If you didn't know it already, think tanks are a euphemism for propaganda machine.
Shortly after my group published a statement praising the European Union for fining Google for violating antitrust standards in June of this year, I was contacted by Anne-Marie Slaughter, the president of New America, who said that Eric Schmidt, Google’s parent company’s executive chairman, was furious about the statement. Schmidt, she said, was threatening to pull his name and substantial funding from New America in retaliation.
I subscribe to the Brookings Papers, Cato Journal, Chatham House and Council on Foreign Relations. Yes, the content is political, but discussions of economics and policy are necessarily political in nature. I think there is a lot in these publications that is descriptive, not just prescriptive. Certainly more rigor than you're giving them credit for.
If you're expecting an organization without any bias, that's different. But your critique sounds as though there is no empiricism involved whatsoever. I take issue with that, because personally I find that I learn quite a bit by reading these, and often the value is in conflicting perspectives. I also think it becomes a little too easy for people to hear what you're saying and just start repeating it (as an example, see this thread where multiple people have piled on to agree with you without any examples cited).
To make a comparison: I also subscribe to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, because they have different implicit (and even explicit!) biases. That doesn't mean there isn't high quality journalism, it just means that the nature of information is often biased.
Based on your interest in think tanks, you appear to be a person that likes to dig under the surface for more detailed and comprehensive information, so it seems you should also take it upon yourself to research your sources and do some critical thinking on your own. But if you insist, this is a high-level piece on think tanks as servants of corporate agendas:
The implication of "propoganda" is generally more than that.
Personally, I think "unbiased" and "independant" are silly goals, when it comes to politically contentious issues. In practice it leads to a transparent veneer of impartiality far too often. Who says publications can't be opinionted.
In days past, political parties had publications, pamphlets...
TLDR, I sometimes prefer partial or partisan, especially compared to impartial publications pretending otherwise.
- The spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person
- Ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect.
Is what think-tanks do any different ? Mind, it's different from what normal press/media do, as their goal is usually financial and they just cater to their audience.
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tin hat would be that its being done by some wierd cult of secret members that have a goal of making us unisex slaves to serve the elite few (which no one can agree on anyone in this group, Lady Gaga is apparently one of them, (how are people this dumb and not dead from their stupidity is something my OCD freaks out on)
I wish i saw the data the way that some do, I just make it neat and in order. we gotta stop the retaliation and jealousy of someone getting something we didnt. You will never get that satisfaction. Make life better for you, and just hope they get hit by a car and let it go.
Well i heard that parental thing can make you do things like that, but again its a bio feedback of purpose. Ted bundy got it from killing, he didnt do it to be EVIL. read something other than a 2000 year old book of prophecy. or at least stop making everyone else jump in line to fulfil it. If its a prophecy it will happen regardless of your actions. if you could stop it, not a prophecy.
Trust shouldn't enter into the equation, bro. That's fallacious.
'development' is code for domination by a miniscule portion of the global population who use that monopoly of state and economic power to extricate the maximum of value with the least cost (de facto parasitism) while also using that monopoly to guide behavior so as to maintain said relation.
Trust shouldn't enter into the equation, bro."
Sometimes other people know more about something than I can afford to figure out by myself, and listening to what they have to say can be useful.
Brookings are pretty dang centrist, and I think there was actually a formal study on this point.
Anyhow, the point I'm making is that think tanks vary in how overtly political they are, but some like Cato and Heritage are very ideologically driven, and others like Brookings more reflect the selection bias of the status quo.
Which is important. I know I've had a few epiphanies in my time where I realized, "Wait, this thing I thought was stupid, there are some really smart people who are into it... they've invested a lot of effort and research and have some coherent arguments to support it... I should really take another look." It's a meaningful signal in some contexts. In some contexts it even creates a presumption in my mind that I am probably wrong in not recognizing any value in something. In politics, though, it doesn't mean anything, because that kind of intellectual engagement is manufactured through the think tank system as a matter of course.
That's what causes hype around technology. Even if people don't 'get it' they think well everyone else is doing it there has to be something to it.
There is a libertarian left (anarchism) and libertarian right (Ayn Rand style American libertarianism), as well as authoritarian left (marxist-leninist style socialism) and authoritarian right (fascism).
Please don't post like this, no matter how wrong someone else is. It poisons the commons and breaks the site rules.
