How can Germany be both afraid of and in love with technology, and the companies that make it? The key is to look beyond those things, to the corporate model they represent.The true origin of the conflict lies in the economic culture innate to those former Silicon Valley start-ups — now giants — that are taking the European markets by storm. To create and grow an enterprise like Amazon or Uber takes a certain libertarian cowboy mind-set that ignores obstacles and rules.Silicon Valley fears neither fines nor political reprimand. It invests millions in lobbying in Brussels and Berlin, but since it finds the democratic political process too slow, it keeps following its own rules in the meantime. Uber simply declared that it would keep operating in Germany, no matter what the courts ruled. Amazon is pushing German publishers to offer their books on its platform at a lower price — ignoring that, in Germany, publishers are legally required to offer their books at the same price everywhere.It is this anarchical spirit that makes Germans so neurotic. On one hand, we’d love to be more like that: more daring, more aggressive. On the other hand, the force of anarchy makes Germans (and many other Europeans) shudder, and rightfully so. It’s a challenge to our deeply ingrained faith in the state.
Google is sitting on 10s of billions in cash and has no idea how to invest it. Microsoft and Apple are the same way. See the discussion at Marginal Revolution.
How about a guaranteed income floor for everyone and a 20 hr/week job for everyone who wants it? The 19th century ended a long time ago, folks.
Policymakers can help by adding antitrust scrutiny of Google’s actions in the television market with an eye on protecting labor rights in the sector as well.
The discussion on inequality coming out of the Occupy Wall Street protests is how we got to the point where so many workers are not sharing in the economic bounty of our nation’s economy. Part of the answer is that as industry after industry faced strains from emerging technologies and globalization, counsels of “do nothing” prevailed as unions were destroyed and jobs shipped overseas.
With Hollywood, we actually have a sector that is currently economically vibrant where the bottom 99% of workers in the industry share in the wealth enjoyed by the top 1% in the industry. It faces strains on its model — and the threat of Googlization is a top one — but we have time for citizens and policymakers to step up and figure out what new models can sustain both new innovation AND a robust standard of living for all workers in the industry.