Homelessness is a problem with or without the tech backdrop.
I remember reading a very long, well-researched, and balanced post from TechCrunch  about the housing shortage in SF. Media: more posts like that, please. Help identify underlying issues, flawed policies, or missed opportunities, instead of simply blaming the engineers.
Yes, gentrification does have some impact on people on the periphery, and we can't discount that, but on average, the population as a whole is better off. Back in the early '90s, SF's real estate was in a depression. RE agents were moving out, due to the RE market depression. What we have now needs addressing, but it's more of a governmental intervention which is necessary. Intervention to address the housing stock shortage.
We need an organization like ABAG to have some executive power. Someone who can say, these will be green areas, these areas we can build up, and we need to bring mass transit here. We need regional governmental integration. Piece-meal works too slowly to adapt to the changes brought on by economic development.
It's because the SF bay area is such an economic engine that we have so many people come here and find jobs they cannot find in their home states or counties. If we were in stagnation like Fresno/Bakersfield, we'd have people fleeing trying to find the economic magnet.
Oh, come on. At least in SF, that's obvious exaggeration: San Francisco had been the west-coast center of the financial industry since before the 1980s, and most of what you see on Market street was built decades (if not a century) earlier. It looked nothing like Fresno.
If you're referring to the economic status of the people living at mid-Market, it's equally wrong to use it as an example where "tech" is making things better: The Tenderloin was a blue-collar neighborhood before the war. It gradually descended into property as the rest of the city gentrified around it, leaving few places for working-class people to go. Gentrification absolutely made things worse in the Tenderloin.
Mid-Market's decline came as part of the larger Tenderloin decline, but also as the result of BART construction, which killed business on the road in the 60s. SOMA was light industrial in the 1960s and 1970s, but by the late 1980s, this area was beginning to gentrify as well. For example, entire blocks of SRO housing were eliminated during the 1980s to build Moscone Center.
About the only thing you can say regarding the "tech industry" is that it's the latest gentrifying wave of many, all of which have undoubtedly made things nicer for rich people, and worse for poor people. It's therefore completely unsurprising that someone in the tech industry would believe that gentrification makes things "better", but it doesn't reflect a lot of empathy.
My overarching point is that without tech, the Bay Area would not be the place people come to find good paying jobs --it would be more of a retirement destination and a tourist destination. Let's look at North Dakota, yes, there are homeless despite the boom, but if it were not the for the boom, the state would be in the dull-drums but with shale, whatever you think of it, you have a vibrant economy which attracts all people looking for a way to make a decent living -not everyone will be lucky. That's not to say we should not try to provide for those not lucky (I think we should), but to say that industry creates the "luckless" to me, is disingenuous.
Look at the population trends for SF as a proxy for economic vitality in the 70's and 80's:
1970 715,674 −3.3%
1980 678,974 −5.1%
1990 723,959 +6.6%
2000 776,733 +7.3%
2010 805,235 +3.7%
2013 837,442 +4.0%
When white collar was basically finance, people used to commute _into_ the city. Whereas now, SF is a place people have a desire to live --it was not always that way.
Do you mean "into poverty..."? Genuine question, not being snarky.
Anti-gentrification activists make it even worse since they oppose pretty much every new development. "We don't want luxury condos in our neightbourhood". Then you will have old tiny studios at the price of luxury condos.
People don't move to SF because because they look for a luxury condo here. They move to SF because there are jobs.
As I see it, we should focus on solving these issues as residence of the Bay Area as a whole. Pitting one group against another will just deplete the political will necessary to make vital policy changes to allow high density housing, mass public transit, raising minimum wage, improving education, etc.
The thing read like a bad undergraduate essay, wherein the student decided the thesis ("tech isn't really responsible for the bay area housing crisis!") before doing the research, discovered that the data didn't support her conclusion, then simply chose to overwhelm the reader with disconnected facts in an attempt to distract from the self-evident conclusion that, yes, we really are responsible for the latest spike in housing costs.
