‘The money is just sitting there…doing nothing for society’

Of all the disturbing side-effects of modern monetary policy, the worst might be the way artificially-low interest rates encourage small savers to take outsize risks. Now governments are starting to insist:
How Denmark Is Trying to Get Savers to Invest in Risky Assets
(Bloomberg) – In the country with the longest history of negative interest rates, an experiment is under way. The minister in charge of Denmark’s finance industry wants savers to shift some of the billions of kroner now in bank deposits over to riskier assets.
Danes have about 840 billion kroner ($135 billion) in bank deposits, the latest central bank figures show. Nykredit, the biggest Danish mortgage bank, estimates that number will continue to grow through the end of 2017, marking a record.
But those bank deposits pay no interest. Add the effect of inflation, and savers are actually losing money. For corporate clients, banks charge a fee to hold their deposits, making the loss even bigger.

This post was published at DollarCollapse on NOVEMBER 29, 2017.

How Do We Really Cut the Burden of Government? Cut Spending!

In all of the talk about tax reform, nobody is considering the more fundamental problem facing America – the size and scope of the federal government.
Peter Schiff has described the Republican tax plan as ‘tax cuts masquerading as reform.’ When it’s all said and done, Americans aren’t going to get tax relief. They are going to get big government on a credit card. The balance will come due down the road.
The real issue is the total cost of government. In an article originally published on the Mises Wire, Ryan McMaken argues that if Republicans really want to ease the burden of government, they need to cut spending.
Washington, DC is currently in the middle of the ‘tax reform’ process, which as Jeff Deist, points out, is ‘ a con, and a shell game.’ Tax reform proposals, Deist continues ‘always evade and obscure the real issue, which is the total cost – financial, compliance, and human – taxes impose on society.’
Tax reform is really about which interest groups can modify the current tax code to better suit their own parochial interests. The end result is not a lessened tax burden overall, and thus does nothing to boost real savings, real wealth creation, or real economic growth. It’s just yet another government method of rewarding powerful groups while punishing the less powerful ones.
Not surprisingly then, the news that’s coming out of Washington about tax reform demonstrates that the reforms we’re seeing are only shifting around the tax burden without actually lessening it. The central scam at the heart of the matter is that DC politicians are more or less devoted to ‘revenue neutral’ tax reforms. That means if one group sees a tax cut, then another group will lose a deduction, or even see an actual increase in tax rates.
This is why many middle-class families may be looking at a higher tax bill. David Stockman explains:

This post was published at Schiffgold on NOVEMBER 28, 2017.

Corporations Can’t Oppress Us without the State’s Help

In a piece recently published at The American Conservative entitled ‘Americans, We Aren’t So Tough, and It Shows’ I discussed the way in which a confluence of factors such as the decay of the intermediary institutions of civil society and economic insecurity leads to individuals being vulnerable and anxious. This vulnerability, I argued, leads to political tribes seeking to control the power of the state in order to prevent its massive power from being used against them, with the end result being increasing civil strife over the institutions of political power. In order to try and reduce such conflict, I argued that power should be disbursed throughout society, rather than concentrated with the state, in part by the revitalization of the institutions of civil society.
While many online commentators agreed with the detrimental effects of the decline of civil society, a somewhat unexpected vein of criticism emerged, arguing that reducing the power of the government will only leave individuals even more vulnerable and at the mercy of powerful mega-corporations than ever before. Given the large role that economic insecurity plays in the anxiety that leads many people to look to political institutions for protection, it makes sense that the power of large corporations would be concerning. However, this fear is based on an incorrect conflation of political and economic power that misunderstands the way in which the state distorts the dispersion of market power.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on November 27, 2017.

The Market for Literary Products

Capitalism provides many with the opportunity to display initiative. While the rigidity of a status society enjoins on everybody the unvarying performance of routine and does not tolerate any deviation from traditional patterns of conduct, capitalism encourages the innovator. Profit is the prize of successful deviation from customary types of procedure; loss is the penalty of those who sluggishly cling to obsolete methods. The individual is free to show what he can do in a better way than other people.
However, this freedom of the individual is limited. It is an outcome of the democracy of the market and therefore depends on the appreciation of the individual’s achievements on the part of the sovereign consumers. What pays on the market is not the good performance as such, but the performance recognized as good by a sufficient number of customers. If the buying public is too dull to appreciate duly the worth of a product, however excellent, all the trouble and expense were spent in vain.
Capitalism is essentially a system of mass production for the satisfaction of the needs of the masses. It pours a horn of plenty upon the common man. It has raised the average standard of living to a height never dreamed of in earlier ages. It has made accessible to millions of people enjoyments which a few generations ago were only within the reach of a small elite.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on 11/23/2017.

