Silicon Valley

The Tech Oligarchs Are Going to Destroy Democracy — Unless We Stop Them

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When there is a general change in conditions, it is as if the entire creation had changed, and the whole world altered. —Ibn Khaldun, 14th-century Arab historian

Congressional posturing about tech firms may have quieted for the moment, but the existential crisis that these firms are creating remains as now unchecked. Even faced with opposition on both sides of the aisle, the oligarchs—those five tech giants that now constitute the world’s five most wealthiest companies—continue to rapidly consolidate economic, cultural, and, inevitably, political power on a scale not seen for over a century.  read more »

Age of Amnesia

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We live, as the Indian essayist Saeed Akhter Mirza has put it, in “an age of amnesia.” Across the world, most notably in the West, we are discarding the knowledge and insights passed down over millennia and replacing it with politically correct bromides cooked up in the media and the academy. In some ways, this process recalls, albeit in digital form, the Middle Ages.  read more »

The Dangerous Rise Of The Woke Corporation

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It would be comforting if Nike’s decision to ditch its “Betsy Ross” flag sneakers at the behest of former NFL quarterback and social justice warrior Colin Kaepernick was exceptional, but, sadly, it is not. Increasingly, many of our most powerful companies eagerly kowtow to the purveyors of political correctness — such as those who compared the revolutionary banner to the Nazi swastika flag or that of the Confederacy.  read more »

California Can’t Afford To Be An Economic One-Trick Pony

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For the past decade, the soaring stock prices and nosebleed valuations of Silicon Valley’s IPOs and unicorns has been a boon for California, helping create a record budget surplus of almost $22 billion.

Yet this bonanza has occurred just as the state’s overall job creation, once among the country’s leaders, has slowed to a more middle of the road status, well below the rates for key competitors such as Nevada, Arizona, Washington State and Texas.  read more »

What Do the Oligarchs Have in Mind for Us?

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There seems to be no good reason why a thoroughly scientific
dictatorship should ever be overthrown.
~Aldous Huxley,
Brave New World Revisited

The recent movement to investigate, and even break up, the current tech oligarchy has gained support on both sides of the Atlantic, and even leapt across the gaping divide in American politics. The immediate concerns relate to such things as the control of key markets by one or two firms, the huge concentration of wealth accruing to the tech elite and, increasingly, the oligarchy’s control over and manipulation of information pipelines.  read more »

New Metropolitan Rankings Show Knowledge-Based Industries and Entrepreneurship Drive Success

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Today, the Walton Family Foundation released “The Most Dynamic Metropolitans,” new research ranking the economic performance of metropolitan areas in the Heartland and across the country.  The study demonstrates that a knowledge-based economy spurs economic growth in metropolises across the United States. Metro areas with knowledge-based economies ranked higher than cities that have yet to make much-needed investments in technology, education, entrepreneurship and commercialization.  read more »

The Challenges of Organizing “Gig” Workers

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When we think about organizing precarious “gig” workers, the task seems biblical. The workers may be ready, or not, but the spirit and the flesh are weak. We all bemoan the rise of gig workers. Low pay, few hours, no benefits are some of them, worsened by the uncertainty of a position where you can only work to deliver something being demanded by consumers at a premium you are powerless to control.  read more »

The Twilight of America’s Mega-Media

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It’s far too early to predict which party will win next year’s election, but not too early to announce the national media as a clear loser in terms of national influence and prestige.

Pew reports that millennials have become as negative about major media as older generations, with their rate of approval dropping from 40% in 2010 to 27% today. Gallup tracks a similar pattern, finding 70% losing trust in the media, including nearly half of Democrats.  read more »

Candidate of Big Tech

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In the free-form, roller derby race for the Democratic presidential nomination, few candidates are better positioned than California’s Senator Kamala Harris. She is a fresh and attractive mid-fifties face, compared with septuagenarian frontrunners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, or the aging progressive Elizabeth Warren. Part Asian-Indian, part Afro-Caribbean, and female, Harris seems the frontrunner in the intersectionality sweepstakes that currently largely defines Democratic politics.  read more »

The Opium Of California

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The current frenzy of new IPOs — Uber, Lyft, Slack, Postmates, Pinterest and Airbnb — seems destined to reinforce progressive notions that California represents the future not just for the state, but the nation. It will certainly reinforce California’s fiscal dependency on tech-dominated elites — half of the state’s income taxes come from people making over $500,000 a year — and provide a huge potential multi-billion dollar windfall for the state treasury.  read more »