A more sophisticated analysis acknowledges that foregone conclusion, but then separates culpability from cause: the tech industry is certainly the cause of the latest housing crisis, but that doesn't mean growth in tech is automatically bad (or good, for that matter). Only once you have acknowledged those truths can you proceed forward with a rational discussion on what to do about the problem.
Once you acknowledge that this is an acute crisis caused by a single industry, you have to consider that one reasonable solution might be to discourage tech companies from coming to the city via taxes, zoning and so on. There is, after all, no inalienable right for startups to have offices in live/work lofts in SOMA.
Again, the whole thing was written to appeal to an audience of tech people who want to believe that they're not the problem and shouldn't have to sacrifice, even though the facts clearly point in the other direction. Why should the fabric of a city change instantaneously because a group of relatively entitled new arrivals believe that they somehow "belong" more than the people who arrived before?
We can't have a useful conversation that doesn't start from the acknowledgement that tech is a big part of the problem.
>“It’s not necessarily their fault, but they are stakeholders in the homelessness problem and have the power and brains to change it.”
Where are you detecting notes of "us" vs. "them"?
the author isn't nourishing the concept of 'us vs. them' it with what they wrote, just with the reports from others.
I agree. And yet, this place is set aflame every time a financial or banking article is posted, questioning when "we" are going to do something about "those people".
It isn't constructive, at all.
Agreed. But is there something about the tech industry as practiced in Silicon Valley (the sheer concentration; how VC money might prevent the Schumpeterian forces of creative destruction from regulating the local economic cycle; the exercise of political clout) that has made homelessness there particularly bad? Has anywhere else in the country experience this kind of sustained housing boom, of this magnitude?
I would point out:
* Software companies, specifically, are more likely to be freeloaders than non-software companies. Tax avoidance schemes such as the Double Irish + Dutch Sandwich allow companies that make revenues primarily from intellectual property laws to skirt US and California taxation, and are therefore freeloading on the local governments by taking advantage of the talent from public schools (UC Berkeley), the local government infrastructure (roads, bridges, highways and freeways; a standardized electrical grid with a [somewhat] regulated utility company; financial regulations that keep [some] public faith in the banks and the US Dollar fiat currency; police system to keep the peace; fire systems to prevent runaway fires and catch arsonists; an intellectual property system that protects patents, copyrights, and trademarks [if you see the system as "protecting" these things]; a judicial system that allows persons and companies some say in how the law is applied to them and some opportunities to use litigation to enforce contracts; and national defense to prevent national instability and potential loss of private property or lives).
* For whatever reasons, tech companies want to be located within miles of each other, all challenging each other for talent and office space in a small geographic area, and all of the secondary effects of those things.
* Software allows companies to scale up without expensive upfront capital investments and allow fewer employees to generate more revenue than traditional types of brick-and-mortar businesses (although maybe not scale the way financial products scale). This provides for concentration of wealth in the hands of fewer people.
I would argue that the article and a handful of other SV articles miss some key issues related to costs for housing and other living expenses in California:
* Prop 13 limits the rate at which property taxes can rise up to market values. I observe 3 side-effects of Prop 13: (1) Properties have less turnover since Prop 13 in 1978 because property taxes reset to market rates if the property changes hands (except for a few exceptions) (2) Property taxes are kept low, thereby starving local governments of tax money needed for typical local government services (3) Property values are inflated because it's now more valuable to own a property since you aren't being taxed at the full rate
* Land is simply not in a large supply. Water surrounds the peninsula and is VERY expensive to build on (anything that alters the SF Bay ecosystem is expensive to develop). Much of the undeveloped land is owned and managed by the Open Space Preserve which is not develop-able. Many tracts of land owned by the farmers / orchard owners of pre-tech Santa Clara County have left their land to the county and state with the express wishes that the land be kept undeveloped.
