Fundamentally “progressivism” going way back to the days of Woodrow Wilson and before even him was about corporatism. It wasn’t about “enlightened” people agitating for “sensible regulation” of the railroads, meat packing, or banking. These industries, as they grew and became larger realized that if they partnered with government (a government that was filled with people they knew and were friendly to them any way) they could entrench their positions and shut smaller players out. They used the cover of the “public good” to further their interests.
Now it looks like it’s tech’s turn. Sadly.
(From The USA Today)
From the old days of Lotus and Visicalc and CP/M, to just a year or two ago with Facebook and Uber, Silicon Valley has basked in its glowing reputation. It was seen as a center of innovation, where hard-working entrepreneurs started businesses in garages, and produced things that made everyone’s lives better. Because it was constantly innovating, it stayed ahead of regulators’ ability to regulate, resulting in “permissionless innovation” — change that didn’t have to ask for permission first.
And that seemed fine, as it brought us personal computers, spreadsheets, word processing, databases, laptops, cell phones, smart phones and social media. Silicon Valley was making us richer and more capable as individuals, and if they made a lot of money in the process, that seemed only fair.
Until all of a sudden, things changed and Silicon Valley’s “regulatory exceptionalism” came to an end. And what changed wasn’t so much that people objected to Silicon Valley’s tech lords making money, as that people began to doubt whether Silicon Valley was, anymore, working to make ordinary people richer and more capable. Silicon Valley seemed to have gone from the hammer-wielding woman in that famous “1984” Apple commercial, to the Big Brother figure up on the screen in that famous “1984” Apple commercial.