BEN WEINGARTEN

Reader. Writer. Thinker. Commentator. Truth Seeker.

Tag: Regulation

The Paradox of Silicon Valley Progressivism on Display in Compelling New Film ‘General Magic’

Tribeca Film ‘General Magic’ Shows How Capitalism Pulls Big Success Out Of Big Failures
One of the great paradoxes of Silicon Valley is that while its denizens are monolithically progressive, its creatives and entrepreneurs illustrate in their own lives the virtues of the free enterprise system that progressives loathe.

While the propensity for risk-taking is in part cultural, the ability to create and bring new goods and services to the public requires favorable social, political and economic conditions. This is why a communist nation like China resorts to stealing intellectual property to compete. It’s why innovation in progressive Europe pales in comparison to what we see in America.

Innovation requires the protection of individual liberty, private property rights and free markets. But Silicon Valley’s progressive political allies are often hostile to these principles.

A compelling new film featured at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival reflects this tension. While the liberal audience at the world premiere for “General Magic” — a new documentary about the “failed” tech company of that name — might not have realized it, the movie is an exceptional story about capitalism that viewers of all stripes will appreciate.

I recently reviewed this documentary at The Federalist.

Here’s a taste from the piece:

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Government Thinks You’re Too Dumb To Try Crowdfunding

Over at The Federalist, I write about how the SEC is subverting perhaps the only piece of pro-market legislation passed during the Obama administration in the so-called “crowdfunding” component of the JOBS Act.

This bill was supposed to democratize startup funding by allowing you and I to invest in the next Uber. Instead, in its implementation of the law, the SEC is completely undermining that aim and discouraging companies from availing themselves of crowdfunded equity altogether.

Here is a taste of the piece:

Market participants in crowdfunding would invest in companies with varying levels of disclosure on varying terms based upon risk-reward payoffs they deem appropriate. In fact, while startups are loathe to provide detailed information on their operations, some companies would voluntarily provide more robust disclosures to entice greater investment on more company-friendly terms, thereby creating a potential race to the top without government coercion.

Moreover, market participants are perfectly capable of determining for themselves how much money they should invest in speculative startup ventures. Americans are free to spend as much as we want on everything from doughnuts to liquor and lottery tickets. Investing in startups may provide only marginally better odds than the latter; at the very least it has the upside of leaving us thinner and sober. Why should government leave us free to choose on how we spend on some things, but not others?

Read the whole thing here.

 

Featured Image Source: JoBlo.

Shocking But True: The New York Times Has Editors Who Oppose Jobs for Illegal Immigrants!?

Jim Epstein’s bombshell reporting for Reason magazine — which poked holes in the New York Timesviral multi-part series on supposed systemic underpayment, exploitation and abuse of primarily young Asian and Hispanic nail salon workers in New York — finally received a response from the Times‘ public editor Margaret Sullivan.

Much can and will be written about what may be the latest chapter in the annals of journalistic malfeasance, this one allegedly consisting of shoddy and/or one-sided reporting in order to meet a favored narrative. And this is no small aside mind you, as as I have argued many times, today narrative is omnipotent — it trumps all else including truth.

But it was a line in Sullivan’s response on behalf of the Times tangential to the nail salon story that might have proved the most shocking revelation of all.

Sullivan wrote:

The [New York Times] editors [involved with the nail salon investigation] objected to many elements of Mr. Epstein’s reporting, including his apparent defense of practices that allow undocumented or illegal immigrants to work in salons.

Could these editors of the New York Times actually be saying what I think they are saying?

The Times opposes jobs for illegal immigrants?

Has the long march for social justice halted?

What in the name of “Pinch” Sulzberger is going on?

Then again, to be fair, Ms. Sullivan does assert that she is particularly heartened when the Times takes up the causes of the “poor and voiceless.” Sullivan also notes that “The [nail salon] series and its author, Sarah Maslin Nir, had admirable intentions in speaking for underpaid or abused workers.”

Assuming that the Times pursues such stories according to actual journalistic standards — following the facts as opposed to shaping some and omitting others to form a predetermined narrative — this would be all well and good. Surely journalism is in part about exposing injustice.

But it appears that the Times feels no such compassion let alone empathy for those incurring significant harm by government due to regulation.

As Sullivan writes:

Until now, The Times has not responded to that [Reason’s] series because editors believe they defended the nail salon investigation fully when they responded to Mr. Bernstein’s complaints, and because they think the magazine [Reason], which generally opposes regulation, is reporting from a biased point of view.

But is not the Times reporting from a biased point of view to the degree to which it feels that by mere dint of a publication’s general opposition to regulation, its reporting is thereby illegitimate or ought to be ignored? What about making the voice of the hyper-regulated heard?

There are millions of other victims of the powers that be who remain voiceless thanks to the Times‘ political bent.

In an ideal journalistic world, victims of all types would be heard, and their stories told based on truth, not narrative.

Featured Image Source: Wikipedia Commons.

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