Monaco Has To Build Into Mediterranean Sea To House Super-Rich

The principality of Monaco is about the same size as New York’s Central Park and slightly bigger than London’s Regent’s Park. Besides hosting the Monaco Grand Prix it is home to thousands of multi-millionaires, including tennis player Novak Djokovic and F1 driver Lewis Hamilton, who enjoy the fact that Monaco does not levy income tax or capital gains tax. As the Financial Times notes.
Monaco’s enduring popularity for tax exiles also rests on its year-round climate, unrivalled security and its wealthy, multicultural society…
It has an opera house, a philharmonic orchestra and concerts throughout the year. It has good transport links: Nice International Airport is just six minutes away by helicopter.
The problem for Monaco is that more and more millionaires want to live there – even though property is the second most expensive in the world after Hong Kong – and there simply isn’t the space. Furthermore, the average Monegasque home only changes hands once every 37 years.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 23, 2017.

All The Old World Systems Are Being Deliberately Torn Down

As we approach the holiday season many people turn to thoughts on tradition, heritage, principles, duty, honor and family. They consider the accomplishments and even the failures of the past and where we are headed in the future. For most of the year, the average American will keep their heads in the sands of monotony and decadence and distraction. But during this time, even in the midst of the consumption frenzy it has been molded into, people tend to reflect, and they find joy, and they find worry.
What perhaps does not come to mind very often though are the institutions and structures that provide the “stability” by which our society is able to continue in a predictable manner. While many of these institutions are not built with the good of the public in mind, they often indirectly secure a foundation that can be relied upon, for two or three generations, while securing power for the establishment. The problem is, the establishment is never satisfied with a static or semi-peaceful system for very long. They are not satisfied by being MOSTLY in control, they seek total control. Thus, they are often willing to create chaos and crisis and even tear down old structures that previously benefited them in order to gain something even greater (and more oppressive for the rest of us).
The official Thanksgiving holiday, for example, did not really begin as a homage to the colonial settlers and pilgrims of America’s birth and their struggles to build a new life. While George Washington did proclaim a “Day of Thanks” in 1789, the model for Thanksgiving began far later, in 1863 as the Civil War was raging. It was the Civil War that upset the traditional balance of power between the states and the federal government, nearly annihilating the nation and asserting federal power as unquestionable for decades to come. A moment of great chaos which destroyed old institutions (like the 10th Amendment) but gave establishment elitists even more control in the end.

This post was published at Alt-Market on Wednesday, 22 November 2017.

The Approaching Silicon Valley Meltdown

To say that we are living through precarious times seems to be an understatement. Whether one lives in the so moniker’d ‘developed world, emerging, or frontier’ there seems to be one constant currently: No one seems to be able to accurately ponder what tomorrow may bring, whether its political, economical, social, or combination there of.
The only thing constant right now is one of two things: Either, further instability is on the horizon. Or, complete and utter chaos is already knocking on the door. (See Kim Jong-un or Robert Mugabe for clues.)
Stability, the once deemed word for progress throughout civilized society now seems, to have devolved to mean, at what point of the instability around them they’re currently coping with. i.e., If you’re currently muddling through economically while dodging being a statistic, as the term goes, that currently means you, or your situation, is currently ‘stable.’
This now applies to not only people, but business, as well as politics worldwide. If you think I’m exaggerating? Hint: Hollywood. Need I say more?
However, there has been one outlier, for the most part, which seemed to skirt around all the current chaos, relatively unscathed. That would be Silicon Valley and all its ancillary provinces aka ‘Disruptive Tech.’
So far the coveted group known collectively as ‘FAANG’ (e.g., Facebook™, Apple™, Amazon™, Netflix™, Google™) seems to have held the ‘barbarians at the gates’ known as investors relatively at bay, or ‘stable’ in their positions, if you will. What has been, anything but, is their cohort of IPO brethren that were supposed to have joined them.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 20, 2017.

