Supercreator Daily: Tech executives are shook AF at what Congress may soon do to them

It’s been wild to see Silicon Valley power brokers work to maintain an anti-creator status quo.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, who reportedly phoned Speaker Nancy Pelosi to delay today’s hearing on six bills that would transform Silicon Valley as we know it.

Earlier today, lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee met to debate and vote on the amendments to the six-bill package designed to redistribute power from tech companies to independent creators, small business owners and consumers. And it’s been wild to watch how stressed both tech executives are right now.

Cecilia Kang, David McCabe and Kenneth P. Vogel at The New York Times reported yesterday that Apple CEO Tim Cook called Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress after the legislation was introduced earlier this month. He rehashed the same warnings against regulation that we’ve heard before: If you reign in Apple and the other tech giants who enjoy unrestrained power due to outdated laws, then you’ll curtail innovation and punish consumers. He reportedly even asked Pelosi to delay today’s proceedings. But since Cook couldn’t identify specific policy objections to the legislation, the hearing went on as scheduled.

But he isn’t alone. The Times reported that executives, lobbyists and more than a dozen think tanks and advocacy groups bankrolled by Silicon Valley have descended upon Capitol Hill in recent days in an attempt to persuade lawmakers to slow their roll. Brian Huseman, Amazon’s top lobbyist, said that the legislation “would have significant negative effects on the hundreds of thousands of American small- and medium-sized businesses that sell in our store and tens of millions of consumers who buy products from Amazon.” Mark Isakowitz, a Google lobbyist, claimed that “American consumers and small businesses would be shocked at how these bills would break many of their favorite services.” (I’d argue consumers and small businesses would be shocked at how these companies entrench their products and services in people’s lives.) And a Facebook spokesperson Christopher Sgro added: Antitrust laws “should promote competition and protect consumers, not punish successful American companies. These are explicit examples of how these companies turn their corporate profits into political power.

According to a new poll commissioned by tech advocacy group Chamber of Progress and conducted by Morning Consult, more than half of voters support new regulations on big tech companies. But it’s not high on their list of priorities for Congress. In fact, 44 percent ranked tech-company regulations as last on the list of what Congress should address, with many weighing the economy, public health, climate change and infrastructure as more urgent. And when given specific examples of how regulations would affect their consumer experiences, nearly six in 10 said it would make them at least somewhat likely to oppose the bills.

Consider this the result of nearly two decades of these companies branding convenience as a commodity instead of luxury and marginalizing the economic well-being of the creative class until the threats to their business models have become so existential that they’ve embraced the “creator economy” with total abandon.

I’m not naive to the fact that there will likely be some unintended consequences if any or all of these bills pass in one form or fashion. And the same legislature from which these bills originate has been too slow to pass laws that protect and empower independent creators, especially those who are women, Black and brown or queer. But I just don’t see a world where these companies regulating themselves or Congress doing nothing at all leads us to a reality where more creators can sustain ourselves on our own terms. So our best hope, as ill-fated as it may seem, is to let democracy play out and then go from there.


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It’s Wednesday, June 23. Here’s what you need to know this evening:

Coronavirus

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said delta, which will be the dominant virus variant in the US in weeks, accounts for 20 percent of all new cases. [Dawn Kopecki / CNBC]

  • Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, said that “nearly every death, especially among adults, due to COVID-19 is at this point entirely preventable” because of the availability of vaccines for everyone 12 and up. [Madeline Holcombe / CNN]

Politics

  • The Biden administration endorsed the EQUAL Act on Tuesday, which would eliminate the sentencing gap between crack and powder cocaine offenses and give people who were convicted or sentenced at the federal level a resentencing. [Sean Sullivan and Seung Min Kim / The Washington Post]

  • Vice President Kamala Harris will visit the US-Mexico border on Friday with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as part “of her efforts to address the root causes of migration” over the southern border. [Jasmine Wright and Priscilla Alvarez / CNN]

  • Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has blocked the confirmation of President Biden’s nominee to a top post at the Education Department to secure commitments on student loan reforms. [Danielle Douglas-Gabriel / WaPo]

  • Democratic Rep. Ritchie Torres of New York announced plans to introduce a resolution that condemns state bills targeting transgender people — of which 18 have passed and 10 are awaiting governors’ final signatures. [Jo Yucurba / NBC News]

  • A small-but-growing group of Republicans formed the “Conservative Climate Caucus” in an attempt to focus on a coherent climate strategy. [Lisa Friedman / The New York Times]

  • Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or other education program that receives federal money, turns 49 today. [AP News]

  • Nikole Hannah-Jones said she won’t join the faculty of UNC without tenure after a donor pushed back against the university’s hiring of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. [AP News]

Business

  • Uber added a disclosure to its food delivery app to alert customers that menu item prices may be higher than those charged by restaurants. [Jackie Davalos / Bloomberg]

  • Facebook is testing the ability for advertisers to avoid targeting people who share political posts as part of its new brand safety controls. [Garrett Sloane / AdAge]

  • Journalist and podcast extraordinaire Jemele Hill launched a podcast network exclusively with Spotify that will focus on elevating the voices and stories of Black women through original content. [J. Clara Chan / The Hollywood Reporter]

Technology

  • Twitter updated it’s iPhone app to let anyone share tweets to their Instagram Story without screenshotting and manually uploading them. [Jon Porter / The Verge]

