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Remember when people occupied Wall Street? Supposedly Silicon Valley is next

(BUSINESS NEWS) Based on quick and successful economic growth compared to the rest of the country, strategists are predicting the occupy movement will eventually wind up in Silicon Valley.

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Trouble on the horizon

A new Bank of America report has some very worrying news for the tech industry. Titled “Occupy Silicon Valley,” the report is a sort of socio-economic risk analysis study that warns of troubles ahead.

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Except, the troubles will not come from foreign hackers, or an encroaching federal government, but from Main Street America.

Occupy Silicon Valley

The report highlights how the hugely profitable tech industry’s sheer wealth juxtaposes uneasily with the sluggish growth of rest of the economy. Huge salaries, unthinkable bonuses and a very wide income starkly contrast with teachers, police officers, and young tech engineers.

Backlash to this growing inequality, now largely directed at politicians in DC and investment bankers in Wall Street, will soon engulf the Valley billionaires and their tech minions, the study warns.

Michael Hartnett, chief investment strategist with Bank of America, put the issue in perspective by noting that the market values of tech giants already surpass the gross domestic product of large cities. “Google is bigger than Chicago[‘s GDP], Amazon is bigger than Washington[‘s GDP],” he wrote.

American companies also far outstrip the value of its competitors internationally.

For example, just Google and Apple put together is worth more than the combined market value of Japanese and Eurozone financial companies.

eurozone
via BofAML Global Investment Strategy

The future is only going to get brighter

In fact, by all accounts we are on the verge of a revolution in AI that would unleash more automation—from self-driven cars to Wall Street betting bots to auto-coding. Seismic shifts will disrupt jobs on a massive scale, and even high skilled laborers are at risk of losing means of employment. Wealth would further flow to the hands of a few.

The stock market reflects this bright future: NASDAQ Internet Index is up 25.6 percent this year versus about 7 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.

The report predicts that this scenario would “ultimately lead to populist calls for redistribution of the increasingly concentrated wealth of Silicon Valley as the gap between tech capital and human capital grows ever wider.”

Here and there

For now, the protests have been scattered and momentary flairs—the Google-bus blockades, protests against Uber’s presence in Oakland, and so on.

There has also been populist backlash against the tech industry for its lack of accountability.

Many see this as the struggle between the new, modern America versus the old, backward America. Silicon Valley vs. Ohio Valley. However, that scenario will change soon. For worse, much worse.

An already highly area of tension between the long-term residents and new tech wave is over the issue of rent control. Voters in Mountain View (Google’s headquarters) and Richmond approved rent- and eviction-control measures in November. Santa Rosa will vote in June. San Jose’s City Council voted last month to implement eviction controls, and Pacifica’s council approved a temporary rent- and eviction-control ordinance that will take effect Wednesday.

Rent control may necessitate higher taxes, which would mean policy responses inimical to the tech interests: “When the government is short of revenue, they will look at places that have a lot of revenue. We know where a lot of that is right now,” the report notes.

Round two

The disconnect between an S&P 500 led by technology and the global economy “is ultimately unsustainable,” warns the report. Occupy Silicon Valley may not be far away.

Whether the protests lead to useful policy prescriptions is an entirely different question.

#SiliconValley

Barnil is a Staff Writer at The American Genius. With a Master's Degree in International Relations, Barnil is a Research Assistant at UT, Austin. When he hikes, he falls. When he swims, he sinks. When he drives, others honk. But when he writes, people read.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Bryan See

    June 23, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    I think these protests will be made by Donald Trump supporters, the chunk of Americans that has been whipped into frenzy by Brexit, Trump’s appeal to reduced circumstances and a ripple effect made by a clear signal sent by the absurd episodes on Russia’s Phobos-Grunt mission and Russavia from 2012 to 2015. They will surely use violence at anyone who’s making science and tech progress, in addition to holding placards saying messages ranging from “computers complicated the world very greatly” to “digital is no good” to simply “that’s it for science and tech” (which means “it’s over for [and the end of] science and tech”). Their clear targets are Silicon Valley, as discussed in this article, and other places like it, be it General Dynamics, the contractor responsible for the Navy EMALS system which drew the angers of Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    These neo-Luddites, or modern-day Luddites will surely band together to express their anger and unleash their violence, helping to save Putin; it is only a matter of time before this anti-tech/anti-science backlash goes global. It is interesting to note that Putin has no idea about Silicon Valley, but its destruction, through Occupy Silicon Valley, could benefit him because not only he’s a technophobe, just like Trump, he wanted to rule the world with money as predicted by right-wing and reactionary and xenophobic Bulgarian mystic Baba Vanga, who predicted about Russia and Putin himself that when the permafrost thaws and floods come, nothing will survive on Earth but Russia.

