Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Silicon Valley’s Politics: Liberal, With One Big Exception

quote [ A new Stanford study found that the nation’s tech elite are extremely liberal on most issues — except when it comes to regulation. ]

The study: Wealthy Elites’ Policy Preferences and Economic Inequality: The Case of Technology Entrepreneurs

Hillary Clinton's book has a clear message: don't blame me


Silicon Valley’s Politics: Liberal, With One Big Exception

Silicon Valley has long preferred to remain aloof from national politics, but the Trump era has altered that stance.

In recent months, tech luminaries have repeatedly clashed with the president, criticizing his executive order on Muslim immigration, his ban on transgender troops, his “many sides” equivocation on white supremacists and his Tuesday announcement that he was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which lets young undocumented immigrants remain in the country.

A politically awakened Silicon Valley, buttressed by the tech industry’s growing economic power, could potentially alter politics long after President Trump has left the scene. But if the tech industry becomes a political force, what sort of policies will it push?

A new survey by political scientists at Stanford University suggests a mostly straightforward answer — with one glaring twist. The study is the first comprehensive look at the political attitudes of wealthy technologists, whose views have long been misunderstood to the point of caricature by many outside the industry. The findings of the study, which is currently under peer review, were presented last week to the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association.

The survey suggests a novel but paradoxical vision of the future of American politics: Technologists could help push lawmakers, especially Democrats, further to the left on many social and economic issues. But they may also undermine the influence of some of the Democrats’ most stalwart supporters, including labor unions. And they may strive to push Democrats away from regulation on business — including the growing calls for greater rules around the tech industry.

Over all, the study showed that tech entrepreneurs are very liberal — among some of the most left-leaning Democrats you can find. They are overwhelmingly in favor of economic policies that redistribute wealth, including higher taxes on rich people and lots of social services for the poor, including universal health care. Their outlook is cosmopolitan and globalist — they support free trade and more open immigration, and they score low on measures of “racial resentment.”

On most culture-war issues, they are unrepentantly liberal. They oppose restrictions on abortion, favor gay rights, support gun control and oppose the death penalty.

Now for the twist. The study found one area where tech entrepreneurs strongly deviate from Democratic orthodoxy and are closer to most Republicans: They are deeply suspicious of the government’s efforts to regulate business, especially when it comes to labor. They said that it was too difficult for companies to fire people, and that the government should make it easier to do so. They also hope to see the influence of both private and public-sector unions decline.

“You would think that people with enough money to influence the political system would obviously use that influence to increase social and economic inequality in ways that benefit them,” said David Broockman, an assistant professor of political economy at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and a co-author of the study.

“What’s surprising to us,” he continued, “is that you could find this group that says, ‘Actually, our taxes should go up and more money should go to things like universal health care, or that we should do more to protect the environment’ — but at the same time believes that regulations and labor unions are a problem.”

Dr. Broockman conducted the study with Neil Malhotra, a political scientist at Stanford, and Greg F. Ferenstein, a journalist who worked on an initial version of the survey in 2015.

The researchers deliberately chose to examine what they call the tech industry’s “elites” — not rank-and-file workers, but the millionaire and billionaire founders and executives who are best positioned to influence politics. The study is based on a detailed survey of more than 600 such elites around the country (only about a third are in the Bay Area) conducted in February. The researchers also surveyed Republican and Democratic donors and voters for comparisons.

The researchers were interested in the tech elite because the politics of Silicon Valley have always been something of a mystery. Many of Silicon Valley’s pioneers initially thought of themselves more as freewheeling revolutionaries than as capitalists bent on global economic domination. They were hippies and draft resisters, as enthusiastic about LSD as about microprocessors, and they brought to their work the tenets of the counterculture.

But by the 1990s, with the advent of the World Wide Web and the beginning of the tech industry’s march to the apex of the world’s economy, another Silicon Valley political narrative took root: techies as unapologetic libertarians, for whom the best government is a nearly nonexistent one. You can see this strain in “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” the tech activist John Perry Barlow’s warning that the world’s governments enjoyed “no sovereignty” over the internet.

The idea that techies favor an Ayn Randian worldview hardened into a trope last year when the investor Peter Thiel, one of Silicon Valley’s few actual libertarians, parted with most others in tech to back Mr. Trump.

The Stanford study thoroughly debunks the idea that tech is lousy with libertarians. The researchers asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with this statement: “I would like to live in a society where government does nothing except provide national defense and police protection, so that people could be left alone to earn whatever they could.”

