Friday, 1 March 2013

Yahoo! gets a “yahoo” of a CEO (PO)

M D Nalapat

Friday, March 01, 2013 - It was not accidental that almost all the world’s internet-based giants were set up in the US. The country has for long had a liberal ethos. This is despite decades of what may be termed “Nixonism-Reaganism” ie a trigger-happy penal system which regards incarceration as the first - and best - option even for petty offences and a mindset within the policymaking class that equates wealth with quality. The consequence of Nixonism has been a steep rise in the prison population of the US, which for long has been greater even than that of China or the USSR in its Brezhnevite period of stasis, with several states imposing mandatory prison terms, several enactments of which are an affront to human rights which - naturally - the myriad “human rights” organisations obsessively focussing on the underdeveloped world ignore.

During the 1980s,the kultur of Reaganism spread across the world, being embraced by both Margaret Thatcher in the UK as well as by Deng Xiaoping and his successor Jiang Zemin in China. This philosophy of financial elitism has been directly responsible for the waves of speculative trading that have devastated commodity markets and reduced hundreds of millions of the vulnerable to poverty. More than any desire for that much-misused concept, “democracy”, it was the high price of bread and other staples of existence that brought hundreds of thousands of Egyptians to Tahrir Square. President Mohammad Morsi needs to thank the billionaire speculators of London, New York, Chicago and Frankfurt for his good fortune in rising from irrelevance to great power, for it is the depredations of such loathsome elements which caused the conditions for the unrest which led to the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. A by-product of their activities has been a sharp fall in the security of the State of Israel, which for more than three decades had the loyal ( to the dictates of Washington) former military officer Mubarak at the helm of its most important neighbour

However, the dark side of the Internet Startup boom in the US has been the excoriation of those who sought to ensure that the World Wide Web remained a free ( or at the least, a low cost) resource for the globe. Some such idealists have even been driven to suicide because of persecution by authorities eager to protect the monopolies of those who seek only to squueze as much personal wealth as possible through the internet. Bill Gates of Microsoft and Steve Jobs of Apple became billionaires. Both spent huge amounts of money on litigation designed to prevent competitors from placing lower-cost substitutes into markets that Apple and Microsoft saw as their own.

Such buttressing of monopolistic power through the use of the legal system has been facilitated by the tendency of judges in that country to favour their own citizens in lawsuits involving foreigners, especially if the aliens come from countries other than “the Pale of Civilisation”. In the case of Apple, it has filed several lawsuits against Samsung and got several judgments in its favour in US courts, the collective impact of which is to prevent the Korean company from challenging the market dominanance of the US corporate. Now it has to contend with a new threat, that of Huawei, which too has climbed up the technology ladder and created smartphones that are the rival of its competitors. Whether it be smartphones or pharmaceuticals, the self-proclaimed backers of “free trade” within the NATO bloc find their emotions curdling as soon as a competitor arrives at their doorstep. Globalisation is good, but only if it is one way: to help 5% of the globe continue to exercise domination over the remaining 95%.

Because Microsoft, Apple and other technology giants in the US now rely on the courts and on the police across the world rather than on innovation to continue their monopolies, there has been a change in their work culture. No longer are they vessels for the nurturing of innovators and super-creative people. Instead, managements have sought to grind down such attiributes and replace them with uniformity, with a uniform dress code and work timings that are as inflexible as those in a US prison. Fortunately for the US, the country which could have challenged it in creativity - in a way that China, with its regimentation, cannot - is led by individuals fully committed to the “5%” world ie in ensuring that domestic policy gets skewed not to benefit domestic industries but their NATO-based competitors. Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi have since 2004 drained away any threat posed by Corporate India to NATO-based entities. This hobbling of domestic enterprise has been accomplished by high interest rates, huge increases in regulation and a police culture in matters of financial management, except of course where they impact the foreign financial entities that annually take away billions each year from India through speculation and guises such as “royalty payments”. The same Reserve Bank of India that has driven so much of Corporate India to sickness because of higher interest rates has been blind towards such speculators, indeed even encouraging them to operate at the very time when President Obama is levying hundreds of billions of dollars of fines on them for doing precisely what they are guilty of in India

Unfortunately, freedom of speech on the internet is almost as absent in India as it is in China, while browsing speeds still mimic the bullock cart age rather than that of the automobile, not to spesk of aircraft. The Nixonian style of Mayer and other tech CEOs in the US has given an opportunity for competitors from countries that respect the rights of citizens, including their freedom to express their views and to set up businesses. The internet can be a way of creating a trillion-dollar industry in India, given the country’s human resources. However, restrictive governance is ensuring that despite the Marissa Mayers, the US tech industry continues to dominate the globe.

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