Posts Tagged Facebook
“Millennials” have a lot to answer for.
We don’t buy cars, and we don’t buy houses. All we need to do is refrain from having 2.5 children, and we’ll have destroyed the American Dream.
Analysts often attribute my generation’s spending habits to some form of contrary thinking, but there’s a simpler explanation: we have no money.
A recent article in The New York Times highlights the problem of unpaid internships, which have replaced many entry-level jobs, leaving young people with no way to enter the working world.
Some college graduates spend the rest of their twenties in a cycle of internships, with no ability to advance to real jobs and, of course, no money to show for it.
Employers seem to think that they can run businesses without employees or, at least, without paying them.
In addition to replacing entry-level jobs with internships, they’ve turned increasingly to freelance or temp workers for jobs even the most desperate person won’t do for free.
Since these people aren’t technically employees, a company doesn’t have to offer them benefits, or pay its share of certain taxes–like Social Security–that are regularly deducted from employee paychecks.
Then there was the tantrum some companies threw when the Affordable Care Act mandated that they provide health insurance for all full-time employees. They delayed the employer mandate, then threatened to eliminate full-time positions just to get out of the requirement.
Unpaid internships, the cutting of full-time positions, and oppressively-low minimum wages may be good for business, but they’re not good for society.
People are quick to judge someone who borrows too much, or makes an extravagant purchase they really can’t afford. Maybe we should do the same with businesses.
A business that makes money while keeping its workers poor is operating on as false a pretense as a janitor who buys a new Mercedes.
The latter would be judged irresponsible, so why shouldn’t McDonalds’ be criticized for claiming massive profits while refusing to pay its employees a living wage?
That probably isn’t going to happen It’s always easier to blame the individual than the organization, especially when the organization is judged according to different standards.
Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp is in the news because of the comical list of companies that appear to be worth less than WhatsApp.
Yet, like Facebook itself, WhatsApp doesn’t produce anything. It’s just an app.
It seems that actually making goods or providing services is bad for business, let alone taking care of employees.
And how can employees stand a chance when money is flowing to businesses that don’t even need to pay for factories or stores to operate?
Karl Marx said the only way for workers to secure their rights was to gain control of the means of production, but when nothing tangible is produced, what is there to take control of?
The economy is becoming increasingly ethereal; the rise of the Internet has made eliminating expenses the main priority of businesses, not being good at what they do, or playing a responsible role in society.
The fundamental purpose of a business is to make money, but when businesses make that their exclusive purpose, everybody loses.
The snide criticism of the “Millennial” lifestyle will probably turn to panic is this generation reaches middle age, and is still getting other people’s coffee.
Richard Milhous Nixon may have been born too early. While our bejoweled and disgraced 37th president might seem like the prototypical curmudgeon, he could have dominated one of today’s hottest industries. Here are five reasons why Nixon would have been a great tech entrepreneur.
Consumers have grown a love-hate relationship with tech companies like Facebook and Google because of the way they collect and mine users’ data. This would have seen second nature for a man who organized a break-in at the Democratic Party’s headquarters. Imagine what he could have done with the Internet.
Nixon was a horrible person, but was also a master statesman. One of his most impressive achievement was playing China and the Soviet Union against each other.
Today, just as during the Cold War, we have a few giants slugging it out for world domination. If Nixon was in charge of one of them, you can bet that he would use his rivals’ competitiveness against them.
Being creepy and unable to relate to other people isn’t a requirement, but Nixon would definitely find kindred spirits in the same industry that spawned Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.
Companies need to keep their trade secrets, well secret. Whether it’s Google Glass or the next iPhone, keeping information out of the public eye can create a competitive advantage. Nixon would have loved that.
Just as corporations feel they don’t have to tell anything to anyone but their shareholders, Nixon felt he had not obligation to tell Congress, the media, or voters what he was actually doing. Who else would send Henry Kissinger on a secret trip to China, or retain a team of “Plumbers” to take care of information leaks?
Did people stop using Facebook when they found out what the company was doing with their information? Did people stop buying Apple products when Jobs’ abusive nature was revealed? No, which is perfect for Nixon.
Tricky Dick thrived on a similarly understanding public. Never a likable guy, he wormed his way out of a campaign financing scandal with the famous “Checkers Speech,” and despite being a commie-hating conservative, he was able to take advantage of public outrage over the Vietnam War to win the presidency in 1968.
While president, Nixon was able to silence critics by co-opting liberal policies (he created the EPA and Amtrak and supported universal healthcare). Nothing could stop him. Well, almost nothing.
Like today’s tech barons, Nixon didn’t car about being liked, and found ways to make it so that the public didn’t have to like him either.
In one of its recent iPad commercials, Apple tried to show consumers all the wonderful things they could do with Steve Jobs’ little black tablet. From reading classic books to learning a new language, the iPad looks like the key to enlightenment. But is that really what iPad users do with their devices?
You probably have an Internet-connected electronic device at home. What do you use it for? Do you go on Facebook a lot? Do you watch other people make fools of themselves on Youtube? Do you read random blogs written by curmudgeon-y writers?
The Internet brought the world to our fingertips, and devices like the iPad and iPhone make that interface even easier. However, traditional, pre-Internet, goals of learning can’t beat distractions that were designed for the Internet.
There is considerable debate about whether it is better to read a physical book or a digital one, but you can only play Angry Birds on a screen. In The Shallows, Nicholas Carr described how the Internet encourages the brain to skim through materials instead of examining them closely. That makes it very hard to learn a new language, but very easy to scan the latest Tweets.
If Apple’s own commercials are the benchmark, the iPad may not be living up to its potential. Or maybe Apple needs to reassess. Its device is the perfect platform for all the Internet frivolity we know and love. That is its true function, although that may not be the best ad material.