“Left” and “right” are each descriptive of authoritarian positions. Liberty has no horizontal relationship to authoritarianism. Libertarianism’s relationship to authoritarianism is vertical; it is up from the muck of men enslaving man. But, let’s begin at the beginning …
Source: “Neither Left Nor Right,” https://fee.org/articles/neither-left-nor-right/
Of course, this FEE think tank, along with all the other "Libertarian" think tanks, are funded by the likes of the Koch brothers in an effort to legitimise the deregulation of their industries. There is no requirement for it to make any logical sense, just to appear as if it does so that legislation can have some semblance of an intellectual backing.
What bugs me is how often reports from "Think Tanks" and NGOs are uncritically reported as news by the media without disclosing their donors.
The Koch Brothers, by contrast, have a self-serving radical fringe ideology and no public accountability whatsoever, but because they are billionaires who have organized with other billionaires, can spend huge amounts of money in a subversive campaign to make their fringe ideas seem respectable.
Have you ever heard Limbaugh’s show? My grandfather once was a reasonable, competent, practical mainstream Republican (worked in the White House during the Nixon and Ford administrations), but 20 years of listening to Limbaugh and later Fox News turned him into a ranting conspiracy theorist.
You mean other than the article we are replying to? :)
All joking aside, I'm sure all think tanks aren't shilling with every article, but follow the money. They are typically founded by, actively solicit and are paid for by corporate donations and corporations don't typically give money for nothing.
Cato is a libertarian think tank. They have a specific libertarian slant. The print more articles that libertarians would like and print fewer articles that libertarians don't, specifically Koch flavored libertarian-ism. I mean that's the way it just is. I mean I favor social libertarian-ism, but for someone to be an objective reader, they need to know that Cato was formed to serve libertarian interests.
The Koch brothers have long supported Cato, which they helped found in Washington in 1977. Recently, however, they have come to consider their creation politically unreliable. In a meeting with Robert Levy, chairman of Cato’s board of directors, they expressed their intention to remake the institute into a party organ that would aid their effort to unseat President Obama. To do so, however, they need control of the board. They intend to get it by suing the widow of William Niskanen, a recently deceased board member, for control of Niskanen’s shares.
Your first impression might be to say that wasn't effective, but did we ever get any real NSA reform? Nope.
But to your point, the message still got out, but many people allowed themselves to ignore it.
It's all good to argue some partisan political stuff, or things around the edges, but god help you if you start publishing anti-corporate articles.
There is a difference between political subject matter and a clear ideological bias that makes it so if you know the subject and the name of the think tank producing a work, you can predict the general thrust fairly reliably with no other information (or, similarly, where you can identify someone's membership in both a major party and a faction within that party by the think tank’s they are inclined to cite.)
Many major think tanks are ideological in this way.
That's not at all the same statement as "think tanks are a euphemism for propaganda machine".
The goalpost has shifted.
Yes, it's a different (compatible, though, not contradictory) statement, though related.
> That's not at all the same statement as "think tanks are a euphemism for propaganda machine"
You are mistaking a many-soded discussion for a two-sided debate. My having a different position than an earlier participant is not a goalpost shift (them changing the point they are arguing for without acknowledging that it has changed would be.)
1) Is the organization receiving funding to focus on analyzing a certain area of policy? Here, you can argue that the organization has an agenda that is driven by its backers, but I don't think it's sufficient to call it propaganda, because by that definition, any paid effort to focus on any particular area is propaganda.
2) Is the organization seeking to highlight positive evidence while seeking to squelch negative evidence? That's where it more becomes about propaganda.
Also, I would suspect that the bigger the think tank (read well funded) the better chance of getting their article republished. I mean if I started Clubber's think tank about whatever, I doubt I'd get much traction.
Also, you need to call your think tank something meaningless and anodyne like "People United for Truth and Justice". Because who isn't united for truth and justice?
Most often, these are funded by a particular group, for a particular agenda. This is the definition of propaganda.
The difference being that while I may only ever study the stars and refuse to study plants, my examinations of the stars are still objective, even though the area of my examinations are not comprehensive.
If you're going to make broad claims and claim to be objective, you need a more robust metaphysical approach than the mission statement of these places usually allows... And even then, you'll probably fail. Your tactics leak into your metaphysics and your ideology leaks into your tactics. Broad claims and objectivity just don't mix.
