It seems that time again when there's a willingness to look at the horrid elitism of Silicon Valley.
Usually Silicon Valley's rich and famous are never targeted by mass culture because they are too hipster and too secretive and too interwoven with the social media platforms. Even to make a collage with Sergei Brin's face inside Mr. Moneybags from the Monopoly Game is to commit a blasphemy (maybe I can't find the old one I made of Larry Page on a blog because it has been Google-bombed to get rid of any footprint...)
So now there's this -- Silicon Valley's Dysfunctional Fetish -- but that's a really misleading headline because it's not just that SV likes to laugh at other's misfortune, they really do think they are a superior breed.
And surprise, surprise, there's Chamath Palihapitiya, former Facebook biggie who now invests in every single thing you use on the Internet, who I remember tweeting about from TechCrunch last spring when he gave an interview on the stage, and talked about how everyone should learn to code and if they didn't, they were chumps. No way! (I tweeted with the hashtag and Arrington instantly started following me, and I figured I might be blocked or something. Evidently not.)
Palihapitiya: We're in this really interesting shift. The center of power is here, make no mistake. I think we've known it now for probably four or five years. But it's becoming excruciatingly, obviously clear to everyone else that where value is created is no longer in New York, it's no longer in Washington, it's no longer in LA. It's in San Francisco and the Bay Area. And when you look at sort of, like, how markets react to things like that, and when there's no reaction, it should be taken as a very subtle signal that the power dynamics have changed. Because markets value meaningful events, markets discount meaningless events. And so the functional value of the government is effectively discounted to zero
Of course, this speaks not only to the idea, long held by the geek overlords that the finance industry and the old dying manufacturing industries of the East Coast "don't add value" -- and their apps to send pictures of your cat do - but it's more about the Shutdown, which fulfilled their notions of the "broken Congress" that has to be "circumvented" -- as they said during the anti-SOPA crusade.
As we know, technocollectivist Beth Noveck, who for a time served as a deputy director of the White House Office of Science and Technology (!) openly said she wanted to "blow up Congress".
Geeks always go around saying Congress people are stupid, they don't get tech, blah blah. Long ago when Scoble went to visit Congress and get them all using Twitter, the invasion started. Not a theory I buy.
In part, the elitists can think as they do because they've hidden all their manufacturing and back end overseas, in China, India, Russia so they don't have to think about their working conditions and standards of living. Occasionally, someone will be seized with guilt over suicides at an Apple factory, but not really. The really don't have to think about "how the other half lives" in their industry because it's all invisible. They seldom have to think about the working stiffs in their own country because they take company buses to work, they have company masseurs and company chefs and never have to come out of the bubble.
Some might call this technolibertarianism, and even Randianism, but I think it's more complex -- it's "communism for thee, capitalism for thee". (Note Stowe Boyd below whining about "neo-liberalism" in Silicon Valley. For every technolibertarian, there is indeed a technocommunist to bait him.)
I'm not surprised that this story involved Jason Calicanis. I remember when Jason blamed people whose houses were foreclosed on as being in over their heads -- it was all their fault. I distinctly remember when he said that; I distinctly remember when we all argued about this on 2008 in Twitter.
At the time, my brother and I were dealing with my mother's foreclosed home -- and the case didn't fit his prejudice. All that happened to her was that she died before being able to make her latest mortgage payment. Before that, she had paid for the payments out of a teacher's pension and my father's insurance money after he died. The condo she lived in was one that my parents had saved up for their entire life for their retirement. But Wells Fargo seized it rapidly after her death for some reason, not being willing to accept my brother's check for the mortgage. There was a long drawn out case with lawyers and fees and finally a re-mortgaging -- but then oops, it couldn't be rented out, even at half the price of the mortgage, because in the recession housing collapse, there were still developers building new condos and letting them go for less. It was impossible to sell this white elephant for any amount. My brother lived in it and commuted 90 miles every day and then finally gave up. In the end, the bank took it again. Sad. But not anyone's fault for "living beyond their means". Oh, yeah, none of us had an extra $2000 a month to spend on a house we hadn't planned on paying for, that's all.
Sure, there were people who lived beyond their means. But that took bankers giving them the NINJA loans (no income, no job applicants) -- and part of this was a desire to lift the poor and particularly minorities to a better place, which was encouraged by programs under Clinton and encouraged by Fanny Mae and other lenders. It was supposed to be a good idea.
When I re-argued all this with Calacanis again the other day, he insisted that he said both at the time -- yes, people lived beyond their means and yes, there were greedy and predatory lenders. Except I don' recall him saying the second things at the time and the fact that he still blames the victims lets us know that is his mindset.
Today there's yet another story like this, some good reporting by Alexia Tsotsis, who lives the life of the rich and famous herself (her boyfriend is the Instagram billionaire) but who is always stumping for the little guy (because they all, even when they do it well, want socialism for the masses and capitalism/riches for themselves.) A Better World!
A Twitter exec is shown banging on BART workers on strike.
See, this is also about hate-on-Twitter month because instead of staying with the socialist collectivist plan of always just making everything for free and having coders live on Ramen and entrepreneurs renew VC cash or be passed around to Big IT buyers, they decided to go IPO. That took them out of the technocommunist realm into the technolibertarian round.
So this suit is complaining about strikers and wishing a Doberman to attack them....er no, not them, whoever is "causing" the strike. Hmm, that was some fancy footwork...
So do the Silicon Valley overlords rule our world? In some ways they rule the mindshare with things like Twitter or Facebook. But their lobbying so far has only been about things directly related to their California Business Model (anti-SOPA) and then only about immigration, since they want more Indian and other programmers to be able to come to the US and be paid less than Americans already here...or something. They don't seem to have a grander vision than that.
There's also this -- remember when we were counting how many jobs all these new Big IT things make up -- Google, Facebook etc? It was like half a million. A ridiculously small amount. SV is not a job generator; only very highly skilled people for the most part get jobs there and there aren't that many anyway. I bet fracking in North Dakota or health car ein New York have higher rate of job generation now than the app factories. Most people employed in the USA have jobs outside this sector, not in it, even if they rely on it or are tangentially involved. Yes, everything is coded. But not everybody codes.