Big Tech Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader: The New Corporate Dictators

Today’s corporate dictators are like no others, beyond with unparalleled wealth towering over that held by Rockefeller and Carnegie (adjusted for inflation).
Consider the sheer unchallenged power of people like Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook (Meta). [Anthony Quintano / CC BY 2.0]

By Ralph Nader

Ever since the heads of East India Trading Company (1600) and Hudson Bay Company (1670), were incorporated by English Royal charters, there have been corporate dictators. Their range and actions, have varied widely however. Today’s new corporate dictators shatter past restraints.

John D. Rockefeller ruled the Standard Oil Company monopoly until the trust busters from Washington broke up its giant price-fixing and predatory practices into several companies.

Andrew Carnegie was the ruler of the giant Carnegie Steel Company (which became U.S. Steel Corporation). Carnegie violently broke up strikes, such as the 1892 Homestead strike, before he left the company to be a major philanthropist building libraries and universities.

In the post-World War II years, the CEOs of General Motors and Ford had immense power but still had to contend with a strong United Auto Workers union and later with jolting consumer advocacy leading to federal safety and emissions regulation.

Today’s corporate dictators are like no others, beyond with unparalleled wealth towering over that held by Rockefeller and Carnegie (adjusted for inflation).

Consider the sheer unchallenged power of Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook (Meta), Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, the wannabe CEO of a going-private Twitter, Elon Musk, (unless the sinking Tesla stock ends the debt-deep acquisition price), and Sergey Brin and Larry Page still in control of Google. Despite recent stirrings, there are no companywide unions at these companies and the prospect for such is still in the distant future.

These CEOs snap their fingers and their patsy Boards of Directors sign off on huge optimally priced stock options and other goodies. These CEOs don’t have to worry about their shareholders because like Zuckerberg, with a large portion of the shares, they have rigged their even larger control of voting shares giving them an unassailable shareholder majority.

They are hauled before Congressional Committees, appearing humble and afterwards they must be breaking open the champagne. Because after the public posturing by the lawmakers, no effective regulation is ever enacted. Antitrust action year after year doesn’t materialize, other than some weak consent decrees against Facebook which for a decade it violated while paying laughable civil fines.

No corporate monopolist comes close these days to being prosecuted for jail time. Under both the Democratic and Republican Parties, the Department of Justice cuts sweetheart ‘deferred prosecution agreements’ (See: Corporate Crime Reporter: https://www.corporatecrimereporter.com/) with the corporate entity and lets off the bosses. Boeing, after its two criminal 737 MAX crashes, is the latest example (See: Flying Blind: The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing by Peter Robison, November 30, 2021).

The dictatorship over consumers is most unprecedented. Whereas the old dictatorial bosses – pre-unions – had control over worker’s lives at the workplace, today’s corporate dictators can ply their power 24/7. They can get into the minds of people to addict them and have their personal lives invaded and their personal information offered for sale all over the globe. The old bosses used child labor until the early 20th century, but then kids were largely off limits.

Today’s dollar dictators have fused children’s hands with their iPhones and incarcerated them in their vast gluttonous, nasty, violent Internet world to which they become addicted. For six to ten hours a day, their screen time has become their lifetime – families begone!

Not only do these bosses’ avaricious clutches have no “quit time,” the little ones are now being lured into the Metaverse Gulag equipped with three-dimensional goggles to distance themselves further from daily reality.

Although circumvented. millions of parents are at their wit’s end, trying to recover their children from their screens and their video games at all hours and their digital fantasy worlds.  Although there have been dozens of expose’ books, documentaries and newly formed citizen groups focusing on these corporate child molesters, the hijacking of little America by these Internet Barons continues unabated.

Suing these commercial dictators for whom enough is never enough has gone nowhere. Judges don’t recognize offered causes of action. Moreover, under a special exception (Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act) from federal communications law, media like Twitter and Facebook are largely immune from suits no matter how violent, defamatory and false the anonymous hate messages traversing their corporate portals.

The contrast between the old and new corporate dictators is that the latter use, for free, your personal data for a fantastically profitable sale. The profit margins flowing from turning free “products” into big time cash are so high as to stun old-time economists who are used to margins under 10%, not over 50%.

Perhaps a bottom line in the differences between the old and new corporate dictators is twofold. Year after year, there is no number two really challenging their tight controls, no Avis to take on Hertz, as the old phrase went.

Second, the workers in these old industries felt and knew the oppressors or dictators ruling them. They were deep in this corporate reality. They could organize themselves because they knew their co-workers and this proximity gave birth to the union movements that led to fair labor standards and other regulations protecting workers (still much to be done here).

