Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Only Libertechbrotarians Are Real People to Libertechbrotarians, And Only Unreal Libertechbrotarian Aspirations Are Worthy To Libertechbrotarians

At any rate, that is the impression one gets from the news (via Vallywag's Sam Biddle) that Google libertechbrotarian billionaire Larry Page told Charlie Rose that he might just give all his money to PayPal libertechbrotarian billionaire Elon Musk -- because only "business is the best way to build his version of a better future" and because he thinks Musk will send humans to Mars "to back up humanity."

That the prevalence of the very same unsustainable and exploitative business practices he says are the "best way" for a "better future" are themselves the world destroying force that creates what he says is the need for an extraterrestrial "backup" plan for "humanity" seems not to have been entertained by his libertechbrotarian sooperbrain. But, hey, celebrity sci-tech thought leaders with all that entrepreneurial innovatorial zazz going for them aren't here to sweat the small stuff, I guess. Also, I hate to break it to all you Randroidal fountainheads, all you libertechbrotarian sooper-geniuses, but Mars will not be colonized in any policy-relevant timescale, and there is no escape hatch for humanity in outer space anyway.

Neither, if we're taking a moment to keep score, will the other idiotic futurological aspirations of libertechbrotarian soopermen come to fruition: no, they will not code a history-ending sooper-intelligent sooper-parental singularitarian Robot God to solve our problems for us, no, they will not "cure death" either by injecting us with a fountain of youth of programmable nanobots, or by scooping out our brains and putting them in imperishable shiny robot bodies or gengineered comic book sooper-bodies or "uploading" our info-souls as cyberangel avatars in Holodeck Heaven, no, they will not create genie-in-a-bottle desktop nanofactories that make everybody rich beyond the dreams of avarice with a penny's worth of sand, no, they will not construct megascale sooper-engineering wet-dreams like orbiting archipelagos of mirrors to redirect the Sun or fleets of airships to eat atmospheric carbon or cathedrals of vertical piping to cool the warming seas or engineered microbes to turn toxic landfill into sooper-nutritious but calorie-free Hershey's chocolate syrup.

I don't doubt that they can waste a lot of time giving duckface for interviews while saying otherwise and distract a lot of attention from real problems and real solutions and manage to scam lots more billions of dollars from credulous illiterates along the way, proving to them that they are Nature's gift to underhumanity while we all hurry off to whatever unspeakable dieback scenario hits first. But, no, sorry: Randroidal libertechbrotarians aren't saving anybody, they aren't more real or more worthy than anybody else, their upward-fail skim-and-scam enterprises don't model best or even remotely useful enterprise in any way.

I have an alternative proposal for Larry Page and his ilk: let's tax celebrity tech ceo narcissist blowhard billionaires back to the stone age and use the money to fund universal healthcare, education, renewable infrastructure, and medical and scientific research, including stuff like a real space program, to help build a sustainable, equitable, diverse, creative civilization worth living in, and meanwhile let's ridicule all the ignorant parochial sociopathic self-promoting libertechbrotarians into quiescent marginality before they manage to skim and scam their way into their useless fortunes in the first place (keep up the good work, Sam Biddle).


erickingsley said...

But, but, but...Musk needs the money to continue inventing such revolutionary new products as electric cars ( and liquid fuel rockets (

jimf said...

> [L]et's tax celebrity tech ceo narcissist blowhard billionaires
> back to the stone age and use the money to fund universal healthcare,
> education, renewable infrastructure, and medical and scientific research. . .

From yesterday's New York Times:
Lawmakers Attack Cost of New Hepatitis Drug
MARCH 21, 2014

A new drug to treat hepatitis C that costs $1,000 a pill
has caused rising concern among insurers and state Medicaid
programs. It has now also spurred interest from Democratic
congressmen whose queries about the drug prompted a
sell-off in biotechnology stocks on Friday.

Three Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee
have demanded that Gilead Sciences, the developer, justify
the price of its drug, which is called Sovaldi. . .

Gilead’s stock fell. . . on Friday. Nervous investors took down
the shares of some other big biotechnology companies as well. . .

“The fear that Congress may begin a program of meddling, one
drug at a time, doesn’t affect just one drug,” said
Andrew A. Bogan of Bogan Associates, which invests in
science and technology stocks. “It kind of scares everyone.”

Still, many analysts who follow Gilead predicted that the
storm would soon pass. They noted that the letter writers
were in the minority party in the Republican-controlled House.

“We just look at this letter as a little bit of noise,”
said Robyn Karnauskas, a biotechnology analyst at Deutsche Bank. . .

Thank God for Republicans. Those Democrats are always
making so much noise. They'll scare the horses!

Esebian said...

As long as plutocrats of all ilks have captured the regulatory systems of the entire Western world, good luck with tightening the tax screws on them.

Dale Carrico said...

I think industry capture of regulators (not just in the finance sectors, obviously, but especially the extractive and energy sectors) is more injurious to the proposal, implementation and effective enforcement of regulation than it is a bar to tax increases. There have been several times in American history when taxes has been levied or increased or made more progressive, some of them as or nearly as dire as our own. Even in the face of the unprecedented obstruction of the Republicans income taxes have resumed marginally more progressivity than in the W. years and there are taxes in the ACA. The idea of a financial transaction tax is widely advocated, including among plutocrats more worried about volatility and fraud than about wealth concentration. One of the most fiscally responsible budget proposals in both social democratic but also, frankly, capitalist terms is the Progressive Caucus proposal, with reams of data about return on investment and so on -- and it is absolutely wrong to pretend that none of its provisions would be passed were both chambers controlled by Democrats. My point isn't to offer you a roseate unicorn pinata to bat at -- nobody has to tell me how catastrophically reactionary the plutocrat/neo-confederate alliance of Movement Republicans is nor how far from democratic socialism Democrats are at their best, but the expert knowledge, policy proposals, organized constituencies, legislative factions, agitational energies, historical forces are more congenial to progressive change than they may look. Things change even when they haven't done for a long time. Good effort not good luck is what it will take to get a considerably more progressive tax on income, including capital gains, property and transactions -- and with every advance toward that progressivity the knot of wealth concentration, regulatory capture, dearth of public investment in renewable infrastructure and social support becomes easier and easier and easier to untangle in a virtuous circle. People who know better have a responsibility not to give up.