America has just gone through a Presidential election. Whatever political party you are in, it became obvious to everyone the huge impact that big technology companies have over our lives. Just this week, we saw both Facebook and Twitter testify in front of congress and both Republicans and Democrats had really tough questions for them. In this video, I will be talking about what is going on with Facebook and Twitter, how this relates to freedom of speech, and why freedom of speech is so important for business if we want to maintain a growing economy. WATCH NOW
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I want start with some fundamental concepts in business. Business is always a battle between two groups of people. Established businesses with money and power, and new entrants into the market coming up with new ideas and different ways of doing things. Established money wants to do everything to maintain their power. Where new money grows market share by providing value in new ways. This war between the old and the new works itself out beautifully through free markets. This battle has happened throughout human history and will continue to happen. The market decides who is providing the most value for society and resources will be distributed accordingly.
The forces of supply and demand form the basis of the study of economics, and establishes the concept of free markets. When you study business history you learn that free markets are the best way to generate economic growth. Markets with more freedom tend to do better, where markets with less freedom underperform.
America has had a remarkable economy over the last century, and one of the reasons for this is the embrace of free markets. America has something called the Bill of Rights. You should take some time and read through this whole list. This is an amazing list of freedoms and not many nations in the world have this full list. The list starts off with freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press.
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of religion
- Freedom of the press
- Freedom of assembly
- The right to petition the government
- The right to bear arms
- Protection against housing soldiers in civilian homes
- Protection against unreasonable search and seizure
- Protection against the issuing of warrants without probable cause
- Protection against trial without indictment
- Protection against double jeopardy
- Protection against self-incrimination
- Protection against property seizure
- Right to a speedy trial
- Right to be informed of charges
- Right to be confronted by witnesses
- Right to call witnesses
- Right to a legal counsel
- Right to a trial by jury
- Protection against excessive bail
- Protection against excessive fines
- Protection against cruel and unusual punishment
- Rights granted in the constitution shall not infringe on other rights
- Powers not granted to the Federal Government in the Constitution belong to the states or the people
It is because of these freedoms that free markets have worked so well in the United States. Free markets need freedom to work. The word “free” is literally in the phrase free markets. Freedom of speech specifically is so important because it allows the best ideas bubble up to the top. In the US, the bill of rights is a piece of technology, that has enabled free markets to work. If you can hear everyone’s ideas, the best ones will filter to the top, and the market can decide the outcome. This resolves the age old conflict of old money trying to hang onto their power, and new entrants offering better ways of doing things.
Let me also explain that free markets do not prohibit government intervention. A lot of people think free markets means that business gets to do whatever they want without government interference. That is not what free markets means. Free markets means there is a level playing field where people can compete to ensure supply meets demand. If a company is engaging in criminal behavior or fraud, the government is supposed to step in to maintain people’s freedom to compete.
Let us look at the situation today. Big tech has created a problem. If you run a business today, you have to go through social media and search. Business is no longer transacted in the real world, it happens online. Even brick and mortar businesses like restaurants have to go through social media. People do not go to a restaurant, without looking it up on their phone first. This online reality has created economic gatekeepers. All the businesses in America are on one side of the gate, and all their customers are on the other side of the gate. If you want to reach your customers, you have to go through a few massive tech companies. These tech companies have rules, on what you can say and how you can act. No one has elected these people, but if you want to do business, you have to say the right thing and act the right way.
This has transformed free speech in America. All these tech companies have to do is push you down the search rankings. If you do not show up in search, you do not exist. You cannot make money. You cannot feed your family. If you want to eat, you have to say the things they want you to say. We are now in a situation where all the businesses in America are now controlled by Facebook and Twitter, and we have no vote. These are not elected people with this power over our companies. That is not freedom of speech. And without freedom of speech, free markets do not work, because we never hear the best ideas. We will only hear the ideas that big tech wants you to hear. Big tech is not looking out for your freedoms. They are for-profit companies. They are looking out for their own bottom line. This is the age old struggle of the rich and powerful trying to hold down any new idea that could provide competition. Without freedom of speech, free markets fall apart, and free markets are what makes the American economy strong.
This is a very unusual situation, and I tried to think if there was a similar situation in business history. And there actually is: The fall of the Roman Empire.