You'd figure the fact that the only "thinking" that gets factored into any decision (apart of that of bureaucrats too worried about their election coffers and thus easily paid off - oh, I'm sorry, "donated to") is privately paid is damning enough...
However what makes censorship so powerful is that you can't see it!
They're lobbying organizations with a carefully and consciously applied veneer of learned, academic legitimacy.
Bottom line, think tanks are propaganda machines. It just depends on what your believes are.
Edit: Oh and I almost forgot (and to bring this full circle) a Googler saw my post about this and made an interactive version:
Edit: and to really bring this full circle, this Googler made an interactive version about HN:
So your graph is not very helpful unless you want to pretend the Washington Post and New York times are just leftist versions of Breitbart.
Honestly do not see the point or value in what you have done.
So, assuming that NYT and Politico are left-leaning, it would appear that the "right" sub links to its opponents' views, while the "left" sub does not.
The implications of this are left to the reader.
I mean, I guess if you consider Trump-supporting == "conservative" and Trump-critical == "liberal"
I'm not sure that's really true.
Universal basic income, free university education and free state-run healthcare are leftist... no Democrat puts those things in their platform so I wouldn't call any democrat leftist.
That's not a logical conclusion. Even if they did support those things, they wouldn't put them in their platform now because it wouldn't fly now. You're defining "leftist" as "actively supports X, Y, and Z," which is arbitrary. And the part about Europe is a red herring; this isn't Europe.
Let's not lump together all think tanks. Some are more intellectually honest, some are places for partisan intellectuals to work when their party is out of power, some exist to provide intellectual cover to political goals.
I've had the same questions as you. According to an interesting paper I came across, there have been three waves of think tanks (and this also is painting them with a very broad brush):: 1) Think tanks like Council on Foreign Relations and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which aimed to promote global engagement by Americans. 2) Brookings and Rand, which grew out of quasi-governmental programs (IIRC). 3) Starting in the 1970s, groups that "focus as much on advocacy as on research, aiming to generate timely advice that can compete in a crowded marketplace of ideas and influence policy decisions." Heritage is the prototype; it was the source of much of Reagan's policy and now of Trump's. Heritage (I really hope I have the right think tank) hired someone to write talking points for cutting the estate tax in the U.S., and that is the origin of the meme "death tax", and the (false) argument that small businesses and farmers suffer widespread harm from it - so effective that I'll bet you've heard those.
In the last few years, I've seen many allegations of leading think tanks selling out their independence, including Brookings, CNAS, CSIS, and others. The leader of one defended the practice saying (IIRC), 'This isn't the Greatest Generation. Nobody will give you money now and say 'do something good with it'. Everyone wants specific results.'
Here is a dump of some more articles. If you really want to know about them, look up U. of Pennsylvania's 'Think Tanks and Civil Society Program'.
-- Researchers or Corporate Allies? Think Tanks Blur the Line by Eric Lipton, Brooke Williams, in NY Times - https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/08/us/politics/think-tanks-r...
-- Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks by Eric Lipton, Brooke Williams, Nicholas Confessore NY Times - https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/us/politics/foreign-power...
-- How Saudi Arabia captured Washington by Max Fisher in Vox: Covers more than Saudi Arabia - http://www.vox.com/2016/3/21/11275354/saudi-arabia-gulf-wash...
-- Hacked Emails Show UAE Building Close Relationship With D.C. Think Tanks That Push Its Agenda by Zaid Jilani, Alex Emmons in The Intercept - https://theintercept.com/2017/07/30/uae-yousef-otaiba-cnas-a...
-- Hackers Vow to Release Apparent Trove of U.A.E. Ambassador’s Emails by Kevin Poulsen in The Daily Beast - http://www.thedailybeast.com/hackers-vow-to-release-apparent...
 From Contributor to Partner? Norway's role in foreign policy research and implementation in the United States by Tove Bjørgaasat Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre/Norsk Ressurssenter for Fredsbygging (NOREF). Here's an old link: https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1284...
This says "Schmidt, she said, was threatening to pull his name and substantial funding from New America in retaliation", but previous articles have said that Schmidt simply mentioned his displeasure and Slaughter took care of the rest.
