DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Open The Door!

Written by: on November 29, 2018

Scott Galloway is bold, and probably a bit brazen, in his attitude towards The Four – Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple Tech companies.  Galloway’s edgy demeanor stems from his twenty plus years of experience with, and study of, these companies.  Galloway is quick to admit he has personally profited from his investment in Amazon and Apple stock, and professionally Amazon is the largest recruiter for the business classes he teaches at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Even so, Galloway has formed a singular conclusion: “It’s time to break up big tech.”[1] “He’s angry that these companies create growth without prosperity. He knows that many people tend to blame global trade and immigrants for our problems, but he insists the tech economy and its “fetishization” is equally to blame”.[2]

 

In a time when this country is using approximately 21 percent of GDP to keep the military armed and parks open, Galloway highlights a startling statistic that The Four tech companies paid the following tax percentages between 2007-2015:  Amazon 13 percent, Apple 17 percent, Google 16 percent, and Facebook 4 percent (far lower than the 25 percent average needed for a thriving economy).  My dad, a wise man, would be quick to tell you that the tax law, as it was written then, LEGALLY allowed companies to avoid taxes, so “why blame the company”?  Blame the government – essentially Congress – for writing and keeping the complex tax law… (Can you tell I’ve had this discussion at the Thanksgiving table before?) Of course the profits of The Four are significant and the country is still receiving a hefty tax payment. However, Apple (and by no means are they the only company implicated in this practice) has sheltered $250 billion overseas. “Apple, for example, uses an accounting trick to move its profits to domains such as Ireland, which results in lower taxes for the most profitable firm in the world. As of September 2017, the company was holding $250 billion overseas, a hoard that is barely taxed and should never have been abroad in the first place.”

 

Galloway clearly establishes that above all, companies are profit driven (which is the foundation of Capitalism – remember The Protestant Work Ethic?). “Since the turn of the millennium, firms and investors have fallen in love with companies whose ability to replace humans with technology has enabled rapid growth and outsize profit margins. Those huge profits attract cheap capital and render the rest of the sector flaccid.” But for all the good a profitable company can contribute to society (and by all means society loves The Four big tech companies and their personal benefits: connection (Facebook), quick answers (Google), shopping and groceries (Amazon) and smartphone security (Apple)) Galloway is throwing up a penalty flag claiming that The Four’s monopoly is “dangerous for our society, and it shows no signs of slowing down. It hollows out the middle class, which leads to bankrupt towns, feeds the angry politics of those who feel cheated, and underpins the rise of demagogues.”[3]

Of grave concern to me and Galloway, and highly relevant to my research, is the ongoing (and highly inaccurate) rhetoric that refugees, immigrants, and globalization are harmful to the economy and society. According to the New American Economy Research Fund, the sample 2.3 million refugees who arrived in the United States since 1975, earned more than $77 billion in household income and paid almost $21 billion in taxes in 2015.[4] Outside of the tax payments, refugees were left with $56 billion in spending power.  The report, From Struggle to Resilience: The Economic Impact of Refugees in America, shows:[5]

  • Refugees have an entrepreneurship rate that outshines even that of other immigrants.
  • Refugees contribute meaningfully to our economy as earners and taxpayers.
  • While refugees receive initial assistance upon arriving in the United States, they see particularly sharp income increases in subsequent years.
  • Refugees make particularly meaningful contributions to the economies of several key states.
  • Even more so than other immigrants, refugees take steps to lay down roots and build lives in America.
  • In an era when the country faces unprecedented demographic challenges, refugees are uniquely positioned to help.

Galloway warns the reader of The Four that the primary purpose of the economy, and one of its key agents, the firm, is to create and sustain the middle class (of which most refugees will become members of). The U. S. middle class from 1941 to 2000 was one of the most ferocious sources of good in world history. “The American middle class financed, fought, and won good wars; took care of the aged; funded a cure for polio; put men on the moon; and showed the rest of the world that self-interest, and the consumption and innovation it inspired, could be an engine for social and economic transformation.”[6]  Sadly, the middle class is being diminished – even more likely obliterated financially.  Have you considered the implications for losing the middle class?

Galloway appears stumped by the current state of laissez faire attitude towards big tech companies… “Where is the Department of Justice? Where are the furious Trump tweets?” and I will add my own disbelief – why are we condemning and turning away potential refugee contributors to our economy?  The impact of financial contribution by refugees has been proven – and it’s significant!  We are at a pivotal moment in history when we have 4000 refugee asylum seekers knocking on our front door.  Let’s open that door and embrace our brothers and sisters – offering opportunities for a new life and capitalizing on the refugee spirit of survival and enterprise.

