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.]
- “Lean In: Women can move up the career ladder as soon as men change” (billionaire advises women to have lots of sex with with “bad boys” then settle down with a boring schlub who “wants an equal partner”; full quote “When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner.” (imagine if a billionaire guy offered analogous advice but with the genders reversed!))
- “Salesforce Billionaire Marc Benioff Agrees to Buy Time Magazine” (NYT, 9/16/2018); see also “The Hypocrisy of Marc Benioff & Co.” (3/30/2015)
- “Hillary’s Biggest Fan Is Buying The Atlantic Magazine” (regarding billionaire-through-marriage Laurene Powell Jobs)