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 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52... 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.
The answer is yes, they could. Great.
The issue isn't whether or not they could. It's whether or not they should be in a position to do so - is the concentration of power required to apply such pressure healthy for society as a whole?
It is worth noting that at the time of me making this comment, this is not a single point arguing directly that such concentration is healthy or beneficial.
Are they really so dependent on Google?
The executive chairman of the corporation they receive ~%20 of their revenue from called and told them to get rid of the guy. The guy was gone in two days. This isn't a grey area. [Edited revenue figure]
Do they? What's the source of that?
I jumped into New America's filed 990 papers and the number at a first estimate is around 20%. But I haven't added in any personal donations by Eric Schmidt. Perhaps more importantly omitted is the fact that he is the chairman emeritus of the organization.
No concentration of power is required for a corporation to fire someone it effectively employs.
You need power to fire people you directly employ, let alone researchers at third party think-tanks.
Would google be 'effectively employing' this researcher if their contribution to New America made up less than 2% of their revenues rather than over half?
[Edit] Just think about how much you would have to reduce concentration in any industry so that no corporation is large enough to fund a think-tank and have someone fired.
Even if you did that, corporations with shared interests could join together to do the same thing one larger corporation would otherwise have done. It wouldn't be the first time.
Is it even possible for a group like a think tank to remain "clean"? How would they get their funding?
Here's the link to the article: http://www.newsweek.com/assange-google-not-what-it-seems-279...
"Schmidt arrived first, accompanied by his then partner, Lisa Shields. When he introduced her as a vice president of the Council on Foreign Relations—a U.S. foreign-policy think tank with close ties to the State Department—I thought little more of it. Shields herself was straight out of Camelot, having been spotted by John Kennedy Jr.’s side back in the early 1990s.
Some time later Jared Cohen arrived. With him was Scott Malcomson, introduced as the book’s editor. Three months after the meeting Malcomson would enter the State Department as the lead speechwriter and principal advisor to Susan Rice (then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, now national security advisor).
I knew little else about Cohen at the time. In fact, Cohen had moved to Google from the U.S. State Department in 2010. He had been a fast-talking “Generation Y” ideas man at State under two U.S. administrations, a courtier from the world of policy think tanks and institutes, poached in his early twenties.
He became a senior advisor for Secretaries of State Rice and Clinton. At State, on the Policy Planning Staff, Cohen was soon christened “Condi’s party-starter,” channeling buzzwords from Silicon Valley into U.S. policy circles and producing delightful rhetorical concoctions such as “Public Diplomacy 2.0.” On his Council on Foreign Relations adjunct staff page he listed his expertise as “terrorism; radicalization; impact of connection technologies on 21st century statecraft; Iran.”"
What I get from this is that Schmidt has (had?) very deep links into the US State Department.
This was new to me so thanks.
Oh and I've been a long time Hacker News reader, but never posted comments. So I made a new account. There's nothing else to it.
Please try to avoid inflammatory language, there's no reason to make this a flame war. We can discuss why we are right or wrong without attacking each other or other people.
Yes, I was speaking of the manifesto. The fact that Google fired him instead of discussing why he was wrong for holding opinions that much of the Google workforce hold themselves shows that there is probably merit to his claim of an ideological echo-chamber. Google holds incredible global power to shape and control populations. Given that, it worries me to hear of an echo-chamber forming in a corporation so powerful.
Barry worked for "New America, a think tank and civic enterprise committed to renewing American politics, prosperity, and purpose in the Digital Age."
He criticized Google, a significant patron of the think tank, and got fired when Eric threatened to pull funding.
This has little to do with at-will employment and much more about the impact of having most research privately funded in a capitalist environment.
They are very much part of the regulatory capture framework in operation around power centres. It seems as easy as adopting highly deceptive orwellian sounding names and shamelessly pushing agendas while pretending to be independent.
Consumers and citizens end up paying for all this subterfuge in increased end user costs and are basically paying for organized attempts to mislead them.
As they say dont hate the player, hate the game.
I am also not saying i have an answer to finding that model and i dont think with the current climate of tribalism, it's not going to happen until im old or dead. So if you dont like it, stop bitching and try and fix it. You do know that Karma isnt a real thing? some amazing people have nothing but crap happen to them all their life, others are disgusting pigs and have nothing but continued success. Yeah sucks, now buck up cuz google being a meany, is really not a news story. Go find a job creator to create the guy a job.
