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Occupy Godwin Street
January 25, 2014 8:17 PM   Subscribe

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tom Perkins took to the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal to compare progressive angst over income inequality to the sentiment that led to the Nazi Kristallnacht. Citing the recent kerfuffle over Google buses in San Francisco (previously) and accusations of snobbery by San Francisco resident, bestselling author, and Perkins' own ex-wife Danielle Steel (who he describes as "our number-one celebrity"), Perkins asks "Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent 'progressive' radicalism unthinkable now?"

TechCrunch responds, proclaiming "Achievement Unlocked: The SF Class War Reaches Godwin’s Law":
Godwin’s Law notwithstanding, there are serious issues with Perkins’ letter, both in his perception of the problem and tone deaf reaction to it.
...
There is no centralized movement to remove the 1 percent from their penthouse apartments and send them to work camps, there’s no planned nationalization of the region’s thriving tech sector, there’s no threat of assets being seized and redistributed by a fascist government body.
...
Perhaps what is most alarming is that Perkins doesn’t seem to understand why people are upset about the growing income disparity, why there is resentment against the one percent. It’s this lack of self awareness which is most distressing, because it reinforces some of the very same stereotypes many in the industry are trying so hard to debunk.
Valleywag is similarly unimpressed by Perkins' argument:
A rock through the window of a private Google shuttle, the precursor to the Holocaust—close enough. It'd be one thing if this were just another San Francisco wackjob on Medium—but this is a pioneering voice in the history of venture capital, in the very history of Silicon Valley. And this is how he thinks.
Meanwhile, at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall uses Perkins' op-ed to expand on a point he originally made in 2012 about the siege mentality of America's wealthy elite throughout the Obama presidency:
I first started noticing this when I saw several years ago that many of the wealthiest people in the country, especially people in financial services, not only didn't support Obama (not terribly surprising) but had a real and palpable sense that he was out to get them. This was hard to reconcile with the fact that Obama, along with President Bush, had pushed through a series of very unpopular laws and programs and fixes that had not only stabilized global capitalism, saved Wall Street but saved the personal fortunes (and perhaps even the personal liberty) of the people who were turning so acidly against him. Indeed, through the critical years of 2009, 10 and 11 he was serving as what amounted to Wall Street's personal heat shield, absorbing as political damage the public revulsion at the bailout policies that had kept Wall Street whole.
...
So what is it about?

I see three basic roots, though I don't think my list is exhaustive.

One is the simple but massive run up in the concentration of wealth itself over the past two generations. There's a slice of the population, whether it's the top 1% or .01% or whatever, that doesn't just have more stuff and money. The sheer scale of the difference means they live what is simply a qualitatively different kind of existence. That gulf creates estrangement and alienation, and one of a particular sort in a democracy where such a minuscule sliver of the population can't hope to protect itself alone at the ballot box.

Let's call this socioeconomic acrophobia.

A second is tied specifically to the 2008 financial crisis. The last 35 years or so have seen a period in which the celebration of wealth and the wealthy has been near the extreme end of the pendulum swing that has moved back and forth over the course of American history. Let's not distract ourselves, for the moment, with whether this view is right or wrong. It's a pendulum swing as old as America. In this view, the super rich, the founders and most successful entrepreneurs, not only wow us by their genius and success but are also seen as the people driving forward the society and economy and prosperity for everyone. That's a nice climate to be wealthy in.

That all changed very abruptly at the end of 2008. Suddenly, there was vast public animus at "Wall Street" and the Big Banks, exacerbated massively by the politics of the bailout.
...
Quite simply, these were and are folks who just weren't used to public criticism. The whole "masters of the universe" mythology was basically, sure we're massively wealthy. But we're also the ones keeping the globe we all live on from spinning off its axis. So let us enjoy our Hamptons estates and our private jets in peace and we'll do our jobs and you do yours. The crossfire hurricane that ripped apart that social contract stung a lot.
...
Third there is the simple fact of Obama himself. By various criteria you could argue that before Obama America hadn't had a progressive president in decades. ... President Obama is far from being a Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman. But he is a progressive and sees the economy and the larger society's claims on the very wealthy differently than a Bush or a Reagan. And again, that was just not something any of these folks had experienced before.

Put it all together and you get the climate in which someone like Perkins writes something as ridiculous as he did. As I said up top, his Holocaust analogy is so hyperbolic and ridiculous that he's getting dumped on by almost everyone. But we miss the point if we see this in isolation or just the rant of one out-of-touch douchebag. It is pervasive. The disconnect between perception and reality, among such a powerful segment of the population, is in itself dangerous. And it's led to what I would call a significant radicalization of the politics of extreme wealth.
posted by tonycpsu (254 comments total) 84 users marked this as a favorite

 
just look at all the good Tom Perkins does in the world
posted by atoxyl at 8:22 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


Perkins asks "Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent 'progressive' radicalism unthinkable now?"


