Big Tech Is Turning The United States Into A Giant Company Town
Big Tech Is Turning The United States Into A Giant Company Town By Nathanael Blake for The Federalist
The robber barons of yore wanted your money; the lords of Silicon Valley want your heart, mind, and soul.
You load 16 tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt ,
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go,
I owe my soul to the company store.
Merle Travis’s chorus still hits home. It helps that a long list of great singers have covered it, but it was lyrical perfection before they added their musical interpretations. For all the tough talk in the verses, the refrain reveals the coal-mining narrator being bested by poverty in a company town. He’s trapped. He’s not quitting, but he can’t beat the system with his fists.
Company towns, especially the sort Travis sang about, are mostly a thing of the past in this country, and not all were as exploitative as the one in “Sixteen Tons.” By the standards of the time, some were even good, if paternalistic, places for workers to live. The defining feature was not abuse and exploitation, but control. Economic power merged with cultural and political power to control workers.
Big Tech is turning America into a giant company town. The parts of the internet everyone uses are controlled by a small number of companies. In an information economy and online culture, that ubiquity gives them dominion, and they are using it.
We expect business interests to be self-serving in their political involvement, but what sets the tech moguls apart is their desire to direct our lives, even if that draws them into political and cultural conflicts that might imperil their bottom line. The robber barons of yore wanted your money; the lords of Silicon Valley want your heart, mind, and soul.
Censorship Has Reached a New Level
The promise of the internet was openness and freedom, but Big Tech is imposing its views on the rest of us. This goes far beyond outrage mobs using social media to target people and organizations; the tech companies themselves are deploying their power to influence our culture and politics.