* What little land is able to be developed, dense development is prevented by "Not in My Back Yard" organizations ("NIMBY"s). NIMBYs typically prevent high-rise construction (like SF waterfront). This is the same with the BART transit system, which had tentative plans to run down the peninsula to San Jose, but was prevented by NIMBYism in the affluent peninsula neighborhoods.
* Good-intentioned but bad-implementation policies such as SF "rent control" and San Jose's newly proposed "low-income rental fee". Short of increasing supply or lowering demand, these are stop-gap policies that have some serious blowback effects.
> “We are trying to get tech billionaires involved in what we’re doing. They donate millions to good causes, but almost nothing to the local community they are helping destroy."
Other related issues about how the rich/wealthy spend their charitable donations compared to the less rich/wealthy:
* I immediately thought of this article from Robert Reich, "When Charity Begins at Home (Particularly the Homes of the Wealthy)" which basically says that the very wealthy overwhelmingly give to large university endowments and operas as their non-profit donations rather than community organizations that address homelessness or other poverty issues.
* Of course there are "non-profit" PAC contributions which effectively route "donations" to political campaigns to re-shape politics (such as the Waltons pushing anti-Union politics, the Waltons and the Kochs pushing anti-science and environment-negative policies ... none of which help local communities [but are also not directly related to the tech industry in the SF Bay Area]).
* You could argue that even when tech Billionaires donate to a charity, it could get squandered like Zuckerberg's $100 Million "donation" to New Jersey's Newark public school system, which some have argued didn't make any difference/change.
* Tech companies are able to scale up better than traditional brick-and-mortars, so the wealth generated by tech companies is more concentrated in fewer hands. Stats show that the very wealthy donate a much smaller percentage of their income/wealth to charitable causes. This means that local charities need to compete harder for fewer dollars and it's already less likely to go to a local organization than to a university endowment or some other more selfish charitable donation (an opera or a local environmental cause that serves to benefit the donator as much as anyone else).
If I had real problem-solving money (think Bill Gates) I'd go for homelessness first. I think that as a nation we have a fundamental duty to make sure that everyone gets basic comforts like shelter, heat, food, and water. I hate that I am paid a high salary to flip bits on a computer while there are people a block from my house sleeping on the sidewalk in the rain.
That said, I don't really understand why this all has to be portrayed as a phenomenon caused by the influx of tech workers into SF and the Bay Area. Tens of thousands of people move in and get jobs paying $80-200k. They all pay very high taxes. Why can't the local government take that revenue and help those who need it? Why can't the expanded tax base be part of the solution for the problem? It seems crazy to me that it's a "problem" that so many people are moving to one area for high paying jobs. That sounds like high economic production and many cities would love to have that "problem".
As an individual I am horrified by my inability to help the homeless while people like me are portrayed as villains in the media. I wish there was something I can do. I donate to youth services and homelessness-centered charities but I know that's not going to fix things (it never has). I don't see anything that can be done but the local government stepping up and making serious changes that will stabilize the housing market and help those who are already on the streets get into a better situation. I'm not an expert on the topic so I don't have specific suggestions here.
Yes, that's exactly what it's like here. Either you live in a 10,000 SF+ megamansion or you're on the street. Hyperbole much?
So you're implying that it's unfair for a highly skilled SF developer making 2-3x the median wage across all professions (having dedicated years to decades of their life to attain that level of skill) to make that money in the first place?
Besides the $100-150K such a developer makes is less than half what the bottom of the 1% makes in 2014: $390K, source: http://money.cnn.com/2014/04/04/pf/taxes/top-1-taxes/. You're talking something closer to the top 3-5% here, source: http://politicalcalculations.blogspot.com/2014/09/what-is-yo...
And even then, most of the people I know who make that kind of money worked their butts off and sacrificed a lot to get to that income level. To be fair, I know some idle trustafarians too, but they are a tiny minority of the group it seems like you're demonizing for their hard work.
My unsolicited advice to people who can't afford to live in SF is DON'T LIVE IN SF! For what it's worth, I don't and for exactly that reason. That and my definition of filthy rich is a lot stricter: the top 0.1% and their $1M+ a year income.