    “Everything will melt away like ice yet the glories of Vladimir, the glory of Russia, are the only things that will remain. Russia will not only survive, it will dominate the world.”

    Also, during her meeting with writer Valentin Sidorov, Vanga said: “All will thaw, as if ice, only one remain untouched – Vladimir’s glory, glory of Russia. Too much it is brought in a victim. Nobody can stop Russia. All will be removed by her from the way and not only will be kept, but also becomes the lord of the world.”

    Right-wing religious fanatic Edgar Cayce had a similar message related by rabid racist Vanga and he mentioned the possibility of third world war resulting in troubles related to Egypt, Turkey, Syria and Libya.

    “In Russia there comes the hope of the world, not as that sometimes termed of the communistic, or Bolshevik, no; but freedom, freedom! That each man will live for his fellow man! The principle has been born. It will take years for it to be crystallised, but out of Russia comes again the hope of the world.”
    (Edgar Cayce, 1944, No. 3976-29)

    Cayce said that these events could be averted if humanity changed its behavior – but in the 70 years since his prediction, mankind has not changed at all. Thus, World War III is on the way, and it may signal the end of life on earth.

    Cayce foresaw the third world war even before the end of the second world war. He spoke of strife arising near the Davis Straits, and in Libya, and in Egypt, in Ankara, and in Syria; through the straits around those areas above Australia, in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf.

    Horacio Villegas foresaw such conflict. He reportedly told the Daily Star: “The main message that people need to know to be prepared is that between May 13th and October 13, 2017, this war will occur and be over with much devastation, shock and death!”

    All of these, coupled with anti-research and anti-science budget cuts, and propaganda from Trump and Putin, as well as a third World War, will likely stop humankind from achieving milestones, like landing an astronaut on Mars. Therefore, the phrase “Everything will melt away like ice” is something that is warned about by many, including SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, filmmaker Michael Moore and Wikipedia user BatteryIncluded.

    In 2014, asked in an interview whether he would visit Mars in his lifetime, Musk said “I hope so, if I don’t get assassinated by like, some Russian assassin, which is not out of the question. They’ve done that before!”

    In his GQ interview in the following year, he noted there is a window of opportunity when the technology necessary to send astronauts to Mars becomes available; however, it could rapidly be shut down because of religious extremism, anti-technology movements or the eruption of a third World War.

    He commented, “I don’t think we can discount the possibility of a third World War. You know, in 1912 they were proclaiming a new age of peace and prosperity, saying that it was a golden age, war was over. And then you had World War I followed by World War II followed by the Cold War. So I think we need to acknowledge that there’s certainly a possibility of a third World War, and if that does occur it could be far worse than anything that’s happened before. Let’s say nuclear weapons are used. I mean, there could be a very powerful social movement that’s anti-technology. There’s also growth in religious extremism. Like, I mean, does ISIS grow…?”

    Musk sees the colonization of Mars as a moral duty to ensure the survival of mankind the same way a USB drive is meant to preserve data in case a computer crashes. A Martian colony could guarantee humanity survives in the event of a debacle that destroys life on Earth. “You back up your hard drive. Maybe we should back up life, too?” he asked.

    Michael Moore condemned, “Trump just committed a crime against humanity. This admitted predator has now expanded his predatory acts to the entire planet. USA to Earth: F— YOU. America First! Earth Last! My name is Michael Moore. I am an American. And I live in a Rogue State.”

    He also stated, “Historians in the near future (because that may be the only future we have) will mark today, March 28, 2017, as the day the extinction of human life on earth began, thanks 2 Donald Trump.”

    BatteryIncluded once said, “Now that Trump has been elected, it doesn’t much matter … human civilization on this planet is soon over.”

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Business News

Leadership versus management: What’s the difference?

(Business News) The two terms, leadership and management, are often used interchangeably, but there are substantial differences; let’s explore them.

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leadership Startups meeting led by Black woman.

Some people use the terms “leader” and “manager” interchangeably, and while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, there is still a debate regarding their similarities or differences.

Is it merely a matter of preference, or are there cut and dry differences that define each term?

Ronald E. Riggio, professor of leadership and organizational psychology at Claremont McKenna College, described what he felt to be the difference between the terms, noting the commonality in the distinction of “leadership” versus “management” was that leaders tend to engage in the “higher” functions of running an organization, while managers handle the more mundane tasks.