I'm not exonerating Google here regardless; calling the head of a think tank (as opposed to, say, the essay writer) to express displeasure is obviously a display of power. But it's interesting as a taste of how authoritarian behavior works.
Schmidt couldn't have ordered the article spiked, and he would have looked terrible if he expressly said "I'm pulling funding if you criticize Google". So instead, he calls and says "I'm unhappy about this article". And Slaughter, not being an idiot, recognizes that she got the call for a reason and needs to act. If she hadn't been so blunt about her internal message, everyone could have quietly insisted the firing was "for other reasons" and left the whole point unproved.
In one sense, the news story here is that an explicit message was sent. A sensible person ought to expect that soft power and unstated implications cause similar consequences every day.
People are free to fund and support any cause they want in their own time with their own money. Yes, the person also happens to like Google a lot and doesn't want to see Google hurt, but I don't think Google should be held responsible for his personal actions.
The comment from the writer happened, then Schmidt complained. I don't think the writer asked Schmidt his opinion before he gave his comment.
In other words, Schmidt's actions were a result of the writer's comments, after the fact.
I call them "thought tanks" exactly because all the thinking has been done well before any particular question gets asked.
I humbly suggest the alternative thunk tank.
The bad grammar eliminates suspicions of thought and as a bonus, it rhymes with drunk tank.
"I thinked and thinked real hard and real long till I couldn' think a nuthin' I ain't already thunk. So I then I passed on the remainin' reckonin' on to the fine folks in the thunk tank."
Obviously, this guy wasn't fit for a think tank, if he couldn't rub two brain cells together to learn the adage "don't bite the hand that feeds you".
Or maybe he is meta-clever; no publicity is bad publicity. Get fired from a Google funded think tank for anti-Google thoughts and come out smelling like some kind of hero.
How did we drift so far from the founding generation’s deep fear of massive corporations? In the 1970s and 1980s, an alliance of economic and legal scholars from the right and left of the parties — including Robert Bork and John Kenneth Galbraith — combined to overthrow America’s two-century-old antimonopoly system. ... It’s a dangerous misperception that will continue to imperil democracy as long as the power of corporations continues to grow unchecked.
https://core.ac.uk/display/76558315 # Monopolies and the Constitution: A History of Crony Capitalism
Big companies' alliances with social justice types strikes me as similar. It's tenable, to a point.
It's not always unexpected as it is non-obvious. As the OP said:
>> think tanks are a euphemism for propaganda machine.
This is basically the reality that's being masked in this article: the Think Tank was never hired to tell the truth. Maybe find the truth, but it's certainly not Google's primary interest for them to publicly finance the promotion of an inconvenient truth. Which as far as I'm concerned makes business sense. You can't have your cake and eat it too as an activist (nor does it mean the activist is automatically right because they spoke out against the interests of their financiers either).
Similar to how Google and Apple only make token efforts at 'securing' their messaging platforms and operating systems against surveillance - to the point where business interests don't align. Any business output is largely a product of competing interests, hidden or otherwise.
Which is why voluntary donations (which includes personal time, such as open source) are so critical to tip these scales towards the general public's interest - particularly when it comes to things that also don't align with the interests of government agencies (see: surveillance) or the interests of mega-corporations/special interest groups with political pull.
Depending on government or corporate programs alone is insufficient IMO, and it's unfortunate that this third option is typically treated as an afterthought in our culture. We tend to treat time/resources as merely a dynamic between personal benefit and our maximum capacity for taxation, where donations are merely a luxury of the wealthy and/or the compassionate non-industrious types, which ends up being a minority of the public.
Yep and they go back in one form or another centuries possibly millenia, right back to when kings used to pay people to justify why they owed less money to the catholic church.
Exactly, the wealthy and corporations fund think tanks to support their interests, not for ideals. Think tanks don't exist for truth/objectivity. They exist to push an agenda.
No matter how good this guy's intentions were, coming out against google's interests is a sure fire way of getting fired.
Not only that, his career at any google or google affiliated/funded institutions are pretty much over.
Surely the proper response would be to pay less attention to think tanks / propaganda machines. Google's action here may even be morally neutral; while it is unfortunate that this fellow and his coworkers lost their jobs, (our part of) the world has been given a timely reminder of the true nature of think tanks.
Could this be the problem? It would look ugly if someone in an organization bearing Schmidt's name actually praised actions detrimental to Schmidt's employer.
