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Sat Aug 20, 2016, 04:17 PM

 

Today’s Tech Oligarchs Are Worse Than the Robber Barons


Yes, Jay Gould was a bad guy. But at least he helped build societal wealth. Not so our Silicon Valley overlords. And they have our politicians in their pockets.

<snip>

Past economic revolutions—from the steam engine to the jet engine and the internet—created in their wake a productivity revolution. To be sure, as brute force or slower technologies lost out, so did some companies and classes of people. But generally the economy got stronger and more productive. People got places sooner, information flows quickened, and new jobs were created, many of them paying middle- and working-class people a living wage.

This is largely not the case today. As numerous scholars including Robert Gordon have pointed out, the new social-media based technologies have had little positive impact on economic productivity, now growing at far lower rates than during past industrial booms, including the 1990s internet revolution.

Much of the problem, notes MIT Technology Review editor David Rotman, is that most information investment no longer serves primarily the basic industries that still drive most of the economy, providing a wide array of jobs for middle- and working-class Americans. This slowdown in productivity, notes Chad Syverson, an economist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, has decreased gross domestic product by $2.7 trillion in 2015—about $8,400 for every American. “If you think Silicon Valley is going to fuel growing prosperity, you are likely to be disappointed,” suggests Rotman.

<snip>

What kind of world do these disrupters see for us? One vision, from Singularity University, co-founded by Google’s genius technologist Ray Kurzweil, envisions robots running everything; humans, outside the programmers, would become somewhat irrelevant. I saw this mentality for myself at a Wall Street Journal conference on the environment when a prominent venture capitalist did not see any problem with diminishing birthrates among middle-class Americans since the Valley planned to make the hoi polloi redundant

<snip and much more>

read:http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/08/11/today-s-tech-oligarchs-are-worse-than-the-robber-barons.html

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Response to cali (Original post)

Sat Aug 20, 2016, 05:16 PM

1. No. They are not.

My family was brought over from Italy and indentured in the mines by Rockefeller and u.S. steel. Thugs from Chicago burned murdered 30 people and burned 9 children alive at Rockefeller's behest. Scrip and the company store as well as child labor were the norm . As a grandson of Ludlow, I find this OP insulting...

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Response to Drahthaardogs (Reply #1)

Sat Aug 20, 2016, 05:34 PM

3. You're ruining an ongoing meme that we're all laboring under the

yoke of small numbers of uber-powerful rulers.

But thanks for the powerful, dreadful testimony.

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #3)

Sat Aug 20, 2016, 05:38 PM

6. I am in total agreement that the oligarchs are out of control

but if the author if this piece would like to come with me, I can show him the ghosts of Ludlow. He can hear my mother tell him how my great grandfather and grandfather had to go into hiding because there was a bounty on their heads because they brought food to the miners.

Some of us have actually seen what men like Rockefeller did. His boneyard is immense. It should not be taken lightly

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Response to Drahthaardogs (Reply #6)

Sat Aug 20, 2016, 05:46 PM

8. Definitions matter, huge, Drahtaardogs.

People will not believe in, be proud of, or fight to protect a republic they believe is already lost. This is currently a widely pervasive and subversive meme, and a quick google will show the many spreading it, but we should all question just who's behind this spread and why.

Oligarchy: A form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.

In the middle of an election year, for god's sake, could anything be more clueless than sitting on a forum discussing the candidates and issues like universal healthcare and at the same time claiming we're subjects of an oligarchy?


Here's a summary of the current power situation in plain words with compelling numbers. Good reading, even funny in spots.
"Remember that study saying America is an oligarchy? 3 rebuttals say it's wrong."

http://www.vox.com/2016/5/9/11502464/gilens-page-oligarchy-study


“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
― George Orwell, 1984

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Response to Hortensis (Reply #8)

Sat Aug 20, 2016, 06:27 PM

9. We are not an oligarchy, we are not subjects, and we are far better than my ancestors

however, i do believe that there are those, who if given the chance, would govern by divine right, as perceived by the rich. Trump is one of those.

We will never be an oligarchy, because there are men and women who will stand for it. We came damned close in the early part of this century.

i guess we agree that an unmotivated electorate is a dangerous thing. i guess we differ though in your biggest fear is an electorate unmotivated out of despair, while mine is an electorate unmotivated out of complacency.

.

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Response to Drahthaardogs (Reply #9)

Sat Aug 20, 2016, 06:42 PM

11. +100. I don't think we differ at all in our worry

about the structural weakness of an unmotivated electorate. In fact, to judge by this forum one might think that what should be despair at the loss of democracy is actually manifesting as complacency.