The median salary for an application developer in San Jose is 116k. For a registered nurse in San Jose, it is 122K. Dental hygienists in San Francisco earn about 109k a year (median), developers in SF, about 110K. Lawyers and Physicians, of course, earn considerably more.
Devs do alright by standards of skilled workers, but they're not really outliers. The widely held notion that devs are wildly overpaid and privileged workers has to go down as one of the great victories of silicon valley PR.
Now, I will agree that tech has create these salaries on a scale that didn't exist before, which may be part of why the resentment occurs. Dental hygienists at 109k a year simply can't exist in numbers sufficient to cause displacement, because they draw their salaries largely from the local population. That limits the ratio. Tech, on the other hand, sells outside the region, so 100k+ salaried tech workers really aren't limited in number by a local population they serve (and they can remain aloof or detached from that population). Again, I'm not saying this is bad (or good), I'm just suggesting it as one possible explanation for why people resent tech salaries so much more than dental hygienist salaries.
And IMO that's exactly how the guy with the truck prefers you think. Or to quote Stewie Griffin: "Dance! Puppets! Dance!"
The entire national household wealth of the United States is 83.7 trillion dollars this year, source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_wealth
This makes us the richest nation on the planet.
There are 117.5 million households in the United States, source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of_...
That's roughly $712,340 per household. I am happy to consider anyone with that or more household wealth as rich. And anyone with that plus 2 sigma as filthy rich.
Instead, what we have is all the wealth concentrated at the very top, and it gets worse and worse every year. I am in no way suggesting any form of wealth redistribution here, but it's hard for me to consider some poor sap making borderline 6 figures in SF with less than $100K life savings "filthy rich."
Sure, by 3rd world standards they're loaded, but what does that say about the 0.01% and up?
a) You did seem to conflate wealth with unfairness.
b) I'm unsure that a simple mean is the best criterion. The median household income is about $50,000, for example. If an individual earns about $150,000, they're in the top decile of the US. I think being in the top decile is also pretty rich.
c) If an SF developer is earning $100k, it's not even that fair to compare it to household income distribution. If they don't have a family, they don't need to support children -- unlike many households with lower income. If they do have a family, it's reasonably likely they have a high-earning partner who'll boost their household income even higher. Rich people tend to marry rich people.
(I used household income rather than household wealth here, which is a weakness compared to what you wrote. But you get the idea...)
I think these are the ones that work the hardest* and because of that they'll be the last to sink into the muck created by the top 0.01% and up as they freely fund elections, buy politicians, and write their own laws.
Oh, and they'll also be the scapegoats who take one for team 0.01% when the income gap #$%^ finally hits the inequality fan.
*And if working hard didn't usually lead to them making more, there'd be no incentive for them to do so, no?
1) Are we shocked that a temperate city that offers a wealth of social programs for the homeless sees an influx of homeless from elsewhere in the nation?
2) In the 1970s California closed many mental institutions and made it harder for people to be admitted involuntarily. Guess where mentally ill Californians end up?
3) The San Franciscan government has spent decades fighting development to keep the city's beautiful, famous and in many cases historic housing intact. And now we are shocked when housing prices skyrocket after we deny development of new high density housing.
SF's housing and homeless debate is infuriating.
Affordable housing in a desirable neighborhood in one of the most expensive cities on earth is not a basic human right.
How is someone like me who lives in a tiny studio "super-rich"? Most of us in Silicon Valley live in shared apartments or tiny studios. If we were super-rich we would live at least in McMansions like you see everywhere else.
Yet another smear-SV article.
> How is someone like me who lives in a tiny studio "super-rich"?
In many parts of the country, fitting your lifestyle in one room sounds like being poor. Even Abraham Lincoln's childhood log cabin had a big yard. Just because you're making six figures doesn't mean you're making enough to comfortably support a family while still being home in time for dinner.
