In my line of work, I travel a lot and regularly witness first hand the ever widening wealth gap canyon across the union. The picture above (from the Weekly Standard) really vividly illustrates the differences I see more often – and it troubles me because it is beginning to remind me of what I have seen in many third world nations. No, it is not that stark, but the gap is very noticeable.
You can even see it without even traveling that far. Take a drive down Georgetown Pike in the Great Falls/McLean area or visit Creighton Farms or the Middleburg area. Then in contrast go down along Route 1 in Alexandria or Culmore in the Seven Corners area. I haven’t even mentioned places like South East DC east of the Anacostia River.
This morning, a friend of mine sent me this excellent article about how Silicon Valley shows us our future. I wanted to share it with you all here:
Master and servant. Cornucopian wealth for a few tech oligarchs plus relatively steady but relatively low-paying work for their lucky retainers. No middle class, unless the top 5 percent U.S. income bracket counts as middle class. Silicon Valley is a tableau vivant of what many economists and professional futurologists say is the coming fate of America itself, a fate to which Americans, if they can’t embrace it as some futurologists hope, should at least resign themselves.
In other words, part of the argument of the ruling class across the river that we hear every day on the TV and read about over issues such as the size and scope of the welfare state and ‘Obamacare‘ is really about how much bread they will appease the masses with to keep angry mobs from marching on their estates with pitchforks and torches. And with labor participation shrinking and wage polarization increasing (for those actually working), something must be done with the ‘unemployable’.
The tech giants (Facebook, Apple, Google, etc) employ relatively few people (General Motors alone employs more than the top 5 Silicon Valley companies combined) and those they do employ are highly educated and went to college at Ivy League universities. This is why there are more people on public assistance than ever – something they privately expect to increase. Even conservatives such as Charles Krauthammer, who are fully aware of this problem, are calling for a conservative version of the welfare state. The article continues:
The increasing ability of computers to perform ordinary tasks will inexorably transform America into an income oligarchy in which the top 15 percent of people—with skills “that are a complement to the computer”—will enjoy “cheery” labor-market prospects and soaring incomes, while the bottom 85 percent, that is to say, 267 million out of America’s 315 million people, will be lucky to find Walmart-level jobs or scrape together marginal “freelance” livings running $25-a-pop errands for their betters via TaskRabbit (say, picking up and delivering a pair of designer shoes from Nordstrom) or renting out their spare bedrooms (if they have any) to overnight lodgers via Airbnb. That is, if they’ll be working at all.
So “the masses” can scrape together a living by working menial jobs, running errands, and renting their car and/or spare bedroom while taking in a little assistance from the gov’t to help fill the gaps. It is for this reason that both liberal and conservative ruling class elite agree that there will be and should be a massive welfare state – no matter how the conservatives may disguise their rhetoric in terms of “free markets”. The ruling class only disagree on how much “free market” should be involved in it administering it (e.g. partial privatization of Social Security vs federal gov’t control, local/state control of Medicaid vs federal gov’t control etc). Already there are conservatives talking of “reforming” Obamacare rather than repealing it. (see this article for example) Again, the problem in my estimation is that something that can not go on, will not.
In other words, what is coming is the “new feudalism,” a phrase coined by Chapman University urban studies professor Joel Kotkin, a prolific media presence whose New Geography website is an outlet for the trend’s most vocal critics. “It’s a weird Upstairs, Downstairs world in which there’s the gentry, and the role for everybody else is to be their servants,” Kotkin said in a telephone interview. “The agenda of the gentry is to force the working class to live in apartments for the rest of their lives and be serfs. But there’s a weird cognitive dissonance. Everyone who says people ought to be living in apartments actually lives in gigantic houses or has multiple houses.”
Yes, and I have met many of these types. They actually own the homes that they in turn rent out to the lower class. There are entire hedge funds dedicated to buying up homes to be used as rentals for people who can no longer afford to purchase a home. They are particularly buying in places like Memphis, TN, Birmingham, AL, and Detroit where there were many distressed (and cheap) homes. By the way, who do you think invests in these hedge funds?
Two years ago the Occupy movement of progressives raised a battle cry against the “1 percent,” who were supposed to be striped-pants, Republican-voting tycoons lifted from the Monopoly board. What they didn’t know was that the 1 percent actually wear rubber shower sandals, ride bicycles—$20,000 bicycles—and vote Democratic and green, green, green. It was them. It was the future, and it has already arrived in the Silicon Valley.
Please read the entire article here