Fewer than a quarter of the tech elite agreed with that view. Democrats were almost twice as likely to agree, and Republicans agreed by huge margins.

But if they’re not libertarians, what accounts for techies’ opposition to regulation? One idea might be that it’s driven by self-interest. A large fraction said they opposed regulating car-sharing services as if they were taxis, for instance; to the extent that the tech elite have a lot of money riding on the sharing economy, they may worry that regulation of such companies could hurt their wallets.

Yet the survey also shows that tech elites are generally willing to support other policies that go against their interest. Huge majorities supported increasing spending on programs that only benefit the poorest Americans, as well as increasing taxes on people who earn more than $250,000 per year.

To tease out whether self-interest was at play in their views on regulation, surveyors asked a question about Uber’s surge-pricing policy, which increases prices during periods of peak demand. But the researchers disguised it with a business unrelated to tech: “On a holiday, when there is a great demand for flowers, sellers usually increase their prices. Do you think it is fair for them to raise their prices like this?”

A majority of Democrats and Republicans said it would be unfair for a florist to do that. But 96 percent of the tech elite thought it would be fair.

“My guess is there’s an underlying principle to their views,” Dr. Broockman said. “They see an entrepreneur trying to do what they want in the marketplace, and they see nothing unfair about that.”

The tech elite’s mix of views is unique; no other group in the survey favored both greater wealth redistribution and laxer regulation. It is genuinely difficult to think of any politician who aligns with that mix.

So I called up Ro Khanna, a Democratic congressman elected to represent a large swath of Silicon Valley last year. Like his constituents, Mr. Khanna supports redistributive economic policies. He’s working on a bill that calls for a $1 trillion expansion of the earned-income tax credit, and he supports opening up Medicare for anyone who wants it.

But Mr. Khanna is no opponent of regulation. He has favored greater enforcement of antitrust laws, and recently said he was “deeply worried” about Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods. When I asked him about the survey’s findings on techie views of labor unions, he was adamant that he didn’t share them.

“I’ve always been a very strong supporter of labor,” he said.

But the Stanford researchers suggest that over time, given technologists’ money and influence over media, they may have the power to subtly alter Democratic lawmakers’ views. Indeed, that may already be happening — already, the researchers said, the Democratic Party looks far less interested in curbing the tech industry’s reach than it once did.

Consider that President Bill Clinton’s Department of Justice waged a major war against Microsoft’s market power. Just a decade later, the next Democratic president, Barack Obama, took little interest in stemming tech giants’ growing clout.

“There’s one obvious difference between those time periods,” Dr. Malhotra said. “That difference is the rising influence of the technology industry in politics.”
[SFW] [politics] [+3]
[by raphael_the_turtle@8:16pmGMT]


steele said[1] @ 9:03pm GMT on 12th Sep [Score:3 Funsightful]
Well, yeah. We've been discussing this for almost two years now.

Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier
lilmookieesquire said @ 9:04pm GMT on 12th Sep
You monster.
steele said @ 9:05pm GMT on 12th Sep
I thought of using the Nic Cage meme again, but I thought that might be overdoing it. :D
lilmookieesquire said @ 9:08pm GMT on 12th Sep
*trendy meme*
norok said[1] @ 8:51pm GMT on 12th Sep [Score:1 Sad]
The closest label for Silicon Valley politics is Libertarian and I think that their specific flavor will soon become the new Right in the US. The social issues are already along the Overton window to policy and acceptance so the real divide is going to be economics. Socialism, being the new Left, is all about regulation and redistribution which no successful business wants any part of.
Menchi said @ 11:22pm GMT on 12th Sep [Score:2 Funny]
Funny, I thought the entire point of a successful business was (wealth) redistribution.
norok said @ 1:07am GMT on 13th Sep
To those that directly contribute to it's generation.
raphael_the_turtle said @ 2:46am GMT on 13th Sep
You're for the Estate Tax? Excellent.
norok said @ 2:12pm GMT on 13th Sep
Nope. You keep what you kill and feed your family.
arrowhen said @ 11:27pm GMT on 13th Sep
And then you die of an infected cut from an unfortunate flint knapping mishap before you ever get to finish your cave painting
milkman666 said @ 8:24pm GMT on 13th Sep
So taxes right, because its those public goods that would not be done by private industries that allow for a successful business. I mean you can look in places like India where private investment in some industries is stifled from lack of infrastructure. Expensive to open up a factory when you don't have access to roads, power, clean water, or a usefull workforce already present. Building, buying, and importing all of that is not just costly but gets in the way of proper commerce. Although hank and frank can both grow apples, hank does it better and frank grows great dank weed so they profit by specializing and trading.
lilmookieesquire said @ 8:57pm GMT on 12th Sep
As much as I absolutely hate this idea I do not think you're wrong. I think Silicon Valley is already becoming the New Left Right.