The hell you say? Kristallnacht was no surprise to anyone who paid attention to the sheer brutality and instability of post-WW1 Germany.
posted by ocschwar at 8:22 PM on January 25 [20 favorites]




Just as a matter of terminology, when the powerless and disenfranchised stand up to the rich and powerful the word for that isn't "pogrom" or "purge", it's "revolution".
posted by mhoye at 8:27 PM on January 25 [101 favorites]


Oh, yes, democratically elected leaders taxing the ultra-wealthy so they stop sitting on their fucking cash-wads and do something with it, like, o i dun no, INVEST in shit, is completely anti-capitalist and JUST LIKE TEH HITLERZ.

This bozo is a neo-fuedalist. He wants peasants to worship while he rolls around his own filth wealth. Sorry, pal, America won the war, the FIRST one, not the fucking Hun. That means you spread the wealth around, democratically, and make sure everyone working gets their fair share. Yeah, not everyone can be a billionaire. Yeah, everyone can live a comfortable life without working themselves to death for some rich idiot with a christ-complex.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:28 PM on January 25 [29 favorites]


mulligan: "Lots of VCs critical of him"

Yeah, of course they want nothing to do with him, and he's not a player in the VC arena anymore, but he did come from that culture, and it's not like we haven't seen a lot of this kind of rhetoric coming from Valley bigshots lately.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:29 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


Perkins and the Google bus blockaders really deserve each other though.
posted by ocschwar at 8:30 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]


Good post tonycpsu, I was ready to flag this assuming it would be one note outragefilter but you put some good context in there.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:30 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Drinky Die: "I was ready to flag this assuming it would be one note outragefilter but you put some good context in there."

Believe you me, I needed every minute of the 11-ish hours since I first read about it this morning to calm down to the point where I could keep the outrage muted.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:33 PM on January 25 [45 favorites]


Perkins and the Google bus blockaders really deserve each other though.

When companies break the law and people pay: The scary lesson of the Google Bus
Not only has San Francisco allowed tech companies to violate the law with impunity, but now that public outcry has made some kind of action politically expedient, the MTA seems to have allowed the industry to write the very regulations that are supposed to rein them in. The $1/stop program was developed following meetings between tech companies and the MTA convened by the Bay Area Council, a pro-business policy group that was vocal in its opposition to union demands during the recent Bay Area Rapid Transit labor dispute and strike. Under the guise of regulating the shuttles, the program regularizes the status quo – allowing the private buses to continue using the approximately 200 bus stops it already uses for a nominal fee. (Large employers like Google are expected to pay about $100,000 per year; were Google to be charged the $271 fine, its bill would balloon to $27.1 million each year.)

[...] This is the contradiction of the Google Bus, and it’s one that should resonate across the country. The Google Bus is the embodiment of a system that indemnifies the actions of corporations while increasingly criminalizing and punishing individuals. Google and its ilk have always known that they could break the law right up until the day they were invited to make new laws. That is the power of corporate wealth, and in San Francisco as in the rest of the country, it rules supreme.
So I don't see what you mean by "deserve each other" here, unless you're one of the people riding that Google Bus and wishing people weren't calling attention to all this.
posted by mhoye at 8:35 PM on January 25 [29 favorites]




one note outragefilter

More like full baroque operas of outrage, and rightly so. Perkins is a one note douchebag, but that we've spent over thirty years creating such wild inequality is atrocious.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:37 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]


Believe you me, I needed every minute of the 11-ish hours since I first read about it this morning to calm down to the point where I could keep the outrage muted.

Why? This is the endgame. This is an aristocrat, a robber-baron establishing his bonafides as a member of the ruling class. He really believes he's made it, to the point where he can soothe the rabble with half-century-old pablum... make them feel sorry for him even as he works to impoverish them, not to gain more, as he won't without a solid and growing stronger middle class, but to gain more than anyone who hoped to achieve more after him. He wants you to feel sad for him as he slams the door down on your fingers.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:38 PM on January 25 [8 favorites]


Slap*Happy: "He wants you to feel sad for him as he slams the door down on your fingers."

...or runs you over with his yacht.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:40 PM on January 25 [14 favorites]


The WSJ op-ed page is nothing but one big troll.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:42 PM on January 25 [14 favorites]


Perkins asks "Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent 'progressive' radicalism unthinkable now?"

Oh Christ, Martin Luther (father of protestantism) wrote "On the Jews and Their Lies" in the 1500s - urging :
- for Jewish synagogues and schools to be burned to the ground, and the remnants buried out of sight;
- for houses owned by Jews to be likewise razed, and the owners made to live in agricultural outbuildings;
- for their religious writings to be taken away;
- for rabbis to be forbidden to preach, and to be executed if they do;
- for safe conduct on the roads to be abolished for Jews;
- for usury to be prohibited, and for all silver and gold to be removed and "put aside for safekeeping"; and
- for the Jewish population to be put to work as agricultural slave laborers.
The only surprise is that it took 500 years to come substantial fruition.

Why is it that conservatives are so goddamned terrible at history ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:42 PM on January 25 [56 favorites]


Kevin O’Leary thinks that rising income inequality is fantastic

What a dick.

I actually had a more fulsome, nastier response, but advocating violence doesn't achieve anything.
“Don’t tell me that you want to redistribute wealth again,” O’Leary said. “That’s never going to happen, okay?”

