Related Teen Epidemics? Looking for Answers in All the Wrong Places. Part 2 of 2.

By the World Mercury Project Team

As discussed in Part One, American teenagers are drowning in a rising tide of disorders: behavioral issues, sensory problems, depression, self-harm and more. The medical-pharmaceutical industry has rushed to brand all of these problems as mental health conditions treatable with profit-generating drugs. Few are talking about the broader neurodevelopmental crisis—triggered in part by environmental toxins such as the mercury and aluminum in vaccines—that is sabotaging children’s neurodevelopment and sapping adolescent resilience.

Age of Autism’s media editor Anne Dachel deconstructs this disproportionate focus on mental health, suggesting that the underlying aim of proclaiming half of American children mentally subpar may be to mask the real and serious neurological issues affecting children. As Dachel explains, “If every other child is ‘mentally ill,’ the ones with autism…and a host of developmental problems won’t matter.” In short, mental illness will become “a normal and acceptable part of childhood,” conveniently letting the manufacturers and purveyors of environmental toxins off the hook.

Blame the parents—for everything

Dachel astutely observes that some of the trendiest explanations for teen distress are inherently victim-blaming—or, more precisely, parent-blaming. Chief among these is the suddenly ubiquitous notion that teens’ problems are all due to “adverse child experiences” (ACEs), a vaguely conceptualized term comprising early-life trauma or abuse and household dysfunction. The sweeping line of reasoning underlying ACE research is that experiences such as “trauma exposure, parent mental health problems and family dysfunction put children at risk for disrupted brain development and increased risk for later health problems and mortality.” In response, researchers are calling for a more “trauma-informed and trauma-focused” approach to psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. Investigators also have begun holding ACEs responsible for a wide range of health behaviors and outcomes, including “depressive symptoms, ADHD symptoms, cigarette use, alcohol use, marijuana use, and BMI, in addition to lower levels of fruit and vegetable intake, and sleep.”

Without discounting the potential mental and physical health impacts of trauma and abuse, there are two problems with using ACEs as a catch-all explanation for young people’s mental and neurodevelopmental woes. First, a large body of scientific evidence clearly indicates that the neurodevelopmental disorders disabling today’s youth are multifactorial in origin. ACEs are only one component of a much longer list of likely environmental factors—including chemical pollutants and drugs—that can “interfere with typical brain developmental trajectories, eventually increasing the risk of either subclinical neuropsychological alterations or…clinical conditions such as learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).”

Unhelpful victim-blaming explanations serve corporate interests, allowing powerful medical and pharmaceutical entities to shirk their ethical responsibilities.

Second, it is hard to explain why ACEs suddenly should result in sky-high rates of intellectual disabilities and developmental delays (including autism) when, historically, even the most extreme forms of adversity have not been predictive of neurodevelopmental disorders. As Dachel observes, “Adversities and stress are nothing new. Somehow, everyone’s buying into the idea that kids today are falling apart because of the stress of modern life.” Dachel describes her grandfather’s family, which left Northern Ireland after going through a lot in the struggle for independence. She observes, “He and his siblings were working at a very young age when they got to North America. Although no one went beyond the fourth grade and they were as poor as one can imagine, all these kids were normal, intelligent and functional. They had to function in the adult world, and they did it.”

As with refugees from the Northern Irish “troubles,” there is no evidence that Holocaust survivors had (or have, for those still alive today) higher rates of ADHD, Asperger’s, autism, learning disabilities, sensory processing disorders or dyslexia, despite undergoing extreme trauma. Violinist Alison Fujito notes that Holocaust survivors “were tortured and suffered emotional and physical agony, and most had severe nutritional deficiencies. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the norm for a Holocaust survivor, not the exception.” Yet after Fujito’s father escaped Nazi-occupied Austria, leaving “his home and his entire family at age 14, not knowing if he’d ever see his parents, aunts, uncles or cousins again—talk about stress!—he hardly ever got sick, and it certainly didn’t affect him neurologically. He earned top honors in an English-language school though his first language was German and went on to not one but two successful careers. And he was always happy and cheerful—this was not an act, he was just a positive force.” Fujito noted that Holocaust survivors also “didn’t have fidget toys.”