How do the users organize to overcome transaction costs (as with Facebook, Google and Twitter) when they never see each other? It’s a one-way gold mine ether out there. When several years ago, Facebook users formed a group for enhanced bargaining, Facebook sued for trademark infringement and blocked that nascent effort.

As long as Silicon Valley behemoths continue to rule Washington D.C. and State Capitals, get ready for more refinements of commercial tyranny.

18 comments

  1. Well stated. Ralph – are you of the same mindset with Big Pharma ? We can use your article, replace names of companies and people, and the same problems fly in our faces. You talk of addiction to social media. What about addiction to actual drugs? What about the sheer corruption in the FDA and NIH with regard to how drugs are approved, how EUAs are derived and pushed through? It’s not just about Silicon Valley behemoths. We have them in Pharma too. And in munitions manufacturing. #TooBigToFail is also in the Financial systems. Behemoths are the puppet masters of our “elected” officials. Tyranny is rising.

  2. Only a few more years of rampant covid, climate change, collapse of the financial, agricultural and energy systems and none of this will matter, will it?

  3. There is no such thing as Free Enterprise, there never was. And now we must shatter that old energy paradigm, by realizing that the true enemies of the people are the Zuckerberg’s of the world, the Gates’ and Klaus Schwab’s who seek absolute control over the world in an insane plan in which government has never played a significant role other than to cow-tow to the wishes of these so-called elite. Money does not confer power, people do, and the people have given up their power and now must reassert it against odds that they will fail. We owe this to our future generations. No soul encased in a human body would ever seek control over the world. That is for soul-less beings who work on deprivation of the masses, and deception as we see daily as well as their flaunting of the Illuminate One Ey signs, hidden hand signs, 666 hand sign etc, in every magazine. These poor souls have sold their souls to the Cabal, are now its slaves and must do what it says in order to stay wealthy. Insanity at its apex is what we are seeing. Pure ignorance in action.

    1. Woe! Finally someone “gets it”…not blaming the “other” but glances at the mirror!!! The issue is the people! Voters!!!

  4. As Che Guevara said more than six decades ago:

    The amount of poverty and suffering required for a Rockefeller to emerge, and the amount of depravity entailed in the accumulation of a fortune of such magnitude, are left out of the picture, and it is not always possible for the popular forces to expose this clearly.

    — Che Guevara, Socialism and man in Cuba, March 1965 (First Published: March 12, 1965, as From Algiers, for Marcha, The Cuban Revolution Today)

  5. U.S. billionaires (especially Elon Musk) got 62 percent richer during the “pandemic.” More specifically, the 400 richest Americans added $4.5 trillion to their wealth — an increase of 40 percent. Let’s pull back to a bigger picture:

    Over the past 40 years, the richest 1% of Americans saw their wealth increase by $21 trillion dollars.
    Meanwhile, U.S. households in the bottom 50% experienced a $900 billion loss in personal net worth.

    Since 1978, the wages of corporate CEOs rose by 900% while U.S. workers only saw their average wages rise by 12%.

    The 10 richest people in the world right now are worth more than the combined economies of the poorest 85 countries.

    Reminder: There are no “self-made” billionaires. They acquire their fortunes on the backs of the non-rich and via the devastation of the ecosystem and natural resources.

    1. Riches are the savings of many in the hands of one.” — Eugene V. Debs

  6. Technophilia – the more we attach ourselves to, or incorporate these devices into, ourselves – the more this becomes an incestuous relationship …

  7. Ralph Nader is a normal moral citizen who gets the idea we should all agree with! Not right or left it’s called thinking our actions and living with the consequences we all make. It’s called being a human with our stances.

  8. When the trust-busters broke up Standard Oil, John D. was richer and more powerful than ever. And though his old money may not compare to the fortunes of today’s global oligarchs, his family legacy has been at the forefront of the techno-totalitarian control, not least of all with Rockefeller medicine, and eugenics, of the Pharmafia (see especially the Rockefeller Foundation’s 2010 Lock Step plan in Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development), which has long been built to launch the world war on humanity now in progress; “Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure — one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.” (David Rockefeller)

    Central to the trap that has been laid has been consumerism, in which monopoly capital has domesticated human resources within the machinery of production and its realization of profit from captive buyers of what our wage slavery has produced, the unfree market uber alles turning society into one big company store. And now we’ve got supply chain and monetary crises across the board to steer us into a radical reset of the forces and relations of (re)production which will enslave us all the more to the “masters of mankind” (Adam Smith) within a new feudalism built upon biodigitalized resources. (Look for cyberattacks to supplement this transnational capitalist coup.)

    With family ties to the Rockefeller clan, Gates alone is the largest landowner of farmland in the US, and as manufactured climate change crises target agriculture and the meat industry in particular, his investments in lab grown alternatives stand ready to cash in. Meanwhile, a shortage of infant formula has been declared, with him and his billionaire buddies like Zuckerberg, Bezos, and Branson conveniently invested in startup company BIOMILQ to come to the rescue with bioengineered breast milk.

