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CLARIN

Welcome To Our New Economic World Order: The Silicon Valley Consensus

The dominant economic idea used to be to cut all barriers to capital flows, the so-called Washington Consensus. But since the 2008 financial collapse, the tech industry's hold on global consumption rules the day, and anything impeding it is considere

Uber founder Travis Kalanick
Uber founder Travis Kalanick
Pablo Maas

-Commentary-

BUENOS AIRES Remember Washington Consensus? It was the theory in vogue in the 1990s, espousing the need to deregulate and privatize economies, from Argentina to New Zealand, in the name of economic efficiency and market superiority.

The Great Recession of 2008 has swept away a good portion of this intellectual structure. Companies the size of General Motors and Citibank have had to be rescued by those nation states that were supposed to be outdated and receding, both in Europe and the United States. The idea of "too big to fail" imposed itself — a term hitherto absent in the Washington Consensus glossary.

It seemed that bankruptcy procedures — the dungeon of capitalism — did not apply to inefficient, over-indebted and poorly run companies. No, rather they were sent to the protective embrace of governments of any ideological hue. Thus marked the end of the famous consensus.

The pivot of a new consensus has now shifted from the East Coast to California's Silicon Valley, the cradle of the tech industry. The rise and expansion of digital economy giants (Google, Facebook, Amazon) have collided with the old economy and its rules, from copyright norms to privacy rights. This time, though, calls for deregulation are not in the name of economic efficiency but of technological advance, which is basically being touted as a natural force that it would be futile to oppose.

Internet giants present themselves as benevolent. They are not just businesses. They are here to save the world, end hunger or give work to millions of people — as in the so-called "sharing economy." Just a few days ago, the digitial car-service Uber, now operating in 80 cities, was re-valued at $40 billion. The company owns no automobiles, though lobbying to persuade city authorities to allow its operation in dozens of cities doesn't come cheap.

Europe is currently at the forefront of regulating new tech services, beginning with its ruling that people have a "right to be forgotten" on the Internet. Brussels is mulling proposals on a kind of Google tax.

In our Latin American region, Brazil prefers storing its citizens' Big Data inside its own national borders. In Argentina, the debate on such questions is just beginning. While Uber itself in just the past week has been banned in Spain, Thailand and India.

The Silicon Valley Consensus is firmly in command, but already has its first dissenters.

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Society

Single Parents In Portugal Turn "It Takes A Village" Into A Practical Reality

The death of a young child left alone at home while his single mother was out shocked a community. Now, single parents have banded together to offer support to each other. And they're succeeding in the face of overwhelming challenges.

Single Parents In Portugal Turn "It Takes A Village" Into A Practical Reality

Women from the association Jangada D'Emoções, which started Colo100Horas

Maíra Streit

SINTRA — The large and curious eyes of Gurnaaz Kaur reveal her desire to understand the world.

This four-year-old Indian girl doesn’t speak Portuguese yet. A few months have passed since she left her country on the family adventure across the European continent. She uses a few gestures to try to express herself and greets people with a “bom dia” (good morning), one of the few expressions he has learned.

Nahary Conniott, 8, is also looking for ways to interact. From Angola and on the autism spectrum disorder, she has already experienced difficult situations and was asked to leave the private school she attended. In the other schools in which the mother enrolled her, the refusal was always justified by the lack of vacancies.

Children with such different paths found the support they deserved in the Colo100Horas project. Started in 2021, it is a self-organized network of women who came together to help immigrants with their immense daily challenges in Sintra, in western Portugal.

The long list of problems meant they banded together to look for a solution: the strenuous routine of caring for children (still imposed in most homes as the responsibility of women), low salaries, the overcrowding of daycare centers, excessive work and the difficulty with shift schedules, which is common in jobs in the catering and cleaning industries.

A tragic case that occurred recently in the neighborhood that drew attention to the need for greater support for families: a six-year-old boy died after falling from the ninth floor of the building where he lived. He was at home with only his two little brothers, while his mother had left to go to the market, a few meters away.

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