If it’s not the parents, it’s the smartphones

Dachel’s commentaries note that, in addition to ACEs, a growing number of celebrities and academics are blaming smartphones and social media for adolescents’ plummeting mental health. Again, without discounting this still-emerging body of research, the chronological sequence of events suggests that this can only be a partial answer at best. The first mass-market-oriented smartphone did not appear on the scene until 2007, and widespread smartphone ownership did not take off until some years later. However, rates of neurodevelopmental disorders started climbing in the 1990s, and the widely cited national survey that first highlighted the astoundingly high prevalence of teenage mental health disorders was conducted in 2001-2004.

Unhelpful victim-blaming explanations serve corporate interests, allowing powerful medical and pharmaceutical entities to shirk their ethical responsibilities. Instead of telling parents they are doing everything wrong, we should immediately be looking to reduce children’s and teens’ exposure to neurotoxins and other damaging chemical concoctions. Otherwise, families, schools and communities increasingly will find themselves hard-pressed to fulfill their task of safely guiding adolescents into a healthy and happy adulthood.

WMP NOTE: In Part One, WMP examines whether the ballooning epidemics of mental health problems and developmental disabilities are connected by having the same root causes.

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via Related Teen Epidemics? Looking for Answers in All the Wrong Places. Part 2 of 2. • World Mercury Project

 

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Related Epidemics? Teen Mental Health Crisis & Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Part 1 of 2.

By the World Mercury Project Team

It has never been easy to be an adolescent, but by the look of things, twenty-first century teenagers may be having a harder time than ever. One contributing factor—the one that public health agencies and the media seem most willing to discuss—is a ballooning epidemic of mental health problems in teens. Meanwhile, an equally grim developmental disability crisis has been unfolding for years, affecting at least one in six American children and teens but receiving little attention.

Officialdom’s subtle sidelining of developmental disorders in favor of a focus on mental health is somewhat baffling, given that researchers frequently use the terms “neuropsychiatric” and “neurodevelopmental” interchangeably. This is particularly the case when they refer to diagnoses such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other behavioral disorders. In fact, one of the most credible national surveys cited as evidence of the teenage mental health crisis (called the NCS-A and published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry in 2010) defines three behavior disorders (ADHD, conduct disorders and oppositional defiant disorders) as “mental disorders.”

…half (49.5%) of U.S. teens ages 13-18 suffered from at least one mental disorder…

The NCS-A was conducted with over 10,000 teens from 2001-2004. The survey found that half (49.5%) of U.S. teens ages 13-18 suffered from at least one mental disorder (see chart), including one in five with behavior disorders and three in ten with anxiety disorders. The age of onset for the disorders often preceded adolescence by many years (for example, half of affected adolescents developed their anxiety disorders at age 6). Additionally, the impairments were often severe, ranging from 22.2% to 27.6% of teens, which is striking given that the survey measured “higher thresholds of impairment that required endorsement of ‘a lot’ or ‘extreme’ impairment in daily activities, or ‘severe or very severe’ distress.” Acknowledging that its own mental health surveillance data have significant limitations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) praised the NCS-A because of its unique focus on childhood mental disorders and its inclusion of disorders not measured in other studies.

 

What are the likely culprits?

Regardless of specific terminology, one burning question arises: why do children and teens currently have such high levels of mental and neurologic dysfunction? Although the pro-Pharma health care system in the U.S. makes it socially taboo to say so, vaccines and other pharmaceutical products are some of the most likely culprits. As has been discussed in other World Mercury Project articles about children’s health, this supposition is backed by sound science.

For example, two epidemiological studies from 2017 are suggestive of temporal associations between vaccines and subsequent pediatric disorders:

  • Researchers from the Yale Child Study Center published a retrospective case-control study in Frontiers in Psychiatry that considered whether prior vaccination in a national sample of privately insured children and adolescents (ages 6-15) was associated with increased incidence of seven neuropsychiatric disorders. For the time period from January 2002 through December 2007, the Yale researchers found that children with four diagnosed disorders—anorexia nervosa (AN), anxiety disorder, tic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)—were more likely than matched controls to have received a flu shot in the preceding 12 months. There were also associations between prior receipt of several other vaccines (hepatitis A, meningococcal and Td) and some of the neuropsychiatric diagnoses.
  • A prospective case-control study published in Brain Injury used the Vaccine Safety Datalink database to zero in on the relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines given in the first six months of life (for children born between 1991 and 2000) and the long-term risk of diagnosis with “disturbance of emotions specific to childhood and adolescence,” a diagnostic category abbreviated as ED. The results showed a significant relationship between vaccine-related mercury exposure and the subsequent risk of an ED diagnosis, with a notable dose-response effect. As a side comment, the authors note that occupational health specialists have recognized depression and other psychological disturbances as symptoms of mercury poisoning for decades.

