* Microsoft funded number backroom whisper campaigns in DC (http://www.businessinsider.com/what-an-anti-google-whisper-c...)
* Microsoft and Oracle funded their own Astroturf lobbying groups and think tanks, to tie up the company in lawsuits and investigations (e.g. FairSearch)
* Oracle funding numerous shills like Florian Mueller
* Carriers and Cable Companies lobbying to demolish net-neutrality
* Bills like SOPA.
Google used to spend very little on lobbying, and as a result Verizon, Microsoft, Oracle, Comcast, had the undivided attention of Congress.
Now to be fair, Microsoft was attacked by its competitors with similar campaigns in the 80s and 90s. It just goes to show you that corporate lobbying can play off people's populist tendencies and weaponize them against competitors.
So when you ask, "How could Google give to ALEC", a question Googlers themselves ask, or contribute to conservatives who deny client science, you have to consider that Congress has the industry by the balls. They can threaten regulation or punishment, and then hold fundraisers on pledges to block said regulation. It's a shakedown: "nice business you have there, shame if I'd have to regulate it. By the way, I'm having a fundraising dinner next week" Why would Silicon Valley serve on Trump's advisory councils when many of the members revile Trump on a personal level? Because there's a huge risk making the executive branch an enemy.
Its the market at work - at some point the marginal advantage of investing even a little in lobbying results in more X, (where X can be anything from power to profit).
And in a competitive scenario, SOMEONE will do it.
Not to mention Even a unhappy incumbent can initiate a lobbying strategy.
People in the comments seem to focus a lot on google itself, but this is the way the game is played.
Its just that tech is realizing that they can't create utopia because the laws of complex systems still apply.
Just because something is commonly done does not mean that behavior is right. A reason this post is so popular is because people are becoming increasingly aware of the power & capital concentration occurring in this country.
Google has for years successfully gave an image of a company capable of rising above the typical sociopathic behavior of other large multinational corporations, and this story helps expose Google for what they really are: just another large corporation.
The problem that technolibertarians/utopians have long had was that they imagined cyberspace as a completely separate dimension, that would not be sullied by the ordinary concerns of politics and buying influence. And perhaps for a short time, when the internet and web was new, and politicians mostly ignored it, there was good reason to believe you wouldn't have to worry about it, but after the 90s when the Web/Net was mainstreamed, with billions of people on it, and trillions in money up for grabs, the idea that the normal corrupt politician process would leave its participants alone is naive.
I mean, take net neutrality. Verizon, Comcast, and the ISPs have clearly won. They've got their guy as head of the FCC. The fossil fuel industry has won, they've got their guys running the show now.
Would you call sustainable energy companies lobbying congress and buying politicians "same old typical sociopathic behavior", it would you recognize that this is how the game is played, and they've go to fight to prevent the government from distorting the market and letting fossil fuel companies crush them.
I'm not a libertarian, but one of the reasons libertarians don't like government regulation is that if you want to "get money out of politics" it is literally impossible as long as small investments can yield huge benefits via regulatory capture.
Tech -- including "energy tech" -- has one important distinction from other industries: there are potential technological solutions that can move faster than the legislation.
For instance, the ISPs may seem to have won, but maybe some kind of wireless technology will bring true competition.
An energy company may have someone in the government, but Solar is already cheaper (batteries have to catch up), and behind the meter solutions are ever more popular.
Sometimes the legislation just fattens the target by staving off other competition.
> Its the market at work
It's economics, sure. I don't know what qualifies as a "market" here, though. There aren't standard shares of "lobbying" that people buy and sell.
If you are interested in investing in lobbying then all you need to do is buy shares in companies that engage in lobbying.
Google can certainly find other think tanks they like better.
“Google is very aggressive in throwing its money around Washington and Brussels, and then pulling the strings,” Mr. Lynn said. “People are so afraid of Google now.”
Honestly, the only thing shocking about any of this is that people thought Google was "special". The reality is, when its revenues are threatened, it's going to reach like any other corporation, which it should.
Google has its tentacles into almost everything, and you should be concerned/cautious about lock in, abuse and market competition challenges that go with it.
I personally find it a challenge every day to avoid using Google Services. I use Bing instead of Google, but I'm locked into Gmail (which is a great product), Google Drive (A great product), Google Maps (a great product), etc.
With Gmail, I just forward my mail to my Outlook.com account, and I switched my email address on as many sites as I could to use my Outlook.com email address. Works just fine.
Office Online with OneDrive is a fantastic product. Sure it costs money, but if you're not paying for a product, you're not "locked in". Download your docs in Office format and save them to OneDrive, done.
I actually switched to Bing Maps a long time prior to this because Google Maps has such poor performance on every computer I use it on. Google Maps has the far superior place search, but Bing Maps works better as an actual map in my experience.
The only Google service I use regularly is Google Translate, because there really is no comparison.
There is one, since yesterday. Try https://www.deepl.com/translator
FWIW, YouTube is actually the only Google product I allow to store my history and recommend me stuff, because it's the only place I find it actually helpful or valuable, and the privacy risk of that data is of low value to me.
Not trying to encourage anyone one way or the other, but a good FYI to keep in mind.
Just say yes to diversity! ;-)
I started with an attempt to leave Google products for political/moral reasons and ended up finding superior products on the way.
The hardest part about moving away from Google around 4 years ago was migrating all my account email address to new providers.
That basically took me an afternoon. No big deal.
1. They have three tabs for emails, so to check if I have any new emails, I literally have to click through 3 different tabs.
2. When I have long email threads, new emails get lost under the clutter instead of showing up at the top of my inbox like a rational human being would expect.
