated: Will the government shutdown actually result in "hunger for millions" as Reuters and several Biden administration officials claim? "Nearly half of U.S. newborns rely on WIC, the USDA says," according to Reuters. But that's not true; WIC is a means-tested program and nowhere near half of U.S. infants are eligible for it, or living in poverty. I debunked such claims yesterday. 

Even if this claim were true, many poor people in the U.S. receive multiple types of welfare. If WIC benefits were temporarily suspended due to the government shutdown, SNAP would still be issued for the entire month of October, for example.

Perhaps the best possible way forward would be for Congress to consider cutting non-means-tested entitlements like Social Security that comprise such a hefty portion of the federal budget. Oh, wait. That would mean possibly jeopardizing their chances of getting reelected, and we couldn't have that.

Scenes from New York

Denizens of a hacker house pulled off an elaborate New York City dining scene prank on Saturday night.

"The menu purported to follow the life cycle of a cow. As diners at the pop-up's 35 tables tucked into courses like Meadows Bring Life (a mixed green salad), Youth: Ever Precious, Ever Fleeting (veal meatballs) and Agrarian Synergies (bruschetta with mozzarella), some diners became suspicious," reported The New York Times

It's frankly impressive that this group was able to study restaurant economics, conscript their friends into "working" for them for one night only, and successfully dupe bougie diners. Mad props.


  • There's another Republican presidential debate tonight. (Don't shoot the messenger, I'm not happy about this either!) Candidates, minus Donald Trump, will spar at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, tonight starting at 9 p.m. ET. If Vivek Ramaswamy starts to rap Eminem at any point, I will smash my TV with a sledgehammer. Consider him warned.

  • AI passing the Odor Turing Test?

  • Why is it that the three progressive movements of the last 15 years—Occupy Wall Street, #MeToo, and Black Lives Matter—have all fallen so short of their goals?

  • Since I don't have anything nice to say, I won't be saying anything at all:

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