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Tech Gurus Strain the Love of Adoring Americans

By    |   Tuesday, 07 January 2014 08:22 PM

Although Americans have continued to adore the titans of the technology industry even as these geeks have become ruthless capitalists, the love affair will come to an end this year, asserts The Economist.

The article in the publication's The World in 2014 print edition notes that millionaires and billionaires have received a pass on behaviors that other corporate executives are constantly crucified for — including controversial employment practices, garish salaries and perks, extravagant lifestyles, and a commitment to political lobbying and paying the least possible taxes, the article notes.

“We live in a bubble. And I don’t mean a tech bubble or a valuation bubble. I mean a bubble as in our own little world,” said Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google and member The Economist's board of directors.

Editor’s Note: 5 Reasons Stocks Will Collapse . . .

It's an elite bubble, with a low occupancy rate and a poor reputation for sharing.

Despite loads of cash, the lords of cyberspace have done everything possible to reduce their earthly costs, including employing remarkably few people, says The Economist.

Google, with a market cap of $215 billion, is about five times larger than GM. Google has 50,000 workers compared to GM's 200,000 workers, The Daily Beast reported.

And according to Yahoo, the youngest billionaire in the U.S. is Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, with a net worth over $12 billion. But Facebook reportedly has less than 5,000 employees.

Those fortunate enough to work at these companies often enjoy salaries of at least six figures. Perks include gourmet meals, child-care services and complimentary home-cleaning of houses located on some of the nation's most expensive property, The Daily Beast reported.

They indulge themselves with lavish parties and weddings and sci-fi flavored projects, such as private rockets to outer space, says The Economist.

At the same time, tech tycoons have displayed a banker-like enthusiasm for accepting public subsidies and then avoiding taxes. And they spend millions employing lobbyists to advance their interests and protect their bottom lines, says The Economist.

Still, 72 percent of Americans expressed positive feelings for the tech industry last year, reported The Daily Beast.

In 2011, when Steve Jobs died, Apple had more cash on hand than the U.S. Treasury, The Daily Beast noted. Occupy Wall Street was in full bloom, castigating bankers and the rest of the financial sector. But occupiers, though fuming over inequality and corporate largesse, stopped to mourn the billionaire's death—a man who didn't believe in charity and whose company is a leader in tax avoidance, the article added.

Schmidt conceded that people in Silicon Valley weren't talking about the 99% because they are largely immune to their concerns. “Their issues are not our daily reality,” he told Business Insider.

But the tech bubble that insulated these oligarchs from public anger is set to pop, as the tech titans are now widely viewed as hypocrites, The Economist declares.  For example, right-wingers are furious over their stand on immigration, and others are angry at the techies for getting into bed with the the National Security Agency.

The popping of the bubble will be "one of the biggest changes in the political economy of capitalism" this year, the Economist article predicts.

Editor’s Note: 5 Reasons Stocks Will Collapse . . .

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Americans have continued to adore the titans of the technology industry even as these geeks have become ruthless capitalists, but the love affair is likely to end this year, asserts The Economist.
Tuesday, 07 January 2014 08:22 PM
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