However, Riggio believes it is only a matter of semantics because successful and effective leaders and managers must do the same things. They must set the standard for followers and the organization, be willing to motivate and encourage, develop good working relationships with followers, be a positive role model, and motivate their team to achieve goals.

He states that there is a history explaining the difference between the two terms: business schools and “management” departments adopted the term “manager” because the prevailing view was that managers were in charge.

They were still seen as “professional workers with critical roles and responsibilities to help the organization succeed, but leadership was mostly not in the everyday vocabulary of management scholars.”

Leadership on the other hand, derived from organizational psychologists and sociologists who were interested in the various roles across all types of groups.

So, “leader” became the term to define someone who played a key role in “group decision making and setting direction and tone for the group. For psychologists, manager was a profession, not a key role in a group.”

When their research began to merge with business school settings, they brought the term “leadership” with them, but the terms continued to be used to mean different things.

The short answer, according to Riggio is no, not really; simply because leaders and managers need the same skills to be productive and respected.

This editorial was first published here in June of 2014.

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Business News

Does Raising Cane’s have the secret to combatting restaurant labor shortages?

(NEWS) Fried Chicken Franchise, Raising Cane’s, has turned to an unusual source of front-line employees during the labor shortage- Their executives!

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White paper sign with black text reading "Help Wanted."

I wouldn’t call myself a fried chicken aficionado or anything, but since chains are designed to blow up everywhere, I have experienced Raising Cane’s.

I’m pretty sure the Cane’s sauce is just barbecue mixed with ranch, but hey, when you’ve got a good idea, keep with it.

In the further pursuit of good ideas, the company has resorted to an intriguing method of boosting staff in a world where the lowest paid among us are still steadily dying of Covid, and/or choosing to peace out of jobs that they don’t find worth the infection risk.

Via Nation Restaurant News: “This is obviously a very tough time, so it was a joint idea of everybody volunteering together to go out there and be recruiters, fry cooks and cashiers —whatever it takes,” said AJ Kumaran, co-CEO and chief operating officer for the Baton Rouge, La.-based quick-service company, from a restaurant in Las Vegas, where he had deployed himself.”

The goal of this volunteer mission, which involves 250 of the 500 executives deployed working directly in service roles, is to bolster locations until 10,000 new hires can be made in both existing locations and locations planned to open.

It’s obvious that this is a bandaid move – execs exist for good reason, and in terms of sheer numbers (not to mention location and salary changes), this is hardly tenable long-term. But I can say this as someone who’s gone from retail to office, and back (and then forth…and then back again) several times – if this doesn’t keep everyone at the corporate level humble, and much more mindful of employees’ needs, nothing will.

The fast-food world is notorious for wonky schedules only going up a day before the week begins, broken promises on hours (both over and under), horrendous pay, and little to no defense of employee dignity in the face of customers with rank dispositions. With the wave of strikes (Nabisco, John Deere, IATSE) making the news, and lack of hazard pay/brutal physical attacks over mask mandates still very fresh in workers’ minds, smart companies are hipping themselves to the fact that “low level” employee acquisition and retention needs to be much more than the ‘work here or starve’ tactics that have served since the beginning of decades of wage stagnation. The best way for that fact to stay front-of-mind is to go out and live the truths behind it.

In Raising Cane’s case, the company also announced that they’re upping wages at all locations — to the tune of an actually not totally insulting $2 per hour, resulting in a starting wage of $15 and a managerial wage of $18.

Ideally, paying people more to cook, clean, and customer service all in one job will actually attract people back to fast food work. Seriously consider the fact that the people cleaning fast-food toilets are the same people making the food that goes into your mouth. The additional fact is that it’s better for everyone’s health when they’re paid enough to care about what they’re doing and stay healthy themselves.

Of course, one does also need to consider how much inflation has affected the price of goods and housing since the ‘fight for $15’ began almost a decade ago in 2012. Now, raising wages closer to the end point of multiple goods still might not be enough!

AJ Kumaran continued, “The chicken prices are through the roof. Logistics are very hard. Shipping is difficult. Simple things cups and paper napkins — everything is in shortage right now. Some are overseas suppliers and others domestic suppliers. Just in poultry alone, we have taken significant inflation.”

That’s global disruption for ya.

It remains to be seen whether this plucky move can save Raising Cane’s dark meat, but I’m very pro regardless. Send more top-earning employees into the trenches! No more executives with 0 knowledge of how the sausage sandwich gets made.

No more leading from behind.

Why not? What are ya? Chicken?

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Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Woman working in office with remote team

Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

This story was first published in November 2020.

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