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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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tax bill silicon

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

You should apply to be on a board – why and how

(BUSINESS NEWS) What do you need to think about and explore if you want to apply for a Board of Directors? Here’s a quick rundown of what, why, and when.

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board of directors

What?
What does a Board of Directors do? Investopedia explains “A board of directors (B of D) is an elected group of individuals that represent shareholders. The board is a governing body that typically meets at regular intervals to set policies for corporate management and oversight. Every public company must have a board of directors. Some private and nonprofit organizations also have a board of directors.”

Why?
It is time to have a diverse representation of thoughts, values and insights from intelligently minded people that can give you the intel you need to move forward – as they don’t have quite the same vested interests as you.

We have become the nation that works like a machine. Day in and day out we are consumed by our work (and have easy access to it with our smartphones). We do volunteer and participate in extra-curricular activities, but it’s possible that many of us have never understood or considered joining a Board of Directors. There’s a new wave of Gen Xers and Millennials that have plenty of years of life and work experience + insights that this might be the time to resurrect (or invigorate) interest.

Harvard Business Review shared a great article about identifying the FIVE key areas you would want to consider growing your knowledge if you want to join a board:

1. Financial – You need to be able to speak in numbers.
2. Strategic – You want to be able to speak to how to be strategic even if you know the numbers.
3. Relational – This is where communication is key – understanding what you want to share with others and what they are sharing with you. This is very different than being on the Operational side of things.
4. Role – You must be able to be clear and add value in your time allotted – and know where you especially add value from your skills, experiences and strengths.
5. Cultural – You must contribute the feeling that Executives can come forward to seek advice even if things aren’t going well and create that culture of collaboration.

As Charlotte Valeur, a Danish-born former investment banker who has chaired three international companies and now leads the UK’s Institute of Directors, says, “We need to help new participants from under-represented groups to develop the confidence of working on boards and to come to know that” – while boardroom capital does take effort to build – “this is not rocket science.

When?
NOW! The time is now for all of us to get involved in helping to create a brighter future for organizations and businesses that we care about (including if they are our own business – you may want to create a Board of Directors).

The Harvard Business Review gave great explanations of the need to diversify those that have been on the Boards to continue to strive to better represent our population as a whole. Are you ready to take on this challenge? We need you.

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Business News

Everyone should have an interview escape plan

(BUSINESS NEWS) A job interview should be a place to ask about qualifications but sometimes things can go south – here’s how to escape when they do.

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interview from hell

“So, why did you move from Utah to Austin?” the interviewer asked over the phone.

The question felt a little out of place in the job interview, but I gave my standard answer about wanting a fresh scene. I’d just graduated college and was looking to break into the Austin market. But the interviewer wasn’t done.

“But why Austin?” he insisted, “There can’t be that many Mormons here.”

My stomach curled. This was a job interview – I’d expected to discuss my qualifications for the position and express my interest in the company. Instead, I began to answer more and more invasive questions about my personal life and religion. The whole ordeal left me very uncomfortable, but because I was young and desperate, I put up with it. In fact, I even went back for a second interview!

At the time, I thought I had to put up with that sort of treatment. Only recently have I realized that the interview was extremely unprofessional and it wasn’t something I should have felt obligated to endure.

And I’m not the only one with a bad interview story. Slate ran an article sharing others’ terrible experiences, which ranged from having their purse inspected to being trapped in a 45 minute presentation! No doubt, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mistreatment by potential employers.

So, why do we put up with it?

Well, sometimes people just don’t know better. Maybe, like I was, they’re young or inexperienced. In these cases, these sorts of situations seem like they could just be the norm. There’s also the obvious power dynamic: you might need a job, but the potential employers probably don’t need you.

While there might be times you have to grit your teeth and bear it, it’s also worth remembering that a bad interview scenario often means bad working conditions later on down the line. After all, if your employers don’t respect you during the interview stage, it’s likely the disrespect will continue when you’re hired.

Once you’ve identified an interview is bad news, though, how do you walk out? Politely. As tempting as it is to make a scene, you probably don’t want to go burning bridges. Instead, excuse yourself by thanking your interviewers, wishing them well and asserting that you have realized the business wouldn’t be a good fit.

Your time, as well as your comfort, are important! If your gut is telling you something is wrong, it probably is. It isn’t easy, but if a job interview is crossing the line, you’re well within your rights to leave. Better to cut your losses early.

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Business News

Australia vs Facebook: A conflict of news distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Following a contentious battle for news aggregation, Australia works to find agreement with Facebook.

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News open on laptop, which Australia argues Facebook is taking away from.

Australia has been locked in a legal war against technology giants Google and Facebook with regard to how news content can be consumed by either entity’s platforms.

At its core, the law states that news content being posted on social media is – in effect – stealing away the ability for news outlets to monetize their delivery and aggregate systems. A news organization may see their content shared on Facebook, which means users no longer have to visit their site to access that information. This harms the ability for news production companies – especially smaller ones – from being able to maintain revenue and profit, while also giving power to corporations such as Facebook by allowing them to capitalize on their substantial infrastructure.

This is a complex subject that can be viewed from a number of angles, but it essentially asks the question of who should be in control of information on a potentially global scale, and how the ability to share such data should be handled when it passes through a variety of mediums and avenues. Put shortly: Australia thinks royalties should be paid to those who supply the news.

Australia has maintained that under the proposed laws, corporations must reach content distribution deals in order to allow news to be spread through – as one example – posts on Facebook. In retaliation, Facebook completely removed the ability for users to post news articles and stories. This in turn led to a proliferation of false and misleading information to fill the void, magnifying the considerable confusion that Australian citizens were confronted with once the change had been made.

“In just a few days, we saw the damage that taking news out can cause,” said Sree Sreenivasan, a professor at the Stony Brook School of Communication and Journalism. “Misinformation and disinformation, already a problem on the platform, rushed to fill the vacuum.”

Facebook’s stance is that it provides value to the publishers because shared news content will drive users to their sites, thereby allowing them to provide advertising and thus leading to revenue.

Australia has been working on this bill since last year, and has said that it is meant to equalize the potential imbalance of content and who can display and benefit from it. This is meant to try and create conditions between publishers and the large technology platforms so that there is a clearer understanding of how payment should be done in exchange for news and information.

Google was initially defiant (threatening to go as far as to shut off their service entirely), but began to make deals recently in order to restore its own access. Facebook has been the strongest holdout, and has shown that it can leverage its considerable audience and reach to force a more amenable deal. Australia has since provided some amendments to give Facebook time to seek similar deals obtained by Google.

One large portion of the law is that Australia is reserving the right to allow final arbitration, which it says would allow a mediator to set prices if no deal could be reached. This might be considered the strongest piece of the law, as it means that Facebook cannot freely exercise its considerable weight with impunity. Facebook’s position is that this allows government interference between private companies.

In the last week – with the new agreements on the table – it’s difficult to say who blinked first. There is also the question of how this might have a ripple effect through the tech industry and between governments who might try to follow suit.

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