Attempting to slap the “natural monopoly” label on Google shows that the term is either meaningless or just bunk economics. Either way, it’s a useful foil in the ham fists of interventionists with a bad solution in search of problems.
It's similar to why rich people pay lobbyists. The lobbyist can pull strings with legislators that offset the millions of opinions of less-rich constituents.
It makes sense from a purely business perspective.
I was under the impression that funding a "Think Tank" was a way to funnel money into research, paper-writing, policy promulgation, etc. that favored your position. Are they something else?
Phrased a different way I think technically it's not a requirement to follow your investors' goals, but it's pretty much a necessity so your hands are tied.
That's right, the best I have to say about it is, it's not illegal.
Ask. Not compel. You no longer have freedom of speech if you are forced to promote ideas you don't believe in.
My comment deals with your second sentence.
> Surely there would enough injured parties who have a reason to fund it.
You suggest that criticism is valid only if the injured have the economic power to speak. This is a dangerous way to determine validity because it forms a feedback loop where those with economic power suppress the speech of those without.
I used to buy video games at a Gamestop next to my neighborhood supermarket. At one point, they had an employee that seemed to love to make unnecessary negative comments about my taste in games. It's a manager's prerogative to fire the employee for providing a bad customer experience, just like it was mine to just get my games somewhere else. Ultimately donors are think tank customers, and this is all perfectly fine: the world where I am forced to go to the same store, or a Gamestop manager has to tolerate an employee that tries to deter people from buying non-Microsoft products, is probably worse than one where someone on a think tank has to measure what they say.
There's learnings to had here though: The case of a think tank relying on very few donors is no different than a B2B startup that relies on a single enterprise company: You have a tremendous risk, the funding can disappear at any time, and for any reason. Anything other than diversification puts you at risk, and it's not really the customer's fault if you put yourself in a very weak position.
This also affects far bigger fish, like media companies and even legislators. And that's why we should have care when it comes to both media consolidation, or mechanisms where very few people can have a very big influence on the outcome of an election. But it's not as if we live in a world where the only way to have a think tank that produces policy proposals is to clear everything with Google.
> I used to buy video games at a Gamestop next to my neighborhood supermarket. At one point, they had an employee that seemed to love to make unnecessary negative comments about my taste in games. It's a manager's prerogative to fire the employee for providing a bad customer experience, just like it was mine to just get my games somewhere else. Ultimately donors are think tank customers, and this is all perfectly fine: the world where I am forced to go to the same store, or a Gamestop manager has to tolerate an employee that tries to deter people from buying non-Microsoft products, is probably worse than one where someone on a think tank has to measure what they say.
> There's learnings to had here though: The case of a think tank relying on very few donors is no different than a B2B startup that relies on a single enterprise company: You have a tremendous risk, the funding can disappear at any time, and for any reason. Anything other than diversification puts you at risk, and it's not really the customer's fault if you put yourself in a very weak position.
> This also affects far bigger fish, like media companies and even legislators. And that's why we should have care when it comes to both media consolidation, or mechanisms where very few people can have a very big influence on the outcome of an election. But it's not as if we live in a world where the only way to have a think tank that produces policy proposals is to clear everything with Google.
Would you mind explaining why you thought that of Sundar Pichai? Not trying to defend him or us I am just curious as this is the first time I've heard that.
The last sentence is particularly interesting given The WaPo is owned by Jeff Bezos
That is the representation, the socialization, of power. "Politics" as we call it is the regularization of power, but power dynamics occur more forcefully everywhere but there.
Does it just come down to some people having a completely different idea of what a "think tank" is and why it exists?
Legal as Google's demand was it seems to qualify as evil or at least unethical.
Edit: I stand corrected. "Some" forums of criticizing your employer may be considered protected. You may need a lawsuit to enforce that protection....
Only a very narrowly tailored set of criticisms related to whistleblowing, labor practices and a few other areas are protected.
What most people mean when they talk about their freedom of speech is the privilege of speaking without losing their job. I find it to be a tragic if not fatal misunderstanding pervasive to discussions about speech.
And no i will not trial every newspaper for an article linked on hn.
2) That would create a clear conflict of interest. This post is an example of what can happen when you have only one source of funding which you may need to criticize.
