By refusing to release the transcripts of her paid speeches to Wall Street bankers, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton cast doubt on her independence from the crooks who run the financial system. By contrast, Clinton’s program for “technology and innovation policy” has been an open book since June 2016. What she publicized is as revealing – and as disturbing – as what she tried to keep secret.
Clinton paints her tech agenda in appealing terms. She says it’s about reducing social and economic inequality, creating good jobs, and bridging the digital divide. The real goals – and beneficiaries – are different. The document is described as “a love letter to Silicon Valley” by a journalist, and as a “Silicon Valley wish list” by the Washington Post.
On the domestic side, Clinton promises to invest in STEM education and immigration reform to expand the STEM workforce by allowing green cards for foreign workers who’ve earned STEM degrees in the US. The internet industry has been lobbying Congress for years to reform US immigration policy to gain flexibility in hiring, to ease access to a global pool of skilled labor, and to weaken employees’ bargaining power.
Clinton’s blanket endorsement of online education opens new room for an odious private industry. With buzzwords like “entrepreneurship,” “competitive,” and “bootstrap,” Clinton wants to “leverage technology”: by “delivering high-speed broadband to all Americans” she declares it will be feasible to provide “wrap-around learning for our students in the home and in our schools.” Absent an overt commitment to public education, this is an encouragement to online vendors to renew their attack on the U.S. education system – despite a track record of failure and flagrant corruption. Still more deceitful is Hillary’s lack of acknowledgment of a personal conflict of interest. According to a Financial Times analysis, after stepping down as Secretary of State in 2013, Hillary accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars for speeches to private education providers; her husband Bill has “earned” something like $21 million from for-profit education companies since 2010.
Clinton’s proposal for access to high-speed Internet for all by 2020 would further relax regulation to help the Internet industry to build new networks, tap into existing public infrastructure, and encourage “public and private” partnerships. These are euphemisms for corporate welfare, after the fashion of the Google fiber project – which is substantially subsidized by taxpayers, as cities lease land to the giant company for its broadband project at far below market value and offer city services for free or below cost. Clinton’s policy program also backs the 5G wireless network initiative and the release of unlicensed spectrum to fuel the “Internet of Thing.” (IoT). 5G wireless and IoT are a solution in search of a problem – unless you are a corporate supplier or a business user of networks. This is an unacknowledged program to accelerate and expand digital commodification.