The New Yorker magazine last week became the latest national publication to write the obligatory story about skyrocketing housing prices in San Francisco and the resulting antipathy toward technology companies. “The tech industry made the Bay Area rich,” declared the magazine. “Why do so many people hate it?”
Speaking for myself, I don’t hate tech companies (except on those days when Facebook and Google try to mess with me). But I understand why some people do hate them.
Tech companies hire people, pay them good salaries and provide them comfortable mass transit to get to work and back. What could be more cruel?
Also last week, a New Yorker who writes for Slate magazine suggested that housing in San Francisco would be more affordable if the city made itself more like New York, perhaps by blanketing the headlands on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge with high-rises.
This was an imaginative solution, for sure. Imagine all that beautiful land now going to waste.
It is heartening to know that New Yorkers worry about income inequality in the Bay Area. Where else but New York can a working person buy a 525-square-foot, one bedroom apartment on Fifth Avenue for a mere $1.5 million?
Just a suggestion: Housing prices in New York would be even lower if you built condos in Central Park. As it is, one Slate commenter noted, all that green space is going to waste.
This income inequality business is so darned complicated.
A Field Poll last week found that a majority of Californians are concerned about the gap between the haves and the have-nots, but they disagree about whether government should do anything about it. Democrats and independents want government to do more, and Republicans do not.
Luckily, we are blessed with a Congress and a U.S. Supreme Court dedicated to the preservation of the middle class (just so long as it doesn’t get in the way of the Koch brothers owning everything).
Only last week, the high court declared that a woman has an absolute right to make her own health care decisions (if her employer thinks it’s OK).
The chronic complainers among you will point to a recent string of laws and court decisions that protect the wealthy and large corporations, and disadvantage wage earners.
You forget that a rising tide lifts all boats. Doesn’t your boat feel lifted?
This is the problem, isn’t it? We know more people are being left behind as technology and globalization transform the world of work.
When it comes to income inequality, however, Americans remain terminally conflicted.
In red states, folks think there’s nothing more important than protecting the middle class — except, of course, for amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage. They hate taxes and government in the red states, but not the fact that many of them pay less in taxes than they receive in government benefits.
In blue states, people in places like San Francisco could demand that schools produce a workforce qualified for technology jobs.
They could support efforts to produce more affordable housing and protect the rights of tenants.
Instead, they blame the companies that pay higher salaries and picket the places where tech workers catch the bus.