Eric Schmidt didn't hire Barry Lynn. New America did.
Perhaps a better analogy: The same way I would be petty, if I fired a painter I hired, because he showed up with wearing a Colin Kaepnernick Jersey and my neighbor the police officer, who lets me borrow his lawnmower, was furious.
Disclosure: People commenting in favor of their employer without disclosing that fact sts me to tears.
That being said, how delusional do you have to be working in a political think tank and think it'll be ok to cheer a multi-billion dollar fine against your main financial contributor. This guy got pummeled by his own hubris.
 - https://www.amazon.com/When-Google-WikiLeaks-Julian-Assange/...
The guy is publishing an article in a major news publication about his experiences during all of this. His free speech is quite obviously not being suppressed.
And he has the right to complain about being fired. End of story.
> If you don't like your employer, you can leave. That's how it works. End of story.
And go where? Another similar company, right?
While that isn't what happened in this specific situation, this guy brings up a valid point about monopolies: If you work for a company, and that company is a monopoly, you can't just leave, because you have literally nowhere else to go. Therefore that company has control over your speech without violating your constitutional rights.
That is one of many reasons we should be concerned about the centralization of power Google/Alphabet has acquired.
> The guy is publishing an article in a major news publication about his experiences during all of this. His free speech is quite obviously not being suppressed.
His speech clearly was suppressed. Just because he found a new outlet for it does not mean anything to the contrary.
Should pseudonymous commenters in threads like this disclose if they, in fact, work for Google?
Should downvoters? (I've sometimes noticed mildly Google-skeptical comments here sinking in a rush of downvotes, without refutation, and wondered to what extent Google's sheer size suppresses certain discussions.)
This feels like a bit of an exaggeration in this situation, no? I mean, some states have at-will employment where they can just fire you for any reason they want. And if you're doing things that are actively working against them, of course they're going to want to part ways with you. And even in states without that, I'm sure there's some clause in their contract that says "if you speak out against us we have the option of terminating you." That's not really a free speech issue at that point, right? Their free speech isn't being hindered or taken away at all. Rather, a business is making business decisions based on your speech, which happen to effect you.
EDIT: to clarify, I'm all for the world getting more ethical. I was just kind of arguing a semantic: free speech is mostly known for being a civil liberty, and Google technically isn't restricting that in this case.
The philosophy behind freedom of speech is (to greatly simplify) "it's so much better for the advancement of ideas when people can say controversial things without being afraid of material reprisals."
One way to promote the ideal is to not push legal penalties against those who say such things. That's the basis of the legal protection of speech, and specific countries' laws thereon (in the US, the First Amendment).
But you get the same disaster, and failure of the ideal, when non-governmental actors do it. If everyone fears going into poverty when they say something controversial, well, we're in the same crappy-ideas-that-no-one-criticizes dystopia.
Hence my frustration at those who give the lecture about "lol First Amendment is just for the government" and "lol why should they have to pay you when they don't like your ideas?" Yes, they're technically correct, but it's comically missing the point to "stand up for free speech" but also cheer on the technically-legal ways you can make someone suffer for disagreeing with you.
That doesn't mean we should force you to keep buying from those whose ideas you don't like. It does mean we shouldn't be sanguine about orgs using financial power over someone's livelihood to keep their (potentially) good ideas from being spoken.
The solution will be different because the way we interact with our government is different from the way we interact with corporations.
See also: Marsh vs. Alabama. Relates more to platforms like Youtube and Twitter but is still relevant.
Marsh v. Alabama, 326 U.S. 501 (1946), was a case decided by the United States Supreme Court, in which it ruled that a state trespassing statute could not be used to prevent the distribution of religious materials on a town's sidewalk, notwithstanding the fact that the sidewalk where the distribution was taking place was part of a privately owned company town. The Court based its ruling on the provisions of the First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment.
There should be social consequences for your speech, just not legal ones.
I explicitly agreed with that. Did you see this part?
>>That doesn't mean we should force you to keep buying from those whose ideas you don't like.
(Note: "keeping someone on your payroll" = "keep buying from them".)
>There should be social consequences for your speech, just not legal ones.
I just explained how the standard grounding for free speech doesn't distinguish between social vs legal consequences, and how the latter are only one part of the puzzle. If you dispute that logic, I'd like to hear your thinking.
