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Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Google Manifesto (And What It Means)

It seems that anyone on Planet Earth with a pulse now is familiar with the situation at Google in which a male engineer sent a 10-page memo over the company’s internal listserv in which he questioned some of Google’s “diversity” policies. As most of us expected when the story became public, Google fired the employee, citing “incorrect” thoughts about “gender” as its justification.
Not surprisingly, we have seen people on both the Right and the Left shooting missives at each other via social media and the usual journalistic outlets. From the left, not surprisingly, the engineer who wrote the memo, James Daramore, is a slimy bigot who got what was coming to him. Conservatives see Daramore’s memo as being reasonable, but that Google is so Politically-Correct that even a slight deviation from the path of leftist orthodoxy cannot be tolerated. Even some people who consider themselves to be politically and socially liberal are critical of Google’s decision to fire Daramore.
We like to think of modern high-technology firms in the famed Silicon Valley such as Google, Apple, and Twitter as representing much that is good about our present day. These companies are full of young, hard-working people who are near-genius in their capacity to understand technology and how it can be used entrepreneurially. As I see it, one of the reasons that federal economic policies (not to mention the predations of the Federal Reserve System) have not created mass destruction of the economy has been the presence of tech-savvy entrepreneurs that continue to foil even the best (or, more appropriately, worst) efforts of politicians and regulators to block economic progress.
Furthermore, we know throughout history that private enterprise often undermines things like racism and sexism (despite the claims from socialists that capitalism is the source of All Bad Things) and that private property, prices, and free exchanges have tied people together that keep politicians from successfully tearing things apart. As economists like Thomas Sowell have noted, it has been governments that have prevented the free association of people who seek to engage in market behavior to better their lives.
For example, Jim Crow policies did not arise out of businesses demanding discrimination against blacks. Economic historians such as Jennifer Roback Morse have noted that the private bus and rail companies opposed Jim Crow laws that segregated city buses, and businesses in general resisted racial discrimination, but were brought to heel by city councils and state and federal legislators.
Jim Crow is long gone, but it seems that Progressives (which gave us Jim Crow in the first place) now are imposing what essentially is a new form of segregation, that being ideological and religious segregation that is more reminiscent of how the former USSR treated dissidents than anything we have seen in private enterprise. For example, I know a young Christian couple in San Francisco, and the woman works at Twitter, where the company leadership has made it clear that it does not tolerate deviation from Political Correctness. She has said that she has to keep her faith hidden, since if others find out her beliefs, she likely would lose her job at worst and be subject to harassment at the very least, not to mention that she could expect no promotions or pay raises in the future. The new “diversity” standards of Silicon Valley seem to want a “diversity” in which everyone doesn’t have the same racial or sexual characteristics, but manages to think in lockstep.
So far, it does not seem that companies like Google are paying much of a price for their Soviet-style enforcement against what only can be “thought crimes.” True, after political conservatives boycotted Starbucks following the declaration from its (now former) CEO that political conservatives were not welcome at the company’s coffee shops, the Starbucks stock price fell and the boycott did seem to hurt the firm’s bottom line. Firms like Google, Twitter, and Apple, however, are so large and so dominant that it is doubtful any boycott would succeed in affecting them.
Libertarians believe that Google, as a private firm, should be able to set its own work policies, including the employment of religious and political discrimination. Indeed, there is no such thing as a “pure” meritocracy in which the most talented are always employed in their best positions. Real life is messier and we should not be surprised (or even upset) when factors other than pure talent are used in part to determine employment decisions.

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