Sometimes they are. Sometimes they do legitimate research and work, funded by people who care about certain issues. It's kind of a crap-shoot, really.
I'm not sure if this is hyperbole or if you don't actually know what propaganda means. Propaganda refers to media/communication that influences a large group of people (citizens in the context of politics or employees in the context of business).
Most think tanks (aei, cato, brookings etc) publish research for an academic and legislative audience, not for the masses to consume.
2. They communicate to the few people who really matter —decision makers and their counsel.
While I tend to agree, it's interesting that this think tank employee seems to have believed that 'think tank' means something closer to 'independent private research institute' or 'university department' than to 'paid propagandists, for moneyed special interests, kept on a leash by their masters'.
What did he think his group was? Maybe not a 'think tank'?
Are there any 'think tanks' that might be called 'independent'? Any 'think tanks' that might be said not to be 'propagandists'? 'Good' think tanks?
I guess it's tricky to define, when merely being super dogmatic can already ensure that you'll be loyal to whatever special interests happen to benefit from your particular brand of dogmatism. So no direct control/intervention is needed.
ACLU or EFF are also dogmatic in a way, and they're activist organizations, they exist to improve the world according to some ideology (civil liberties, free software).
I guess the difference between 'think tank' and 'research institute' is that the latter is more interested in advancing science, than in saving the world.
Among the 'think tanks' you can then, differentiate between those that serve (through control or dogmatism) the less powerful (EFF?) vs those that serve the more powerful (Kochs, arguably Cato, AEI).
I guess a better, orthogonal way you can differentiate, is: does the organization end up adding or detracting from the ideal of educated public discourse? Are their arguments manipulative, or do they serve, in the end, to educate? (This is about effect, not intent, or bias.)
You can ask about intent too, I guess. Do they presume ideas are at "war" or do they presume that ideas tend to combine to get closer to the truth?
A highly biased, paid-for group can still be useful to discourse, either it refrains from demagogic manipulation (it 'plays fair' so to speak), or its ideology is so weird and fringe, rather than hegemonic, that it adds alot of new stuff to discourse.
I'm sure there are other ways of dividing up the space of highly biased schools of thought.
The ancient philosophical schools like the Pythagoreans were probably a species of think tank. Although they likely weren't 'propagandists'. Although they drowned the guy who came up with the irrational numbers. It's confusing.
What we should avoid is trying to divide them just by "left" vs "right". That's just dumb.
What's also kind of dangerous is falling into the trap of saying, everything is propaganda. The university is a propaganda machine, for the left, haha. That's moldbuggery. I think Voltaire would get cramps when being made to deal with mr Moldbug, I'll leave it at that.
Is your piece going to get reviewed by people who might be inclined to agree with you already? By people who might not share your views? How easy is it to "overlook" a study which has contradictory findings to your own, or misinterpret a stat in a way favorable to "your side" (whether intentionally or not)?
There is nothing inherently wrong with propaganda. It is not necessarily manipulative or deceitful.
(from wikipedia) "In the twentieth century, the term propaganda has been associated with a manipulative approach, but propaganda historically was a neutral descriptive term"
I mean show me some think tanks that don't disperse manipulative and deceitful research and I could change my mind about said individual think tank, but as a general rule, I stand by my statement.
>how does one call propaganda in general?
The modern term comes fairly directly from a use in which it was positive, not neutral (though it was negative to outsiders of the group using it, which shaped the modern connotation.) Specifically, it comes from the old Latin name (Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fidei, “Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith”) of what is now the “Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples” of the Roman Catholic Church.
The weird part is to expect a company to fund a group for the love of truth and public good. Companies are in a competition against each other and the amount of genuine benevolent collaboration they can do is limited by nature.
How many think tank papers have been quietly shredded because the author didn't have the courage Barry Lynn did?
I don't know if that's true. There are a lot of companies that would save money if healthcare was cheaper -- pretty much every company in America is a health-care consumer. It's just that benefits are diffuse and the downsides of lower-cost health care are concentrated.
Things look very different in other industries... not everyone gets the same price...
>>not everyone gets the same price
I don't care about the price. I pay for insurance for my employees because it is the right thing to do.
The comment I am referring to is the nightmare of the setup, not the cost to me for providing the healthcare. And many middleware insurance navigators make it easy to provide it (at least for me).
