Day: December 31, 2019

Background Briefing: December 31, 2019


The Dystopian Reality of the Tech Industry

On this New Years Eve, we continue our look back on the defining stories of 2019, today looking into the promises from the techno-utopians of Silicon Valley compared to the dystopian reality of how the tech-industry has impacted our society and economy. We begin with an interview from Feb 13th of 2019 when we were joined by award-winning author, broadcaster, and documentarian who studies human autonomy in the digital age, Douglas Rushkoff. Named one of the world’s ten most influential intellectuals by MIT, he is a research fellow of the Institute for the Future and founder of the Laboratory for Digital Humanism at the City University of New York and the author of the new book, Team Human. We discussed how our technologies, markets, and cultural institutions – once forces for human connection and expression – now isolate and repress us and if we are to resist and survive we must come together and recognize that being human is a team sport.


A Nation of Jesters in the Court of the Platform Kings

Then we go to an interview from September 1st of 2019 when, over the Labor Day weekend, we spoke with Stacy Mitchell, the Co-Director of the Institute for Local Self Reliance, who recently testified before the United States House Judiciary Committee at a hearing about the monopoly power of dominant tech platforms. She joined us to give her account on how our politicians might finally be coming to the realization that if monopolies like Facebook and Amazon are not reined in with antitrust action, the United States will soon end up a nation of jesters in the court of the platform kings. With the new gig economy promising to turn America into a nation of rickshaw drivers, we discussed the new signs of hope from the Presidential candidates running in 2020 who seem to be starting to reckon with the mistakes of financial deregulation and deference to billionaires who have shown an utter contempt for workers and unions. Will Democratic voters play it safe with Biden, or take a bold stance with Sanders or Warren to enact progressive agendas that empower working Americans and reinvigorate Labor Unions? With the Republicans committed to busting Unions and distributing even more wealth to the top 1%, can Democrats be at least as bold as FDR?


Reining in the New Monopolies with Antitrust

Then finally we revisit an interview from October 13th 2019 with Matt Stoller about his new book, Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy. A Fellow at the Open Markets Institute who was previously a Senior Policy Advisor and Budget Analyst to the Senate Budget Committee, he joined us to explain how authoritarianism and populism returned to American politics for the first time in 80 years leading to the fall of the Democratic Party. We also looked into the new dominant global monopolies Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft and the steps needed to create a new democracy at a time when corporate power in increasing and the middle class is shrinking.