George Soros To Congress: “Please Don’t Cut My Taxes”

After transferring over the bulk of his personal wealth to his ‘Open Society’ Foundation – the umbrella organization for a network of dozens of political groups that push Soros’s far-left agenda across the US and Europe, Soros is still comfortable enough to justify giving away even more of his money – this time to the US federal government.
Taking a page out of Warren Buffett’s book, Soros and a group of some 400 other rich Americans – including doctors, lawyers and CEOs – are sending a formal letter to Congress chiding lawmakers for trying to reduce taxes on the richest American families at a time when wealth inequality is rapidly expanding. Instead, the letter asks Congress not to pass any tax bill that ‘further exacerbates inequality’ and adds to the debt (both of the current Republican plans would add $1.5 trillion to the debt over 10 years).
The letter was penned by Responsible Wealth, a group of ‘enlightened’ rich people that includes Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, fashion designer Eileen Fisher and philanthropist Steven Rockefeller, in addition to Soros. Along with the big names are many individuals and couples who rank among the top 5% of Americans (those who have $1.5 million in assets or earn $250,000 or more a year).
In a rebuttal to Congress’s argument that corporate tax cuts will help stimulate growth, the letter argues that corporations are already reaping record profits. Instead of handing more money to the wealthy, the letter’s signers argue the government should use the funds to invest in education, research and roads that benefit everyone, while protecting entitlement programs like Medicaid.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 14, 2017.

Hey GOP, Want to Cut the Burden of Government? Cut Spending.

Washington, DC is currently in the middle of a the “tax reform” process, which as Jeff Deist, points out, is ” a con, and a shell game.” Tax reform proposals, Deist continues “always evade and obscure the real issue, which is the total cost – financial, compliance, and human – taxes impose on society.”
Tax reform is really about which interest groups can modify the current tax code to better suit their own parochial interests. The end result is not a lessened tax burden overall, and thus does nothing to boost real savings, real wealth creation, or real economic growth. It’s just yet another government method of rewarding powerful groups while punishing the less powerful ones.
Not surprisingly then, the news that’s coming out of Washington about tax reform demonstrates that the reforms we’re seeing are only shifting around the tax burden without actually lessening it. The central scam at the heart of the matter is that DC politicians are more or less devoted to “revenue neutral” tax reforms. That means if one group sees a tax cut, then another group will lose a deduction, or even see an actual increase in tax rates.
This is why many middle class families may be looking at a higher tax bill. David Stockman explains:
[O]n the eve of the House Ways and Means committee vote on the tax bill—-which will then be barricaded by a no amendments “closed rule” when it goes to the full house—–the smoking gun is already apparent. By 2027 (after the temporary $300 adult tax credit gimmick expires and all provisions of the Brady mark become fully effective), the middle quintile US family ( about 30 million filers between $55,000 and $93,000 of AGI) would find itself in a crap shoot.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on November 13, 2017.

Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos And Warren Buffett Have More Money Than The Poorest 50% Of The U.S. Population Combined

The problem is not that we have a few people that are rich – the problem is that we have so many that are poor. As you will see below, three extremely wealthy individuals have as much money as the poorest half of the nation combined. In a free market capitalist society, there are always going to be some that do better than others, and there is nothing wrong with that. But in our society today, there are so few that are doing well. At this point a majority of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and ‘one in five households have zero or negative net worth’…
In the United States, the 400 richest individuals now own more wealth than the bottom 64 percent of the population and the three richest own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent, while pervasive poverty means one in five households have zero or negative net worth.
Those are just several of the striking findings of Billionaire Bonanza 2017, a new report (pdf) published Wednesday by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) that explores in detail the speed with which the U. S. is becoming ‘a hereditary aristocracy of wealth and power.’
That means that if you have no debt and a single dime in your pockets, you have more wealth than one-fifth of the entire country.
Okay, so let’s talk about the three men that have more wealth than the poorest 50 percent of the U. S. population combined. Those three men are Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com, and Warren Buffett. I don’t want to take anything away from what those three have accomplished, because we need more risk takers and entrepreneurs.
Sadly, the level of small business creation has fallen in every presidential administration going all the way back to George H. W. Bush, and the percentage of Americans that are self-employed is hovering near all-time record lows.
As a nation, we desperately need to return to a culture that encourages free market capitalist thinking. We want young men and women to create, invent, innovate and start new ventures. But instead, today our culture encourages young people to become dependent on the government and on the big corporations, and as a result the middle class is evaporating.
As I discussed above, at this point 20 percent of all U. S. households have ‘either zero or negative wealth’…

This post was published at The Economic Collapse Blog on November 9th, 2017.

