Author Archives: Tom Abate

About Tom Abate

Tom Abate is a former small-press publisher, businessman and newspaper reporter who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. A Brooklyn native and U.S. Navy veteran, Tom is a UC Berkeley graduate who earned his master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. During his career he has worked in public relations, graphic design, typography and business journalism. As a journalist he specialized in science, technology, biotechnology, economics and the business culture of Silicon Valley. He has taught writing through UC Extension and was briefly a junior college instructor. He can work with spreadsheets, presentation software and some multimedia tools. In addition to his paid work, he wrote a blog (, 2005-2010) that explored the business models, techniques and practical concerns of new and independent media. He is on the advisory board of the Society for New Communications Research ( The father of three children, Tom loves to garden and build things. His intellectual passions include political theory, globalism and the struggle of the individual against bureaucracy.

Fear of the Unknown Justified or Not?

I’ve  always been a science fiction fan and none too discriminating in my tastes, which range from the classic Star Trek to the edgy Babylon 5 and the preposterous StarGate series. Now a NASA study suggests humankind might not rush … Continue reading

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Food tax equals shotgun vegetables

Some people want to tax junk food just as California taxes cigarettes to discourage consumption. Without wishing to defend either trans fats or tobacco I oppose using taxes as a punishment. Taxes should be about raising revenue fairly. A junk … Continue reading

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Help small biz by not favoring big biz

What is small business and what can government do to help? An analysis by small business trackers Carolyn Ockels and Steve King of Emergent Research  suggests that current policies are skewed toward Silicon Valley startups rather than Main Street bootstrappers.

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Lesson in job stats: get better, not bitter

Today’s  national unemployment report is grim: jobs flat, unemployment at 9.2 percent, millions job-hunting more than a year. Bay Area commentator Dick Lepre probes a bit deeper. Zeroing in on  journalism, a recent report says the number of  scribes working … Continue reading

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Is balance a smarter goal than growth?

Vigorous growth is today considered synonymous with economic health but ecological economist Richard Norgaard of UC Berkeley say a life-work balance may be a better goal. Crazy? Perhaps. But so is the fact that Communist China is the world’s most … Continue reading

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Can manufacturing return to U.S., California?

The rise of Chinese manufacturing has defined the past decade but are conditions now ripe for a revival of made-in-America? Possibly, for low-volume, high-ticket goods made in low-cost states,  says a Boston Consulting Group report.  But my beloved California will … Continue reading

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UC Berkeley imports students like coal

We live in a knowledge economy. Good jobs require college degrees. So why is UC Berkeley now enrolling nearly one-in-four students from out-of-state? As the SF Chronicle explains , non-residents pay higher tuition. Between budget cuts in Sacramento and institutional … Continue reading

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Soap bubbles and the Zynga IPO

Zynga is a San Francisco firm that has prospered (says NYTimes) by selling digital items, like tractors, to players of its online  games like FarmVille. Less substantial than soap bubbles, its products are more in tune with the times than … Continue reading

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Small business suffers as global biz booms

One statistic in an Associated Press story helps explain why the U.S. economy lolls in the doldrums: wages and benefits have sunk to 57.5 percent of GDP, down from a longstanding 64 percent while “a big chunk of the economy’s … Continue reading

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The Theology of the Minimum Wage

During my newspaper career I covered technology, biotechnology and other mind-expanding fields, but economics proved my most challenging beat. Behind a shroud of statistics, economists argued views that could not be proven but which nevertheless influenced lives and fortunes. One … Continue reading

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