As far as how much it costs me, whatever.
It's not a long term benefit because the government should be able to lower taxes given the increased revenue, but you'd never look past the short term (and the government would never lower taxes).
* There are top-tier progressive think-tanks that write favorably about single-payer; EPI is an example.
* Single-payer is ideologically anathema to conservatives and libertarians, so a majority of think tanks are going to be constitutionally incapable of proposing plans.
* For the past 8 years or so, progressives have been working to support the health care victory they already achieved in the ACA, which has been under continuous assault since the GOP regained control of the legislature. It would be weird to see them endorsing a new health care system (and, in the process, conceding defeat on the ACA).
For Libertarians (LP), maybe. There are plenty of libertarians who see initiatives like single-payer and UBI as the only way to reduce graft and overspending of the federal government, knowing that pure elimination is impossible.
Which is what you see when you read posts from libertarians about single-payer. Single-payer as a compromise, and only if accompanied by such a radical deregulation of medicine that "single-payer" is really just an economic subsidy for consumers on a private marketplace. That's a coherent (if, to me, terrifying) plan, but it's not what mainstream policy thinkers mean by single-payer!
Again: I'm not saying a libertarian can't accept single-payer as a temporary compromise (even for very long definitions of "temporary"). But if you find single-payer attractive, you're an economic liberal.
There is a whole lot of money to be made by special interests in giving people free heathcare at the taxpayers expense. It means massively increasing government spending afterall, and that gives those with political control more resources to divvy up. And there's an enormous amount of advocacy for single payer. It also does not reduce costs.
I dont understand why Gates or Buffett who have made comments supporting single payer systems dont fund such think tanks who will "educate" the public about single payer.
IMO this is more about Barry Lynn than Google. I've known about Google for nearly 20 years. Never heard of Barry.
I don't necessarily disagree. But it is a good moment to remind everyone that those white papers have a man behind the curtain. It's also a nice cultural moment for anti-trust (admittedly my pet issue.)
>People don't tend to pay other people to tell them their baby is ugly.
Sure but if I have an ugly baby and I start funding a group called "The Baby Raters" and I watch and continue donating as they judge all of my friends babies to be ugly but then pull funding (or threaten to) when they judge my baby as ugly, I'd say that I've successfully undermined the institution. It's no longer what it says on the tin.
Schmidt joined the board in 2008. Lynn says he has been doing this research since 1999.
He has far more control of the media than any single company could hope to buy indirectly (and it'd be cheaper to just buy it directly at that point I think).
Google should have brought the independent when it was up for sale cheap
Shrug. It's got to be owned by someone.
Somebody is going to own the media. It just so happens that Murdoch started some media outlets.
It's much better than the media being state-run.
If you go to the local level, John Oliver did a segment on Sinclair Broadcast Group that owns a bunch of local news stations and pushes political propaganda to them.
The point being is you have all our media digestible content, particularly news, controlled by a handful of corporations.
Sinclair, the one Oliver mentions, covers 40% of US households and is only the second largest next to Nexstar.
You don't think Oliver is above propaganda do you?
Disagree. Why do you think anyone "owning the media" would be a giood idea, let alone an acceptable one.
I definitely think it's better for individuals and regulated corporations to own it than for the media to be state-run.
But neither argument is very convincing. There's a lot of cheap land, and there are a lot of cheap ways to publish your opinions widely.
On YouTube, if your account is suspended, you are severed from your audience that you worked hard to build.
Sure, you can find cheap/free land, but don't you think you would feel that someone stole your work, robbed you of the fruits of your labor, if the land you toiled for years to make fertile is taken away from you?
This think tank situation is tip of the iceberg of what Google is doing in terms of censorship (suspensions/terminations/demonetization) on their platforms.
If I voluntarily chose to took away on land owned by someone else under express terms that allowed it to be taken away arbitrarily, I’d kind of expect that risk, and wouldn't view it as theft.
There's a reason plenty of people making a living selling video content use YouTube to distribute promotional material but some other mechanism to monetize the content.
You may be willing to toil the earth at new location, but not having those same customers who want to buy from you at new location, is the biggest loss, more so than the land.
