Tech Feudalism

Joel Kotkin sounds the tocsin about the Tech Lords:


In its earlier iteration, Silicon Valley was a uniquely egalitarian place where outsiders made success and working people had decent incomes. Today, Wired magazine’s Antonio Garcia Martinez has labeled Silicon Valley as ‘feudalism with better marketing.” Despite enormous wealth, tech-driven cities like San Francisco and increasingly Seattle have become dysfunctional places, with massive homeless populations and a shrinking middle class. The urban website CityLab has described the Bay Area as “a region of segregated innovation,” where the rich wax, the middle class wanes, and the poor live in increasingly unshakeable poverty. In the last decade, according to the Brookings Institution, among the nation’s large cities, inequality grew most rapidly in San Francisco, a finding shared by the California Budget Center, which named the city first in California for economic inequality. 

Even in the Valley, once the exemplar of suburban egalitarianism, life has become increasingly hierarchical and feudal. Some 76,000 millionaires and billionaires call Santa Clara and San Mateo counties home, while hundreds of thousands of people struggle to feed their families and pay their bills each month. Nearly 30 percent of Silicon Valley’s residents rely on public or private assistance. This is a far away from democratic capitalism.

Once, the tech moguls legitimately could be sold as exemplars of American exceptionalism. But now, if unrestrained, the moguls are likely to be its assassins. Once, it was wise to let them work their magic unimpeded. But now, if we do this, we will create a society that is profoundly hierarchical, uncompetitive, and undemocratic. They need to be stopped, and now, or the world of tomorrow will not be a place we would like our children to inherit. 

Go here to read the rest.  The vision of the Tech Lords coincides with that of many of the elites of the Democrat Party who foresee a future of the very rich and the very poor with very little in between, and the poor masses heavily dependent on government largesse.  In short a kinder and gentler Mexico, with a one party state presiding over it all, forever and ever Amen.  Like most utopian and dystopian visions, it is plausible only if we ignore countervailing forces.  I would say that neither vision works long term, but in the short term either vision is devastating in terms of personal economic well being for the bulk of the people, and their personal freedom.  Of course Big Government is not the solution to the Tech Lords.  Much of the power of the Tech Lords comes from their power to buy favors from government.  A step in the right direction would be a separation of State and Tech Lords.

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One Comment

  1. 76,000 millionaires and billionaires in two counties surrounded by extreme poverty – all with walls around their homes and neighborhoods I safely presume. I don’t like government “doing” charity for us by taking my money and giving it to those it favors. I’m for active and practical Christianity (Matthew 25 style) where we take care of our neighbors freely and willingly and out of love, not out of coercion. That said, as we suspect, this will end badly.

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