Btw, that article also mentions those who prefer that others make their decisions for them.

I liked this:
And there are some funny examples in the list of middle-class victories. For instance, the middle class got what they wanted on public financing of elections: in all three 1990s surveys included in the Gilens data, they opposed it, while the rich favor it. That matches up with more recent research showing that wealthy people are more supportive of public election funding.


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Response to cali (Original post)

Sat Aug 20, 2016, 05:26 PM

2. Uber, based on an App, made its creator a billionaire while

creating a few thousand jobs with no benefits, no guarantees, no future.

WalMart made billionaires out of the Walton family while employing a workforce of largely minimally compensated workers who often rely on welfare for survival.

Recommended.

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Response to cali (Original post)

Sat Aug 20, 2016, 05:36 PM

4. Recommended! This is a dangerous trend that is mostly off our radar

The talk about hubris is describing something real and happening today. Soon we will all feel it. This paragraph makes me feel a lttle ill

And as their fortunes have ballooned, so has their hubris. They see themselves as somehow better than the scum of Wall Street or the trolls in Houston or Detroit. It’s their intelligence, not just their money, that makes them the proper global rulers. In their contempt for the less cognitively gifted, they are waging what The Atlantic recently called “a war on stupid people.


Also disturbing is the growing trend to hire non-Americans to work for as little as $5.00 an hour, and restrict their employment options.

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Response to cali (Original post)

Sat Aug 20, 2016, 05:37 PM

5. BWAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!! OLIGARCHY!!!!!!!!!!!! BWAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 











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Response to cali (Original post)

Sat Aug 20, 2016, 05:45 PM

7. This has been the call with every major technological revolution. Not buying it.

 

In the late middle ages, the invention of the water wheel lead to the first mass production. Some decried to destruction of small craftsman. In the late 8th century, the invention of powered looms was decried as the end of cottage industry. In the 19th century, the industrial revolution saw a dramatic transformation away from bespoke goods to mass produced goods. Instead of owning 2-3 good suits of clothes, people could now afford 10-20. The jobs change.

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Response to cali (Original post)

Sat Aug 20, 2016, 06:40 PM

10. The "Libertechians" imagine themselves to be Nietzschean Ubermenschen.

They scare the shit out of me.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #10)

Sat Aug 20, 2016, 07:41 PM

12. I was married to one for 20 years....

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Response to alittlelark (Reply #12)

Mon Aug 22, 2016, 07:58 AM

13. I'm sorry.

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Response to cali (Original post)

Mon Aug 22, 2016, 08:38 AM

14. Modern billionaires in general are also less charitable than their Gilded Age counterparts.

Granted, many of the Robber Barons didn't exactly create legacies out of the kindness of their hearts, but still . . .

Now subtract Buffett and his generous gift from the group, and the rest of them begin to look downright miserly, handing to others a mere $7 billion of a combined net worth of $584 billion—or just over 1%. Numbers from the philanthropy watch organization Giving USA show that Americans as a whole annually give away about 0.5% of their net worth. So, except for Buffett, society’s top givers donate to others at only a tad higher rate than the population as a whole. That’s, well, pathetic. And that’s just counting top givers, not the super-rich who give away little or nothing.

Microsoft mogul Paul Allen, net worth $16 billion, gave away $53 million in 2006, according to Slate—one-third of 1% of his fortune. Software magnate Lawrence Ellison, net worth $20 billion, gave away $100 million—half of 1%. Pierre Omidyar, founder of EBay, net worth $7.7 billion, gave away $67 million—less than 1%. Nike tycoon Philip Knight, net worth $7.9 billion, gave away $105 million—slightly more than 1%.

Donations of this sort, in the multimillion-dollar range, inevitably mean a lot to charities or schools, and of course it is certainly preferable that the super-rich give millions rather than nothing at all. But for those whose net worth soars into the billions, even $100 million is a pittance compared with what they have the means to give. Financier George Soros, net worth $8.5 billion, in 2006 gave away $60 million, which sounds like a lot until you reflect that it is less than 1%. Soros rails against the inequities of capitalism. Yet when it comes to his own disproportionate stash, that’s another story.

Bill Gates, one of history’s richest men, has so far given $26.2 billion to the Gates Foundation, according to a spokesperson, and for this he has been widely praised. Gates and his wife were two of Time’s Persons of the Year in 2005, exalted in a cover story as grand philanthropists. Yet $26.2 billion is crumbs from the table compared to what Gates might give. Even after the donations, his net worth is about $53 billion, according to Forbes. This means Bill and Melinda Gates have kept for themselves twice as much as they offered to others.

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