Robert Halfon is MP for Harlow. His personal blog is here.
I have been watching a fascinating series on the BBC: 'The Virtual Revolution', about the story of the World Wide Web and the Internet (it came out last year, but I have only just caught up via Sky+). One thing is really clear: apart from Sir Tim Berners Lee (British), all those who have revolutionised the Internet, have been from North America: Microsoft with Internet Explorer, and the PC, Google with search, Napster with MP3s, YouTube with videos, Amazon with on-line purchases, Ebay with second-hand auctions, Facebook with social networking, Apple with smartphone apps and Blackberry (albeit Canadian), with mass-email. It is no accident that most internet users, use these products in some way or another.
Given the centrality of these businesses to the Internet hierarchy, and given the centrality of the Internet to our daily lives, it doesn't really seem improbable that some of these advanced technology companies have more financial reserves – (available for spending) – than the United States Government. According to Business Insider, estimates suggest that the Federal Government have $54 billion to spend: Bill Gates has $56 billion. Apple meanwhile has $76.2 billion in cash and marketable securities.
Some may regard these figures as the world going 'to hell in a handcart 'and rail against these big corporates. But, these businesses started off with nothing – in some cases literally in college dorms. Their huge cash base, reflects a shift in power from the state to the citizen. The internet flourishes because the individual is empowered and freer from state control: much harder to tax and regulate. By contrast the big state is suffocating from its own contradictions. High spending, high taxing governments have become bankrupt across the Globe. It is not surprising they have run out of money. Have these North American hi-tech companies – warts and all (think privacy issues) – become the hi-tech version of the Founding Fathers?