Suppose a company has a disgruntled employee. The employee starts badmouthing them all over the place. Assume it doesn't rise to the level of libel or slander, but they're still causing significant problems. Is the company supposed to be required to keep employing this person or face a freedom-of-speech lawsuit? That seems absurd.
The fundamental problem here I think is the assumption that an employer is somehow "responsible" for the employee's livelihood. Employment is a simple business transaction. Neither party should be obligated to anything beyond what they agreed to at the start of the transaction. If you go buy an apple from a store, are you now responsible for that store-owner's livelihood from then on? Are you obligated to keep buying apples there and buying enough to provide the storeowner a living wage?
If someone is living so far outside their means that a temporary job loss is going to cause them ruin, that's their fault, not the company's. There's much we could do in terms of providing a better social safety net as well, but I think we're best off keeping economic transactions as purely economic as possible.
For a corporation with competition, the ability to fire someone over disagreement is clearly reasonable, since that employee may prefer work with another corporation in that sector.
To contrast: For a monopoly, the ability to fire someone over disagreement, and no other merit, is suddenly transformed into an abuse over free speech. The employee can't speak out against a monopoly, and expect to find work afterward, meaning that employee has poignant reason not to speak out in the first place.
Refusing to hire someone because they were placed on a blacklist for protected speech is wrong (and I believe, illegal). After the Damore incident there were numerous reports of people within Google openly bragging about maintaining such blacklists.
In this case you document the incidents. You establish a pattern and attempt to demonstrate intent or reckless disregard with regards to the impact of speech on the company and its business, in quantifiable terms if possible. You appeal to previously established, legally valid agreements made between the employer and the employee on what sort of speech restrictions are expected. And then when you fire the person, you tell the truth. You explain exactly why the relationship was terminated, how their exercise of free speech damages the company, and how they themselves are responsible for it.
The trick is really when it comes to actually proving that an employee is "causing significant problems" when their actions cannot actually be classified as libel, slander, or some form of harassment.
The fundamental problem here I think is the assumption that an employer is somehow "responsible" for the employee's livelihood. Employment is a simple business transaction.
No, the fundamental assumption is that any actor has a responsibility to uphold business agreements in an honest and ethical manner. This includes not using the threat of termination as leverage to suppress exercise of 1st amendment rights. That includes making reasonable attempt to respond to speech with speech before taking action, and ONLY escalating to disruptive action against the speaker when there is a clear and compelling reason to do so.
I'm all for at-will employment in principle. But the story doesn't end there. Just because you "can sometimes be justified firing someone for things they say" doesn't mean it's always the right thing to do. You have to look at each situation to make a reasonable evaluation. In this case, according to Lynn, Google applied economic pressure to (supposedly nonpartisan) New America to coerce them into into punishing Barry Lynn for praising an EU decision that hurt Google.
Lynn was not an employee of Google. Lynn was doing his job, the way he was supposed to do his job, in a principled manner which he claims is consistent with how he'd done it for the past 15 years. He and his division were employed through a 3rd party organization of which Google was simply one funder. Google, rather than responding to Lynn with a counter argument or some other speech-oriented response, instead abused their patron relationship with his employer to punish him for what he said.
Whether or not New America had "responsibility for the livelihood" of the employees is entirely beside the point. The point is to address the accusation of Google engaging in a wholly inappropriate bullying behavior. It appears they set out with intent punish someone for valid political expression using a coercive method (threatening the speaker's employer). That is the general principle at stake here. Responding to free speech with coercive action is by default unethical.
> New America is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible.
So while they do receive funding from Google, if Google is permitted to control the discourse in this way we should ask if New America deserves non-profit status and whether Google should be able to deduct monies spent on the entity.
Very hard to argue against free speech with a mission statement focused on ideas, research, and "public conversation"
For fun, the Open Markets division in particular:
The Open Markets program at New America was founded to protect liberty and democracy in America from extreme concentrations of economic and political power. We do so by researching and reporting on the political and economic dangers posed by monopolization—in the United States and in the international system—and identifying ways to reestablish America’s political economy on a more fair, secure, and stable footing.
Google gave money to a non-profit with an anti-monopoly division and then got mad when the anti-monopoly division praised anti-monopoly legislation that just happened to hurt Google.
It's likewise fair to question whether any person donating to that organization deserves to write off their donations if the receiving organization acts more like a pr division of the giver.
