France needs Greece more than Greece needs France. So long as the Greeks grab the headlines with their defense of their unreformed economy, no one seems to notice that France is in violation of EU rules on the size of the allowed deficit, has such sustained high-level unemployment that its young people have joined successful hedge fund manager Jean-Christophe Napoleon Bonaparte in seeking their futures in perfidious Albion, and that its government is increasing its direct involvement in the aircraft, energy, and auto industries to deter foreigners, maintain over-manning, and prevent challenges to its limit of the work week to 35 hours. With those moves to its credit, and an economy suffering as a consequence, France wants to export its rules to America. The European Union has imposed on Google the so-called “right to be forgotten”, which requires Google to destroy refrerences, and links to those references, when requested to do so by people who claim a reason to want to airbrush their pasts. Some 250,000 requests were honored, some one million links disabled in the first year of the “right”. Chacun à son goût. Unless the gout is that of a successful American techno-giant. French authorities are now insisting that Google expand this newly discovered “right” to the search engine’s websites worldwide, an extraterritorial reach Google is resisting. Can a demand that we adopt the 35-hour week be far behind? That would certainly improve the competitiveness of the French economy, no reforms required.
They are men, mostly. They are young, mostly. They are visionaries on a mission -- to systematize and make all the world’s knowledge accessible (Google); to connect all the world’s people with each other (Facebook); to change the way books are read and the sound of music is heard (Apple, Amazon); to reorganize urban transportation in 55 countries (Uber); to make brevity mandatory (Twitter); to create a more literate world and, not to be ignored, elevate free delivery to a right (Amazon).
The European Parliament has called for the dismemberment of Google, the French want “les Gafa,” as they call Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, reined in, EU regulators are under pressure to get tough with the Americans. And the leaders of Silicon Valley’s non-tax-paying, privacy-invading, dominant tech firms, to use EU descriptives, are surprised. They shouldn’t be.
It's an article of faith among bien pensant liberals that all institutions in society must achieve perfect gender parity. Consider, for example, the left’s outrage at the dearth of women employed at Google and other tech firms (despite the fact that far fewer women study computer science than men) or its efforts to lower physical standards so that more women become firefighters (despite the fact that most people in burning buildings would rather their lives be saved than politically correct mandates be met).
For those of us who believe in the market system, there is something unsettling about the thought of the billionaire bosses of Google, Apple, Adobe, Intel, two Disney subsidiaries, and Intuit sitting around a table and agreeing not to compete for staff. Facebook declined an invitation to join the conspiracy. These are the self-styled “disrupters”, believers in the virtues of a market system that allows them to compete for customers even if, especially if, that competition destroys existing enterprises.
Some three hundred years ago Sir Walter Scott asked, “Breathes there a man with soul so dead who never to himself hath said, This is my own, my native land.” Well, in America corporations are legally deemed “persons,” so the answer to Scott’s question is “Yes,” at least when it comes to tax payments. In this globalized world corporations are “multi-national,” run by executives who may never have set foot in the lands they declare to be “home” for tax purposes. Nothing illegal about it all: These firms play by the rules written for them by the governments in which they do most of their business. And their executives do have a fiduciary obligation to the owners of the business, their shareholders, to minimize their tax payments to the greatest extent possible within the law. Moreover, to some extent their continued search for benign tax regimes puts something of a limit on the ambitions of national tax collectors, witness the unhappiness of France with the low taxes on offer in Ireland, which is coming out of the recession in which over-taxed France remains mired.
President Obama will partner with Google for the "first-ever Presidential Hangout Road Trip," Google announced today.
"Next Tuesday, at 9pm EST, President Obama will deliver his annual State of the Union address to Congress. Later that week, you'll have the chance to connect with the President and speak about his administration’s plan in the first-ever Presidential Hangout Road Trip," claims Google in a blog post.
In an NBC interview, Google's Eric Schmidt reminded America that "It's important to remember these 5 billion people are just like us. They're just trapped in bad poverty and bad governance and so forth." The CEO of Google was referring to those in the world who don't have smartphones: