11 September 2017

The New York Times: “Silicon Valley’s Politics: Liberal, with One Big Exception”

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”.

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.

Farhad Manjoo

Hardly surprising, considering how the wealth and influence of most tech giants depend on massive scaling effects, which would be hindered by tighter government regulations – like for example the increased anticompetitive scrutiny in the EU.

Are Technology Entrepreneurs Libertarians?

As it turns out, not really. According to a recent survey, they don’t mind being taxed, but do mind having the government meddle in their business. Less than one quarter of them identify with being a libertarian and almost two thirds of them agree with the government should not tightly regulate business, and should tax the wealthy to fund social programs. This position uniquely resembles neither Democrats nor Republicans.

And funny how Google didn’t have any trouble firing one of their employees for disagreeing with the majority.

Update: see also: Silicon Valley’s position on US tax reform:

Tech companies like to paint themselves as innovative, ethical and inclusive institutions. However, when it comes to tax reform, many are tempted to follow their bottom line in a corporate free-for-all, said Reem Suleiman, a senior campaigner with the progressive group SumOfUs.org. So Silicon Valley has a dilemma: Stand up for the values it touts, or take advantage of Trump’s corporate coup over our democracy.

Steven Overly

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