Other recent research observes that exposure to neurotoxic and excitotoxic vaccine ingredients (such as thimerosal, aluminum adjuvants and monosodium glutamate) can lead to changes in the brain, adversely affecting the long-range connectivity that makes it possible to pay attention and engage in big-picture thinking. This abnormal connectivity is a key feature not only of ADHD but of leading neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and tic disorders.

The pharmaceutical connection

A TIME article on the “startling” rise in teen depression laments the fact that there has not been “a corresponding increase in mental health treatment for adolescents and young adults.” This prospect of a vast untapped market for greater pharmaceutical sales may offer one clue as to why many powerful organizations are focusing on the mental health aspects of teenagers’ wider health crisis.

However, other evidence indicates that some pharmaceutical products (in addition to vaccines) may be contributing to mental health problems. A Psychology Today report notes that “aggressive marketing by drug companies…has transformed mild depression and even sadness into a disease of ‘serotonin deficiency.’” At the same time, there has been growing awareness of “the potential for certain prescription medications to increase the risk of psychiatric symptoms and suicidality.” Classes of medications that come with black box warnings mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) include some of the very drugs used to address both psychiatric and neurological conditions, such as antidepressants and antiepileptics. In 2009, the FDA added warnings for the class of drugs known as leukotriene inhibitors (LTIs), which clinicians recommend for the control of allergies and asthma. Although sales of LTIs abruptly dropped as soon as the warnings appeared, the cautions did not manage to save an 18-year-old asthmatic who recently committed suicide after taking an LTI.

The CDC tells us that “mental disorders among children are an important public health issue because of their prevalence, early onset, and impact on the child, family, and community.” When an adolescent is too incapacitated by a mental or neurological disorder to pursue his or her education or a career, the whole country loses. Young people’s brains and emotions get plenty of a workout just by engaging in the process of growing up. Piling on more brain-scrambling pharmaceutical products to treat conditions that are often iatrogenic to begin with is probably not what most teenagers need.

 

In Part Two, World Mercury Project will look at some of the factors currently being offered as explanations for the epidemics of mental and neurological disorders in adolescents.

 

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via Related Epidemics? Teen Mental Health Crisis & Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Part 1 of 2. • World Mercury Project

 

 

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This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

HUGE VIDEO EVIDENCE: David Hogg, Son of FBI Agent Caught on Video “interviewing” Student 4 HOURS Prior to Shooting to Actual Shooting

Can’t say I’m surprised. The deep state and their media don’t seem to treat drills any differently than a real event. Drills go live. Then they blame a patsy and use any material generated at a drill as though it took place after the event. It’s all scripted according to an agenda which they play to the hilt. Thanks for the heads up, L.

Click the image below to read the story:

https://gopreload.org/huge-video-evidence-must-watch-david-hogg-son-fbi-agent-caught-video-interviewing-student-shooting-4-hours-ahead-actual-shooting/embed#?secret=swEs9c4nRP

 Screenshot-2018-2-23 HUGE VIDEO EVIDENCE David Hogg, Son of FBI Agent Caught on Video “interviewing” Student 4 HOURS Prior [...].png

 

via HUGE VIDEO EVIDENCE: David Hogg, Son of FBI Agent Caught on Video “interviewing” Student 4 HOURS Prior to Shooting to Actual Shooting | Starship Earth: The Big Picture

Netanyahu is in Deep Trouble, Assad is About to Make Strategic Mistake – Analyst

Israel’s resumed efforts to crack down on Iran could be fueled by Benjamin Netanyahu’s looming bribery investigation, geopolitical analyst Gilbert Mercier told Sputnik. As tensions are escalating between Ankara and Damascus over Afrin, Mercier suggested that it would be a strategic mistake on the part of President Bashar Assad to protect the Kurds.

“It seems that time is up for Bibi [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu],” geopolitical analyst Gilbert Mercier told Sputnik. “In the post-Netanyahu era coming soon, perhaps Israel will understand that stability in Syria, which was secured for decades with the strong rule of the Assads is  far from being perfect, but that it is better than endless war.”

Israeli PM’s ‘Wag-the-Dog Stunt’

Mercier, the author of “The Orwellian Empire” and editor-in-chief of News Junkie Post, referred to the recent international Munich Security Conference which took place from February 16-18, 2018.

