The United Republic Of Google by Kaila Colbin , Friday, November 21, 2008
EDITOR'S NOTE: KALIA WROTE THIS back in September, before the results of the presidential election were known, but we -- who tried to put everything in the past tense to denote the passage of time -- think it still holds up.
I have to confess an addiction to the presidential campaign. I followed it obsessively, every twist, every turn, every gaffe, every SNL skit. I was in awe of the sums of money being raised and spent But, despite all the campaign spin and rhetoric, we all know that the true balance of power lies elsewhere: in the halls of little company based out of Mountain View, Calif.
Think about it. 144.7 million Americans used Google last month [again, this was a statistic actually from August] -- more than the number of people who voted in the 2004 Presidential election. The company has just under 20,000 people on the payroll, more than triple the number employed by the White House. Thousands upon thousands thrive in the Google economic ecosystem. 300 million shares... 300 million Americans... coincidence? I think not.
The only bummer about this situation is that, even though the Big G has as much or more of an impact on our daily lives as the guy in Washington, we still can't vote for its President. Well, we can, but let us face the matter squarely: thanks to Google's dual-class share structure, our votes won't make any difference.
Then again, we probably shouldn't vote. Our democratic process has led us to meltdowns on Wall Street; Google's benevolent dictatorship produced the fastest growing company in history. In the past year alone, they've added thousands of new jobs and stepped up their sustainability efforts. No, it's probably best that we surrender to the wiser governance of Schmidt, Page and Brin. Anyway, even if you could vote, who do you think could do a better job?
Sure, every now and then they'll get it wrong. United Airlines will lose 76% of its market cap because Google News mixed up its dates. Some poor guy who hits the lottery with an all-Google business model will learn that he shouldn't sink a foundation in shifting sands. Sergey Brin will be forced to admit that censorship ain't cool.
For the most part, however, Google treats its citizens (that is to say, all of us) well. It's certainly had a greater impact on our efficiency than anyone in the White House ever did, except maybe that guy who invented the Internet itself. On the other hand, a lot of that efficiency is wiped out by YouTube, so maybe the company's contribution is a net wash.
In closing, when you were thinking about your choices this election year and feeling the pressure to choose the perfect candidate, be grateful. The decisions that matter most have already been made. The people in charge aren't going anywhere. And if our nation were run as well as that little company based out of Mountain View, we'd probably be in a lot better shape right now.
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