Why Regulatory Control misses the Point

Writing on the 10th of June a post programmed for publication on the 18th of June, I do not dare to refer to ‘the latest scandal’ dealing with Facebook-security issues – it does not really matter as sooner or later others will follow, perhaps one between writing and publishing. Reading an article (by Alexis Madrigal, published on the 4th of June) that wants to inform the reader about

W,hat We Know About Facebook’s Latest Data Scandal,

I stumble upon the following sentence right at the beginning:

Facebook said this special access to data existed only for old devices that did not have a native Facebook application.

It also shows why any regulation and stricter control of security will not solve the underlying problem. Reading the sentence slowly reveals its exact meaning, suggesting that Facebook is actually saying “go with us the entire way – otherwise we let you go.” It is not only about using FB as social networking tool but its home made application etc. Moving the analysis from here to the main point shows that we are not “only” concerned with the envisaged control of a dubious advertising bubble market

(cut from: http://view.stern.de/de/rubriken/streetlife/berlin-street-fruehling-seifenblasen-clown-entertainer-original-3849611.html?k=3045&r=9)

Instead, at the centre we find a major overall shift of control of capital in terms of concentralisation, i.e. concentration and centralisation closely interwoven. The aim is taking at least for the time being total control over an entire sector of capital movement, going far beyond advertisement. Reading later in the said article that

(t)he drive for growth led Facebook to share data with device manufacturers. Device manufacturers were competing for market share themselves, and needed a Facebook experience to be competitive

reveals the meaning: control over complex processes of accumulation. “The winner takes all” translates into a “modern” version of absolutism: “society, that is me” – signed Gates, Jobs, Zuckerbergs … As Steve Jobs supposedly said

It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the Navy.

Pirates, that is what they surely are – and it surely makes little sense asking pirates to accept rules that control piracy.

Looking closer at the scene, not individual cases, some feeling of unease must remain:

I.

Though I would not share the positive assessment of the US-hearing suggested in the article, the result in Washington and Brussels surely had been similar:

Here is what most people feel after seeing the European Parliament hearing of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: The questions were tough but the format was rubbish. This is in contrast to Zuckerberg’s hearings in Washington DC last month where the format was right but questions were rubbish. The end result though was same in all hearings, in Europe and the US: Zuckerberg easily avoided answering tough questions.

II.

Should we really widely ignore – acceptimg that we may have temporary personal advantage – that Ryanair, whose pilot had been at least “independent entrepreneurs” – opens now also to RyanairRoom, apparently marking a strategic move from putting existing accommodation-businesses under pressure to directly controlling them?

III.

Is it by accident that APPLE’s tax-avoidance policy in Ireland is especially now being issued again – now, after moving back to the US?

IV.

A nasty tiny thing at the end: Seeing Zuckerberg giving his “testimony” in Brussels, I am asking myself, after hearing again all the gratefulness also of the EU-politicians (admittedly not as bad it had been as in Washington) … – who paid for his flight, a flight that didn’t even allow Mr. Z to stay really to the end? – Well. the rushed leave saved the tax payer at least paying for his dinner …

Annunci

Don’t blame me if …

Well, I am not entirely sure if I got something wrong, if it is already a new business idea or if I bring it up as potential business strategy? Recently I saw in Austria a poster, advertising for flights. Part of it:

Flights, from 59.99 €. + registration of luggage — including miles.

Now I am wondering if there is another booking option: Booking a seat on the aircraft, and then paying per mile? This is the way car transport works – be it if you take a taxi or if you go for ‘car sharing’.

We may get there – or may even be on the way to ‘Ubering your flight‘ – without Uber.

– See also

Dopo il car sharing, arriva il “flight sharing”. I piloti condividono aereo… e spese

Fancy sharing the cost of a flight on a private aircraft?

Airbus entwickelt selbstfliegendes Lufttaxi

Airbus, de l’avion au taxi volant

Poison, Gifts and Intoxication

Well, much can be said about China – not the issue here and not for me at the moment. Still, I am wondering if a country and continent [sorry, all links are to articles in German language]

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[Bei der Düsseldorfer Tafel bekommen alle Bedürftigen Lebensmittel. In Essen vorübergehend nur noch die mit deutschem Pass. – photo dpa]

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should really worry about a Chinese investor, who steps substantially in at Daimler Benz? Carrying in his luggage the gift of advanced technologies for electric cars, a gift that does not promise venom-free driving[1], but is at least a small contribution to reduce emissions. – It would be more desirable to think about possibilities to move with this to cooperative advantage instead of maintaining comparative advantage as guide, – Sure, here state regulation could take new forms.

Less complains here I suppose than about google as potential competitor on the market of car manufacturing.

