In "Gods", I described an inegalitarian market that not only reflects, but also feeds, an inegalitarian society. The most critical takeaway was that in many (if not all) respects, we are in uncharted territory, efforts to compare the present with historical instances of wealth accumulation and concentration notwithstanding. It's long been the case that due to disproportionate ownership of corporate equities, gains in US stocks exacerbated inequality. Simply put: the benefits from rising stock

Get the best daily market and macroeconomic commentary anywhere for less than $7 per month.

Subscribe today

Already have an account? log in

Speak your mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

12 thoughts on “Redundancies

  1. Great post.

    This is exactly why what the elites do, say, their morales, their ethics, what they want to have happen in society, what they tell their minions to do, is so damn important. It would be nice if a few more of them took a more constructive role in making the world a better place for everyone.

    Say what one will about Musk, he is at least creating possibly three or more future industries. This means jobs, economic growth, tax revenue, and opportunities. More than can be said about others in that elite category.

    I just don’t see yet what the path forward is, how this is going to unfold over the upcoming half dozen or so years. We’ll have to wait and see. Hopefully, a few elites will realize the calamity that is ensuing and decide that if not now never.

  2. It’s starting to feel like just another form of totalitarianism. “Market” fundamentalism has ironically led to state capture and an economy centrally planned by five unelected officials. It may be the logical end of the Enlightenment, a romantic notion of progress in the rich world that was underwritten by the tailwinds of colonialism and the rape of the earth. Those tailwinds are gone now. Perhaps we’re reverting back to the mean as it were. Hobbes and Machiavelli understood human nature as it existed in and coming out of the dark ages, and they weren’t exactly “romantic” types.

  3. This situation with big tech is not unprecedented. It sounds strikingly similar to the situation with the industrial robber barons of the late 19th / early 20th century, such as Rockefeller, Carnegie, Mellon, JP Morgan, etc. Their business empires seemed untouchable and destined to dominate indefinitely. But various influences come into play – founders leave / die, politicians (for reasons noble or malevolent) legislate, governments intervene/interfere, markets and innovation move on. I doubt anyone can say with any certainty how this will come about, but it seems inevitable in time.

  4. But are the tech titans not also dependent on the small businesses? Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg all get up in the morning out of a bed from a small business in a building built by many small businesses, dress in clothes from some small businesses, eat food from a number of small businesses, drive or ride in a vehicle produced by a number of small businesses and spend the day interacting with people operating other small businesses. What kind of world would the tech titans try to live in if all the businesses that don’t matter closed and the people that don’t matter walked away?

  5. The tech titans have relied on trickle-up economics. If our Government operated and taxed accordingly it may not matter as much. They pay attention to an 8 year olds needs. They know whats needed. They know that the person with 400 million is less important than 400 million people with one dollar.

  6. I’ve been living inside the theme of this post for awhile (joking at work that I’m valuable enough that at least I’ll get to pick which MegaBillionaire I’m enslaved too), indeed it feels like Capitalism echoing Feudalism (for sure those nation state boundaries seem to matter less to the tech titans).
    Similar to my ironic question of whether Chinese consumers might be the new surge of growth to lead the world out of the pandemic induced depression, I wonder whether China will halt these Digital Robber Barons? (the founding fathers apparently believed checks and balances always helped)…
    Sadly it’s been long apparent to me that the leaders of the tech titans care not a whit for (their practical progenitor) American Democracy, and instead prefer their own empires endless aggrandizement (see Musk vs Bezos in their own Space Race).

  7. Is it right to say that history is a succession of creating a middle class after its destruction by one form or another of governing elites. It seems that we are now at the end of one of those cycles. BUT, is it really possible to build up a middle class again in this country? I’d love to know how if someone has an idea. I can’t figure it out. Even if big tech is broken up, where are middle class jobs being created. People are redundant except as consumers.

    1. There’s no shortage of labor-intensive work to be done: infrastructure, child care, elder care, transitioning of the economy from resource consumption to resource-sparing, etc. As H has been suggesting, these things can be funded directly by carefully considered fiscal policy. The middle class is dying because the last 50 years have seen a systematic shift from policies that foster a middle class to policies that lead to a concentration of wealth. The way to reverse this is to reverse those policies, and specifically regarding the tech companies, to start implementing effective anti-trust and privacy measures. These are utilities in wolf’s clothing. If they were regulated like utilities, they wouldn’t be all-powerful.

  8. There are lots of jobs in technology: I think you’d be hard pressed to predict an end to Entertainment (Movies, Music, Literature, etc) and now you can add Gaming. (Hardware, Marketing, Accessories, Commentators, etc = new jobs that didn’t exist before).
    Similarly advances in Energy (solar anyone? how about better batteries?) and Communications (Satellite Software Engineer? Social Network Moderator or Auditor?) are increasing… especially consider the Baby Boomer needs for Medical Care (and overall shift to Robotic/Automated Manufacturing).
    There are plenty of new jobs for whatever group of people can organize to get them.
    These Tech Robber Barons though are already in decadence of defending their moats at all costs (Lobbying and Regulatory Capture, Financial and Legal Gymnastics, Acquisition and Shutdown, etc) so I wouldn’t look to them to create jobs, it’s all the “little billion to 10B” companies that would make the difference.

NEWSROOM crewneck & prints