The land owner, didn't mind what you were doing, it's even legal what you were doing, but then one fine day the landowner dated a girl who didn't like that you cultivated onions, she hates onions, she convinced the landowner to get rid of you. And the landowner owns 70% of the land in your country and 90% of the produce buyers are also residing on the same lands. Going to new land is much much unfair proposition. At these scales the legal system, which still exists and has power, should step in an break apart the land owner or impose rules which forces him to play fair.
Anti-trust laws exist for this very reason. Break up Google.
Fox criticized Trump
Trump said Fox sucks
Viewership went down
"Oops, Trump is great"
Money are back in.
Which is exactly why the principle of free speech (as opposed to "the first amendment to the US Constitution") doesn't just apply to legal consequences, and free speech absolutely does require freedom from some consequences.
A healthy economy is a lot like a healthy ecosystem: some parts are weaker, some will fail when stressed, but allowing the system to react naturally to inputs will likely result in a better outcome. But when you encourage a monoculture, single stresses can result in a complete collapse. We're experimenting with establishing monocultures in our economies with potentially even more impact than those of the 19th and 20th centuries (like Standard Oil) that inspired the anti-monopoly regulation and legislation: if Samsung were to shut down tomorrow, what would be the impact on the Korean, regional and world economies?
An all-powerful Google that can't accept criticism or action to "trim it back" to preserve the overall economy represents a danger and Mr. Lynn was right to point this out.
 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwzJlvx4ndk
 - https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/12/04/the-w...
It connected mine and my kid's school account together because same browser was used to login to those accounts.
I have come to the conclusion that Google is evil. It can't chose to not do evil anymore.
Seems a bit of an exaggeration. Let's pretend we got word from an all-powerful being that Google and all of its services were going to disappear from the face of the earth in exactly 30 days, giving everyone including users, competitors, partners, etc. plenty of time to prepare. 30 days from now, specifically, what collapses?
2. Every business that's running on GSuite. Let's assume this is mostly small business, and they will have limited ability to migrate to other SaaS or run in house replacements for these services.
3. Everyone who was using Youtube as a primary source of income, or whose business had a critical dependency on the Youtube platform for marketing
4. Every piece of code that depends on Google's DNS infrastructure, and anything that pulls DNS entries from 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168... how many devices like this do you think there are? How many were hard coded?
5. What happens to Android? It's a hypothetical, but potentially it could keep going, but let's assume major disruptions for everyone who runs a business that develops mobile applications for Android
6. How many people (and businesses) depend on Google Maps? How many are tied in directly to the API and won't be able to change this easily?
7. Now how many depend on Google Voice?
8. Gmail has more than 1 billion active monthly users.
I don't know if you're actually looking for a specific list of businesses, but that's not going to be possible for anyone to provide -- anyway, a shutdown of Google services would be an economic catastrophe... Most people couldn't even migrate a Gmail account in 30 days, and with Gmail alone we're already talking a billion+ people.
2. Outlook 365
3. Vimeo and Dailymotion
4. Every ISP provide DNS servers.
6. There are many alternative to google maps. Google didn't invented maps.
8. There are many email service ready to take over.
There is nothing Google offers that can't be obtained from another provider.
And I'm not even getting into how Google has zero presence in Russia/China and its disappearance won't impact them.
Seriously though, I think you're greatly underestimating how high the switching cost is to move from one cloud provider to another.
That wasn't the question the post above was asking. The question wasn't "given a chance to prepare, would the economy collapse," the question was "if Google were to suddenly collapse, would our economy survive?"
There exist several single points of failure in our global economy. Given the incredible importance Google has in our economy, with search, email, collaboration software, and cloud computing, it's not a stretch to say that Google is one of those points of failure.
It's also a location of power concentration. Google basically controls the internet as most see it. If your site is removed from Google, its chance of becoming popular is almost completely removed. If you are forced off of Google and you aren't prepared, you could lose years of important information. They also track nearly everyone, opening up the possibility of corporate population control and cultural shaping.
Do we really want single corporations this powerful?
The argument goes, 1) he's a researcher for a think tank, so he's pushing an agenda and not trustworthy. 2) Google made a good business decision by cutting funding for research that goes against their agenda.
So, for-profit enterprises can push agendas, but not-for-profit enterprises and the individuals who staff them cannot, because agenda-pushing would undermine the purity of their research.
That's obviously a double standard, and one that favors the powerful over the weak.
