Earlier this week, this space presented the arguments in support of fighting takeovers of US corporations by foreign governments. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) offered additional information about the suit that he has brought against Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) and other tech giants. If they were to be bought out, the plans for the Internet would change.
Other troubling circumstances have arisen in my own life since the time I was pre-school age. Our family lived just outside of Washington, D.C., in the state of Maryland when I was growing up. Our house was located on a busy street, and during the week my brother’s lunchbox could be found stuffed in a trash can, so I imagine the scene, too.
In my early 30s, my entire family moved to the town of Raising Hell in western Maryland, a rural area where we were never in and out of our homes during the work week, and could spend the weekend and afternoons in nature. I still suffer from a slight homesickness, but only because I miss the people who I did not know then.
And so, I must ask: To what extent should public policy be focused on keeping people in the communities in which they live, rather than keeping them outside and at the mercy of different governing authorities?
Am I crazy, or would this be a good idea?
Why does it take this long for people to realize that big companies’ motivations for buying up companies and repurposing them for whatever needs—from building upon big communities to fighting climate change—can dramatically change the entire future of human nature? (And maybe also determine the future of governments, which are no longer able to fulfill their function as a guarantor of social order.)
I’d often wonder if my brother’s lunch box had found a way into a trash can after he left for work—or if my own lunch bag had hitched a ride on a conveyor belt and made its way into a recycling bin.
I was fortunate in that I worked on my own computer for six years before I transferred to a company-owned computer. Eventually, I was able to live like an independent person for a while, but that is rarely the way people in good jobs are able to live, either. For a long time, the only people in my workplace allowed to use a laptop were the ones with childcare, or those with work outside the office. In my current position, one of the legal staff has a big Microsoft laptop, with hundreds of apps in the form of a spare hard drive. While I have been offered this same laptop at some point, the bill still includes the cost of the computer. The people who qualify for it are the ones with work outside the office—paid for through their commute, their working hours—who don’t want a laptop for personal use because they need access to their Microsoft app library, or access to their work email.
I’m shocked that we have gotten to the point where this may be standard practice, and it should not be.
This is not the view of the company, but we know that 99 percent of tech employees do work outside of their normal corporate hours. So do most professionals.
Many tech companies have excellent work-life balance programs for their staff, and that is certainly an encouraging development. But I’m not sure the same should be said about the regular operations that these companies engage in—especially when you consider the numbers: I know that some have a policy where you work on your own computer, and can do so on the company’s own computer. This is a controversial concept, but it is one that is likely growing as companies think it can “streamline” business operations. It would seem difficult to streamline software products if the developers’ home computers are configured to run on Microsoft’s own software. (There is always the risk of physical damage, too.)
Those who work in these environments may be in search of the quickest and easiest way to get things done, but is their life really worth that? Most of us might choose to change the platforms in which we work, or find that we don’t have as much freedom, if we could live somewhere else. But that possibility for freedom is primarily the ability to work from home, outside the facility. Would you have access to that across the country? At work? The cost of accommodation and utilities add up, and, in my cases, I can’t even imagine the post-college expenses that a computer rental might require.
This strikes me as a fundamental question, a question as old as the land of the family. What are the needs and hopes of a human in 2018? And does the government and