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Two of the many points that should be mentioned in detail:

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Quoted from the first article, in translation:

The spokesperson of the job center … says that persons who re receiving basic basic social income would not depend on begging.

It is the old flam that here is no poverty [a] because everybody has the right to receive that kind of income and [b] it is sufficient for a decent life. But it is as well a matter of defining begging as smiliar-to-employment activity.

**

In all these contexts [there are similar cases, also in other German cities, the issue of donations is coming up: basically it says money – also goods – given to people who are begging, also food and other support people receive from charities – are legally ‘donations’ [non-deductible] to the recipient, i.e, beggar.

So, playing this bitter game a bit further we arrive at the state where actually income may soon be defined as donation, the employer soon being defined as good-doer, and the employee …

Well, NOW I think it is time to return to the China issue: I discussed with a colleague more or less extensively about Corporate Social Responsibility – the project to co-author an article finally failed, admittedly it was my fault: I simply could not accept that paying business tax can be seen as corporate social responsibility … .

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And all this is much about a topic I discuss occasionally with my colleague here, in a nutshell the old, and still unresolved question about justice and right. And John Stuart Mill, in Volume X of his Collected Works [Essays on Ethics, Religion and Society], in particular writing on the ‘On the Connexion between Justice and Utility’ is at least stimulating, asking us to think about social and individual.

Is it far fetched then if the gist of my presentation, titled

WYSIWYG – Also for Big Data?

is the necessity to think about the a radical ‘new beginning’ when it comes to thinking about social and welfare issues?

Now lean back and think a bit: In the presentation I mention towards the end that one of the most serious problems with the ‘new economic and juridical normal’ is the -delegalisation, ops: the fact that we find a substantial trend towards charitibilisation: the replacement of social rights by charitable activities ….

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[1]            The German term ‘Geschenk’ translates into English as ‘gift’, the German term ‘Gift’ translates into English as venom, toxic, poison.

The Devil, the Detail and the Devil’s Home

It is often said that the devil can be found in the detail – and this is not contest here as general rule. However, we should never forget to think about the place where the devil can be found, namely the devil’s home.

The Council of the Economic Advisors is looking in an issue brief from April 2016 at the

While we talk in the meantime extensively about inequality of wealth and the unbelievable affluence of the super-rich, and while we look with disgust at the Panama-papers, there is indeed something in the report that is more appalling  and actually the showing the real issue that is covered by all those scandals, clearly apparent from the report: the real inequality is still the inequality in the control of means of production though, though those means changed over the years they appearance – it may be true that

we are about to make the transition from a society in which energy was the engine of progress, innovation and productivity to one where data and the information technologies that underpin it will be the engine of progress.’

(Degryse, Christophe, 2016: Digitalisation of the Economy and its impact on labour markets; Working Paper 2016.02; Brussels: ETUI: 9 f.; with reference to Babinet, Gilles, 2015: Big Data, penser l’homme et le monde autrement; Paris: Le Passeur)

The inequality not in terms of money but in terms of capital is the decisive factor, so the analysis should really look at The Capital of the 21st Century, and not just at the distribution of money – students are at least sometimes told that there is a difference between money and capital.

This means as well that we have to be careful, resisting the attractive models that are easily offered – resisting in the dialectical way of overcoming the shortcomings while maintaining the potentials. Joe Stiglitz looked recently at the

Monopoly’s New Era

surely raising important issues. However, this makes us easily forget the systematic character, the law if you want, that stands behind the development. It is not the Sshumpetarian entrepreneur who develops with inventiveness and courage the empires, be they empires of steel barons or information gurus. As long as we believe in such magic powers, we easily find ourselves in the trap of distributing income, forgetting to consider the need to question power. Brecht’s words

The womb is fertile still from which that crept

are also valid in this context, not least making us alert of the dangers, posed by capital looking for spheres for investment and war. Indeed, taking it from my forthcoming publication “Security in insecure times” (which is linked to the presentation I made in Gdansk)

… we find as well the mention if the immediate security threat: Paul Krugman, in a conversation with Tony Atkinson on Inequality and Economic Growth at the Graduate Centre of City University of New York speaks of ‘a large public work stimulus programme known as the second world war’ (15/05/16; minute 1:18:13 ff.).[1] And in his opinion page/blog in The New York Times, Krugman contends that ‘World War II is the great natural experiment in the effects of large increases in government spending, and as such has always served as an important positive example for those of us who favor an activist approach to a depressed economy.’

And indeed, we have sufficient evidence of the aggressiveness, be it in international relations, regionally in Latin America or in the name of national democracy.

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[1] Btw, going hand in hand with a rejection of trade unionism.