Quoted: Are Mark Zuckerberg and Tim Cook the new robber barons/captains of industry?

“Carnegie could never have imagined the kind of power Zuckerberg has. Politics today is less relevant than it has ever been in our entire history. These CEOs are more powerful than they’ve ever been. The driving force of social change today is no longer government at all.”

David Nasaw, biographer of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie and a history professor at City University of New York, quoted in a Guardian piece looking at the influence of tech CEOs such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Apple’s Tim Cook.

The article comes on the heels of recent comments by Zuckerberg that took aim at presidential candidate Donald Trump’s immigration plan, which among other things calls for mass deportations and building a wall between the U.S.-Mexican border — “Instead of building walls, we can help people build bridges,” Zuckerberg said, which Trump’s camp slammed — and amid Apple’s fight with the U.S. government over breaking encryption in its iPhones, which was supported by the rest of the tech industry. (By the way, Gizmodo reported Friday that Facebook employees have asked about the company’s “responsibility” to keep Trump from becoming president. A Facebook spokesman told CNNMoney that “we as a company are neutral.”)

In addition, Microsoft last week sued the U.S. government over user-data requests it’s forced to keep secret, and indicated that it has tech’s support.

But wait, there’s more: FWD.us, an immigration advocacy group founded by Zuckerberg and other tech industry leaders, is among those rallying Monday outside the U.S. Supreme Court as it considers a challenge to President Obama’s plan to let millions of undocumented immigrants work legally in the United States.

Despite the Guardian’s look at what it’s calling “the digital gilded age,” anyone worried about the power and influence of Zuckerberg — whose Facebook has more than 1.5 billion users worldwide — might want to take pause and consider, though, that governments around the world aren’t rolling over and letting tech do whatever it wants.

Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and other tech companies have faced U.S., European and other government questions about some or all of the following: their dominance, tax, labor and environmental practices. Governments around the world have imposed bans or restrictions on services such as Uber.

Still, the Guardian notes that the tech executives and companies also have the power of lobbying and philanthropy — and Zuckerberg’s philanthropic goals are among the loftiest of all.

“There was a backlash against Carnegie and Rockefeller when they set up their philanthropies. There was a congressional hearing about whether this concentrated wealth should be allowed,” Nasaw told the Guardian. “There’s always this conversation between democracy and billionaires, and today those billionaires have more power than ever.”


Photo: Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at Facebook’s F8 Developers Conference Tuesday, April 12, 2016, in San Francisco, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)


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  • xxx4

    “There was a backlash against Carnegie and Rockefeller when they set up their philanthropies.”
    There probably were no tax exemptions for their endeavors then

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