Folks don't always appreciate how large an area we're talking about when we talk about the 'bay area' we're talking about 3 large cities (San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland) and a bunch of smaller cities, in an area that is larger than all of New York city (which is nominally 490 sq miles according to Rand McNally).
And according to HUD New York has a higher per capita homeless population than California does.
I'm sure BI gets good rage views though.
Perversely, it's the exact opposite that's true. If nobody can afford to live here, they commute in from farther and farther away. And they do. They do it in Manhattan too.
The wrong thing about this kind of articles is how they try to link tech and social problems like they were cause and effect. It's similar to other smears like "immigrants are taking our jobs", etc.
> We are trying to get tech billionaires involved in what we’re doing. They donate millions to good causes, but almost nothing to the local community they are helping destroy.
Here's a tip for anyone with a good idea or a worthy cause: If you want to enlist the support of a group of people, making them out to be the villain is unlikely to help you.
An elderly lady told me once that we are supposed to help the less fortunate, and she tried her best, but it would make it a lot easier for her if some of the less fortunate would help themselves a little. This comment has really stuck with me and kind of illustrates what I see as the problem. However certainly misfortune can happen to anyone, and we should be civilized enough at this point to not allow this kind of suffering to occur in our society. It's a problem that does need a real solution.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation spent some money researching housing of homeless alcoholics in Seattle and found a monthly per-month savings of $2,500, a reduction of 53 percent compared to previous spending: http://www.rwjf.org/en/about-rwjf/newsroom/newsroom-content/... In Seattle I guess it costs about $13,000 to house a homeless person for a year.
In Florida it apparently costs about $10,000/year to house a homeless person and provide some job services; it cost about $31,000 a year to leave them homeless and provide emergency police and medical responses at the current rate. http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/05/27/3441772/florida-...
Here's an article from Fox (?!): http://www.foxbusiness.com/economy-policy/2014/07/07/how-hou...
It depends. What kind of mental health issues (including substance abuse) does that person have?
Keep in mind that people also need security. Food and shelter aren't enough. They also need their belongings to be secure for long enough to build up a minimal amount of personal equity. You can't make it out of poverty if you're perpetually under the threat of robbery, abuse, and worse.
Then you need a place to sleep, but that doesn't mean an appartment or room, it could as easily be a disused shipping container with bunk beds. Lets assume that we put 4 rows of bunkbeds into each 40 row shipping container (that leaves space for a small closet next to the beds, assuming the beds are 4 feet wide, with space at the other end to get in/out of the bed). I have no idea what a used shipping container cost or what a bunk bed costs.
There is a huge variety in land cost, so lets just take the cheapest possible option: not currently used government land. We can assume that we can get this for free, since this will either be a government project or payed for entirely by the government.
Heating costs can likely wise be minimized by putting the camp near some place that is neither going to become very warm or very cold.
We are going to need toilets and baths, probably something like a toilet for every 5 to 6 people and a shower for every 10 to 20. I have no idea what a toilet costs, but a shipping container with a drain in the bottom and 30 shower heads would be largely dominated by the cost of the shipping container and the cost of the water.
You will need somebody to cook the food and some place to cook it, but it could easily be eaten in tents - these would be cheaper than the shipping containers. The tents could also be used as a place to hang out when food is not served and could provide a variety of improvement activities, such as reading/storytelling. You will want to have a library attached which could be made of, that is right, shipping containers and you may want to have a small school or else a school bus (there is going to be kids there).
The cost of a shipping container (according to a handy, 11 steps wikihow guide http://www.wikihow.com/Buy-a-Used-Shipping-Container) runs from 1000 to 8000 usd, lets call it 4000, a quick google search suggest a bunk bed runs a little over 200 usd, which would give us a capital cost of sleeping areas of 1200 for the beds, say 1000 for the closets and 4000 for the container for 12 people, i.e about 520 usd/person.
Lets assume the bathrooms, toilets and tents cost the same, so that is about 1000 usd.