My personal opinion is that if an organization receives more than 50% of it's funding from one source, it's no longer independent and shouldn't be treated as such
In this aspect, google would be well within its rights to discontinue funding speech it no longer agreed with. Its within its rights to attempt to influence a narrative.
But there are optics associated with this, and people who may be (rightfully or wrongfully) suspicious of its motives, who would take such actions as confirmation of their own pet theories.
Without reflecting on how common a pattern this is, if this is what happened, then it happened. And its not wrong for google to ask for tighter conformity to its preferred narrative. Its not wrong for the think tank to offer this tighter conformity.
It just looks ... well ... bad.
Google acting in their own self interest is rational. Doesn't mean its "good" or "bad" in a wider context, but it is rational.
But looks like people thought I was serious.
The 1st amendment protects speech from government consequences, even though it isn't absolute. Consequences in the private market still reduce the freedom of speech even though they have nothing to do with the Constitution.
And if someone finds their freedom reduced, they can perfectly reasonably complain about it. And you can rationally talk about how the reduction was fair or that it wasn't. You can't rationally deny the reduction.
EDIT: I barely ever do this sort of edit, but c'mon. People downvoted this? It's like some people are opposed to plain truth. Nothing above is remotely questionable.
As for At-Will states, you can't fire someone for any reason, because there are employment protection laws. And, as anyone who has worked in positions of authority can attest, even if you have to fire someone, you build up enough evidence so that when you are sued, you can back up your claims.
Employment at the Company is at will. The policy of at-will employment means that employment with the Company, is voluntarily entered into, and you are free to resign at will at any time, with or without notice or cause.
The policy also means that the Company may terminate your employment at will at any time, with or without notice or cause.
This right to terminate employment with or without notice or cause also applies, of course, to decisions regarding other terms of employment, including but not limited to demotion, promotion, transfer, compensation, benefits, duties, and location of work. No representative of the Company, other than one of the Principals, has the authority to enter into any agreement for employment for a specified duration or to make any agreement contrary to foregoing. Any such agreement must be by individual agreement, in writing and signed by you and one of the Principals. Accordingly, neither this manual nor any policy contained in this manual is intended to imply continued employment or otherwise limit in any way the policy of at-will employment. Nor does this manual, in describing Company policies or procedures, commit the Company, to follow any particular procedure in the course of imposing discipline, changing the terms or conditions of employment, or terminating
Yes, at anytime, and with our without reason. However, doing so can open you up to a lawsuit for wrongful termination.
You can't be fired because of sex (including orientation and pregnancy), race, religion, disability, age, or nation of origin.
Retaliation, refusal to commit a crime, and failure to follow your companies own termination process, are also grounds for wrongful termination claims.
Typically, HR departments have a firing manager start building a paper trail of evidence, usually by way of a PiP.
Also, I know further in this handbook I have, that they describe that there are procedures for "building the case" as you say but then in the same paragraph it basically says: "We don't actually have to do this".
Not to mention the whole back half of the packet deals with arbitration, which is how I assume this would be dealt w/ in court.
A fired employee doesn't have the time and probably access to the lawyers to even get this started not to mention have a hope of winning.
Hell, at this company, I came in on time, fixed three issues within my first hour, then was laid off due to "cultural fit" despite two year's of stellar performance reviews and no formal reprimands or complaints to HR.
If your company has an arbitration clause, it's usually as part of an employee agreement that specifies in-lieu of suing them, you agree to an arbitration instead.
I've turned down a job because I refused to give up my right to sue.
As to your case, just sue them and claim cultural fit was used to discriminate against you because of your race/gender/age.
Also, as a straight, white male in his 30s, I can't really be discriminated against on the grounds you state. Not to mention, I'm paying 3/4 of my unemployment to rent so don't really have the room to pay hundreds of bucks to even get in a room with a lawyer.
I recall reading over the handbook but probably not that arbitration part. That was a surprise when going back to it today. It's also something I had no idea about until the past year or so with all these stories coming out about it.
If you work for a company, and speak out against that company, there is no reason for that company to be forced to keep you. They can kick you out, and if you are fired simply over disagreement, you can find another company. The very availability of that option is how you are free to speak against your corporation. You need not stay there.