3. When I actually click to open an email thread; 99% of the stuff is collapsed and I keep having to expand it out which is really annoying.
With a lot of modern web-based email clients, I always feel like the company is trying to hide my own emails from me which is creepy - That's why I like the simplest layout possible. New emails should always appear at the top and highlighted as unread.
When Marissa Mayer came to Yahoo, she changed the Yahoo email web client so that it would group emails in the Google way. I lost faith in humanity that day. I almost quit the service but thankfully at least they had a setting which allowed me to revert back to the correct way.
Maybe Gmail has a setting to display emails correctly (like Yahoo) but I haven't heard about it.
There is. I ended up setting up my Gmail where unread and read emails are in separate accordion-like sections. The 3 tabs thing makes for horrible UX
3. This IMO is good design and you can expand all (although I almost never need to do so myself).
In tech right now, if you fire any people, all the other good people will leave too.
Then you have a crowd of mediocre engineers and have no hope of competing in the future.
The Intercept reviewed the full termination email sent from Slaughter to Lynn that was cited and quoted in the Times report and found that they were reported and characterized with complete accuracy. The full text does, however, show that Slaughter threatened to make Lynn’s firing more difficult for him and his team should it generate any negative publicity for New America.
That was a real kicker for me. This seems like pretty blatant corporate censorship. Unfortunately, it's hard to make the public care about a situation like this that's so out of view.
Truthfully, I'm not so sure that this isn't being played up and portrayed a specific way by the media. I was going to say the problem was that the New America Foundation had accepted too much funding from one source, but since Google has only funded them to the tune of about 21 million since 1999, unless the vast majority of that has come in recent years, that funding probably accounts for fairly little of their operating costs on a year to year basis, since they employ more than 200 people. Even if Google had given all 21 million in the last yea alone, that would basically fund all the employees at $100k salaries and pay for building costs. I suspect quite a few salaries are much higher, and there's a lot more costs than that, so I'm not sure Google's funding really amounted to a huge amount when spread over many years.
There is a limit to this.
For example, I have the right to ask you for money. I have the right to report or not report a crime I saw you commit. But if I tie those two activities together, it becomes blackmail and is illegal, despite no single action being wrong on its own.
Google has a lot of power, and they are abusing it. It may not be illegal under current law, but they cannot hide behind the defense that each micro interaction is their right.
> There is a limit to this.
Yes, that would be why the words immediately following what you quoted were "The problem is if Google dictated Slaughter's actions".
> For example, I have the right to ask you for money. I have the right to report or not report a crime I saw you commit. But if I tie those two activities together, it becomes blackmail and is illegal, despite no single action being wrong on its own.
No,it becomes blackmail when one action is dependent on the other. Two actions occurring in proximity to each other do not mean they are linked. It's entirely possible the crime wasn't known about until after someone was asked for money.
This is part of the problem. People are stuck in the "if there's smoke, there's fire" mindset, and we aren't sure if we're just seeing fog.
First, she says his work is imperiling their funding (referring to Google's complaint about its positions not being represented). Then, she says his work has nothing to do with his firing.
Do no evil indeed.
"Thanks to our last deal with Google, now we have fresh water and comfy chairs in every public transportation bus, and the ticket price was cut half!".
"Thanks to Google Books, now all kids whose family income is under X will receive a free ebook reader and free school books".
I hope we see that happening, the company has become a monster and can literally tell the world what to think and how to feel.
Especially the employee horror stories and now slashing Whole Food prices. While its awesome for it's customers, I'm worried about long term effects.
Similarly Apple wants to sell you an iPhone and a laptop and Microsoft wants to sell you an office suite and a database. Real companies with real products and services. But Google's ONLY business is stealing and selling personal data.
Might be a bit difficult, and you may reconsider Amazon's scale relative to Google.
Hence, either they have fairly ineffective IP address based tracking, or no tracking at all.
See also, the recent Canadian decision: Canada can order that Google do something worldwide. But the extent of enforcement ends at "Canada decides what happens with businesses that operate in Canada. Google's free to leave."
If Google really pissed off the EU, or US, they could simply force all banks to freeze Google’s assets, and seize them. This has worked in the past, and can be used again.
These are nation states. They can start arresting Google's employees too. "Officer of the company" is not just an empty phrase.
While I knew Google would never sacrifice the EU market to avoid this fine and some changes in search behavior, Google might sacrifice their EU business if it meant the end of Google as we know it. (Aka, they were ordered to break up.)
Of course, the main reason they functionally can't leave the US over a policy decision is that their headquarters and the vast majority of their senior talent all live there, and they would have very little left if they tried to move out of the US.
Do you think it's not a story, that the NY Times shouldn't have published it?
Gmail and Drive and such predominantly need to be ad-funded to survive, I suspect, and I think allowing an online services company to run ads is fundamentally okay. The monopolizing power of losing Chrome and Android would over time relegate them to losing monopoly status by default.
Those companies made their owners very, very wealthy, and the companies' decedents remain extremely wealthy and powerful. The CEO of one of the decedents, Exxon, is now the U.S. Secretary of State, for example.
Google may think that's a very acceptable downside risk.
There's no genuine, credible anti-corporate voice in American politics. The reasons why are many, but of course they typically distill down to the incredible power of money to influence people, of which this is an example.
The side-effects of there being no credible labor party in our political system manifests, in part, in the extreme volatility we see in electoral politics.
It's just weird that there aren't at least some voices arguing strongly that super-large companies (not even conglomerates) like google or apple should be split up for economic growth.
The reason we switched off of it, was around that time, the idea was the allow more consolidation at the expense of competition.
