Silicon Valley is the best reason to vote Republican next week?

As technology takes over American lives, literally in the case of Facebook, I wonder if voting Republican tomorrow isn’t the best way for Americans to #Resist total domination by their smug rich Silicon Valley overlords. The titans of Silicon Valley often seem to infer from their wealth that they have special insight into how a society should be organized and how non-wealthy, non-important people should conduct their lives (see Lean In for example, and “Guy with a ‘Whites Only’ sign in his conference room tells others not to discriminate”). Having created one of the nation’s highest tax states (#6 in percent of residents’ income devoted to state and local government) that operates perhaps the worst-performing school system (nytimes) in an environment of racial inequality (“California is the center of American racism?“), these folks feel confident in preaching proper government organization to the ignorant non-Silicon Valley masses. While presiding over enterprises whose employees overwhelmingly identify as white or Asian men, the CEOs prate in the media about how other companies should hire and promote employees who identify as non-white/non-Asian women. If they think not enough reporters are listening, they simply buy the media (see below).

Even on business subjects, these folks have essentially no useful experience to relate. If you’re manufacturing car parts or providing landscaping services or running a restaurant, how is it useful to hear from the CEO of a company that has had, essentially, a monopoly for 5-15 years? The regulated Bell System monopoly had its drawbacks, but at least Americans were spared from having to purchase and read books by its managers offering purported secrets of their success. Nobody who ran a business exposed to competition was forced to watch a Bell System executive being interviewed on TV with fawning questions about how he or she had made the company so profitable.

Anecdote at the lower end of the wealth spectrum: a (white) friend who studied at Stanford and lives in Berkeley traveled to Ohio to canvas African-Americans in Cleveland to encourage them to go to the polls and vote for Hillary (Trump ultimately won). The majority of people who opened their doors told him that they didn’t expect a Hillary presidency to make them better off than would a Trump presidency. He might have concluded from this that black Americans rationally evaluate their interests and vote accordingly. Instead he concluded that black Americans were dumber than he had anticipated.

The election of Donald Trump was helpful in deflating some of these sermonizing billionaires, but the Insufferability Index seems likely to rise if Democrats win a lot of mid-term seats. Could it be that the best reason to vote Republican, therefore, is to quiet down the Blowhards of the Bay for a couple of years? Trump makes them angry, but a hate-filled Silicon Valley Master of the Universe might be less annoying than a self-sastified one?

[This advice is purely for readers. My own ballot here in Massachusetts is dominated by Democrats running unopposed. There are essentially no options for incorrect voting.]

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18 thoughts on “Silicon Valley is the best reason to vote Republican next week?

  1. Silicon Valley represents probably 10% MIT, 10% Stanford, 70% Indian backgrounds. A tiny number of people grew up in Calif*, now scrounge around for odd jobs, but make all the political noise.

  2. a (white) friend who studied at Stanford and lives in Berkeley traveled to Ohio to canvas African-Americans in Cleveland to encourage them to go to the polls and vote for Hillary (Trump ultimately won). The majority of people who opened their doors told him that they didn’t expect a Hillary presidency to make them better off than would a Trump presidency. He might have concluded from this that black Americans rationally evaluate their interests and vote accordingly. Instead he concluded that black Americans were dumber than he had anticipated.

    It sounds unlikely that a majority of the black Clevelanders that your friend spoke to actually expressed such a sentiment. Nevertheless, congratulations are in order. You’ve actually identified a real racist statement from a liberal. Making a judgment about 40 million people with a certain skin color based on a statement by a dozen or two people with that same skin color definitely merits the R word.

    The rest of your argument makes no sense. There’s no problem in the first place. No one has been compelled to buy books from anyone. The current GOP control of the Congress and the White House has had no effect on the veneration of the industry. You also forget that Trump himself has written books bragging about his wealth.

    One solution to the domination of a large section of the economy by fairly small number of individuals would be to have the Justice Department engage in anti-trust activities to break some of these behemoths which are monopolies or near-monopolies. There was a Republican president who was famously called the trustbuster. Unfortunately, that was long time ago and the Republicans are currently the party more sympathetic to the concentration of wealth and power in corporate hands.

    • Don’t waste your time trying to have a reasonable discussion with a misogynistic racist.

      [remainder removed by moderator; above fragment left as a reminder to debate ideas, not motivations]

    • It would be interesting to have a discussion about this guideline discouraging the mention of motivation. There are so many posts containing false assertions, concern about mundane issues and the apparent statement of positions in the form of questions. Often there’s quite a bit of emotion involved. It’s only human nature to wonder about the motivation behind such posts, what the point is. Why is motivation not worthy of discussion?

    • Why is the motivation of other authors not a good topic for discussion? Explained 15 years ago in https://philip.greenspun.com/blog/comment-moderation-policy/ : “Comments that attack another person’s motivation, intelligence, or character are bad because they degrade the quality of the discussion and discourage thoughtful comments by others. For some reason, human beings often are confident that they can discern the hidden motivation for another person doing or saying something. Trained psychiatrists and psychologists, however, do very poorly at this task, so what hope is there for a lay person?”

      Especially if we haven’t met someone, how do we know their motivation? Consider Thomas Friedman, NYT pundit. He married the daughter of a real estate billionaire and lives in an 11,500 square foot mansion in Bethesda. That’s an unusual lifestyle. Can anyone be sure that it affects the opinions he expresses?

    • I don’t think that statement really addresses the point. In many cases here, the issue is about questioning motivation, not attacking motivation. Someone makes a truly bizarre, or clearly false, statement and I’m left scratching my head, wondering what the point or purpose of making such statements is. I don’t think that it necessarily always degrades anything to speculate about what’s going on. If a person posts a comment ascribing a certain motivation about a previous comment, the writer of the previous comment is always free to defend himself if he feels attacked.

    • Vince: The accusation above that someone is a “misogynistic racist” is not persuasive for you on the question of whether considering another’s motivation is productive? Hillary voters did this in 2016. Anyone who supported Trump was motivated by misogyny and racism. That didn’t lead to any interesting debate on the issues facing Americans, e.g., how the likely future U.S. could be a pleasant place to live (after packing 100 million low-skill Welfare-dependent immigrants and their children into a country whose infrastructure is already overburdened) or why we need to spend $trillions on our military when there is no obvious war to be fought. It didn’t even lead to virtue (Hillary) prevailing in the electoral contest!

      If one of the 3,000 (estimated) members of the Ku Klux Klan says “I like to drive a white Tesla,” why is it interesting to speculate on whether his Klan membership motivated his choice of vehicle?

    • The accusation above that someone is a “misogynistic racist” is not persuasive for you on the question of whether considering another’s motivation is productive? Hillary voters did this in 2016. Anyone who supported Trump was motivated by misogyny and racism.

      That’s not accurate. Remember that that Hillary stated that half of Trump’s supporters were deplorable – racist or misogynist or anti-Semitic, etc. After the election polls indicated that she was mistaken. The actual portion was 60%. If there are currently tens of millions of American wearing silly Trump hats expressing joy that a n—-r president has been replaced by a president who hates n—-rs just like they do, it’s worthy of some discussion. Especially because it serves as great distraction from the very issues that voters claim to care about: immigration, health care, etc.

      In your case, you generally pose questions instead of making statements. The question that arises is not exactly what is your motivation. It’s what are trying to say or what’s the point? Many of the comments made on this blog are unhinged rants or obvious nonsense. In that case the question similar. What is going on with these people?

  3. Toucan Sam: It is tough for me to abandon my passion for a smaller and more local government! So I fear that I must continue to be among the 237 reliable Libertarian voters in the U.S. On the other hand, during “early voting” in our town I went in with Mindy the Crippler and requested a ballot. I said “Mindy really wants to vote for Donald Trump.” The town clerks were not amused.

    • “Libertarian voter”? I think you mean: “Selfish, entitled rich white man, and I’ve got mine, so screw you, voter”

      [remainder of personal attack removed by moderator]

  4. Vince: There was indeed a great Republican president who was a trust buster. Unfortunately, the last time we tried that it was an embarrassing spectacle of government lawyers typing documents on Microsoft Word about how bad Microsoft was. If we tried that again today, we would have government lawyers googling “Why is Google a monopoly” in order to explain to a federal judge why Google is a monopoly. Fortunately, nobody today still worries about the Microsoft monopoly because it was rendered irrelevant.

  5. Tony: You may be mistaken about that. I remember hearing from lawyers that I knew around the beginning of the century that their profession was still mostly using WordPerfect years after most of the rest of the country had made the switch to Word. However, it doesn’t matter. The issue is competition, supposedly an important part of entrepreneurial, free market capitalism. The quality of the software is is irrelevant.

  6. Speaking of Silicon Valley, Evander Kane of the San Jose Sharks is being sued for a reason that will sound familiar to readers of this blog.

  7. We live in the age of the technocrat, where laws and taxes and government spending and social understandings are thought best shaped by an elite of aspiring busy-bodies who are intent on reshaping society in their image.

    The most notable aspiring technocrat is Michael Bloomberg and his signature issue is the soda tax. The poor cannot be trusted to eat and drink how they choose. They must be cudgeled with regressive taxes until they act in a way pleasing to Mr. Bloomberg’s enlightened sensibilities.

    The technological magnate is sure that with just the right init.config file, society can be reconfigured into a profitable utopia.

  8. You: «The titans of Silicon Valley often seem to infer from their wealth that they have special insight into how a society should be organized and how non-wealthy, non-important people should conduct their lives»

    Trump: «“So somebody said, ‘Why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy?’ I said, ‘Because that’s the kind of thinking we want … because they’re representing the country. (…) And I love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person,” Trump added. “Does that make sense?»

    How is that different? Voting Republican wouldn’t change that.

    —-
    You: «If they think not enough reporters are listening, they simply buy the media»

    There’s certainly considerations to be had regarding billionaire-ownership of the media. But 1) it’s not new, vide William Randolph Hearst and 2) there’s also Rupert Murdoch – true, he didn’t need to buy media to be listened to, but he did hire Roger Ailes to create a political mouthpiece.

    How is that better? Voting Republican wouldn’t change that.

    —-

    You: “The election of Donald Trump was helpful in deflating some of these sermonizing billionaires.”

    Yes, we got other billionaires sermonizing us. How is that better? Voting Republican wouldn’t change that (unless you prefer the other kind of sermons).

    —-

    If you only care about annoying Silicon Valley billionaires (excluding Peter Thiel), then sure, vote republican. Even in Massachusetts – they may not win in the few choices available, but if the numbers are higher, you’ll be sending a signal!

  9. Yeah, that’s good point, Francisco. The Silicon Valley titans may be listening to the president too much. Another important point to keep in mind is that their vast wealth gives them the ability, through their corporations, to shape how society functions and how people live their lives.

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