“Does he give Gen Y a bad name as a pompous millennial, with a robber baron mentality or is he an American hero and inspiration?”
You can click on the above picture to display it full-sized in all its snarky goodness. I ran across it on Facebook so I have no clue regarding its provenance or any copyright associated with it.
In the nineteenth century in the United States, a class of wealthy industrialists arose. This exclusive class included men such as John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Leland Stanford. People called them “robber barons.” Does Mark Zuckerberg qualify, or is he a just another Interwebz rich kid, out of his depth when it comes to intentionality, a golden puppet dancing to the tune of his investors? In the seventies, after the Stanford “Indian” mascot was declared terminally incorrect, students held a vote to identify a new mascot. Their choice: “The Robber Barons.” The humorless administration voided the election and the school has been without a mascot since that day. This may or may not be relevant.
Globalization has brought us a new generation of robber barons, the Russian oligarchs. With a magic woven of equal parts free market entrepreneurialism, KGB savvy, and the brutality of organized crime, these bad boys bought up the best real estate in London in the nineties and settled in for the long haul. They are not alone. Forbes lists 937 global billionaires, powerful people who have accumulated limitless wealth. Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest among them, and among the most recent arrivals.
In an ironic juxtaposition of historical proportions, Zuck’s main competition for youngest on the billionaire list is H.H. Prince Albert, the 12th Prince of Thurn und Taxis, whose fortunes can be traced back to 12th century Lombardy. The Thurn und Taxis fortune was rooted in the fifteenth century postal service established by the scion of the family. For the next 500 years the service prospered. Now, while Zuck tries to pick up the messaging business where Thurn und Taxis left off, Prince Albert has moved on to a massive investment in solar energy in Bavaria.
Whether we call them “robber barons” or “oligarchs,” is wealth alone sufficient to mark a person as a member of the power elite? Is membership in that class a marker of evil? Does a world with six or seven billion people really need a privileged 1000 who control the lion’s share of global wealth? The answer to each of these questions is probably “no,” but does it even matter? Alfred Chandler, a history professor from Harvard University (Zuck’s alma mater, a school frequently called “the Stanford of the East”) put it this way: “What could be less likely to produce useful generalizations than a debate over vaguely defined moral issues based on unexamined ideological assumptions and presuppositions?”
Does anybody know when the Facebook movie will be available on Netflix? I’m sure it contains everything anybody really needs to know about Zuck.