In the past, I have written about how a few were starting to call some of the billionaires in the Silicon Valley “the new robber barons.” Most of the Silicon Valley companies seemed untouchable and above criticism, until recently.
Victor Davis Hanson reminds us that conservatives often pointed to the innovative, entrepreneurial high-tech leaders with admiration. They praised them as “modern versions of the 19th-century risk-takers such as Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller.” They demonstrated that American companies could compete and succeed in our global economy.
Liberals and progressives also seemed enthralled with Silicon Valley leaders and their high-tech companies. They even dropped their “customary regulatory zeal, despite Silicon Valley’s monopolizing, outsourcing, offshoring, censoring, and destroying of startup competition.”
The love affair with Silicon Valley might be ending. Critics want to know why social media, texts, email, and Internet searches are all exempt from interstate regulatory oversight. Nearly every other business endeavor is subject to such scrutiny.
Conservatives complain that these companies seem to be government colluders and manipulators. Liberals wonder why employees in these companies cannot unionize and sit down with their progressive billionaire bosses. Local communities resent the tech giants driving up housing prices and zoning out the poor from cities like Seattle and San Francisco.
Liberals and conservatives are asking why Internet communications cannot be subject to the same rules as radio and television. They are also asking why Silicon Valley monopolies cannot be broken up the way Bell Telephone was a few decades ago. And they wonder why high-tech profits are hidden in offshore accounts.
These are good questions both liberals and conservatives are right in asking.