The Daily Beast published a must read on the new ruling class and the transfer of wealth in the economy, America’s New Oligarchs—Fwd.us and Silicon Valley’s Shady 1 Percenters. Of particular interest was one sentence in this paragraph,
Perversely, the small number of jobs—mostly clustered in Silicon Valley—created by tech companies has helped its moguls avoid public scrutiny. Google employs 50,000, Facebook 4,600, and Twitter less than 1,000 domestic workers. In contrast, GM employs 200,000, Ford 164,000, and Exxon over 100,000. Put another way, Google, with a market cap of $215 billion, is about five times larger than GM yet has just one fourth as many workers.
This is an equation that defines inequality: more and more wealth concentrated in fewer hands and benefiting fewer workers.
Here is the operative sentence from the paragraph above with one word added…
Google, with a market cap of $215 billion, is about five times larger than GM yet has just one fourth as many [PAID] workers.
It occurs to us in the new exploitation economy of loser generated content that many people are “working” for Google and other tech companies supplying endless hours of consumer created content from Facebook posts to Instagram photos. That’s just the stuff that people are willing to give away by consent (although we don’t know how much privacy they are actually consenting to give up in the process).
But the larger truth is even more scary. Google and other internet businesses profit greatly by avoiding paying for the cost of the goods they are monetizing (primarily by advertising). YouTube is a company built on infringement and theft as a business model.
In other words, it’s a lot easier to make money when you don’t have to pay for the labor or fixed costs of developing and producing a product. You know products like music, film, books, software, etc.
Obviously if all of these creators and producers were paid fairly in the value chain to which their work is creating revenue, than there would be less profit for the distributor. What we have now is a distribution mechanism that profits without paying the creative producers. Which is exactly how a company like Google can earn such extraordinary wealth, essentially through stolen labor.
Read the whole story here at The Daily Beast: