January 11, 2018

Never in the annals of human history has a gay man so brilliantly wooed a straight woman.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and other forces at the tech Goliath, the latest apps and wizardry in hand, seduced our governor with the siren song of Siri, boosting Waukee’s already-winning economy with $213 million in local and state incentives for a data center.

Then there is Amazon, rivering in all directions, with predatory jungle eyes. Who can Amazon run out of business next? Your business margin is Amazon’s next opportunity, goes the smart-money reasoning.

The enemy of rural Iowa is not the El Salvadoran refugees the president wants to deport or the faces of diversity Congressman Steve King can’t bear the thought of seeing anywhere except in his rear-view mirror on a southbound train going anywhere.

There’s a delta every dawn between Steve King’s thinking and the reality of life in rural Iowa.

When you get to the place in life where you are pointing fingers at those with less than you, the people farther down the socio-economic ladder, you are, in reality, someone else’s mark.

That’s where rural Iowa finds itself now for Big Data and tech titans who know where and when you shop, what you buy and the details of searches on medical maladies and sexual curiosities you thought were secret — because, you know, you did them at night, and then “erased” your Google history.

Amazon and Facebook are greedy for our clicks, but decidedly urban, and even coastal, in their spreading of the new economy. The goods sold on Amazon and not in downtown Carroll or Jefferson, the jobs lost as a result, are not replaced with modern careers in rural Iowa. They go to Silicon Valley or New York City or Austin, Texas.

We Iowans, we Carroll Countians, we Jefferson folk, can’t even tax the products peddled to us online thanks to an outdated 1992 Supreme Court decision — which, according to Larry Davidson, president of Davidsons, a men’s clothing store in Roanoke, Virginia, creates an ecommerce-advantaged playing field where local brick-and-mortar merchants collect sales taxes that their online competitors don’t.

“Through this, the court essentially created a corporate welfare program for online-only retailers — some of which are now digital giants — that has stood for a quarter-century,” Davidson writes in a Washington Post essay.

The state of South Dakota is asking the Supreme Court to intervene and level the playing field, holding online merchants to the same tax standards. We should be rooting for our neighbors to the north.

There’s a cultural element to all of this, too.

A recent piece in Vanity Fair, as otherworldly as it is cringeworthy to us everyday Iowans, describes the Silicon Valley Technorati, founders of apps and sites and internet companies, gathering for drug-filled orgies. A New Yorker story reveals how tech titans — rich with our clicks — desperately, yet with hubris, are scouting a path to immortality, to “hack” death itself, to play skinny-jeaned gods who casually talk of living to be 142 or even older, if they die at all.

Gods don’t die, and we are funding self-styled gods these days in San Francisco and Seattle who are remaking life faster than we can live it — and not in a manner that is in any way good for rural America.

We aren’t just fly-over country to the tech elite. That’s old hat. No, today, the Technorati are perched on a virtual Mount Olympus, built with aimless and unthinking clicks from mere mortals like us. We’ve literally financed their belief that they can collect and centralize all the money in the world on their way to reshaping life in the image of their greatness.

That future, of course, doesn’t involve any aspect of rural Iowa life we’d recognize or want. The little people, well of course, we will be content to house Big Tech’s data centers. Cheers to you, Kim Reynolds. That’s what Big Tech will leave us after closing our stores and putting us — those 21st century Comanches who still fight for rural Iowa and don’t flee to the sprawl of the soul-crushing suburbs — on a trail of tears into the ecommerce reservations of modern man.

Our leaders, King and Reynolds, are picking on migrants, folding to flattery, as we rural Iowans become an endangered species, killed off by our own Facebook-inspired narcissism.

Who needs roads and schools when you have friends and followers?