Google and The Working Man
Posted on July 7, 2014
So, this is what the Larry Page of Google said about the future of work:
“I totally believe we should be living in a time of abundance, like the Peter Diamandis book. If you really think about the things that you need to make yourself happy: housing, security, opportunity for your kids. I mean, anthropologists have identified these things. It’s not that hard for us to provide those things. The amount of resources we need to do that, the amount of work that actually needs to go into that is pretty small. I’m guessing less than 1 percent at the moment. So the idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people’s needs is just not true. I do think there’s a problem that we don’t recognize that. I think there’s also a social problem that a lot of people aren’t happy if they don’t have anything to do. So we need to give people things to do. You need to feel like you’re needed, wanted and have something productive to do. But I think the mix with that and the industries we actually need and so on are — there’s not a good correspondence. That’s why we’re busy destroying the environment and doing other things maybe we don’t need to be doing. So I’m pretty worried until we figure that out, we’re not going to have a good outcome. One thing, I was just talking to Richard Branson about this. They have a huge problem that they don’t have enough jobs in the U.K. So he’s been trying to get people to hire two part-time people instead of one full-time. So at least, the young people can have a half-time job rather than no job. And it’s a slightly greater cost for employers. I was thinking, the extension of that is you have global unemployment or widespread unemployment. You just reduce work time. Everyone I’ve asked — I’ve asked a lot of people about this. Maybe not you guys, but most people, if I ask them, “Would you like an extra week of vacation?” They raise their hands, 100 percent of the people. “Two weeks [of vacation], or a four-day work week?” Everyone will raise their hand. Most people like working, but they’d also like to have more time with their family or to do their own interests. So that would be one way to deal with the problem, is if you had a coordinated way to just reduce the work week. And then, if you had slightly less employment, you can adjust and people will still have jobs.”
The attitude that permeates the Google culture has always been somewhat elitist. They used to require that you have at least a Master’s Degree to work there. Then they required that you work out some complicated brain-teaser puzzle. If you couldn’t do it, you couldn’t get a job.
Now, they require you to go through 5 interviews with various different groups of Googlers, no more, no less, before you can get job.
They are a data-driven company built for data driven people.
The big question you have to ask yourselves is: What good do they do for society?
They don’t hire anybody unless they are really, very smart.
Those people can presumably work anywhere, so skimming the top of society is not exactly a big contribution to society.
They have been terrific for piracy, the porn industry and prostitution. If you want to steal content, find the best porn sites, or hook up with a hooker, Google makes that all very easy for you.
Search results in seconds.
But as far as actually making society any better, Google’s contributions are far less understandable.
They have been very good at serving as an agent of creative destruction. By facilitating on-line shopping, they have made it harder for retailers who don’t have an active on-line presence to survive.
Google itself outsources all of its blue collar work to private sub-contractors who pay slightly above minimum wage. The fabulously wealthy at the top of the Google pyramid don’t like to share their wealth with the hoi polloi at the bottom of the pyramid.
It is with this attitude that Larry Page and Sergie Brin look at the workforce.
They don’t see much need for workers, their labor their ideas or their blood, sweat and tears.
Work for them should be made up to give them something to do. And sometimes, work can be needlessly destructive because of its impact on the environment.
Maybe, in the Google construct, we should give everybody a little yellow pill and let them spend their time in a far-out Google hang-out.
The Google boys are very close to the Obama White House. In fact, you can see the same kind of elitist philosophy suffusing both the President and his multi-billionaire friends at the G-Spot. In their world-view, we don’t need more full time jobs. We need more workers working part-time and hanging out the rest of time.
As policy-makers think about ways to jump-start this economy and putting more people to work, they should ignore the advice of our friends at Google.
They don’t seem to care that much about the working man, and they certainly haven’t been very good for them.