16 “But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.”(NIV)

[1] https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a15895746/bust-big-tech-silicon-valley/?src=nl&mag=esq&list=nl_enl_news&date=020818

[2] https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a15895746/bust-big-tech-silicon-valley/?src=nl&mag=esq&list=nl_enl_news&date=020818

[3] https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/02/scott-galloway-the-four-amazon-apple-google-facebook.html

[4] https://research.newamericaneconomy.org/report/from-struggle-to-resilience-the-economic-impact-of-refugees-in-america/

[5] http://research.newamericaneconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2017/11/NAE_Refugees_V6.pdf

[6] https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a15895746/bust-big-tech-silicon-valley/?src=nl&mag=esq&list=nl_enl_news&date=020818

About the Author

mm

Jean Ollis

12 responses to “Open The Door!”

  1. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Jean,

    Your dad is a wise man and correct as far as I can tell. It is a wonder that the federal government has continued to permit these companies to benefit from tax shelters and monopolies unchecked. It’s possible that our political leaders are just as enamored with what these companies provide that they give them a pass.

    If the middle class is effectively eliminated it will have incredible ramifications for everyone, particularly those reliant on the generosity of others like churches and ministries. I hear what you are saying in regard to the refugee crisis but I wonder whether you think admitting more refugees will solve the problem or only delay the eventual collapse of the middle class.

    • mm Jean Ollis says:

      Dan,
      That’s a great question, but I’m not sure I have a good answer. I don’t think it will harm the economy to allow refugees the opportunity to settle here. It’s an argument that’s made so frequently made on fear rather than facts.

  2. mm Jason Turbeville says:

    Jean,
    The dwindling of the middle class certainly is a thing, I love how you highlighted the good that has come out of the middle class. It seems we are on our way to an oligarch system, I am pretty sure Galloway highlighted this several times. I am not sure what to do about it but it does cause one to consider what we as a society have given away for the sake of convenience.

    Thanks
    Jason

  3. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Jean!

    Great connection with your research and dissertation. Your points are irrefutable in my opinion. So good, that I read them twice.

    I am trying to differentiate between terms, however, and I need your help. I am perfectly okay with the words “immigrants” and “refugees” but I pause at a term like “illegals”.

    I know you do not use that term, but I hear others who do when stating their case. I am sure there are some statistics on why “illegals” are bad for our country. Murder, job loss, illegal drugs, serious crime…

    I even saw a book title “Illegals: The Unacceptable Cost of America’s Failure to Control Its Borders”.

    Will you be differentiating between the terms in your work?

    • mm Jean Ollis says:

      Hi Jay,
      Such an interesting question you pose. I don’t use the term illegals since a refugee or immigrant is already here legally. I assume the term illegal is used for the undocumented person (stayed after a visa expired or snuck across the border). I’m not sure what the actual numbers are of “illegals” but most of them fly under the radar and work under the table. As much as we hate to admit it, they too contribute significantly to the economy through consumerism or working at jobs we aren’t willing to do…

  4. mm M Webb says:

    Jean,
    Thanks for the statistics on spending power of refugees in the United States. That is quite revealing, and contrary to popular thought and dialogue. We live in an amazing country that supports free enterprise, owning property, and being entrepreneurial. In many of the countries I have visited or served in, there laws and customs are quite restrictive for the immigrant.
    I believe the Big 4, or other like them, are here to stay, and just continue taking over economy and social sectors until Christ returns.
    Thankfully God knows the beginning from the end. This is just a whisper in eternity, and we are not only advancing God’s Kingdom, but preparing for our part in eternity. Awesome to imagine.
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

    • mm Jean Ollis says:

      Hi Mike! I couldn’t agree more. Thank goodness this is just a whisper in eternity. Things aren’t better or worse than at any other time in history – just different.

  5. Greg says:

    I think people often only react when something directly effects them…and they know it. We assume big business is getting tax breaks, we assume that we are getting the best deals from our shopping experience and we assume that the news is telling us the truth. I have noticed when I am back in the states I will hear people also talk about how bad chinese products are. I ask them if they shop at Walmart….they always respond “yes, it is the cheapest”. Then I ask them, “would you buy the same toys for more?” Most people don’t want to pay more for better products…they want to save and justify their purchase. I believe we turn a blind eye to these 4 horsemen, just like refugees, because it is easy and might inconvenience us if we got involved. Apathy is their friend.

  6. Hi Jean,

    Big business and the wealthy tend to have lower tax bills because they can afford the tax lawyers and accountants to help them exploit the loopholes. It’s legal but it isn’t right. This is why I believe we need to have a flat tax system. Get rid of these loopholes, create better transparency, institute a fair system. I also think the wealthy should pay more taxes as a percent of their income than the poor or middle classes.

  7. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    great job Jean. Yeah it is scary. I mean I want as good as products as I have now, but I dont want the company that made them… because they were too good…

    Great point about refugees and their connection to big tech

  8. Great post Jean! I appreciated the information you provided about all the tax evasion going on with the Four. This country and all of us, immigrants and all, deserve to have what the rest of us are paying. I’m tired of hearing about all these massive companies doing very little to better our world. I think Microsoft is setting a good example. Jenn and I hope to meet Bill and Melinda someday, their vision for an equal world is inspiring. I also think it is interesting that currently Microsoft has a higher market cap than all of The Four. https://www.gatesfoundation.org/

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