While delivering his speech Netanyahu showed off a piece of metal, which he claimed was a part of the Iranian drone, as evidence of the alleged Iranian intrusion, and rebuked the Islamic Republic with a warning saying that “the tyrants of Tehran should not test Israel’s resolve,” the author recalled.

“We will act, if necessary, not just against Iran’s proxies, but against Iran itself,” the Israeli PM added.

However, according to the analyst, “the revival of this tough rhetoric towards Tehran from Netanyahu is not about the drone episode and not even specifically about Syria.”

“Beyond the theatrics, there are two real issues: firstly, a desperate push by Tel Aviv with the support of the Trump administration to cancel the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran; secondly, a classic wag-the-dog stunt from an Israeli PM who could, at any given time, be indicted by the Israeli police on the charge of corruption and accepting bribes for political favors,” Mercier explained.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds up a remnant of what he said was a piece of Iranian drone which was shot down in Israeli airspace during his speech at the Munich Security Conference, Germany February 18, 2018
© REUTERS/ Lennart Preiss/MSC Munich Security Conference
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds up a remnant of what he said was a piece of Iranian drone which was shot down in Israeli airspace during his speech at the Munich Security Conference, Germany February 18, 2018

Netanyahu is in Political Trouble

The crux of the matter is that Netanyahu is in political trouble, the analyst pointed out, adding that “for politicians in history, it has been a standard operating procedure to foster conflicts abroad, often artificially, when their political situations become precarious on the home front.”

Still, the author believes that “Netanyahu’s push, with the assistance of the Trump administration, to scrap the 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran, will be a no go.”

The analyst slammed the Israeli delegation’s attempt to compare the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, to the disastrous 1938 Munich agreement “that was signed by Western powers and Adolf Hitler on the incredible premise to avoid war.”

“Unfortunately for Netanyahu and Trump, the other signatories to the nuclear deal, which are France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China, think that the agreement is working fine and do not want to renegotiate it,” Mercier highlighted. “For his part, at the 2018 Munich Security conference and in blatant contradiction to the Trump administration, former US Secretary of State John Kerry defended the deal he had helped to broker and categorically dismissed Netanyahu’s assertions.”

Iran-Israeli Détente is ‘in the Interest of the Jewish State’

The geopolitical analyst similarly underscored that  Israel needs to understand “that a detente with Iran is ultimately in the interest of the Jewish state.”

Mercier insists that “people in Israel, just like the populations of other regional powers, and that is especially true for their temporary allies the Kurds, must understand that in the Middle East the notion of Pax Americana is worse than a myth — it is a grotesque lie.”

The author emphasized that “the interest of the United States of America, an empire run by and for the military-industrial complex, is permanent wars, not peace.”

“In Syria, if peace finally comes along after seven years of hell it will be Pax Russiana,” Mercier highlighted.

Servicemen are seen here at the Russian air base in Khmeimim during a military parade marking the 72nd anniversary of Victory in the 1941-45 Great Patriotic War. File photo
© Sputnik/ Dmitriy Vinogradov
Servicemen are seen here at the Russian air base in Khmeimim during a military parade marking the 72nd anniversary of Victory in the 1941-45 Great Patriotic War. File photo

The Second Front: Syria and Turkey’s Potential Collision Over Afrin

Meanwhile, news emerged that Damascus has agreed upon a plan to allow Syrian government forces into Afrin as the Turks promised to lay siege to the city in the coming days.

As Peter Ford, former UK ambassador to Syria, told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear on Tuesday: “What the Syrian government is doing in Afrin is a lesson, a lesson to the Kurds in who they can count on when the chips are down.”

In response, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that “no one will stop [the Turks]” even the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

“Now the question is — will the forces of the regime [of Syrian President Bashar Assad] enter Afrin or not? And if they enter, then for what purpose? If they come to clear it from the YPG, there are no problems. If they support terrorists, no one will stop us,” Cavusoglu said, as aired by the NTV broadcaster.

According to Mercier, “the fact Bashar al-Assad’s army could join them against the Turkish forces is extremely troubling.”

“Considering that the Kurds are the foot soldiers of the Americans in Syria, it would be a huge strategic mistake on the part of Bashar al-Assad, who has so far been remarkably resilient and shrewd,” he suggested. “Assad has been warned by Erdogan not to intervene, and it is likely that Russia and Iran will put pressure on Damascus not to join the Kurds in Afrin.”