The rationale was that the American marketplace was already significantly competitive, to the point that market growth was labor constrained, as opposed to today, where it is capital constrained. So by allowing more merges and decreasing overall competition, you could achieve multiple simultaneous goals. You could lessen the labor constraint on the market, allowing faster growth and more capital accumulation at the expense of labor, but without significantly impacting quality of life for the laborers. Additionally, the decrease in competition and increased allowance of outsourcing and international IP enforcement was expected to (and did) lower the cost of goods for many American products.
The end result was: The rich got richer. Everyone saw the price of goods drop (or the quality of goods increase, or the rate of inflation drop). And big companies became larger, faster, with minimal impact on quality of life for everyone.
The problem, is we've been doing that for 40 years now. We're back to a capital constrained economy, but capital interests have been keeping us pursuing the above agenda as if nothing has changed. Its absolutely a ripe time to go back to the pre-70s ideas about trust busting and etc, in the name of increased, local competition, as opposed to the current ideology of increased corporate merger in order to achieve greater economies of scale.
At least, this is how it was explained to me. I'm just a dev : )
This has to be one of the most insightful comments I've read on the topic of large conglomerates and the American economy.
A benevolent monopoly can be OK but both of the extremes of competition come with instability.
 I put that in quotes because I thought it was a famous well-known quote but I can't find the original!
One of the things that works really well for this is to split monolithic national regulatory codes into less complicated region-specific ones.
California needs earthquake rules, Florida needs hurricane rules, Colorado needs altitude rules, etc. If you have one national code containing all the rules, you give the advantage to huge conglomerates that can navigate them all at the same time. A small company in Colorado has to comply with all the irrelevant rules covering earthquakes and hurricanes, which puts them out of business.
But if they each have only their own regulations, smaller companies can survive the ones in their home state -- and have more power there to address them if they're oppressive. So you get a different company in each region instead of one big national one. They put competitive pressure on each other because any who charged too much would make it worth it for one of the others to pay the regulatory cost of expanding into that region, but not so much pressure that everyone is locked in a price war and no one has any surplus to invest in the future.
From my perspective, it looks like we're in some respects in a similar situation as we were 100 years ago. Huge advances in technology have made individual workers radically more productive. Assembly-line manufacturing then, computers and Internet now. And just like back then, while everyone predicted a future of shorter work weeks and less work, employers drive employees harder, and pay them less, while society says "the machines do the real work." There is one big difference though. Back then it got solved by the New Deal stepping forward and forcing companies to essentially give their workers a 600% raise basically overnight. Going from employing a whole family, children included, 16 hours a day 6 days a week and paying them barely enough to feed themselves... to 1 person working only 40 hours a week and being paid enough that the entire family could be comfortable on just that one income. Suggesting such a socialist solution back then would elicit discussion. Nothing of the sort can be discussed today. One whisper of the word 'socialism' is followed by 'communism' and all discussion is aggressively ended.
Indeed. That's because the specter of "Communism", aka Dictatorship was the eventual downfall of Marx's idea of Capitalism->Violent Overthrow->Dictatorship->Stateless and Classless Communism. The problem has always been, that when people get power, they don't want to relinquish it. Therefore, all Marxian applications of Communism end in this failure mode.
There are other ways to apply Communism. I type this on a Communal Operating System. Linux. There are no gulags of forced developers making all the code I use to type this. It's all voluntary, and free for all to use and partake. The only rule is to respect the community- in that if you use code, it has to be under the same license.
I could see a Benefit Corp do something similar - taking the ideas of ownership and lock them in a public trust. That way, people know what they're "buying into", but it's also not the prior forced dictator knowing what's 'right'. The Story of Manna by Marshall Brain puts this idea eloquently in his short short.
Perhaps it's time to quit using the word "Communism" because, frankly, Marx guessed wrong and tens of millions died in furtherance of that specific ideal. But the underlying ideas that we are stronger together is something that many of us understand. But it all has to do with preserving the individuals' and the groups rights. And, that's a hard balance to keep.
And a regular corp do something similar to "communist" dictatorships. Planified economies, highly specialization and a charismatic CEO as the ruler.
>all of them (plus neoliberals and many financially conservative folks) can agree that competition is at least one of their most important economic tenants
Note that this isn't true. Lots of free-market mindset people (libertarians and otherwise) believe that if a monopoly can provide a lower price then that's all that matters. That's part of the reason we're in this mess in the first place.
You might allow a monopoly if the alternative is periods of competition interleaved with periods where there are no firms left in the market at all. If you choose to grant a monopoly, prices will be higher, and supply more constrained, but the good or service will always be available to the highest bidders. You're never going to get a lower price out of one, unless the owners are impossibly altruistic.
So it's not a question of reigning them in, that horse has bolted.
It may be weird that no one is arguing that (maybe it's just no one you're listening to, or being allowed to listen to, though?), but it's not weird that it's not libertarians. The notion that some people shouldn't be allowed to form voluntary associations with others because they got "too large" is anti-libertarian.
That said, "libertarianism" and "anarcho-capitalism" are becoming too synonymous. As a libertarian (but not an ancap) I have no love lost for big corporations; I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments that monopolistic corporations are bad for society in general. However, because we must stand on principles instead of feels, the relevant principle here is that we have no right to interfere with others' affairs simply because they've chosen to pool their resources into free association, massive or otherwise (assuming they are not interfering with others' liberties, and I don't think there's a genuine argument now that they are).
All hope is not lost, however: there is reason to believe that these monopolies derive much of their monopolistic power through the state (e.g., via regulatory capture) and thus by reducing the power of the state we will actually achieve the desired benefit (breaking up monopolies) without infringing on anyone's liberties.
