Default
Joel Kotkin does a number on Mark Zuckerberg: "Today’s Tech Moguls Don’t Employ Many Americans"
Thumb sailer
May 15, 2013, 02:37 PM
A+
|
a-
Print Friendly and PDF
Joel Kotkin does a number on Mark Zuckerberg. AJoel Kotkin nd without resorting to weasel jokes.

Joel is seriously unhappy about media glorification of winner-take-all-ism. Here are the Zuckerbergian parts, but there is lots more about other Silicon Valley superstars:
America`s New Oligarchs — FWD.US and Silicon Valley`s Shady 1 Percenters 
by Joel Kotkin 05/14/2013 
... A new, and potentially dominant, ruling class is rising. Today’s tech moguls don’t employ many Americans, they don’t pay very much in taxes or tend to share much of their wealth, and they live in a separate world that few of us could ever hope to enter. But while spending millions bending the political process to pad their bottom lines, they’ve remained far more popular than past plutocrats, with 72 percent of Americans expressing positive feelings for the industry, compared to 30 percent for banking and 20 percent for oil and gas.  
Outsource Manufacturing, Import Engineers 
Perversely, the small number of jobs—mostly clustered in Silicon Valley—created by tech companies has helped its moguls avoid public scrutiny. ...
This is an equation that defines inequality: more and more wealth concentrated in fewer hands and benefiting fewer workers. 
Not so much anti-union as post-union, the tech elite has avoided issues with labor by having so few laborers who could be organized.  ...
But Americans with those skills shouldn’t rest easy, either. These same companies are always looking to cut down their domestic labor costs. Mark Zuckerberg, in particular, is pouring money into a new advocacy group, Fwd.us, with a board consisting of big-name Valley luminaries, to push “comprehensive immigration reform” (read: letting Facebook bring in a cheaper labor force). In a remarkably cynical move, Fwd.us has separate left- and right-leaning subgroups to prod politicians across the political spectrum to sign on to the bill that would pad the company’s bottom line. 
Ostensibly, the increase in visas for high-skilled computer workers is a needed response to the critical shortage of such workers here—a notion that has been repeatedly dismissed, including in a recent report from the Obama-aligned Economic Policy Institute, which found that the country is producing 50 percent more IT professionals each year than are being employed in the field. The real appeal of the H1B visas for “guest workers”—who already take between a third and half of all new IT jobs in the States—is that they are usually paid less than their pricy American counterparts, and are less likely to jump ship since they need to remain employed to stay in the country. Facebook’s lobbyists, reports the Washington Post, have pressed lawmakers to remove a requirement from the bill that companies make a “good faith” effort to hire Americans first. 
The Valley of the Oligarchs 
Even as market caps rise, the number of Americans collecting any cut of that new wealth has scarcely moved. Since 2008, while IPOs have generated hundreds of billions of dollars of paper worth, Silicon Valley added just 30,000 new tech–related jobs—leaving the region with 40,000 fewer jobs than in 2001, when decades of rapid job growth came to an end. ... 
But little of the Valley’s wealth reaches surrounding communities. ...
But past the conspicuous consumption, the most outstanding characteristic of the new oligarchs may be how quickly they have made their fortunes—and how much of the vast wealth they’ve held on to, rather than paid out to shareholders or in taxes. ... 
Tech oligarchs control portions of their companies that would turn oilmen or auto executives green with envy. ... In contrast, Mark Zuckerberg’s 29.3 percent stake in Facebook is worth $9.8 billion. ...
The concentration of such vast wealth in so few hands mirrors the market dominance of some of the companies generating it. ... Even the oil-and-gas business, associated with oligopoly from the days of John Rockefeller, is more competitive; the world’s top 10 oil companies collectively account for just 40 percent of the world’s production. 
Greater Representation with Minimal Taxation 
Despite this vast wealth, and their newfound interest in lobbying Washington, the tech firms are notorious for paying as little as possible to the taxman. 
Facebook paid no taxes last year, while making a profit of over $1 billion. ... 
And now, these 1 percenters—who invested heavily in Obama—are looking to help shape the “public good” in Washington and, as with Fwd.us, what they’re selling as good for us all is what aligns with their interests. 
... The oligarchs believe their control of the information network itself gives them a potential influence greater than more conventional lobbies. The prospectus for Fwd.us—headed up by one of Zuckerberg’s old Harvard roommates—suggests tech should become “one of the most powerful political forces,” noting “we control massive distribution channels, both as companies and individuals.” 
One traditional way the wealthy attain influence is purchasing their own news and media companies. Facebook billionaire and former Obama tech guru Chris Hughes (who owes his fortune to having been another of Zuckerberg’s college roommates) has already started on this road by buying the New Republic. (His husband, perhaps not incidentally, is running for the New York State Assembly.) ... 
If You`re the Customer, You`re the Product
Perhaps an even bigger danger stems from the ability of “the sovereigns of cyberspace” to collect and market our most intimate details. ... Apple is being hauled in front of the courts for its own alleged violations while Consumer Reports recently detailed Facebook’s pervasive privacy breaches—culling information from users as detailed as health conditions, details an insurer could use against you, when one is going out of town (convenient for burglars), as well as information pertaining to everything from sexual orientation to religious affiliation to ethnic identity. ...
But while Facebook and Google have been repeatedly cited both in the United States and Europe for violating users’ privacy, the punishments have been puny compared to the money they’ve made by snatching first and accepting a slap on the wrist later. ... 


Lots more here.