The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

A French Connection

02/25/2019

A longtime reader from France concurred with my recent blog on the ethical issues surrounding Facebook and added these interesting comments.

> Since college days, I have believed that at the turn of last century, the American social contract had been broken, meaning that the “robber barons” and “captains of industry” had stolen the American dream. The giant mining and railway industries had ground mine workers and farmers into the dust. Teddy Roosevelt and FDR and labor unions helped turn that around.
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> I think that Facebook occupies the same position today as those robber barons diid so many years ago. It and its ilk are not monopolies in the old sense of using dominant positions to raise prices but they are monopolies in the sense of ruthlessly eliminating competition and buying favorable government tax policies. Last year, the Fortune Five Hundred companies paid much less than a 21 percent tax rate (I think 14 percent). The FAANGs literally paid no taxes and Google received a 179 million tax credit. In other words, the US government paid Google 179 million.
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> There is a concept that I was taught in college called subgroup optimization. The idea is that that an individual organization or one division can prosper to the detriment of the entire organization or the whole. Facebook is the subgroup. The rest of us are the whole. Plus, by destroying privacy, Facebook deprives its users of their liberty. When we know we are watched, our behavior changes. We self censor.
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> The Chinese self censor because they know that every individual’s actions and publicly expressed thought is monitored.
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> It’s getting ugly out there. I sold my Facebook stock when the news broke about Facebook selling user information to third parties.
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> Keep on publishing.

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