We assumed the food was 4 usd/person/day, but that does not include deoderants, tampoons, showgel, toothbrushes, etc. so lets make this 12 usd/day.
Adding everything up with have capital costs of a bit more than 1000 usd/person in the best case and 360 usd running cost/person/month.
That is strictly warehousing them, though for most I doubt it makes sense to retrain them.
But then you have to hire contractors to do all that. And managers to manage them. And managers to manage the managers. And pensions for all the inspectors and managers. Or the government could try to do it directly. Either way... the real cost gets significant additions. Along with a higher probability of failure.
You need security. Some of these people aren't safe for others to be with. Liability. So you need insurance. And lawyers. Lots of lawyers so you don't get sued as much when someone cuts themselves on a shipping container.
So you can probably 5-10x the real cost and still run into budget problems. So people keep suffering. That's why I don't know what the answer is but I wish I did.
And yeah I didn't include managers or other employees salaries. We could save much of that by requiring that the people there worked a few hours a week or by running some traning program in the kitchen and get cheap labour that way.
I also assumed non-stupidty by the government as we were trying to find out what it cost to house them, not what they could drive the price up to.
That said, I do agree that it 'feels' a little weird to try and make money off of the homeless.
Also I see the minimum wage as harmful in this situation - you can tell yourself and the world that an hours worth of human time is always worth at least x USD, but it will never make it true. Policymakers do not set minimum wages with someone struggling to get off the streets in mind, but rather with someone in an altogether much less dire situation, and in doing so they raise the barrier too high. Hiring a homeless person for $5/hr would in many cases bring great utility to both parties: outlawing such transactions seems absurd.
The thing is as a society we have plenty of resources and could enable most people to live with at least a minimal level of stability and security. But we don't want to. We've decided that our greatest economic centers work best when they're seething rat piles with the King Rat being pulled down and replaced every so often.
Though I fully agree about minimum wage laws. It's a big risk to hire someone off the street if you can't even start her at a lower introductory wage that ramps up aggressively with proven performance. Governments that mandate high wages must logically assume responsibility for figuring out a way to make sure everyone can do something worth $12/hour (or whatever the wage is). Alternately, an aggressive guaranteed income or earned income tax credit can help with this sort of scenario. But it needs to be paired with a drop in the minimum wage to work.
Fire hazards, mold and mildew, there's no real security, they are probably left behind creating a garbage problem...
Minimum wage screws the people whose labor isn't worth $7 an hour, but it does help the minimum wage workers whose employers can afford it. So it can be a net benefit. Arguably, since those people now have to compete against all the new unemployed people who want their job, on things other than wage.
Answers may include family ties or high moving costs, or the uncertainty of finding a better living somewhere else. But I really don't know for sure.
This article is crap.
Should I get a job in somewhere else like Boulder, CO? I'm a senior CS major living in Iowa.
Maybe this is true of most people (limited ability to empathize) but I think the intelligence and ego that many engineers exhibit to drive their performance impedes the ability to absorb information sometimes.
This is what happens when you have a runaway cost of living.
> “What these techies don’t realise though is that we’re no different to them - they’re just one misstep, one paycheck away from being us.”
I don't presume to know Jimmy's life, and everyone goes through hard times. However, unless it's your first job out of poverty, if you are one paycheck away form being homeless, you are doing something considerably wrong with your life.
More atrocious quotes:
> “You see camps of people sleeping rough just two miles from Sergey Brin’s (Google co-founder) house,” he says. “And the irony is, not even his engineers get paid enough to live here."
Yes, the employees of large companies do not tend to live in the same neighborhood as the CEO of those companies. And?
> “We are trying to get tech billionaires involved in what we’re doing. They donate millions to good causes, but almost nothing to the local community they are helping destroy."
