Lapizuli - 5:22 pm on Sep 4, 2010 (gmt 0)
I have a weird way of looking at it.
I think the difference comes in how you look at the economy. If you think it's essentially the same economy that existed thirty years ago, then yes, Google is just a company.
But if you look at the economy as shifting to move online, and Google being more like the railroad barons, Ford, Sears, and the rest of those folks who first set up shop as we shifted from a horse-and-buggy based society to a car based society, then what was entrepreneurial at first becomes monopolistic once a full-scale infrastructure needs to be put in place.
I think there's a new economy, and that the old economy was getting saturated - fiercely competitive, depleted of resources, with only room for a few at the top and a generation-by-generation decrease in opportunity and consumer power. The new economy, though, welcomes competition - and consumption of a different sort.
But - here's the thing - competition is stifled exactly because it's a new economy. Most who showed up in the American "Wild West" of the 19th century and later the new suburbs of the early to mid 20th did so on the strength of Vanderbilt's trains and Ford's cars and Sears's houses. But these guys were pioneers - they couldn't drive the economy they'd built.
Today we have people settling the "Wild West" that is the Internet on the strength of Google, Microsoft, and the other handful of private interests in the computing, retail and communications industries. Well, now it's a global shift - virtually everyone is coming online. This means not just individuals but society is at stake. Which is beyond the power that most government and public entities recognize that any one company should have.
There are political ideas about whether that is right or wrong, but to me it's not about moral decisions to be made, but about social and economic shifts.