This is a fallacy based on a complete misunderstanding of trickle down economics. The premise of trickle down economics is that a rising tide lifts all boats, which has occurred. The poor today are considerably richer than even the middle class of earlier eras.
The same applies to technology. Open source may not be directly used by consumers in the same manner, but it does directly enable those who do target consumers. For example, historically, a company building a product targeted directly at end consumers based on ease of use would need to devote an entire team to building their own webserver (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AOLserver). Nowadays that same organization just uses apache (built by enthusiasts) and the team of engineers no longer devoted to building a webserver instead builds something useful for the consumer.
I'm also sort of curious in what world "trickle-down economics" is actually how the economy has been run for any period of time in the recent past. Liberals have been running the economy in the US for decades now, even when Republicans were nominally in command, and as far as I know the rest of the developed world has been running even more liberal policies for even longer.
If you believe wealth disparities are a result of government economic policy, and you are unhappy about that, you are unhappy about the result of liberal economic policies.
It's as surreal to me as people who still today rant about how bad "laissez-faire economics" are as if they've ever lived under them. Maybe they are bad, but you sure don't know that from experience. There hasn't been any for a long time now.
Peaked at 77% during WWI.
Down to 24% the last time Republicans ran the economy (down and up a tick as engineer Hoover tried to fix the economy :-( ).
63 then 79% under FDR pre-WWII.
Up to 94% during WWII.
Never got less than 82% post-WWII, and "We like Ike???" after he kept Truman's 91-92%.
Then down to 77% under JFK in the first supply side tax cuts.
Bounced between 70% and the mid-70s LBJ through Carter.
Down to 50% Reagan part I, then down to 28% after the great tax rewrite in '87.
Raised to 31% by "kinder and gentler" Bush I and to 40% under Clinton.
The devil 'W' reduced that to 35% ... where it's stayed, even under Obama and Democratic legislative super-majorities.
We also need to factor in that inflation pushed people into higher tax brackets until Reagan, and capital gains taxes have never been indexed for inflation (nice racket, the government inflates the currency then taxes you for merely running in place).
One should also note this is intended to change people's behavior. The lower the max marginal rate, not to mention the capital gains rates, the less people focus on tax advantaged investments. I watched my parents change their business strategies quite a bit from the '70s to the '80s, and in ways that ... trickled down a lot more.
That's how this bogus article starts, it says "the poor are not better because so much is owned by the rich", a "Look, a squirrel!" head fake which totally ignores how well off the poor are or aren't. And you're just continuing that focus.
Bottom line: do you care about the poor, or about the rich?
Your statement above only touches on the latter.
In this modern version it's "The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be making money." Hence the obsession to the exclusion of all else on how well the nebulously defined "rich" are doing, no matter that one of the biggest problem our poor have is obesity.
Not that that's limited to the poor! It's just that advocates for them are reduced to worries about "food insecurity". And unlike the situation that led to the Federal school lunch program, too many F4s among WWII draftees, after FDR's own Agricultural Department who's major focus was on keeping food prices high found that 1/4 of the nation was malnourished, the government can today get away with fads that starve children during the day because they'll at least make up their calorie deficit when they get home (not that that's at all healthy).
I don't think this is correct. "A rising tide lifts all boats" is a metaphor to say that an improving economy benefits everybody, and most people agree on the general idea. But nothing is trickling down with this metaphor, all boats are lifted together. Trickle down economy is the idea that helping the rich get richer will eventually benefit the poor (under the assumptions that the rich know best how to improve the economy, and that they will use the money to do it). Here many people disagree.
(Please don't go into a riff about the homeless before you subtract the mentally ill that have been dumped on the streets, plus addiction is a big, but not at all new, problem.)
The latter tells me things are qualitatively different. And that's in a very short time, my parent's lifetime, for they were born during the Great Depression. Probably even mine, e.g. the modern Food Stamp program began shortly after I was born.
Which is very different from e.g. pointing out that while strychnine has an human LD50 of 1-2 mg/kg, "In low dosages, strychnine can act as a stimulant and has been used by athletes to enhance their performance." followed by a couple of Olympic examples in 1904 and 1992 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strychnine).