We really can't accept these kinds of statements without pushback. Just how are tech billionaires "destroying" communities? Is it their fault they have come up with ideas that are worth millions and billions of dollars so they can afford to pay a lot of money to the best and the brightest to work for them, who then want to live in these neighborhoods? Blame the landlords who giddily raise the rent and drive people out of their homes. Blame the Government for not spending the billions of additional tax revenue they get from these companies on better social programs. Blame the republicans for equating "social programs" with "socialism" and therefore "communism" and therefore "evil". Blaming the "techies" is moronic.
> "At their weekly meeting, the team leader makes an announcement to the some-100 guests gathered - Google is hiring. The company is holding a jobs fair in a few weeks’ time and they are looking for chefs, cooks and cleaners. Some groan, but most are keenly listening and a group stay behind after to sign up. In desperate times you cannot be too proud to “make a deal with the devil”, one guest says."
Oh, cry me a river.
> I don't presume to know Jimmy's life, and everyone goes through hard times. However, unless it's your first job out of poverty, if you are one paycheck away form being homeless, you are doing something considerably wrong with your life.
Privileged much? If you are one paycheck away from being utterly destitute, living on the streets and foraging in trash cans for food, then yeah, there's a problem. The problem being a lack of social programs by your government.
"Techies" may be more than one paycheck away from destitution, but unless they've won the startup-IPO/acquisition lottery, they're not that many more paychecks from homeless, especially in the case of life-altering disease or accident.
It is exceedingly easy to be one paycheck away from being homeless in America, even for some holding two or three jobs. This doesn't mean they're doing anything wrong with their life.
I'm a tech gal in SF, but there was a period of ~6 months or so where I had back to back to back upper respiratory infections from hell and I was so fatigued and ill that I wasn't taking up any new contracts. Lucky for me I'm my own boss, and lucky for me I'm a cheapskate with a big rainy day fund. Not that many employers would put up with someone not working for 6 months at a time. "Doing something wrong" doesn't just mean "incompetent developer" or "person spending beyond their means". It could be something as simple as me being out of commission this entire past week because sinusitis (seriously, fuck these infections) plus nausea/period cramps. It could be something as awful as being terminally ill.
That's just myself too... my husband and I just started trying for kids, so that's an additional layer of responsibility we're preparing ourselves for. Then I don't know what might happen to either of our parents, just in case. The list goes on. One paycheck can absolutely make a difference, and not just of the "you must be stupid" variety.
I expect that group to be very small. Everyone else can put away a few percent and quickly get out of the situation of being a paycheck away from homeless.
Yes, it's hard to scrimp more than is strictly necessary, but that's part of being responsible.
Now the problem of being one medical issue away from bankruptcy is a lot harder to solve by yourself...
> Just how are tech billionaires "destroying" communities?
The bottom line is that CEOs could be tracking things like the average cost of living and average commute times of their employees. Keeping both of those as low as possible is, I would argue, an ethical issue if not a moral one. How can you pay $10/hour to the breadwinner of a family in San Fransisco? Aren't you asking for an inhumane lifestyle (yes, insane commutes times count against a sensible lifestyle)?
So can we pay $10 in a safe area with an ultra-low cost of living? Or can we pay a living wage so people can live a reasonable commute from work?
> Blame the republicans for equating "social programs" with "socialism" and therefore "communism" and therefore "evil".
Left or right, white collar workers that aren't giving a significant portion of their income to charity (as in, measured by percentage points) are not living ethically and sustainably. Things like hospitals, orphanages, shelters, and soup kitchens used to be funded by voluntary donations from middle class professionals to service organizations (unions, Lions Club, Episcopal Church, etc.). At some point (probably about the time neighborhoods disintegrated), people stopped taking responsibility for each other. Right, left, or middle, people can keep pointing fingers and voting the same way or they can leverage their passions into helping real people for a change.
By this logic I don't see how anyone not giving away everything they don't need to live can be considered "ethical".
This is not to say I don't feel I should be contributing to these things - I would just prefer that it be dealt with via taxes. People have a very hard time being generous to people outside of their communities, and as you said neighborhoods are no longer communities.