Facebook Founder Warns “God Only Knows What It’s Doing To Kids’ Brains”

38-year-old founding president of Facebook, Sean Parker, was uncharacteristically frank about his creation in an interview with Axios. So much so in fact that he concluded, Mark Zuckerberg will probably block his account after reading this.
***
Confirming every ‘big brother’ conspiracy there is about the social media giant, Parker explained how social networks purposely hook users and potentially hurt our brains…
“When Facebook was getting going, I had these people who would come up to me and they would say, ‘I’m not on social media.’ And I would say, ‘OK. You know, you will be.’ And then they would say, ‘No, no, no. I value my real-life interactions. I value the moment. I value presence. I value intimacy.’ And I would say, … ‘We’ll get you eventually.’”
“I don’t know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying, because [of] the unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or 2 billion people and … it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other … It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”
“The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, … was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 9, 2017.

More Rigorous Populism Might Have Produced a Better Fed Chair

As I noted in my reaction to reports of Jerome Powell’s nomination, Trump’s endorsement was a significant defeat for the growing movement among Hill Republicans to force the Fed to adopt ‘rules-based monetary policy.’ Since I’ve already written on why I think such reform plans would largely fail to achieve their desired ends, I’m not particularly bothered by the defeat – but I do think there is a lesson to be gained here on libertarian strategy.
As Jeff Deist noted at the Mises Institute’s 35th Anniversary, along with some genuine disagreements regarding economics and political theory, Murray Rothbard and F. A. Hayek held very different opinions on the best strategy going forward to promote liberty. While both agreed, following Mises’s insights, that winning ‘hearts and minds’ was absolutely essential to a free society – government would not be limited by pursuing and tricking the populist into something it wasn’t prepare to adopt – they disagreed on the best way of accomplishing this task.
While Rothbard favored a libertarian-populist strategy aimed at educating and energizing laypeople, Hayek thought it was best to influence academics and intellectuals, what he termed ‘second handlers of ideas.’ A more classically liberal intelligentsia would influence policymakers and from that good – or at least better – public policy would follow.
While it may be a step too far to suggest that this approach can never lead to any form of substantial policy victory in Washington – and certainly no intellectual movement should be limited to a single strategy – Trump’s nomination of Powell I think does highlight one of the major flaws with Hayek’s strategy.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on November 6, 2017.

Tocqueville on the Welfare State

In 1961, Robert Schuettinger, then a graduate student under F. A. Hayek at the University of Chicago, wrote an article: “Tocqueville and the Bland Leviathan.”
It was published in the second issue of a new publication, New Individualist Review. This was a student publication: a quarterly small magazine. It was the best student publication I had ever seen. I still think so. I was a subscriber from the beginning. It was published for seven years.
The Foundation for Economic Education has reprinted the essay here. I offer extracts.
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[The power of government] covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power… does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, until each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and hard-working animals, of which the government is the shepherd.’ – Alexis De Tocqueville
Alexis De Tocqueville was an aristocrat who was at the same time the most perceptive critic and the truest friend that democracy ever had; he loved liberty, as he himself said, with “a holy passion,” and his greatest fear was that in the new Age of the Common Man the ideal of equality would become the means by which freedom would be extinguished.
His two books, Democracy in America and The Old Regime and the French Revolution, earned for Tocqueville a lasting reputation primarily because he did not think that the historian’s role should be confined to relating facts or that the sociologist should be merely a statistician; he was interested in something more than in what the “scientific” historians called wie es gewesen (what actually happened). What he wanted to do was to understand why institutions grew up and why events came about. Describing America he regarded as much less important than the task of analyzing democracy. . . .

This post was published at Gary North on November 02, 2017.

