Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Of Course the Techs Oppose Trump

So Uber backed away from collaborating with President Trump. So the tech giants are organizing against President Trump's immigration ban.

Of course they are. Uber's drivers, I have noticed, are predominantly immigrant. Which makes sense, since driving is a basic skill that doesn't require extended education and contacts, and Uber drivers really don't make that much money. The tech giants have imported tons of educated immigrants, via the H1B program, and now find themselves tied to the mast of unlimited immigration.

But I'd say that taking political sides is poison for capitalists and corporations. Corporations are a target for everyone in the political arena, and the simple reason is money.

Apple recently announced its quarterly earnings, and the Drudge Report symbolized the news with Apple's current cash hoard: $264,000,000,000. Talk about having a target on your back.

The fact of life for businesses and corporations is that they are where the money is. It is they that convert inventions into products and hunches into profits. It is they that function as the goverment's tax collector. And that means that while corporations may not be interested in politics, politics is interested in them. So Marx was interested in capitalists in 1850, and anti-trust politicians like Teddy Roosevelt at the turn of the 20th century. Leftist politicians were interested in nationalizing corporations in the first half of the 20th century, and now social justice warriors are interested in "converging" corporations towards left-wing politics in the 21st century.

Today corporations are caught in the undertow between their need to truckle to the educated ruling class of the 20th century, and deal with the rising movement of populism that pushed Brexit and elected Donald Trump and is behind the rise of nationalism in Europe. Right now they are siding with the globalists. But I wonder how that will work out in the coming decade.

My daughter in Paris, who is just finishing up a Masters degree in international affairs, has introduced me to the cliodynamic theories of Peter Turchin and his books such as Ages of Discord: A Structural-Demographic Analysis of American History. It may all be a bit "overdetermined," but hear this.

Back in the 1830s the "political stress index" started increasing. We may take the political stress index as a measure of partisanship. This index went straight up until the Civil War broke out in 1861. The point is that, starting with the election of Andrew Jackson as president, a profound divide appeared in US politics, between the order developed by Jefferson and Madison in the early 19th century and the "backwoodsmen" that supported Andrew Jackson.

In our own time a similar increase in political stress has developed, starting in 1980 with the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency, and getting rapidly worse in the last ten years. You can see what is happening. We are getting a movement that is dissenting from the post New Deal consensus, and the existing establishment is doing all it can to defuse and discredit the movement of rejection. Everyone is getting more and more angry, as nobody is willing to negotiate a common ground between the big-state establishment and the populist dissenters.

For instance: abortion. Could there not be a common ground that concedes a right of abortion in the first trimester, but not thereafter? Right now, it seems that pro-lifers insist of the total sanctity of life from conception and pro-choicers insist on the right to abort right up until (and sometimes after) actual birth.

Or immigration. Can we not agree that illegal or undocumented immigration is not to be endured, even while we accept a reasonable rate of immigration that is slow enough to allow assimilation of immigrants and avoid the establishment of oppositional enclaves that that might develop into incubators of rebellion. And is it not curious that, per Turchin p. 65, that real wages in the United States increased rapidly in the period 1920 to 1970 when immigration was restricted, and that real wages have stagnated since 1973, just after the Immigration Act of 1965 that started the current immigration surge?

So now we have the immigrant-heavy tech firms advocating against an immigration slowdown while the white working class of the Rust Belt wants to build the wall. How surprising is that?

In my view the partisan turmoil of the ante-bellum era issues from the same source as the current partisan divide. A ruling class gets to set the rules and like God, looks out over its creation and decides that it is good.

But in fact the programs and favors that the ruling class has handed out to its supporters have visited injustice to many others, and it may take a while before the sufferers identify their grievances and decide to do something about it. Facing a movement of rejection the ruling class, smug in the certainty that it is bending the arc of history towards justice, becomes angry and insulted when the movement of rejection damns the rulers' glorious work to hell and back again.

By the time that the movement of rejection has arisen and found leaders and got a leader elected to power, chances are that There is No More Money. As in the French Revolution, and as right now when the Federal Debt is up at 100 percent of GDP.

That makes it very difficult to square the circle and continue the benefits of the supporters of the Old Regime while responding to the demands of the rising movement of rejection.

It makes complete sense that the supporters of the Democratic Party are outraged by the election of Donald Trump. Why, if that guy gets his way he will destroy all the social change and benefits of the last century! Meanwhile the supporters of Donald Trump can see nothing but injustice from a ruling class that just assumes that whatever it does is good and just, and sneers at the troubles of the deplorables.

President Trump tells us that he is a great dealmaker and that he will make great deals for us.

But what if the two sides in America don't want a deal? What if they insist that their opponents are thoroughly defeated first?

That is why I don't think it is a good idea for corporations to take sides in the political wars. It is just not good business to paint a target on your back.

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