A shirt isn't just made in a small factory the next town over, it's made on the other side of the planet by a company with a million employees, then shipped in a global logistics network that's the result of hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure investment, and communications were probably handled by a communications network that's the result of hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure investment. The ship the shirt is delivered on won't be owned by a bunch of middle-class income earners but an incredibly rich corporation who can afford to finance and purchase massive ships, the crews that run them and the fuel that powers them.
The very few people who run the tiny portions of these massive industrial giants that delivery the $10 shirt to Walmart should make a lot of money. Somebody responsible for a corporation with a market cap in the billions of dollars shouldn't be pulling down $30/hr. Would it make sense for the store manager where the shirt is sold to make more? They're only responsible for 1 store, while the CEO might be responsible for thousands of stores in aggregate.
Trickle down economics is not just the idea that 1 rich person might hire more cleaning staff to keep their silver from tarnishing, but that they might run larger and more efficient organizations that made a $100 shirt into a $10 shirt. Meaning their cleaning staff can also clothe themselves more readily.
As much as I like the idea of my yard guy living a good and comfortable life, I also wouldn't swap him with my boss's position tomorrow. I know my boss can work a riding mower and a weedwacker, but I'm pretty sure my yard guy can't operate a multi-million dollar corporation. Moreover, every week I debate whether or not I should keep my yard guy, I can also operate a mower and a weedwacker. If he wants to go buy a vacation home someplace and triples his yard rates, he's going to lose me as a customer and end up poorer than before. So the value of what he is offering may only be enough for him to live the economic life he has...at the bottom of the trickle. This is an important market function. There's tons of yard guys in my area and I can switch to another one if I need to. Or if there isn't enough competition to push down prices I can always fall back and just do it on my own.
If my yard guy was smart, he'd go talk to my HOA about providing a neighborhood-wide service. We already overpay for our HOA services, if we added another $10-15 per month to it, nobody would really care, and our yards would service themselves. No more HOA letters about overgrown weeds or uncut lawns. And in my neighborhood, with several thousand housing units, my yard guy would be moving around a couple million dollars per year and he'd be a very rich man, employing quite a few not so rich men to work a riding mower and weedwacker. But he's not smart, and he doesn't do that, so he ends up in his station in life, trapped by the simple values of economics, yet benefiting from cheap food and cheap clothes.
Does trickle down economics work? Sure it does, to a point. There's also people who find themselves in positions of not just high responsibility, but high advantage, and they use that advantage unfairly. Figuring out what is fair and unfair is an important market function as well.
"The ship the shirt is delivered on won't be owned by a bunch of middle-class income earners but an incredibly rich corporation who can afford to finance and purchase massive ships, the crews that run them and the fuel that powers them."
Through the magic of limited liability corporations (we're supposed to boo the last word) many "middle-class income earners" do own fractions of all these enterprises through their investments for retirement etc. Another magical thing we can do at scale, with electronic data processing, is allow them to spread their risk by making broad bets in sectors of the economy, particular countries, regions or classes of countries, sizes or capitalizations of companies (e.g. S&P 500 index funds), etc. etc. Or debt of different levels and types of governments and companies.
And then he cites the internet as an example, but dismisses it for no apparent reason.
The article reads as very condescending to engineers/technologists. It seems like the author thinks that technologists are out-of-touch geeks and need his e
enlightened guidance to show them back to civilized society.
And the end makes no sense to me: "own our own data, tools, and derived intelligence — what I call our digital selves — and avoid becoming a society of digital serfs". So, he wants things to be so easy to use that you don't have to know anything about how they work, but he also wants people to be in control of their digital destiny? It doesn't work like that. Easy to use is great, but without knowing something about how the technology works you will always be a slave to it. No matter how rich you are, if you don't even know how to cook or clean, you will be a slave to your cooks and cleaners.
The only thing he has to offer is "Experience Driven Open-Source", which is incredibly vague. I say, go for it, as long as you aren't asking for my money to do it. I hope it produces some amazing things.
(I set aside the political garbage at the beginning of the article.)
What if the problem it's actually that there is no goal, therefore tech is irrelevant?