How has google derived monopolistic power through the state?
Google broke the law because it was profitable to do so and I'd wager that google came out ahead even after the fine.
To the extent that we make it lucrative to break the law, we favor those who can afford the punishment over those who can't.
But I'm not sure in what market exactly Google is a monopoly? I'm pretty sure there are plenty of advertising and big data companies doing just fine.
There is nothing wrong with having a monopoly per se as long as it was gained and maintained fairly.
Libertarianism as a moral structure is a belief in economic freedom for it's own ends. Like you said that really describes ancaps better. 99% of the time that's not what people mean when they talk about libertarianism, they mean libertarianism as an economic structure. That's still essentially a belief structure, but it's the very specific belief that economic freedom is the best way to create economic efficiency. The anti-authoritarianism comes from the fact that the government has special privileges (derived from enforced unionization of citizens) and is overwhelmingly powerful (derived from police power + spending comprising 21% of GDP). ANY large corporation will have that power- including Walmart (if its revenue was 10x higher), Apple (20x) and google (50x). Even a small corporation can, in a company town. Any libertarian should be against those things just on the principle that the rights available to any corporation should be equal. Having more money shouldn't "unlock" rights any more than having very little (welfare, progressive taxation, etc).
I think the primary reason this is ignored is just ignorance of the methods and power wielded. Anarcho-capitalism is significantly less popular than libertarianism exactly because the moral beliefs are significantly less palatable. Very few people think that the poor should starve- I believe that most libertarians do honestly think that in an ideal world, livable work would be available for anybody with anything to contribute.
>However, because we must stand on principles instead of feels, the relevant principle here is that we have no right to interfere with others' affairs simply because they've chosen to pool their resources into free association, massive or otherwise (assuming they are not interfering with others' liberties, and I don't think there's a genuine argument now that they are).
That's... not admissible in any libertarian philosophy I'm aware of. That definition admits governments in their entirety, or close to.
>All hope is not lost, however: there is reason to believe that these monopolies derive much of their monopolistic power through the state (e.g., via regulatory capture) and thus by reducing the power of the state we will actually achieve the desired benefit (breaking up monopolies) without infringing on anyone's liberties.
That statement is in opposition to history (monopolies were larger when there was less government involvement), economic theory (noncompetitive practices are econ 101 and happen without any government), evidence (increasing amounts of money pretty clearly give a disproportionate amount of power) and common sense.
I note that you said "corporate" vs "capital(ism)". Thank you for making the distinction.
Most liberals I hang with favor a Sander-esque version of capitalism meets socialism. Balancing capitalism (ready access to capital), competition, open markets with a strong safety net and democracy. Balancing rewarding achievement and merit with ensuring fairness, not abandoning people.
What does that look like?
I think it looks like more democracy. Every where.
I've used democratic decision making in the workplace. It's very effective. Think of it as better governance meets social cognition.
Although probably not original, I just kinda made it up, mostly modeled after the USA's Constitution (balance of power) and Demming/Ford quality circles (empowerment, joint decision making).
Since, I've been keenly interested in any effort swimming in the same direction. Co-ops, worker owned companies, the political philosophy of the Occupy Movement, whatever I can find.
I recently read this book. It's good survey of our current pickle (winner takes all economy, chaotic boom/bust cycles) with an okay primer on worker self directed enterprises (WSDE). The "more democracy" prescription is the closest I've found to my experiences. But being rhetoric vs a howto, it lacks actionable steps.
Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism
Bernie Sanders and the Nordic countries are Social Democrats. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_democracy
Social democracy is a political, social and economic ideology that supports
economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the
framework of a capitalist economy, as well as a policy regime involving a
commitment to representative democracy, measures for income redistribution,
and regulation of the economy in the general interest and welfare state
Democratic socialism is a political ideology that advocates political
democracy alongside social ownership of the means of production, often with
an emphasis on democratic management of enterprises within a socialist
economic system. Democratic socialists see capitalism as inherently
incompatible with the democratic values of liberty, equality and solidarity;
and believe that the issues inherent to capitalism can only be solved by
superseding private ownership with some form of social ownership [in the
form of democracy].
Although "Democratic Economy" is also apt.
In the USSR, the economy was controlled by the communist party on behalf of the workers. Under democratic socialism, enterprises are democratically managed by the people who work there.
...on behalf of the workers
We can define a socialism government to be one that have the goal of having social ownership and democratic control of the means of production.
We can define a free market to be one in which the laws and forces of supply and demand are free from any intervention by a government, price-setting monopoly, or other authority.
Thus a Free Market Socialism would be socialism which achieve social ownership and democratic control of the means of production by having a government that prevents price-setting monopolies.
Also you are avoiding the actual "social" side of the Socialism. In Socialism, there is always a forced redistribution mechanism in the name of "exploitation of the labor class". Which makes the "free market" impossible.
The state can naturally also create monopolies. patents are explicit in this, granting an entity a "limited" timed monopoly.
> there is always a forced redistribution mechanism
And now we enter the definition of terms. Forced redistribution is mechanism, not a goal in itself. Historically there have been governments that have tried it, through to be honest there hasn't been a country that have not had events of forced redistribution, and if the book Debt - The First 5,000 Years is correct in the historical data, the elimination of debt through violence was a recurring event that happened in all cultures. Forced redistribution happens all the time in history when the ability to repay get too impossible low compared to the amount of money being owned.
Perhaps my wording was not correct. What I mean by "forced redistribution" is getting money from producers by force (via taxation) and distributing it to a arbitrarily selected people. This is required in all forms of Socialism and it violates the rules of free market (capitalism).