If that company is a monopoly, however, you are left without that option, and therefore left without the liberty to speak freely against that company. You can still speak out against them, and get fired like before, but then you are left with no avenue of employment afterward; and since you are thus aware, you likely won't be speaking out after all.
ES: Google is a near-monopoly. One might view your paper as criticism--criticism that I might like to silence.
BL: Oh, sh-
ES: You're fired! Also, I'll have my guys tweak the ranking algorithm a bit. Enjoy finding yourself on page 1000 of the search results for "Barry Lynn".
ES: [impression of Agent Smith from The Matrix] What good is a phone call when you cannot... speak? Bwahahahaha!
All states except Montana at 0.32% of the population.
99.68% of the population of the US are in at-will employment states. Most everyone is under at-will.
The negative consequence is that if you cannot have a meaningful income to survive while exercising your rights, do you have a right to begin with?
Whistleblowing? You could argue you have a moral obligation to your fellow citizens. Not arguing, just offering an example.
Ipso facto, he worked for Schmidt/Google.
By all means shame NA for this, but thinking that it's a scandal that the non-profit world works for corporate donors is naiive.
That is what Google did, just not because of integrity.
- derive enjoyment of begging victims than indifferent ones
- respect someone whom is willing to pay the price
Furthermore, in way, this is what Christians and nonviolent leaders like Gandi originally meant about "turn the other cheek"... not being meek and defenseless but to volunteer for punishment. The bully or abuser is confused and/or gives respect for such, and then is more likely to stop doing it. It's not a guarantee, but it's better than nothing. Only a good guy with a gun or having massive balls and a plan, can stop a bad guy with a gun. ;)
It's literally the best investment they could make:
"Between 2007 and 2012, 200 of America’s most politically active corporations spent a combined $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions. A year-long analysis by the Sunlight Foundation suggests, however, that what they gave pales compared to what those same corporations got: $4.4 trillion in federal business and support"
As someone pointed in previous similar topic, this reason can't be illegal, and potentially this threatens his constitutional free-speech rights in this case.
> I'm sure there's some clause in their contract that says "if you speak out against us we have the option of terminating you."
Again, if some contract provision is against constitution, it is not enforceable.
I agree, Google has enabled far more political free speech than it has suppressed.
On the often-misunderstood idea of freedom of all speech, Google certainly has the right to suppress the speech of its employees in certain scenarios.
That has nothing to do with freedom of political speech, the storied american ideal.
In this case, this man learned a very important lesson most of us should learn much younger than him:
freedom to speak does not include freedom from repercussions
(AKA don't bite the hand that feeds if you want to be fed, real basic stuff here)
Only political speech is a protected class, and it is only protected from government intrusion, not private.
There's learnings to had here though: The case of a think tank relying on very few donors is no different than a B2B startup that relies on a single enterprise company: You have a tremendous risk, the funding can disappear at any time, and for any reason. Anything other than diversification puts you at risk, and it's not really the customer's fault if you put yourself in a very weak position.
This also affects far bigger fish, like media companies and even legislators. And that's why we should have care when it comes to both media consolidation, or mechanisms where very few people can have a very big influence in the outcome of an election. But it's not as if we live in a world where the only way to have a think tank that produces policy proposals is to clear everything with Google.
A think tank is a different sort of animal. The donor is not the main entity impacted by the policy proposals the think tank produces. Just like a responsible media outlet must have a notion of journalistic integrity, or a legislator's office should feel beholden to its constituents, a think tank has a responsibility to provide sound policy advice to its readers.
You can take the position that "think tanks do not have any level of responsibility to the people who consume their policy proposals" but I certainly would not follow you there. Policy institutes present themselves as rigorously data-driven nonprofits and write with an impartial air. If criticism / negative results are known to lead directly to a loss of funding, then it is disingenuous for the think tank to present itself as impartial, and I would consider it compromised.
We tend to solve this problem with regulatory agencies that represent the impacted consumer (and not the source of revenue), though I would note that this is the very solution the author was fired for praising.
Perhaps people assume that Google funded this org because of the ideas it spread, and not for some profit motive, or for some outcome. So now it seems it was never about the ideas. I mean, the left is for anti-monopoly laws, therefore that something like this might happen should have been pretty clear.
So it's either stupidity on part of Google, or perhaps they fund such organizations in order to have control over them. (invisible hand of self-censorship, because money)