Tuesday, February 21

Why Obama opposed SOPA and PIPA

Joel Kotkin: President Obama Courts Silicon Valley’s New Digital Aristocracy
Even when they’ve competed with and acted like more established power brokers, the digital ruling class are treated with kid gloves compared to other wealthy elites, rarely suffering the disdain aimed at amoral bankers and at Hollywood’s general venality. Instead, the creators of our iPhones, social networks and Twitter accounts are held up as tool makers and business titans....
The new plutocrats are unburdened by the obligations that come with existing large institutions; with no union presence, they don’t have to worry about anxious retirees or redundant older workers. Green pet causes that align with their financial interests buy more cover from the left, while conservatives, who rarely see anything wrong with extreme wealth, seem somewhat unconscious about the political orientation of the emerging new elite. Ninety-two percent of Facebook executive donations so far this year went to Democrats. This exceeds even the rock-solid support the Democrats enjoy among more established firms like Google and Apple, where support for Democrats runs to the high 80s.
The Obama administration’s opposition to the anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA came despite intense lobbying for the bill by his party’s long-time allies in Hollywood. Whatever the bills’ failings, their defeat also formally introduced the new power of the digerati moguls and their millions of followers....
In California, the alliance between progressive Democrats and high tech is palpable. The digital elite has been a consistent backer of Gov. Jerry Brown’s jihad on greenhouse gases, helping finance the campaign against a 2010 measure intended to reform state’s draconian and likely job-killing energy and land-use laws. Google has emerged both as a key backer of the state’s climate-change politics and sought to profit by investing nearly a billion dollars in renewable-energy companies. These firms in turn depend on the state’s strict mandates on utilities to use “green” electricity for their revenues. It’s no coincidence that prominent valley VCs have been particularly active in alternative-energy firms such as Solyndra.

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