Scientists Look For A Cure For Politically Undesirable Behavior

Via GEFIRA,
The ‘Free World’ has taken on where the Soviet scientists and psychiatrists left off.
German and American scientists of renowned Universities in Bonn and Lbeck do research on treatment for politically undesirable behaviour like their Soviet colleagues from the infamous Serbsky Central Research Institute in Moscow. In the Soviet Union people who protested the system had to undergo psychiatric treatment.
Vladimir Bukovsky, a world-known dissident survived one and described it. The same will be the fate of the so called Free World’s citizens if they fail to conform to the idea of a multi-cultural society. The powers that be have given a signal, and obliging, complaisant scientists are already busy working on bettering our collective and individual psyche. Apart from homophobia and Islamophobia, xenophobia is another psychiatric condition that needs to undergo therapy…hormonal therapy.
Throughout history, the world has been torn by two opposing factors that face each other with daggers drawn. These are natural biological, and unnatural forces, or reality and dystopia. It is natural for a human being to want to possess things and work as little as possible; to counter it, dystopian socialists, communists or Christian heretics came up with an idea of a society governed by the principle: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.
It was supposed to work. And it failed miserably everywhere it was installed and implemented, from Cuba to East Germany, to the Soviet Union, to North Korea.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 3, 2017.

Russian Content May Have Reached 126 Million Facebook Users, There Is Just One Catch

One month ago, the media world and political punditry was in a furore after Facebook revealed that some 470 alleged Russian troll accounts had paid Facebook a whopping $100,000 to purchase 3,000 advertisements potentially influencing the outcome of the election (even though many of the ads “showed support for Clinton” and only half ran before the actual election). The furore did not last long: gradually the story fizzled, before becoming a watercooler joke that Russia had managed to buy the outcome of the US presidential election for a whopping 100 grand – which would make Vladimir Putin not only a propaganda genius of the highest order, but the best damn advertising mastermind to ever live, generating the highest ad IRR in history. One can only imagine what insidious, civilzation-ending thoughts he could implant in America’s fragile, feeble minds for $1 million, or gasp… 10 million dollars (about 1% of what Hillary spent).
So, eager to keep the “Russia interfered in US elections” meme going (not to be confused with what the Washington Post one year ago titled “The long history of the U. S. interfering with elections elsewhere“), tomorrow Facebook’s general counsel, Colin Stretch , together with his peers from Google and Twitter, will will sit before the Senate judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism and try to fascinate the public with some far bigger numbers, while hopefully also pitching the vast reach Facebook and other social media have. To do that, Facebook will say that it estimates that a grand total of 126 million people may have seen content posted by Russian-backed accounts over more than two years that, as the WSJ puts it, “sought to disrupt American society”, according to a prepared copy of the remarks obtained by The Wall Street Journal.
How is this number different from the far smaller number quoted previously when referring only to the Russian trolls’ alleged ad outreach? Because this time, Facebook will count virtually every post created by these alleged Russian troll farms as direct form of propaganda: as the WSJ explains, tomorrow’s definition of “reach” will include such content as “free posts and events listings.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 30, 2017.

Rental Insecurity: Survey Finds 1 In 5 American Renters Missed A Payment In Past 3 Months

A new survey conducted by ApartmentList.com recently found that Americans, despite historically low unemployment levels and surging stock indices which would both seem to suggest that ‘everything is awesome’, are having a very difficult time making ends meet. Per the survey, some 20% of renters admit they were unable to make their monthly payments on time at least once over the preceding three months with the results being even worse among minorities and those lacking a college degree.
Analyzing data from Apartment List users, we find that nearly one in five renters were unable to pay their rent in full for at least one of the past three months. We estimate that 3.7 million American renters have experienced an eviction. Evictions disproportionately impact the most vulnerable members of our society. Renters without a college education are more than twice as likely to face eviction as those with a four-year degree. Additionally, we find that black households face the highest rates of eviction, even when controlling for education and income. Perhaps most troublingly, households with children are twice as likely to face an eviction threat, regardless of marital status. The impacts of eviction are severe and long-lasting. Evictions are a leading cause of homelessness, and research has tied eviction to poor health outcomes in both adults and children. These effects are persistent, and experiencing an eviction makes it difficult to get back on one’s feet.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 26, 2017.