The geopolitical analyst emphasized the role and the integrity of the coalition on Assad’s side, “which includes Turkey.”

He bemoaned the fact that while a few months ago a “cease fire was within reach, under the impulse of Russia, Iran and Turkey,” “the mayhem is back: the bombs are falling again, and the guns are blazing.”

“A complete country, which was part of Mesopotamia, known to be the cradle to civilization, has been reduced to rubble for the sake of a perverse geopolitical game where most Syrians are just collateral damage,” the author underscored.

However, “if the coalition of Russia, Iran, and Turkey remains intact and agrees, in the context of a Pax Russiana, that Bashar al-Assad deserves a chance to rebuild his country, then peace could come,” the geopolitical analyst believes.

“Once upon a time, Bashar al-Assad’s destiny was to be a medical doctor specializing in ophthalmology. Could Assad progressively stabilize Syria and then help his people to heal from all this unbearable pain? If this can be achieved, then in due time, Bashar al-Assad will surely want to reclaim Syria’s national sovereignty and will ask all foreign troops to leave his country,” Mercier concluded.

 

 

Gilbert Mercier on Muck Rack

Gilbert Mercier

Verified

United States/ EU
Editor in Chief, News Junkie Post

Biography

I am a French journalist, photojournalist, on air analyst and filmmaker based in the US since 1983. I am a Co-Founder and the Editor in Chief of the strictly independent online magazine News Junkie Post and on air geopolitical and political analyst for radio and TV. I have appeared on the BBC, RT, Press TV and Progressive Radio Network. My work is frequently republished on publications such as CounterPunch, Alternet, and Global Research Canada.

https://muckrack.com/mercypolitics/bio

 

via Netanyahu is in Deep Trouble, Assad is About to Make Strategic Mistake – Analyst – Sputnik International

 

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The Social Media Threat to Society and Security

It takes significant effort to assert and defend what John Stuart Mill called the freedom of mind. And there is a real chance that, once lost, those who grow up in the digital age – in which the power to command and shape people’s attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies – will have difficulty regaining it.

It takes significant effort to assert and defend what John Stuart Mill called the freedom of mind. And there is a real chance that, once lost, those who grow up in the digital age – in which the power to command and shape people’s attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies – will have difficulty regaining it.

 

MUNICH – The current moment in world history is a painful one. Open societies are in crisis, and various forms of dictatorships and mafia states, exemplified by Vladimir Putin’s Russia, are on the rise. In the United States, President Donald Trump would like to establish his own mafia-style state but cannot, because the Constitution, other institutions, and a vibrant civil society won’t allow it.

Not only is the survival of open society in question; the survival of our entire civilization is at stake. The rise of leaders such as Kim Jong-un in North Korea and Trump in the US have much to do with this. Both seem willing to risk a nuclear war in order to keep themselves in power. But the root cause goes even deeper. Mankind’s ability to harness the forces of nature, both for constructive and destructive purposes, continues to grow, while our ability to govern ourselves properly fluctuates, and is now at a low ebb.

The rise and monopolistic behavior of the giant American Internet platform companies is contributing mightily to the US government’s impotence. These companies have often played an innovative and liberating role. But as Facebook and Google have grown ever more powerful, they have become obstacles to innovation, and have caused a variety of problems of which we are only now beginning to become aware.

Companies earn their profits by exploiting their environment. Mining and oil companies exploit the physical environment; social media companies exploit the social environment. This is particularly nefarious, because these companies influence how people think and behave without them even being aware of it. This interferes with the functioning of democracy and the integrity of elections.

Because Internet platform companies are networks, they enjoy rising marginal returns, which accounts for their phenomenal growth. The network effect is truly unprecedented and transformative, but it is also unsustainable. It took Facebook eight and a half years to reach a billion users, and half that time to reach the second billion. At this rate, Facebook will run out of people to convert in less than three years.

Facebook and Google effectively control over half of all digital advertising revenue. To maintain their dominance, they need to expand their networks and increase their share of users’ attention. Currently they do this by providing users with a convenient platform. The more time users spend on the platform, the more valuable they become to the companies.

The companies claim that they are merely distributing information. But the fact that they are near-monopoly distributors makes them public utilities and should subject them to more stringent regulation, aimed at preserving competition, innovation, and fair and open access.