If we look far enough into the past, large enough monopolies are indistinguishable from governments. The Hanseatic League had their own armies, their own laws and even their own cities. Under their rule they fully controlled supply and demand, including price, which no longer makes it a free-market system. Still, they aren't what we define as a state (definitions...).
Taxation don't violate a free market. A free market need laws, which in turn require police and military, which in turn need to be paid (which distributes money). If everyone has to have their own police, military and laws, everyone becomes small islands of states. Those states then violate the supply-demand market, and thus you no longer have a free market.
There is no free lunch here. One can try to redefine what a free market is, what socialism is, what a state is, what a authority is, what taxation is, what interferences is, but it will just ends up arguing definitions.
The traditional definition of socialism is that it has public ownership of the means of production (i.e. shared by society as a whole). What you describe wouldn't achieve that, because, even with market regulations that prevent monopolization, means of production would still be privately owned - there'd just be more such private owners. But the basics of private ownership of the means of production - the ability to extract economic rent from them - wouldn't change, and that basic ability is what defines capitalism.
Socialism just dictates that the workers own the product of their work. A free market socialist economy would be one in which employees owned and democratically controlled businesses and in which it was illegal to sell equity in a business (the stock market simply wouldn't exist).
It could be structured as "one employee one vote" or it could be structured so you earned equity and vote over time (perhaps in proportion to your salary). Capital financing in this economy would happen through bank loans (which wouldn't confer any kind of control), crowd sourcing, and through public means.
This economy isn't centrally planned. The government doesn't own the businesses, the employees do. The government doesn't dictate how they operate, the employees do, democratically. You can still start your own business, and when you're the only employee, you call the shots -- it's only when you hire your first employee that you have to start sharing decision making in some way.
It's free market, because there's still a free market for goods and services.
Businesses still compete in a competitive market.
It's a really, really interesting idea. When you dig into it, you find all kinds of fascinating and promising potential side effects of a society and economy shaped this way.
For just one example, it would incentivize innovation and the finding of efficiencies even more powerfully than a capitalistic free market -- because the worker making the innovation would ultimately own and control the business benefiting and so would directly benefit. If a worker came up with a innovation that increased efficiency, that worker would then get a voice in whether the increased efficiency was turned into more wages or more free time. That's a huge incentive. Right now, there's no guarantee that any particular employee will benefit directly from their innovations, so many aren't incentivized to really try very hard at their jobs.
There are many other possible effects of a society structured like this. Among them:
- People who get more practice at operating democratically and would thus get better at it.
- It might discourage growth after a point - because large democracies get unwieldy fast.
- It would naturally resist the concentration of wealth and power because the system would more evenly spread the profits of business.
- It would encourage businesses to stay in and be more respectful of the communities they operate in because the people who are calling the shots also live in those communities.
- Similarly there might be less of a need for regulation around externalities (like the environment) because the folks calling the shots are the ones living in the communities in which the businesses operate and are directly effected by the externalities.
But it's also an idea that's really hard for a lot of people in our current economy and society to wrap their heads around. The idea that "Free Market Capitalism" and "Totalitarian, Centrally Planned Communism" are the only two systems available is really heavily ingrained in most people. And the concept of a business that operates democratically is totally alien to most. We're just so used to hierarchical, authoritarian businesses that it's hard for many people to even imagine it could be another way.
My issue is inequity, not capitalism. So I don't think I'm a Democratic Socialist.
I'd even be okay with corporations if they were put back into their place. Corporations are not people, natural or otherwise. They should only exist by charter, in the service of society. The current corporatism idealogy (Freedom Markets[tm]) is nutty making.
Yes and no. Trump was elected on a platform of tearing up TPP, TTIP, NAFTA etc, all of which are loved by large corporations looking to offshore work and evade taxes. There are a lot of people who voted for that anti-corporate message, and against Hillary who was obviously in Wall Street's pocket.
I mean, the guy has been in the public eye since what, the 70's? He has been photographed socialising with people of all races, he employs plenty of women in senior roles in his companies, he married an immigrant - yet the big, corporate media conglomerates are determined to paint him as a racist sexist etc etc - they all loved him while he stayed out of politics - doesn't that seem a little odd?
We have a broken system and refusing to play the game may get you a Senatorship in Vermont, but not much else.
Thankfully in the US the people have a lot of power, and Sanders is active in politics no matter how much the "powers that be" attempt to dismiss him.
Warren is also anti-corporate, though I'll admit I don't know the extent, and I think she is easier to see as a mainstream democrat than Sanders is.
My point being Sanders may not be accepted by the mainstream, but this is an unprecedented (since the 50s) level of acceptance of a class perspective. I'm not sure why you would explicitly ignore this change of events.
Bernie has/is changing that, but even then I would argue the main power structures haven't changed.
Bernie isn't / hasn't changed anything and won't. Sanders comes at the problem from a position that is considered Socialist (even though he's only a Socialist in name for the headlines), which will keep him forever in a cordoned off box. The last force in US politics with any influence in that regard, was Ralph Nader. He accomplished greater than ten times what Sanders has or will (and given his age at this point, the clock is ticking) when it comes to anti-corporate power checking. The Democrats lit Nader on fire and buried him politically for opposing their establishment one too many times.
Certainly, the people in control of the Democrats (such as superdelegates) did not choose an anti-corporate message in the last presidential election.
Could you clarify which voices you mean?
It's a benign argument. I wonder why his opponents hyperventilate and exaggerate his positions...
Globalization is great news for many people in the category of "workers," just not those in high-cost-of-living countries.
