In the 1880s, Kotkin says, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s railroad revenues were larger than the federal government’s revenues. That was the old economy. This is the new: In 2013, the combined ad revenue of all American newspapers was smaller than Google’s; so was magazine revenue. In 2013, Google’s market capitalization was six times that of GM, but Google had one-fifth as many employees. The fortunes of those Kotkin calls “the new Oligarchs” are based “primarily on the sale of essentially ephemeral goods: media, advertising and entertainment.”
He calls another ascendant group the Clerisy, which is based in academia (where there are many more administrators and staffers than full-time instructors), media, the nonprofit sector and, especially, government: Since 1945, government employment has grown more than twice as fast as America’s population. The Founders worried about government being captured by factions; they did not foresee government becoming society’s most rapacious and overbearing faction.
The Clerisy is, Kotkin says, increasingly uniform in its views, and its power stems from “persuading, instructing and regulating the rest of society.” The Clerisy supplies the administrators of progressivism’s administrative state, the regulators of the majority that needs to be benevolently regulated toward progress.