Political leaders: Embrace a tech-driven economic recovery

Dusk at Silicon Valley, hub of the world's tech industry. (Photo: yhelfman, via Shutterstock)

With the election cycle now in our nation’s rearview mirror, the work of building back our economy still lies ahead. In order to most effectively meet this challenge, it is imperative that political leaders recognize what has truly driven economic resiliency over the course of this year – digital technologies.

Political posturing along the campaign trail, coupled with a growing anti-tech sentiment in Congress, has landed technology platforms in the crosshairs of lawmakers across the country.

While tech issues ultimately dropped off of priority issue platforms as more important issues of racial equity, public health, and economic recovery rose to the forefront, more recent activity in Washington demands a reminder about the digital platforms that have buttressed our economy this year.

Political leaders have ramped up their calls for regulatory, investigatory and legal action against technology companies.

The task of building back our economy must account for the perspective of small businesses who have taken the brunt of the turndown. Today’s small business owners find themselves in dire straits, and that will not be changing any time soon. Restrictions on in-person commerce will continue, consumer habits will be forever changed, and small businesses must remain resilient in the face of these mounting challenges.

The role that technology platforms have played in supporting the small business community this year is undeniable.

Remaining connected with customers and maintaining revenue levels high enough to keep the lights on and employees on the payroll, all while adhering to health guidelines, would not be possible without the online platforms that are – thankfully – more accessible and affordable for the small business owner today than ever before.

Sadly, the aforementioned tech-lash has not subsided. On the contrary, political leaders at the state and national level have only ramped up their calls for regulatory, investigatory and legal action against technology companies.

We saw this growing sentiment culminate in a lawsuit against Google announced by the Justice Department just two weeks before the election. While the politics behind this particular undertaking certainly deserve scrutiny, the timing is what should perturb Californians truly interested in seeing our state climb out of our current economic situation.

During a pandemic, when American businesses and families are relying on technology more than ever before, is this really the time to go after our digital infrastructure?

What must be understood is the severe disconnect between politicized actions like this lawsuit, and the priorities of our state’s small business community – who are actively leaning on the services providedby these very technology companies.

Yes, California serves as a hub for many of our nation’s most enterprising industries, from entertainment to technology. We have indeed established ourselves as the center of innovation, market disruption, and booming job growth within the tech sector.

But in a political war between the technology industry and headline-grabbing politicians, those who stand to lose the most are the small enterprises who have launched and operated with the help of tools and platforms from the larger companies in question. The consequences of continued action against technology companies are very real for businesses of all sizes across our state – not just those in Silicon Valley.

As our state’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, investigates Google and other technology companies based here in California, we trust he will focus on facts and substance – the only way to go about investigating companies that are actively propping up our state’s economy, and our small business community.

At a national level, California’s representation in Congress mustuse this opportunity to re-focus their attention on the issues that matter most to the constituencies who sent them to Washington – namely, supporting a swift economic recovery that will only be possible if technology companies are able to continue providing services to the small business community.

Editor’s Note: Pat Fong Kushida is president and CEO of the California Asian Chamber of Commerce.

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