Let's compare and contrast what Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt says with what he apparently actually does. It's not pretty.
Last week Schmidt was one of the high flyers who showed up at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. During a a "fireside chat" he opined, according to Upstart Business Journal, that the employment challenge will be with us for the next two to five decades The problem, he said, is technology and a lack of worker retraining.
"It's a race between computers and people – and people need to win," he said, according to a report from the BBC. "It's clear to me that we can get full employment, but wages are still depressed. As more routine tasks are automated, this will lead to much more part-time work in caring and creative industries. The classic 9-5 job will be redefined."
Sounds like he might really be genuinely concerned, right?
Well, consider what he apparently did while he was Google's CEO. He was allegedly part of a tech cabal that actively conspired to drive tech workers' salaries lower. As reported by The Business Insider, according to a class action suit due to go to trial in May, Schmidt and then Apple CEO Steve Jobs actively conspired and cooperated to drive down the salaries of tech workers by agreeing not to recruit each other's staff.
The class action suit, filed after a U.S. Department of Justice investigation, covers 100,000 tech workers and alleges their salaries were depressed by a total of $9 billion in the 2000s. Intel and Adobe are also defendants. Intuit, Pixar and Lucasfilm have already settled with the plaintiffs for an undisclosed amount, The San Jose Mercury News reported.
Pando Daily, which has examined, emails and documents in the case offered these examples of how the tech titans schemed:
In 2007, when Jobs learned that Google tried recruiting one of Apple’s employees, he forwarded the message to Eric Schmidt with a personal comment attached: “I would be very pleased if your recruiting department would stop doing this.”
Within an hour, Google made a “public example” by “terminating” the recruiter in such a manner as to “(hopefully) prevent future occurrences.”
Likewise, when Intel CEO Paul Otellini heard that Google was recruiting their tech staff, he sent a message to Eric Schmidt: “Eric, can you pls help here???”
The next day, Schmidt wrote back to Otellini: “If we find that a recruiter called into Intel, we will terminate the recruiter.”
And it's not like Schmidt didn't know that what he was doing was wrong. According to Pando Daily, "Later that year, Schmidt instructed his Sr VP for Business Operation Shona Brown to keep the pact a secret and only share information 'verbally, since I don’t want to create a paper trail over which we can be sued later?'”
Looks to me like salaries in the tech industry at least are lower than they should be because the highly paid executives conspired to keep them that way. It had nothing to do with technology replacing mundane tasks. It's all about the robber barron mentality — just like it was in the Gilded Age.