I'm not sure which Right you're talking about. Perhaps on taxes & redistribution the right doesn't like the government, but they will always support expansion of the military and police. And many politicians (on both sides, unfortunately) never saw a war they didn't like, because it brings home those sweet, sweet procurement contracts.
Most substantial voting blocs are pro- something. Pro-union, pro-environmental, and pro-privacy voters may support positions which some corporations oppose, but the voters themselves aren't by-and-large anti-corporation; as long as corporations behave they don't have any problem with them.
Ralph Nader? Noam Chomsky?
These people have no voice because people refuse to turn off the TV.
They are 83 and 88 years old, respectively. Where are the Naders and Chomskys of the next two generations? Do they have any influence?
Why not both? The root problem is the system, yes, but Google could choose to not take a part in that system. They both deserve blame.
There are plenty, actually. They just don't get a lot of airplay in the... corporate media.
"Think tanks are natural lobbies w/a facade of "research" Their cover allows them to censor dissent from monoculture"
OT: I'm curious how many hours will this post survive on the front page
It is ridiculous that either is taken serious.
I couldn't put out press release on my amateur research and expect to get articles printed in several national papers, simply because they wouldn't take me seriously.
- Write a press release with a sufficiently "useful" headline. Ideally add some research with a conclusion that supports the headline, too, but that's really optional. Write well, and offer lots of both clever "sound bytes" and entire copy-pasteable paragraphs. Journalists are busy and/or lazy.
- "Useful" means that it fits a narrative being advanced by the part of the press you're interested in. However important your story is, without that hook it goes nowhere. With the right hook, a story about goats in Siberia can end up on the front page. These days, a novel edge on the ways that tax cuts shockingly benefits people who pay a lot of tax ("the rich") more than people who pay less or no tax ("the poor") is a shoe-in.
- You'll need some sort of credential, but not much. By the time anyone figures out your PhD is in marine biology and not economics or tax policy or Siberian goats, or the think tank or NGO you're chief researcher of operates out of your kitchen, the world will have moved on.
- Finally, you need a bit of luck, ingenuity and cheekiness getting the release in front of a journalist. Most of them are on Twitter and Facebook, and that seems to be where they do most of their research anyway, so that's a good start. You're going to want to offer them an exclusive.
Incidentally, this is basically how all of these "think tanks" operate, except with a few established press contacts and a sort of short-circuited credentials loop.
Furthermore they get less and less time because they do more and more lobbying.
The real "fight" is upvotes and substantive comments vs. people blindly flagging articles they disagree with.
Not long. HN heavily censors any criticism of Google and yet any blog post from one of the official Google sites stays on the front page for a whole day.
For sure, Googlers downvote a lot of critical comments and surely flag posts they feel are inaccurate. There are a LOT of Googlers and quite a few of them are very active here. Some are even vocally opposed to disclosing their employer.
The other thing is that many posts critical of companies are extremely controversial here. HN is a weird mixing pot of startup folks from the Valley and hackers and code enthusiasts, so there are some very pro-business and very anti-business voices.
Where this plays in is that HN tends to push threads with a lot of argument and debate off the front page much faster. Announcements of new products aren't nearly as controversial as a post about say... James Damore's memo.
It was censored by HN admins as a dupe.Even thought it's different from the other Google story about firing of a critic.
The WaPo article adds nothing materially new to a conversation about Open Markets and Barry Lynn's firing.
Dozens of stories daily are marked as dupes to keep related conversations under one roof. I completely support marking the WaPo story as dupe and directing folks to the NYT discussion.
It is a little unfair to think this problem exists only within Google. Time and time again we are reminded why corporations will evolve to become as greedy and as protective of their turf expansive of their power and monopolistic as they can get, even if good people are running them. It is the system itself that does this, corporations evolve to survive and to thrive. That in of itself isn't a bad thing but you need checks and balances. Things like the Supreme Court saying that Corporations are people or all the money pouring into our political process those are things that have to change.
Even the best of them will eventually become the worst of them. Google is now evil for sure, no doubt about that, but there have been and there will be many others.
If every significant avenue of communication used by people is controlled and censored by a group, no matter who it is, there is no option for progress. Any attempt to change social values will inevitably run up against a wall of not being able to actually express proof that societies values have changed. Imagine if tomorrow every human being on Earth woke up realizing nudity is a strange thing to get worked up about. What would happen? The idea would die, isolated, because even if people said they thought nudity was fine, they could never prove it as the communications networks they use would censor out anything containing nudity, stultifying culture and freezing it to whatever was acceptable in the early 2000s.
Because they're pushing the progressive agenda, so who in the media, government, or academia is going to stand in their way? As far as those parties are concerned, Google is doing what corporations "should" do.
I would say Shmidt's agenda is more neo-liberal than progressive. Not that I endorse it, but corporations pushing an agenda is not new and not limited to the left, so not even conservative media will stand in their way either since that has been happening for a long time on the right.
Why would they? Washington is already controlled by people who share their ideology.
So where are the stories of senators saying, "those guys at Google, they're what we should be striving for." As opposed to senators raking them over the coals (rightly) for tax avoidance.
I think this article is a good encapsulation of the progressive ambivalence on free speech, which has provided a rationale for violence against speakers like Charles Murray (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/middleb...), the violent protests that have followed Milo Yiannopoulos, and "safe spaces" on college campuses.
Well, the media largely only cares for agendas that fit their advertiser's preferences. Their advertiser's preferences are dictated by what they think will help their business... they're not particularly concerned with the nature of any particular agenda, only whether an agenda benefits them.
The government is the largely similar, but rather than advertisers it's political parties balancing appeal to their donors, lobbyists and other powers. To a minor degree also to their base, but hand-waving and obscurantism tends to limit this need.