The fact is that many of the liberals moved out while many of the software engineers that came in, are not, in fact, really liberal.

Interesting times.
lilmookieesquire said @ 9:04pm GMT on 12th Sep
It's an interesting mirroring of white flight from CA turning surrounding states red.

It seems like gentrification of California (for lack of a better word) might turn those states heavily liberal again.
norok said[1] @ 9:17pm GMT on 12th Sep
The political spectrum has shifted decidedly, not necessarily Left/Right, but the debates have changed.

A big difference is that these people have jobs and pay (lots of) taxes. That tends to change people from their juvenile entitlement and idealism to real world practicality.
raphael_the_turtle said @ 9:25pm GMT on 12th Sep [Score:5 Insightful]
How convenient then that they can go from being entitled at a juvenile level where their taxes go towards their needs to a corporate level where other people's taxes go towards their wants.
lilmookieesquire said @ 9:29pm GMT on 12th Sep
That's is something never addressed. Companies like google aren't always living up to their social contracts- investing in infrastructure and education etc.
raphael_the_turtle said @ 9:31pm GMT on 12th Sep
Aren't always is rather polite when it's more often not. Google especially.
lilmookieesquire said @ 11:13pm GMT on 12th Sep [Score:1 Funsightful]
I'm very polite.
blacksun said @ 11:27pm GMT on 12th Sep
Show me a young Conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains.

Sadly, apparently having so-called "brains" means sacrificing heart.
steele said[1] @ 11:53pm GMT on 12th Sep
The only people I ever hear saying that with any sort of seriousness are old conservatives... in between their numerous Doctor appointments that are conveniently covered by medicare. ;)
3333 said[1] @ 5:33pm GMT on 13th Sep [Score:-2]
filtered comment under your threshold
raphael_the_turtle said @ 6:11pm GMT on 13th Sep [Score:0 Sad]
You don't even live in the US do you? Medicare isn't paid for by old conservatives, it's paid for by the current generation, just like Social Security. The joke is that these poor suckers vote for "conservative politicians" that are dismantling the programs these people rely on. The medical costs of a retiree far outnumbers anything they've paid towards the program in their lifetime.
3333 said[1] @ 9:28pm GMT on 13th Sep [Score:-1 Troll]
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raphael_the_turtle said @ 1:21am GMT on 14th Sep [Score:-1]
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3333 said[1] @ 1:28am GMT on 14th Sep [Score:-1]
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raphael_the_turtle said @ 1:34am GMT on 14th Sep [Score:-1]
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lilmookieesquire said @ 9:27pm GMT on 12th Sep
I just think it's republicans gaining civilized social values. It's hard to hold classic republican social values when your environment and wealth come from globalization and diversity.

European social values, to me, seem much more matured than most places in the United States.

There's a reason San Francisco is called the most European city. Silicon Valley's rise to power was built largely upon the cultural values of the area. It breeds innovation and encourages creativity.

But the issue is now people coming out to California not for the lifestyle, but for the money.

That is your New Right.
steele said @ 9:42pm GMT on 12th Sep
A lot of the old hackers that now constitute the new guard grew up in an environment where they were the government's villians. This lead to a pretty heavy anti-government stance, which is totally understandable, but it became like the Republican's anti-government stance; We're not going to do anything to make it better for the people, we're just going to complain while making it worse. The irony of course being that computers break all the molds regarding Intellectual Property and scarcity. Every advance since the creation of computers have been a war on American economic models with the older benefactors doing everything they can to shore up their security instead of letting American society change. Napster and the RIAA being the obvious go to, but it's happening from pharma to manufacturing. Silicon Valley's version of shoring up defense is authoritarionism in the form of data control, see Who Owns the Future. ;)
norok said @ 9:33pm GMT on 12th Sep [Score:-1 Boring]
filtered comment under your threshold
lilmookieesquire said @ 11:18pm GMT on 12th Sep [Score:-1]
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norok said @ 1:04am GMT on 13th Sep [Score:0 Original]
I'm not a big fan of the word 'diversity' and what it means in our current vernacular. It's thrown around as an unchallenged moral good without justification. As in, just because you're from somewhere that the people don't speak English you automatically are granted favored status.