Silicon Valley has become morally repugnant, and Google is evil. I'm on the side of the little guy.
Right. Where's the scandal here? If you don't want someone or some company to have monetary power over you, then don't take money from them. I understand that it's not so simple, but at the end of the day this can't be surprising.
To wit...his prefacing comment says a lot:
No think tank wants to appear beholden to the demands of its corporate donors.
Operative word being - appear. In fact they all are beholden, of course, you just want to make sure not to appear to be.
But of course we don't have to do that. We can note the various reasons things work this way — growing monopoly power, tax laws governing nonprofits, lobbying regulations — and figure out how to change them.
Point being, I agree it's a shame, and I would love something better, but at some point we're saying laws are written by people and interest groups, which is pretty obvious and unavoidable.
Who told you they were supposed to be neutral? The only thing I expect from a think tank is reproducibility of results, if they are making claim to an objective result.
Note that when he was publishing monopoly research there was no problem, it was the decision to 'celebrate' the EU fine that seems to have got him fired.
Obviously we should condemn this behavior, but I can't say I'm surprised. It's good to see such a clear example of Google being unable to resist exerting its power to protect itself from criticism, but I can't help but imagine all of the instances of this that will never see the light of day. The reality is that our world is filled with greed and corruption and that's not going to change any time soon.
Thinking about this keeps me up at night.
IMO, no company should be this powerful.
Let's not forget that Google also bought off quite a few shameless professors during the FTC investigation. http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2017/07/13/google-favorable-r...
Coming soon: Washington Post's scathing takedown of Amazon's business model.
 - https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/is-amazon-getting-to...
Interestingly enough New America also receives significant funding from Amazon, I wonder if they will get colored by the brush of politically expedient think tank funding as well.
No doubt you can point to some Amazon PR to prove it. In reality, they're one and Bezos has done whatever he wanted till now (how many years was AMZN losing money to expand???).
You can also say "Here's an WP article slamming Amazon," but maybe the old WP would have written 5 such articles. I have no doubt that self-censorship goes on at WP just as it went with NBC /GE /Comcast and so on. They know who owns the paper and if someone has to remind them, it will be done.
Of course, you can be independent and think, but....
The action was against an organization that Google was doing business with because the arrangement no longer made sense for Google. A think tank and a newspaper are not the same thing. There is no expectation of integrity from a think tank.
The original comparison suggests Amazon is abusing influence to control the narrative at WaPo in the absence of any evidence of such abuse.
That guy is using outrage as marketing vehicle to raise funds and awareness for his (now "independent") think tank. It'll be interesting to see who's funding his work in a year or so.
They even linked to e-mails in an effort to be more transparent but all I can see is more confirmation about what the author said as truth:
Say I'm 80% evil and I fund a think tank. The think tank's reputation was 100, and now it's 60 with regard to statements about me because my funding it makes it seem biased. If it published a story that says I'm actually 4% evil, then it gets a reputation boost, I'm not looking as bad as I actually am, and I'm well positioned to let the organization do positive spin when I really need it.
I would say that Google and similar orgs actually usually do this. But Google and Amazon are getting really, really nervous when people talk about monopoly. If anti-trust comes back into vogue, and it could possibly, then it's an existential threat for these empires. They have to carefully manage their carrots and sticks on this issue, and with this one they went with the stick.
Of course one could argue that nobody funds you if nobody trusts you. Interesting to see how this one pans out...
This guy is just trying to sell a book.
Or am i mistaken and think tanks are usually politically neutral pure-research organizations?
As a lobbying strategy it would be a little like Google trying to take financial control over Cato or Heritage, not to get those think tanks to spew pro-Google stuff, but to ensure that the primary conservative and libertarian voices in Washington were unable to criticize Google.
(Cato's relationship with the Koch brothers gets similar criticism).
It's definitely fraught! But New America isn't a victim here.
"Think tanks" are influence laundering operations.
If someone or some corporation wants something (anything) done, it is more persuasive when the proposed ideas come from an ostensibly neutral organization rather than a transparently self-interested one.
This works well or it wouldn't be done this way. This is also why influence laundering organizations will fight tooth and nail to defend the appearance of funding-independence while knowing quite well that it's a lie: the appearance of neutrality is the product they are selling to patrons, and if they can't sell product they will go out of business.