The Voluntaryist Constitution

[Editor’s note: The Mises Institute presents below’s “voluntaryist constitution” as a thought experiment, and is not presented here as an ideological or political ideal.] There have been a number of attempts to create the ideal constitution – one which enshrines liberty, autonomy, and property rights, while ensuring the highest degree of prosperity for those under its jurisdiction. Each attempt to do so, however, has been plagued by a seemingly indomitable problem: constitutions create governments. Once the malicious genie of government has sprung forth from its lamp, it seems no constitutional structure or language is capable of subduing it.
Some may assert in response that this is simply an inherent problem with Constitution-making in general, and that an anarchic libertarian society would need no such document to thrive. However, even the veritable father of anarcho-capitalism, Murray Rothbard, disagreed:
Politically, the [Benjamin] Tucker anarchists had two principal defects: (1) they failed to advocate defense of private landholdings beyond what the owner used personally; (2) they relied too heavily on juries and failed to see the necessity for a body of constitutional libertarian law which the private courts would have to uphold.
These “right-wing” anarchists did not take the foolish position that crime would disappear in the anarchist society. Yet they did tend to underestimate the crime problem, and as a result never recognized the need for a fixed libertarian constitution. Without such a constitution, the private judicial process might become truly “anarchic” in the popular sense.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on Oct 23, 2017.

Ray Dalio: “This Is The Most Important Economic, Political And Social Issue Of Our Time”

I wrote about what I see as the most important economic, political & social issue of our time: The Two US Economies. — Ray Dalio (@RayDalio) October 23, 2017

Every quarter, the Fed’s Flow of Funds report discloses – among many other things – the total U. S. household net worth, and every quarter for the past two years this number has steadily gone up, hitting fresh all time highs with every new release, most recently $96.2 trillion, to widespread cheers from both the financial press and the public, as well as the administration.
However, as we show every quarter, this aggregate number is largely meaningless in providing a status update on the financial state of the broader US population, as it masks a gaping chasm between the haves, or the top 10% of US society – those who benefit the most from this mostly financial-asset based increase in net worth, and the have nots, or bottom 90%, who remain largely locked out from such gains.
In fact, it was the Fed’s own Triennial Survey of Consumer Finances which disclosed just how skewed this net worth distribution had become:

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 23, 2017.

Ray Dalio Explains What Is “The Most Important Economic, Political And Social Issue Of Our Time”

Every quarter, the Fed’s Flow of Funds report discloses – among many other things – the total U. S. household net worth, and every quarter for the past two years this number has steadily gone up, hitting fresh all time highs with every new release, most recently $96.2 trillion, to widespread cheers from both the financial press and the public, as well as the administration.

However, as we show every quarter, this aggregate number is largely meaningless in providing a status update on the financial state of the broader US population, as it masks a gaping chasm between the haves, or the top 10% of US society – those who benefit the most from this mostly financial-asset based increase in net worth, and the have nots, or bottom 90%, who remain largely locked out from such gains.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 23, 2017.

Big Tech’s Dangerous Influence: “Coming Between Us And Reality”

Author Franklin Foer reflects on the dangers of losing ourselves in a society dependent on a handful of tech firms.
French philosopher Rene Descartes famously said ‘I think, therefore I am.’ But in the digital age, what we think and how we live are being influenced in a big way by just a handful of tech firms: We are informed by Google and entertained by Apple; we socialize on Facebook and shop on Amazon. It’s time to reclaim our identities and reassert our intellectual independence, according to Franklin Foer, a national correspondent for The Atlantic and former editor of The New Republic, in his book, World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech.
He recently joined the Knowledge@Wharton show, which airs on SiriusXM channel 111, to explain why these firms’ hold on society is a cautionary tale for the future.
An edited transcript of the conversation follows.
Knowledge@Wharton: Tech companies such as Amazon have truly transformed themselves over the last couple of decades [and become a big part of our lives].
Franklin Foer: Amazon is really one of the most impressive specimens in the entire history of American business. It started off as a bookstore, then it morphed into becoming the ‘everything’ store. And it’s morphed beyond that. We know about Amazon Web Services and how it powers the cloud. We’ve seen how it just keeps expanding, culminating most recently in its decision to purchase Whole Foods. The same could be said for Google, which set out to organize knowledge but then became Alphabet, which has this massive portfolio, including a life-sciences company that aims to make us immortal.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 22, 2017.