Academia increasingly does seem pretty screwed up (STEM isn't free of issues, but the really nutty stuff is mostly in the 'humanities'). I suspect firing Damore will probably sate their blood-lust for a while.
Which book, and could you perhaps share some excerpts, or a link with more information?
Quote the relevant parts so people can see how hyperbolic you're being.
Google proved that all you need is a colorful logo and a stupid catch phrase ("Don't be evil") to get people to treat you as an infallible, altruistic entity - regardless of the fact that your actions tell a completely different story.
Like Apple, Google has become a religion for their fans. As with all religions, inconvenient facts are dutifully ignored by members of the Holy Order of Goog. I find the worship of corporations even more difficult to grasp than Scientology.
I don't think the logo or catch-phrase have much to do with it. Google's search engine was orders of magnitude better than anything else when it came out (that's how they won the market) and they've used their dominance of the web to improve their search to the point where the search box can read your mind. That is why people treat them as good -- because "morally good" and "usefully good" are difficult to separate.
You see Apple users (and maybe Linux users?) as religious zealots and assume they must have been tricked by a pretty logo or some CS hazing ritual. What's actually going on is that they're reacting to one very positive experience (maybe along some dimension that you don't care about) and following the human inclination to extrapolate that experience to the whole product/company.
I do think Google cultivating an image of being just a quirky group of nerds (rather than a profitable and influential company) contributed to them seeming benign, and their logo and slogan are part of that.
At Google, they avoid this by providing no customer service at all.
Such individuals, if they choose to say things that the platform doesn't like at an institutional level, then they don't have that right anymore because they get removed/de-listed,banned/de-platformed. Generally, I'm a free-market person, and I'd advocate that entities should have the right to deal with their own platform how they see fit. But in this case, they're collaborating with traditional media, learning institutions and social-agenda groups in order to create a giant echo chamber. We're watching that play out right now in that certain non-left and non-pc speech behavior is condemned and those that wish to express them are de-platformed.
We may not always agree with those points, or find them palatable, but up until now I think we've been navigating a middle-line where general public opinion ebbed and flowed between the two sides. It's tipped incredibly to one side on numerous issues, and I'm afraid that a specific set of viewpoints are now pervading our society. Once it gets to a point, it's only a matter of time before entire generations are raised believing only the accepted-viewpoint. It may be a bad example, but you see it happening already in public-schools where teachers are actively pushing social-agenda issues onto their kids. It happened with anti-Trump attitudes, with transgender-activism, gender-gaps, race-activism, etc. One side is accepted, and debate is silenced, and teachers are forced or encouraged to teach those things to impressionable young minds instead of encouraging free debate.
Further, if you ask most conservatives, they actively disagree with a lot of those things even if it's from the perspective of government-meddling. Conservatives are generally half the population, so something is definitely skewed and going wrong.
This is the price for being a public C-corp. There are very few people in history who can withstand the short term mob mentality of shareholders - in my mind only Jobs, Bezos, and Musk could do it... and survive. (imo Not even Bill Gates
or Edison could do it) Maybe for other companies this can be mitigated by becoming a B-corp instead i.e public benefit company
They may be able to potentially wield a big stick, but what's its use when they'll never use it and push back? they've been strong armed by Wall St to the point where they've kowtow enough to drastically change Google in not so great ways. In their defense, very few people can do better
Say an organization 'A' funds another organization 'B' (maybe non-profit, maybe not), and over time 'B' becomes very dependent on the donations they are getting from 'A'. Then say they start to have a conflict of interest, and 'A' drops funding(which probably kills 'B').
Who's the bad guy here? How should've 'B' known there might be a conflict of interest in the future if not immediately?
It is appalling how US senators are allowed to receive gifts or be compensated in creative ways by companies.
For the shareholders, of course. Does anyone else even matter?
Of course you can say that this is motivated by PR objectives. But then you're creating a situation where they couldn't do anything right.
Many of their regular products also straddle the border to altruism. Google Scholar doesn't seem to bring in much money, yet it's one of the most important tools for research. Electric, and self-drivings cars seem to be obvious wins for both the shareholder and humanity etc. etc.
They've also created the model for the modern workplace: rooted first and foremost in trusting people to do the right thing, and letting follow their interest to a degree previously only seen at Bell Labs and similar institutions of a lost era. And where Bell Labs was possible because Bell was raking an incredible amount of money, Google has turned the causality around: their free-wheeling embrace of creativity is seem the world 'round as a reason for their success.
Trains and evaluates young engineers either for them to hire or to work in their ecosystem
> $100 Million per year for non-profits
PR, taxes, and as the article describes, leverage.
> OSS releases
Giving things out for free helps pull everyone into your ecosystem.
> Of course you can say that this is motivated by PR objectives. But then you're creating a situation where they couldn't do anything right.
This is true. The only way for a company to be truly altruistic in a capitalist system is to be irrational: donate anonymously to organizations that oppose it, buy commercial time and then air white noise to block other groups from political ads. No company is going to do that (or if they do they won't last long).
There's no real solution that involves "tsk"ing at Google or trying to shame them into "doing the right thing". That has to come from outside.
Research into self driving cars, on a closed platform, is a PR move.
Google has the largest contribution in advancing the state of the art in AI. That benefits humanity in many ways, SD cars being just one of them. They are also working on healthcare, robotics and reasoning agents. All these things will be a boon for humanity. Discoveries are discussed in the open.
Whilst we can appreciate the benefits that have been brought forth, we shouldn't be blind to consequences both short and long term and potentially hidden.
A very blunt and hyperbolic analogy is giving infection ridden blankets to indigenous populations in the depths of winter.