Diversity of ideas is good. Diversity of opinion is good. Diversity of culture... is not necessarily good. Just because you like the food from a certain region doesn't mean its OK to accept their practice of genital mutilation, female enslavement, or totalitarian theocracy.

Cultures where education, hard work, and values compatible to liberal democracy are good for us. There are certain place in the world where that is just not the case.
cb361 said @ 7:43am GMT on 13th Sep
Any other words you're not a big fan of? I assume the list doesn't include "Gerrymander".
norok said @ 8:50am GMT on 13th Sep
I don't keep a list handy.
lilmookieesquire said @ 2:07am GMT on 14th Sep
I don't disagree with that, but there are important caveats, in that I don't think there is a need to adopt every aspect of a culture and that logic isn't far from Manifest Destiny or White Man's Budren.
midden said @ 2:48am GMT on 13th Sep [Score:0 Interesting]
I think the problem is in your idea that, "these companies make more than enough money." A close relative of mine is extremely nouveau riche, and he has admitted to me that once he became wealthy beyond any conceivable need, he became paranoid of losing it, and the best way for him to insure against losing it is to have even more.
cb361 said @ 7:59am GMT on 13th Sep
Interesting. And leaves me feeling dirty.
milkman666 said @ 8:38pm GMT on 13th Sep
Older established families have a variation of the concept of Noblesse oblige. Its self preservation. You do well by the system, it behooves you to keep it running. You have to think large and long though. Shit, the ones that have their act together also have the benefit of being under the radar.

Born Rich: Children Of The Insanely Wealthy
Bruceski said @ 8:22pm GMT on 12th Sep
No surprise there, I would expect that views on regulation generally come down to whether it's getting in your way or saving your ass.
raphael_the_turtle said @ 8:53pm GMT on 12th Sep [Score:3 Underrated]
You'd think not, but apparently a number of people believe that Silicon Valley's socially left views mean they're going to be our saviour from the right. That's not just a misinformed view, but a dangerous one.
norok said @ 8:48pm GMT on 12th Sep
+1 Agree
Bruceski said @ 9:47pm GMT on 12th Sep [Score:1 Funny]
Though given your other comments I think we would disagree on the value of the "saving your ass" group.
norok said @ 1:06am GMT on 13th Sep
I don't think we're all that far apart. I think social safety nets are good but don't believe you deserve a salary for the job of breathing.
raphael_the_turtle said @ 2:45am GMT on 13th Sep
So you're for medicare for all, excellent!
norok said @ 2:12pm GMT on 13th Sep
I enjoy having discussions and coming to agreement on issues. I'm pretty centrist on government's role in certain areas.

What I don't particularly get much out of is these trites lifted from the Bernie campaign that pretend to seek common ground but are really just tricks to draw normies to warmth for the newly rebranded Communism.
raphael_the_turtle said @ 4:25pm GMT on 13th Sep
Oh, I'm not looking for common ground. Just establishing the boundaries of your hypocrisy and ignorance. Entitlements for rich people based on their family's wealth, but not for poor people who that wealth is dependent on. Which makes your mention of cryptocurrencies (that we just had a thread on last month) in another thread hilarious. Don't wory if you don't grasp the link, I'm not expecting you to. You've brought up the Overton window a number of times now, but seem rather ignorant of how it's shifted over the years, or you're just a liar. Haven't decided on that yet. Oh, and you need trigger warnings for anything that helps people, because of communism.

Tell me something, not even a month ago steele posted a series of videos on how MIT is building up the deployment plan of what is essentially replicator technology. How is your 'fuck poor people' ideology going to hold up when anyone can have almost anything they could ever want for practically free? Are you going to join up with the NeoTeaParty (sponsored by Walmart!) on the Washington Mall demanding DRM to keep everyone but the rich poor? What will your sign say? Material Replication is Communism? Keep your government hands off my raw material stamps? No Scarcity, No Peace?
norok said @ 7:57pm GMT on 13th Sep [Score:-1 Boring]
filtered comment under your threshold
raphael_the_turtle said @ 1:26am GMT on 14th Sep [Score:-1]
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3333 said @ 9:44pm GMT on 13th Sep [Score:-2 Troll]
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lilmookieesquire said @ 2:55am GMT on 14th Sep
See. I get not liking Chinese and Russian communism but what about communism light (northern Europe, Japan, etc)
steele said @ 2:18pm GMT on 14th Sep
They will all fall to the Red soon enough. We must put our faith into the orange guy selling us out to the former KGB guy. It makes perfect sense!

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