The Roman Empire created this incredible new economy. They had banking, credit markets, loans, and currency. The Roman Empire stretched across the known world into places that had never seen such economic opportunities. This was a brave new economy for people, just like the social media economy is today. But also, just like today, there were economic gatekeepers. The Roman Empire was not a free market. The Roman Economy was controlled by inter-family wealth of the Senators in Rome. And if you wanted to participate in this economy, you needed their seal of approval. If you did not say the right thing, and act the right way, you would be crucified. They would take nails, pound them into your hands, and nail you to a cross. They did not care about freedom of speech. They cared about maintaining their wealth and power.
There is even a famous saying we still use to this day. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” This statement is about compliance. If you don’t do as the Romans do, you would be killed. No other culture since Rome has a catch phrase about compliance as blatant as this.
I am not a religious person, but I do know about business history. And there is actually a section in the Bible where Jesus talks about this very issue of economic gatekeepers. This gives us some shocking insight into what was happening in Rome at that time in history. There is a story in the book of Matthew that happened one week before Jesus was crucified. He knew people were trying to crucify him. He knew that people were trying to trap him. The Pharisees, who were the religious leaders of the day, came to Jesus and asked him, “Should we pay taxes to Rome?” and Jesus said “Give unto Ceaser what is Ceaser’s, and give unto God what is God’s.” Jesus is talking about the issue of economic gatekeepers. He is saying, if you want to do business, you have to pay the gatekeepers, but the Roman’s way of thinking is not the only speech that is out there. He is talking about freedom.
One week later, Jesus was crucified for nothing other than his speech. He didn’t kill, steal, or cheat anyone. He said the wrong things, and challenged the power structure. It is estimated that Rome crucified thousands of people, until there was no one left willing to speak their mind. No one was willing to ask the tough questions like “maybe you should not base the economy on slave labor,” or “maybe you should not leave the capital city without military protection,” or “maybe you shouldn’t massively inflate your currency.” None of these ideas made it to the leadership. And even if the ideas did make it to Roman leadership, they did not care about new ways of doing things. All they cared about was their own wealth and power, and Rome collapsed.
Jesus statement is very relevant to today. We may have to do business through Twitter and Facebook, but their instructions of what is approved speech, is not the only ideas out there. They might want to suppress any speech that does not support their money and power, but we need to be able to hear new and different ideas or we are doomed to fail.
There are a lot of historians out there that argue about the exact reason that the Roman Empire fell. But all the theories deal with the same central issue. Organizations fall when the correct ideas do not make their way to the top leadership who do not act on them. Rome’s enemies took advantage of this and competed with better ideas and took over the empire.
In fact, this same problem happens with large companies that fail. The right ideas do not make their way to the top, and companies fail to act. This is why we need free speech. We need the best ideas. We need free markets to work.
What should we do in the United States? I think this is a fixable problem. I do not think this is a fight between Republicans and Democrats. I think there is a lot of common ground here. I watched the hearings this week. Both Republicans and Democrats are worried about this.
The solution has to do with a piece of law called Section 230. This is the legislation that covers social media. This law needs to be rewritten to ensure our freedom of speech. Speech should not be decided by for-profit companies. Economic gatekeepers need to be removed to allow for free markets. Again, I think that there is a lot of common ground between Republicans and Democrats on rewriting Section 230, so I hope that we will see progress on this soon. Let me end with this main concept: Freedom is required for free markets which leads to economic growth.
I know I will get a lot of criticism for this video in the comment section. There are going to be people who say I am blowing this out of proportion. They will say that these social media companies are just private businesses that are following their terms of service. They will argue that no one is stopping people from doing their business. But all of you need to keep something in mind. The next up and coming social media site is TikTok. TikTok is owned by China. There was a lot of discussion this year about selling TikTok to a US company, but the sale has not gone through yet. If the sale does not happen, China will be the next economic gatekeeper. If you want to do business, you are going to have to do what China tells you. I will tell you right now, China does not care about your freedom of speech.
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Neither Zach De Gregorio or Wolves and Finance shall be liable for any damages related to information in this video. It is recommended you contact a CPA in your area for business advice.