    It’s next to impossible to keep up with it all, but safe to assume it’s all a racket, set to realize, following Smith’s words again, capital rule’s “vile maxim” of nothing for us and all for monsters of mankind who would be gods over all life on earth, unless we resist with what life may be left in us prisoners of war.

  9. Tesla, safer at any speed, with partial self steering and 0 to 60 so fast you’ll say holy shit!

  10. A great read to reality. As a fully entrenched USER of FB and the world wide web with WIFI, Cable, the publics (radio and t.v.) and selected credible journalism…..I CHOSE what I know to be useful. I SEE very clearly the manipulation of data bombed at me when I open an ad…..I happily discard/delete a vast number of these visual sucking intrusions…..I NEED some of the benefits of this…..save $ for not needing to sop and uses GAS, I am a working elder and need help from over doing physically job and life tasks….EDUCATED World Wide Web users are taking advantage of the wealthy corporates…IT IS THE POOR and VULNERABLE who get in trouble and use it for trouble making. THE WORLD IS LESS AND LESS SAFE BY THE DAY. iT IS WHAT IT IS.

  11. Funny stuff from Mickey Z:

    Elon Musk — a transhumanist parasite hellbent on constructing a control grid for the elites, e.g.

    Tesla helps create a proliferation of electric cars which allows the powers that shouldn’t be to manage where we go, when, and how far

    Twitter is a massive wellspring of data voluntarily offered up by a compliant population

    Neuralink takes data collection to the whole level of data extraction and replacement

    SpaceX supplies the satellites to keep all of this madness running

    Fact: Support for Elon Musk is tantamount to global Stockholm Syndrome.

    I’d rather point out how predators like Musk are never “self-made.”

    I could detour into the mythology he’s created about his childhood. This despite the fact that his father, Errol Musk once said, “We had so much money at times we couldn’t even close our safe.” And then there’s the infamous emerald mine, purchased in the mid-1980s, which helped to fund his family’s lavish lifestyle of “yachts, skiing holidays, and expensive computers.”

    The costs of research and development are always socialized. The profits, of course, are always privatized.

    For example:

    In January 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy issued a $465 million loan to Tesla Motors to produce specially designed, all-electric plug-in vehicles and to develop a manufacturing facility in Fremont, California to produce battery packs, electric motors, and other powertrain components for powering specially designed all-electric vehicles.

    In September 2014, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed a package of bills to provide $1.3 billion in tax breaks and other incentives for Tesla Motors, putting a bow on the deal for the electric car company to build a massive factory in the state.

    A few more examples for your edification:

    2014: SpaceX received $15 million from the state of Texas
    2015: Tesla had sold $517 million in environmental credits to competitors per a federal mandate. Tax credits for consumers also helped them sell more cars.
    2015: SolarCity receives $497.5 million in grants, in addition to tax credits.
    2016: New York State put $750 million toward a SolarCity plant in Buffalo, NY.
    2020: Tesla accepts “certain payroll benefits” from the federal government’s $600 billion pandemic stimulus.
    2020: SpaceX signs a $653 million contract with the U.S. Air Force.
    2021: SpaceX lands a $2.89 billion contract with NASA.

    The way I see it, so many U.S. tax dollars went into Musk’s “self-made” success that we plebeians technically own a cut of that cesspool known as Twitter. I want my share now!

    https://dissidentvoice.org/2022/05/hey-elon-musk-i-want-my-cut-of-twitter/

    1. To Paul,
      I think you forgot to mention how Musk is making a deal to build his machines in China – so all those US $ will wind up going to finance his business in the place we identify as our “arch rival/enemy”, and, adding insult to injury, at the cost of American jobs and “tax base” …

  12. The Empire rules, simple as that. Only a Natural catastrophe can reverse it. Thank goodness that’s as simple as a big solar flare (CME) hitting this rock and wiping out the Empire. Unfortunately, it will also crush humanity as anarchy rules for a couple of centuries, perhaps longer. Of course there’s also the possibility of terminal nuclear war, and that’s becoming increasingly likely as each week passes, as we consume and become increasingly addicted to the addictions put forth, including the winnability of nuclear war the Empire says can be won by the West, against, cough, cough, Russia in particular and soon China. Russia, incidentally, is little more than a big regional — regional and not global — power armed with nukes that, if science put its mind to it, could be neutered much like small pox was erased.

  13. You are so right about this, and if we don’t do anything I think we’ll end up with a Fashist State. They have quietly taken away, all of the controls,and regulations on Corporations and the Rich, every since the day that Rosevelt Died. The people better wake up!!! Soon!!!

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