Silicon Valley money is the dark star, pulling San Francisco into its orbit, forcing everyone else out of a city that once prided itself on diversity and quirkiness. Will the invading parasites kill the host? Massively upscale gentrification is also happening in New York City too and, in a different way, also in Detroit.
It feels like Silicon Valley is turning San Francisco into its bedroom community. There’s so much money and so much power and so little ability to resist that it is pushing out huge numbers of people directly, but it is also re-creating San Francisco as a place that is so damn expensive that nobody but people who make huge amounts of money will be able to live here
You can’t really have a democratic conversation when you have the very opposite of democracy economically—so it’s not the conversation that matters; it’s the economy. Silicon Valley is this dark star that’s come along with an enormous gravitational pull that’s kind of pulling everything out of its orbit. And there’s no accountability. I’ve seen other people use the phrase, too, but I’ve been calling it the “military tech industrial complex,” because it feels like it’s a quasi-governmental body now. And there are a lot of overlaps with government and military; Silicon Valley arose from military contracting and was never the bohemian entity it likes to portray itself as, Think Different Land.
The same process is happening in New York City. Mayor de Blasio can’t stop relentless gentrification even if he wanted to, which he doesn’t, not really. Oh, he’ll make a few gestures, toss some bones to public unions, create some new programs, but little of substance will change. The trickle down effect former Mayor Bloomberg predicted when billionaires moved to NYC ended up being that the poor got pissed once again. How surprising.. When the vision for New York is a playground for the wealthy, then everyone else is irrelevant. De Blasio’s plan is to tax the rich to finance everything else. This is using Band-aids to fix structural problems. Plus, the rich may simply decide to leave or, more likely, use their juice to change tax laws so they are taxed less.
Manhattan is now the most unequal county in America (it was 17th in 1980), with a Gini coefficient — which measures the disparity between the richest and poorest residents — higher than that of Apartheid-era South Africa.
And as the city becomes more economically unequal, it’s also become more racially segregated. Demographer Daniel Herz’ census analysis shows New York is now America’s second most racially divided city.
The poor-door phenomena, with a few lucky members of the lower class winning subsidized units in buildings for the rich, but with separate entrances and no access to luxury amenities, recreates not social democracy but the Victorian upstairs-downstairs society.
The critical point is this: New York is losing its role as a place of opportunity, and the de Blasio toolbox is unlikely to put back the ladder that’s been pulled up.
In an earlier era, New Detroiters might have been called carpetbaggers. History is irrelevant to them. Evicting Old Detroiters so gentrification can occur is just the price of progress, so stop your sobbing.
You are leaving downtown again, when you spot an eviction notice pinned to the front door of an aging building off of Woodward. Getting out of your car, you take a closer look: the residents are being moved due to renovations. You talk about this on Facebook, surmising the prices there will raise. Will the residents be welcome back again once remodeling is finished?
New Detroit is one of the first to answer your status update. They tell you it’s for the best. They tell you the owner of the building has a right to do what they want. They tell you it isn’t classism. They tell you it’s progress.
Progress for who?