They should probably use a motto that derives from Dungeons and Dragons' lawful/neutral/chaotic good/neutral/evil alignment system, just so we can be sure.
Google would be lawful evil whereas Uber would be chaotic evil.
A lawful-good company would try to promote better security for all users. A chaotic-good company would tank the search-rankings of anyone who didn't implement better security. A lawful-evil company would track your every move and offer an opt-out system. A chaotic-evil company would have the opt-out form do nothing.
> The thing is that Google has absolutely gone down questionable path from their early days.
And as for the article, it says:
> The New America Foundation has received more than $21 million from Google; its parent company’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt; and his family’s foundation since the think tank’s founding in 1999.
So yes, Google did contribute. But so did Schmidt and his family foundation. I think this is mostly on Schmidt personally rather than Google as a corporation.
The primary difference in it being his personal action, is that there's a lot less regulation governing his use of it.
It is very sad that they went down the censorship path. Especially since the open web made Google Search a viable business in the first place.
Now Google has the iron grip instead, and over the entire internet.
Tell me again how this was an improvement.
Google fought a large number of very lonely fights in the early dates, all in the name of consumers, the industry, and doing the right thing. It took a very large number of lumps and made a lot of enemies for doing so, but did it anyway.
I was there, in the DC office, working next to the policy director (I started the engineering side when he started the policy side. It started out as just the two of us).
I know what the strategy was, I know why it did it, because I was in the meetings to decide those strategies, and know what leadership wanted and approved.
What, precisely, is your source of information to contradict this?
Because it neither accords with history or reality, as far as i can tell.
(I left DC in 2012, so i can't speak to anything that happened afterwards)
I'd be wrong if Google actually went out of their way and did things that were contrary to their business interests.
Google doesn't share anything in common with people like him, other than not wanting to be sued by the govt. When I was at Google, there was a lot of complaining about this support and no explanation.
They are no different than any other company and claiming that they are somehow exceptional is what seems silly in my opinion.
It betrays a certain disingeniousness, an implicit assumption of unaccountable power and a conscious decision to adopt a strategy of placating the public with platitudes up front and maybe doing something altogether different behind the scenes. Power always concentrates itself and does strange things to people.
Google, Facebook and a lot of the SV culture is beginning to look sinister, they don't seem grounded to human values and present a future vision that is cold, alienated, soulless and totalitarian in an techno-elitist way.
You can't wish away people, and unemployed people create instability and an unviable system. Whether it is robotics or AI and keeping aside whether these are possible in any realistic way, for the people who accept this the only way to keep the system stable will involve evil.
If you want to do more than that, here is some more information on the staff, story and other action items: https://goo.gl/9a7KkC
Choosing to use Google's URL shortener in this context is beyond ironic.
Because if they didn't, they would be replaced by organizations (or people within the organization) who will. (I want to say that's Stanslaw Lem's law of bureaucracy?)
Calling them "evil" is like calling a customer "evil".
The supposedly business friendly Republicans now view them as a left-wing enemy, so a party shield (regarding anti-trust intervention) will not exist going forward. Obama kept them from DOJ interest during his time in office because of how close they all were, that's also not likely to be seen again in a future Democrat administration. Should be easy to carve them into pieces, with search + adsense + adwords on one side, and one or two other companies getting everything else. The new Search Co would then be put under a ten year government dictated operational agreement that would limit some of its abusive behavior.
Regardless of the content of the article or the fairness of the court's decision, the title itself is inflammatory and nothing less than indicative of someone having a beef and thumbing their nose at Google.
The lack of self-awareness on part of whoever came up with that title is astounding.
What title do you suggest could have been less inflammatory but still convey the same message?
Let me take it to an absurd extreme and suggest the following title:
"Google Lost and Can Go Suck My D"
Last I checked it still qualifies as "truly independent thinking".
> What title do you suggest could have been less inflammatory but still convey the same message?
Was something like "Open Markets and European Commission's Finding Regarding Google" too hard?
edit: nitpick, but "Finding Against X" sounds incorrect. Finding is about something, not for or against. Verdict could be for or against. Given the title itself, I don't exactly have high expectations about the quality of the article which I haven't read yet.
Applauding and regretting and whatnot are both leagues more respectful than your outlandish example.
Oh, now you're favoring "respect" over "truly independent thinking"? How odd.
We're hoping for a higher quality of discussion here and that requires maintaining a slightly artificial level of self-discipline when annoyed, regardless of what we're annoyed by.
Your original complaint was that they insulted Google by taking a policy stance against them, and that they might as well have made a title regarding sex acts. I was telling you that is ridiculous.
The article doesn't even say that Schmidt called for the guy's head. It seems to have been the Foundation's decision. That's arguably a spineless move, but then again it's probably in their interest.
And what, exactly, would be ethically wrong about stopping funding for an institution you no longer agree with? After all, every single donation to charity is based on the principle that those giving agree with the organisations' aims. If the ACLU started a large campaign arguing for the extinction of puppies, would I be ethically wrong to quit?
If you want research isolated from such pressures, your best bet happens to be government, by the way. There are layers upon layers of isolation between the funding decision and actual scientists that, apart from the occasional right-wing propaganda misrepresenting individual projects, you're measured by the only yardstick that should count: how many papers you get into high impact journals.
Anyway, that's not the point. The question is: why should someone not be allowed to change their funding decisions when the organisations they're funding go down a path they disagree with? Why should anybody be forced to continue to finance people after they've become the opposition.
Note also that Schmidt used to be the Chairman at this think tank, meaning that he is not just providing funding, but part of the academic community in its orbit, with a legitimate stake to disagree on the merits of the science.