As far as voluntary contributions go, I do make some, but a big issue is finding and vetting charities where donations would do the most good. Psychology plays a bit into it too - "We currently have W and need X to meet demand for services. Every Y above X lets us also do Z" is more appealing than "Every dollar helps!" with no transparency.
I thought that was the default state of being an American. Always essentially one paycheck away from being homeless due to various debts and other interesting things.
And god forbid you get sick ...
And yes in general you don't want to be ill, ever.
I mean.. if it weren't for my GF's credit card, how would that Bangladeshi clothing sewer buy rice?
But ya, it's a messed up system that seems to work mostly for the credit card company.
So here are some numbers. The US, with ~320 million people is nearly 25% of world GDP. The US has public/private debt of ~146 trillion dollars. Consumption fueled by this debt contributes greatly to economic activity around the globe.
So yes, debt should be avoided. But if everyone avoided debt at all turns it would not be good scenario for the global economy. And, there has to be losers for the system to keep working as it is. Back on topic, there are no shortage of homeless who became so because of assumption of debt and inability to service it.
America is not set up on a pay cash and live within-your means basis. Sure, you can try to do this, but it will be hard, you will be the exception, and you definitely won't be emulating your neighbors nor your government.
I feel it's a bit of a messed up system that causes problems and is not infinitely sustainable. But for right now, it is what it is.
With the government debt over 100% GDP and unsustainable personal debt levels in the US, it is not going to end well, no matter what.
In an ideal world, governments should be required to run 1-2% budget surplus, to be spent in cyclical recessions (which was the original Keynes' idea, completely hijacked by supposedly Keynesian economists (like Krugman), who insist on more government spending, despite being in debt to the eyeballs - complete lunacy.
To be fair, neither is Europe. But from what I'm seeing younger generations (all of us currently in our 20's) are almost pathologically afraid of taking on debt. People avoid it at all cost. Yes, I understand Americans normally start life with student debt, but it doesn't seem like they're in any hurry to take on additional debt after that. Completely unlike our parents and our parents' parents generations.
I wonder what that will do to the economy at large.
It is astoundingly easy to end up one step away from being on the street.
From when I helped out at shelters, a lot of the time the story is similar to "Lose job, find difficulty getting new job, lack of success at job hunting causes stress in relationship, trouble paying bills, relationship and house go, end up on street"
The government collects way less than it should, since the IT giants have become really good at avoiding taxes recently.
A tax code as complex as ours is really a justice issue. If the tax code weren't the issue, we could have a (relatively) simpler conversation about whether taxes are too low to meet our goals.
Not quite - it's certainly the techies' fault for centralising on an area that, plain and simple, can't cope with the demand. You can't point to any particular person who gets that blame, but the CEOs of major companies situated there, and the VCs that fund the startups with the requirement that they move to Silicon Valley, probably shoulder it more than others.
It's SF's fault that it cannot deal with demand growth, not everyone else's
Anyway - what's income inequality like in those other cities? Similar?
Obviously that's not similar. You can't "switch" cities like you switch your phone company. You can't build your own city. You aren't arguing that it would be bad for the SaaS for it to be used too much so everyone should try to stop using it to stop hurting it. You are not a city's "client".
Are you saying it would be in their best interest to move away and they're behaving irrationally against their own best interest for not doing so, or that it's a moral thing and they should all choose to uproot themselves according to moral imperatives?
> If you use a city that can't deal with demand growth for whatever reason... you try to grow demand further?
It would be ridiculous to say they are "trying" to grow real estate demand, as if that's something they collectively would or could try to do. Note almost all of these companies started out tiny and slowly grew locally over time and never decided to move in en masse.
> Anyway - what's income inequality like in those other cities? Similar?
I don't know, what would that indicate?
It was once known for its orchids...
"Growing up here it was all ranches and orchids, I was a cowgirl..."
Silicon Valley was known for its orchards, not its orchids. Hopefully they get it corrected; it's an otherwise well-written story on an important issue.