Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Condemned to repeat it?

Apparently, 15 years is just long enough to prove the worth of Santayana's famous saying ("Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it").

An interesting story in this weekend's San Francisco Chronicle: How tech became the enemy - then and now.

The flyer tucked on the windshield of a tech worker's car on South Van Ness didn't mince words: "The Mission has been colonized by pigs with money. ... They help landlords drive up rents, pushing working and poor people out of their homes."

The leaflet urged people to key the cars of wealthy new transplants: "Take action now!"

The year was 1999.

San Francisco, of course, is one of the few places I know of, outside Manhattan, that have some sort of rent control, and a lot of this current struggle turns out to be about money, behind the scenes:

Meanwhile, 31-year-old housing activist Erin McElroy was struggling to get the media to link housing and tech. Evictions performed using the Ellis Act peaked in 2000, and though they've risen sharply in the recent years - surging 81 percent last year alone - they haven't returned to the levels of the dot-com boom. But McElroy said more landlords were turning to buyouts and tenant harassment to get units back on the market. And she blamed it on tech money.

There are lots of things you can criticize the new tech giants for: kow-towing to the NSA, selling our personal information to marketers and advertisers, building corporate fortunes on the backs of deeply poor Asian factory workers, etc.

But it's hard to see them as the devil for providing high-paying, interesting, safe, productive jobs for young people.

I guess that's why I have trouble feeling much outrage for companies who provide safe transit for their employees.

Over here in the East Bay, I'm kind of out of the argument (though we have plenty of Google Buses here), so maybe I'm missing the whole point.

Am I? Drop me a line and let me know.

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