Social media companies’ true customers are their advertisers. But a new business model is gradually emerging, based not only on advertising but also on selling products and services directly to users. They exploit the data they control, bundle the services they offer, and use discriminatory pricing to keep more of the benefits that they would otherwise have to share with consumers. This enhances their profitability even further, but the bundling of services and discriminatory pricing undermine the efficiency of the market economy.

Social media companies deceive their users by manipulating their attention, directing it toward their own commercial purposes, and deliberately engineering addiction to the services they provide. This can be very harmful, particularly for adolescents.1

There is a similarity between Internet platforms and gambling companies. Casinos have developed techniques to hook customers to the point that they gamble away all of their money, even money they don’t have.

Something similar – and potentially irreversible – is happening to human attention in our digital age. This is not a matter of mere distraction or addiction; social media companies are actually inducing people to surrender their autonomy. And this power to shape people’s attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies.

It takes significant effort to assert and defend what John Stuart Mill called the freedom of mind. Once lost, those who grow up in the digital age may have difficulty regaining it.

This would have far-reaching political consequences. People without the freedom of mind can be easily manipulated. This danger does not loom only in the future; it already played an important role in the 2016 US presidential election.

There is an even more alarming prospect on the horizon: an alliance between authoritarian states and large, data-rich IT monopolies, bringing together nascent systems of corporate surveillance with already-developed systems of state-sponsored surveillance. This may well result in a web of totalitarian control the likes of which not even George Orwell could have imagined.

The countries in which such unholy marriages are likely to occur first are Russia and China. Chinese IT companies in particular are fully equal to the US platforms. They also enjoy the full support and protection of President Xi Jinping’s regime. China’s government is strong enough to protect its national champions, at least within its borders.

US-based IT monopolies are already tempted to compromise themselves in order to gain entrance to these vast and fast-growing markets. These countries’ dictatorial leaders may be only too happy to collaborate with them, in the interest of improving their methods of control over their own populations and expanding their power and influence in the United States and the rest of the world.

There is also a growing recognition of a connection between the dominance of the platform monopolies and rising inequality. The concentration of share ownership in the hands of a few individuals plays some role, but the peculiar position occupied by the IT giants is even more important. They have achieved monopoly power while also competing against one another. Only they are big enough to swallow start-ups that could develop into competitors, and only they have the resources to invade one another’s territory.

The owners of the platform giants consider themselves the masters of the universe. In fact, they are slaves to preserving their dominant position. They are engaged in an existential struggle to dominate the new growth areas that artificial intelligence is opening up, like driverless cars.1

The impact of such innovations on unemployment depends on government policies. The European Union, and particularly the Nordic countries, are much more farsighted than the United States in their social policies. They protect the workers, not the jobs. They are willing to pay for retraining or retiring displaced workers. This gives workers in Nordic countries a greater sense of security and makes them more supportive of technological innovations than workers in the US.1

The Internet monopolies have neither the will nor the inclination to protect society against the consequences of their actions. That turns them into a public menace, and it is the regulatory authorities’ responsibility to protect society against them. In the US, regulators are not strong enough to stand up to the monopolies’ political influence. The EU is better positioned, because it doesn’t have any platform giants of its own.

The EU uses a different definition of monopoly power from the US. Whereas US law enforcement focuses primarily on monopolies created by acquisition, EU law prohibits the abuse of monopoly power regardless of how it is achieved. Europe has much stronger privacy and data protection laws than America.1

Moreover, US law has adopted a strange doctrine that measures harm as an increase in the price paid by customers for services received. But that is almost impossible to prove, given that most giant Internet platforms provide a majority of their services for free. Moreover, the doctrine leaves out of consideration the valuable data that platform companies collect from their users.

The EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager is the champion of the European approach. It took the EU seven years to build a case against Google. But, as a result of its success, the process of instituting adequate regulation has been greatly accelerated. Moreover, thanks to Vestager’s efforts, the European approach has begun to affect attitudes in the US.

It is only a matter of time before the global dominance of the US Internet companies is broken. Regulation and taxation, spearheaded by Vestager, will be their undoing

 

 

 

George Soros

George Soros

Writing for PS since 1997

George Soros is Chairman of Soros Fund Management and Chairman of the Open Society Foundations. A pioneer of the hedge-fund industry, he is the author of many books, including The Alchemy of Finance, The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What it Means, and The Tragedy of the European Union.

 

via The Social Media Threat to Society and Security by George Soros – Project Syndicate

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