Silicon Valley tech elites mostly liberal, hate rules: study

A new study has found that Silicon Valley tech elites are mostly liberal, except they don’t like government regulations. Nor unions.

Why should we care? The study’s authors — a couple of Stanford political science professors and a journalist — make the case that tech entrepreneurs and executives are poised to wield political power like never before.

That’s because these tech elites are wealthy, employ millions of Americans and own the technology and platforms that we’ve all become dependent on.

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“Insofar as technology entrepreneurs continue to attain greater economic success, they may gain power within and boost the fortunes of the Democratic Party, thus potentially serving as an unexpected source of support for liberal policies in many domains,” the authors of the study — deemed the first of its kind — write. “At the same time, technology entrepreneurs’ hostility to government regulation, especially of labor markets, and their extremely negative views towards unions appear likely to lead to high-profile conflicts within the Democratic Party coalition going forward.”

The study’s main conclusions may not come as a surprise to many tech-industry observers: Companies such as Uber have tended to have run-ins with regulators because they act first and ask permission (if at all) later; Tesla has been accused of being anti-union; the many tech companies involved in developing self-driving technology are holding their noses as they push for quicker action on federal guidelines.

On the other hand, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, LinkedIn Chairman Reid Hoffman and others have given their moral and financial support to causes that are traditionally aligned with Democrats, as well as their opposition to President Trump.

A fresh example: Microsoft President Brad Smith has declared that the company will defend “Dreamer” employees in the wake of the Trump administration’s announcement Tuesday that it will kill the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. This means Microsoft would pay for legal costs if Dreamers — undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children — were to be threatened with deportation, Smith said.

Other social and economic-equity issues that the tech industry has backed include transgender rights, gay marriage, net neutrality and diversifying the workforce. Some execs have championed a universal basic income.

But the industry’s other practices, such as using low-paid contractors to clean its massive, gleaming campuses and to shuttle employees around, run counter to its professed support of economic equality.

Also, the National Labor Relations Board recently ordered Tesla to respond to worker complaints that the Silicon Valley electric-car maker restricts its workers from talking about work and safety issues. And the Labor Department has accused Google of a massive gender gap in pay.

Then there’s the recent New York Times opinion piece titled “In Silicon Valley, Working 9 to 5 is for Losers,” which explored tech industry workaholism.  It’s become so bad that there’s a backlash, complete with books that seek to change the culture.

Yet, the Stanford study found that “technology elites generally favor policies that would increase economic, social, and global equality. They express similar attitudes on taxation and redistribution as existing constituencies in the Democratic Party.”

But their feelings about unions veer away from other Democrats, the study shows: “74% of technology entrepreneurs say they would like to see labor unions’ influence decrease, versus only 18% of Democratic donors and 33% of Democratic citizens.”

A perfect example of the study’s paradoxical conclusions may be the political efforts of Sam Altman, president of tech incubator Y Combinator. He launched over the summer a campaign to back California political candidates, saying “I want to help candidates who believe in creating prosperity through technology, economic fairness, and maintaining personal liberty.”

The Stanford study’s findings are based on a survey conducted the last week of February, and involved nearly 700 tech executives who responded out of the few thousand who were approached. They are millionaires and founded/run a company with at least 100 employees.

The study was conducted by Stanford’s David Broockman, assistant professor of political economy, Neil Malhotra, political science professor, and journalist Greg Ferenstein. The study is being peer reviewed and was presented last week to the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, according to the New York Times.


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  • Thelip95032

    Not surprised , most valley leaders come from elite back east schools and thus believe in the “right and wrong ” side of the tracks. all the rules are for the “little people”.

    This attitude was shown in the Brock Turner case where “The father of a former Stanford University athlete convicted on multiple charges of sexual assault has said his son should not have to go to prison for “20 minutes of action”.

    I worked in SV for 40 years this attitude is very prevalent. These are the folks the millennials idolize.

    • Retired man

      As an escaped native local, I know plenty of elitist Californians who went to public schools who think the same. The judge in the Brock Turner case, for example.
      Rules for thee but not for me.

  • Dave

    How reassuring to know that billionaire tech giants are not only proponents of hedonism and debauchery but also have no regard for the system of laws that bind a Nation and protect society at large. EPA, OSHA, FDA, etc. were enacted to protect people and our environment from lawless greedy companies. Laws reflect a progressive society. BLM and Antifa are models of lawlessness and extremism that destabilize the Constitutional freedoms within a society. Moral decay and anarchy mark the demise of a socially prosperous Nation.

    • TheOne

      But don’t most liberals support BLM and Antifa?

      • Cheap & Nothing Wasted

        No. Both groups are a minority of a minority.
        Antifa is a tiny bunch of anarchists, they’re not & never have been liberals. It’s Fox News that falsely makes that claim.

        • B Lee

          So how come Antifa and #BLM ONLY attack right of center people/groups?

          • Cheap & Nothing Wasted

            Because they’re not attacking right of center groups, they’re attacking extreme loons who claim to be Nazis & KKK, who not only deserve to be attacked, but should be killed, just like we killed Nazis in WWII!
            That’s why!!!!!!!

  • Retired man

    Sure,they hate rules. For them. Then they vote for and financially support rule and regulation making politicians who have driven businesses and taxpayers out to state. To business friendly states like Texas with low taxes and regulations. Go figure. And wonder how u got President Trump.

  • Xcalifornian

    Of course they hate rules! Like politicians they believer rules are for the “little people:,,,not them.

    Hillary, Obama, Feinstein and a whole lot more fill that bill.

  • charlie hustle

    so…basically they’re like Trump

    • Rock Lobster


  • omegatalon

    Silicon Valley are essentially a bunch of hypocrites who are closed minded and not much better than Nazis as they want people to think the way they think and is closed to alternative ideas as this is why Google and Apple have removed the GAB app from their web stores; Google and Apple are in favor of free speech as long as the subject matter is something they approve of.

  • D-Dog

    This is an interesting read. Being a contracted tech worker in the silicon valley my whole life, I’ve always thought these companies were a bit hypocritical. They preach equality, but treat contractors much differently than regular employees. Sometimes because tax law requires it, but mostly because its cheaper to treat you differently. I never complained about it, I’ve always had a decent job. But look at the janitor who is undocumented, they will fight for them to remain employed illegally, pretend they are valuable to the country, but hire them as a contractor for cheaper wages. So while they come off as doing good for the people, they are just creating an economy dependent upon slave labor. No different than Democrats pushing for illegals and refugees to come here. Do you really think its all about them doing for good cause, or for votes? They wouldn’t push so hard if it was the the good of these people, they don’t push harder in any other area of government when it comes to getting things done, its all for votes, or in the companies view, cheap slave labor.

  • Rock Lobster

    That’s why they hire illegals.

  • TheOne

    Sounds like most SV “liberals” are actually Republicans but just don’t realize it yet.