  • Facebook is developing visual search technology for Instagram to surface similar products available elsewhere in the app enable people to find products using their cameras or images from their camera roll. [K. Bell / Engadget]

Culture

  • Vanessa Bryant, the widow of basketball Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant, and the families of the other victims in a deadly helicopter crash in January 2020 reached a settlement with the company that operated the helicopter. [Jonathan Abrams / NYT]

  • NBC Universal announced it will stream men’s and women’s gymnastics, men’s and women’s track and field and men’s basketball live on its Peacock streaming service during the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. [Alex Weprin / THR]


Read All About It

Emma Dabiri at TIME in conversation with Suyin Haynes on why coalition — not allyship — is the next step for racial justice:

Allyship offers charity whereas coalition is more about solidarity. I draw that link between environmental justice and racial justice because they are two powerful movements, and very necessary and urgent forms of activism today. When you go back to the roots of it all, you see that the same system that is putting our environment under threat is the same system that gave us the racialized hierarchy, the idea of a white race, a Black race and everything in between. Even though there may be different demands or immediate concerns, those two forms of oppression have their roots within the same system, and we both need to change the same thing. Coalition is about identifying those points of shared interest. And it’s not to say that you subsume the fight for racial justice within the environmental one, but often the reason that the struggle is happening in the first place can find its origin at the same source. So it’s about identifying that and building coalitions around that. Race was invented to shut down solidarity and coalition building. Solidarity is subversive.

Jack Holmes at Esquire on bipartisanship:

Bipartisanship is not, in and of itself, a goal or a virtue. We reached a bipartisan deal to invade Iraq. This is a results business, and $10 billion for electric buses is not going to do it. Jesus Christ, get it together. The politically suicidal Democratic Party might deserve what's coming if they fail this badly, but the rest of us do not.

Emily VanDerWerff at Vox on how TV therapy took on the pandemic:

Already, these little details of life amid Covid-19 are starting to blur together into one big picture of a difficult moment. Our brains do this to protect us from the worst things that happen to us. But remembering those details can be an important part of processing pain and moving forward in life. When I watch Couples Therapy and In Treatment, I appreciate how much their commitment to capturing the weird intimacy of our year (plus) in quarantine serves as a time capsule for an experience many of us will be eager to leave behind. Even in a fictional therapist’s office, there’s something deeply satisfying about watching people grapple with the weight of that experience and finding some way to move forward.

Peneliope Richards at Eater on why post-COVID restaurants should no longer ignore ADA guidelines:

Despite what most people may think, the disability community is a minority group that anyone can join at any point in their life. And if this pandemic has not proven that to be true, I don’t know what will. So I hope restaurants stop doing the disability community a disservice and remember that assistive and mobility devices are not accessories, consider the path of travel through their dining rooms, offer modified menus, and realize that paper straws are useless to many of us. But as much as I’d like to be hopeful, I’m still regularly confronted with reminders of the general disregard for customers with disabilities: Plenty of outdoor dining setups act as sidewalk obstacle courses, while indoor dining spaces, with their narrow corridors, often mimic a game of Pac-Man.

Chuck Collins in conversation with Luke Savage at Jacobin on wealth dynasties:

There’s an understandable focus on the first-generation billionaires — the Bezoses and Musks — and their surging wealth gains during the pandemic. But America also has growing and persistent “wealth dynasties”: multigenerational inherited wealth families. There are fifty dynastic families in the United States with a combined $1.2 trillion in wealth that we know of. Most likely there are trillions more hidden in trusts and offshore sites. The twenty-seven wealthiest families that were billionaires in 1983 have seen their wealth increase over 900 percent in the last thirty-seven years.

It’s interesting to see how the second and third generation, the inheritors, aggressively invest in “wealth defense” — lobbying to end the estate tax, create trusts, and hide wealth offshore.

These wealthy billionaire families are less focused on starting businesses and more on “dynasty-building” and rent extraction — passing wealth on over multiple generations in a neo-feudal way. With this system being solidified, today’s billionaires will be tomorrow’s dynastic families. If the pattern persists for twenty years on the current trajectory, we will have even greater concentrations of hereditary wealth and power dominating our politics, economy, media, and philanthropy. Looks like feudalism, smells like feudalism.

Fawnia Soo Hoo at Fashionista on why the expensive fashion in NYC media-set shows is more realistic than you think:

But maintaining a pristine white Gucci wool coat through daily cross-borough train commutes and numerous on-the-go coffees, wearing a crop top outfit to revisit a former legacy media employer (after being fired for a legally liable tweet) and hosting a birthday party in full Chanel sound like a dream. Because in the tradition of Patricia Field’s game-changing and fantastically fashionable work on “Sex and the City,” “Devil Wears Prada” and “Ugly Betty,” the style conveyed through the costumes on these shows portray a ultra-glamorous, heightened and aspirational version of the industry. (No coincidence: Field is also costume consultant on “Run the World,” for which she designed the pilot, and “Younger” through season five.) A deeper look into all this high fashion, though, actually reveals some day-to-day realism.


Michael’s Pick

“I Forgot How to Code-Switch at Work, What I Said Was Just Too Black,” The Amber Ruffin Show: This catchy bop from one of my fave-o comedians perfectly captures the Black experience of working in a predominately white corporate environment.