Money Quote, Thurs. Sept 28 2017
It’s Zuck and Jack vs. Trump. Meanwhile, the racial wealth divide, an empty tax plan, and Benioff takes action.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is back with another post, only a week or so after his Facebook Live appearance responding to the Russian ads controversy. This time Zuck is responding to yet another intemperate Presidential tweet, in which Trump declares that “Facebook was always against Trump” (Recode coverage here). Zuck’s post is something of a hodge podge of declaratives, including an apology for dismissing fake news as an important factor in last year’s election. Of course, he essentially dismisses it again, saying (and this is the money quote): “Campaigns spent hundreds of millions advertising online to get their messages out even further. That’s 1000x more than any problematic ads we’ve found.” So far, Mark, so far.
Of course Facebook wasn’t the only place Russian info-hackers plied their trade, Twitter offers an at-scale playground as well (as do Reddit, 4Chan, and likely many others). But now Washington is engaged, and Twitter gets it’s “star turn” today (more from the Times here). Money quote: “While Facebook and Twitter are often lumped together as social networks, they face different questions in this investigation. The biggest question for Twitter is whether and how it influenced media coverage in the 2016 election — a key concern for both parties that will get a lot of attention.”
I hate to continually point to depressing socio-economic news, but that’s pretty much what’s out there. Better to understand and address it, rather than ignore it, which is pretty much what we’ve been collectively doing for the past few decades. Along the way, we’ve been utterly spiking the stats so as to paper over our desperate racial divide, in particular our wealth divide. This story won’t go away. Read it. Money quote: “We also looked at the past three decades of racial wealth data to develop an idea of what the future will look like if current trends continue. The findings were bleak. The median black family, who today only owns $1,700 in wealth excluding their car, will reach zero wealth by 2053. That’s just 10 years after the country is projected to become majority non-white. Median white families, by contrast, have $116,000 in wealth, and that number is actually going up…Wealthy white households control the vast majority of the nation’s economic resources, and they appear to have no idea how the rest of society lives. That’s a problem.”
Benioff gets a lot of credit for a lot of things, leading to some in the industry feeling most of his moves are calculated PR. But you have to hand it to him — he’s taking his leading role as wealthy Valley founder/CEO and actually…well, leading. Money quote: “While a lot of companies toil over policies to promote workplace diversity and equal pay, few invest major sums to immediately fix the problem. Benioff, who signed the White House’s Equal Pay Pledge, also requires that 30% of the attendees of every company meeting be women, and grants equality awards for trailblazers on equal rights in business, government, and nonprofits.”
What, tax stuff two days in a row? Yup, sorry folks, but as I said yesterday, this stuff really matters. Unfortunately, the “tax plan” is more like a “tax framework” which means just like the administration’s “healthcare plan,” the chances anything actually gets done seem pretty low. Money quote: “The framework has some commendable principles — calling for simpler, lower taxes for businesses and the middle class; a broader tax base with fewer “special interest tax breaks and loopholes”; and measures to deal with the stockpile of foreign earnings that U.S. multinationals have parked abroad. But so many essential details are left blank that the economic effects — who gains, who loses, and the implications for economic growth and overall revenue — are impossible to judge.”