Oh, but it can happen so,so easily one way or the other, if the people are sufficiently motivated.
posted by Mezentian at 8:44 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]


So Danielle Steele's husband is an idiot? Duly noted.
posted by davejay at 8:49 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]


Is this actually an op-ed or just a letter to the editor? It reads and looks a little more like a letter. If that's the case i won't be able to berate the WSJ for publishing it as much as I might like.
posted by bowline at 8:50 PM on January 25


Ex-husband.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:51 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


bowline: "Is this actually an op-ed or just a letter to the editor? It reads and looks a little more like a letter. If that's the case i won't be able to berate the WSJ for publishing it as much as I might like."

They ran it as a letter to the editor, but this is basically a distinction without a difference when the person writing is as well-connected and powerful as Perkins is.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:54 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]


bowline, editorial pages are generally open for opposing views and debate. For example it's not uncommon for Rep. Steve King pablum to appear next to some piece on social justice. One core mission of a paper is to be a voice of and for the people. It's a public platform and a speech venue. So even if it were a citizen editorial it shouldn't directly reflect on the paper.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:56 PM on January 25


I mean, it's not like his letter really has much at all to do with the topic of the Censors on Campus op-ed he was purportedly responding to.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:56 PM on January 25


Grover Norquist saying this same shit back in 2003. If you don't know who Norquist is he's the dumbass that runs around every election cycle forcing Republicans to sign a "no new taxes" pledge. He then tries to hold them accountable when they violate their pledges. Basically he's the hall monitor grown up after he's spent a life being bullied. He's the head of Americans for Tax Reform and is supposedly the guy who wrote Bush's tax reforms. I also hear he gives a mean blow job.

Amusingly, Bush the First wants nothing to do with Grover Norquist.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:01 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


So I don't see what you mean by "deserve each other" here, unless you're one of the people riding that Google Bus and wishing people weren't calling attention to all this.


1. If not for the shuttles, more Google employees would be driving private cars to work, and the effect on traffic would delay the MUNI buses far more than the use of these stops.

2. The MUNI stops are expressly built to take the wear and tear from buses stopping. The rest of SF's streetspace is not. So buses (MUNI or not) are being more responsible stopping at MUNI stops than elsewhere.

3.MUNI knows this, which is why MUNI has not exercised its authority to constrain the use of MUNI stops by tech shuttles. Until now.

4. This just changed, but that has nothing to do with the pros and cons of private shuttles, and everything to do with residential rents rising in San Francisco. So MUNI is laying this $1 charge as a way of giving these activists a well deserved nice warm cup of STFU.

Get more fucking housing built. This piece of political theater is so ridiculous it's on par with the Tea Party's antics.
posted by ocschwar at 9:04 PM on January 25 [17 favorites]


editorial pages are generally open for opposing views and debate

And the reason I stopped reading the oped page of the WSJ is exactly because I never saw this kind of thing there. And then there's that time that they published that garbage climate-change-denying letter from "sixteen concerned scientists" but refused to publish the rebuttal letter signed by many, many more scientists.
posted by triggerfinger at 9:11 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]


That someone (very rich) thinks this way is no surprise. That the same someone had the bad judgement to write a letter to the editor to the WSJ is no surprise. But I can't imagine why the WSJ would publish something this tone-deaf in their pages. That's some crap editorial judgement. Or is it just in the online version of the editiorial page where it can serve as clickbait?
posted by immlass at 9:12 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I was wrong. Only about half in the US, but I expected oil wealth to top the list. It doesn't.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:13 PM on January 25


Can we please not have the same fucking argument about housing costs in San Francisco when the subject is actually wealthy elites like this douchebag (who don't actually need housing or shuttles to work!) wanting to make their views into actual public policy?
posted by rtha at 9:15 PM on January 25 [15 favorites]



Can we please not have the same fucking argument about housing costs in San Francisco when the subject is actually wealthy elites like this douchebag (who don't actually need housing or shuttles to work!) wanting to make their views into actual public policy?


Note that he used this incident as fodder for his rhetoric.
posted by ocschwar at 9:20 PM on January 25


Good luck on getting your gun through customs.

Haw. Like economic idealists from either edge of the spectrum had any fucking trouble putting their tanks wherever they pleased in those oil countries when times got tight. No, they didn't "win" - but who was once on top sure were not once the tanks retreated. If the petro-billionaires don't recognize that a prosperous global middle class is in their own best interests, well. China and India and Brazil are all ready for their own Iraq wars to get themselves out of a recession... try and figure out how you stand with their respective ideologies, I defy you.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:20 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure history has taught us that there are only two ways individuals, families and other non-state entities can remain significantly more wealthy than average over time in a sea of the less wealthy.
1) everyone else is doing OK financially too and can take care of their own families or
2) private armies.
posted by fshgrl at 9:31 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]


Perkins is right about one thing. There is a reckoning coming, and he and his ilk can sense it.

His inability to distinguish between rational and irrational hatred is almost funny.
posted by sweet mister at 9:32 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


Amusingly, Bush the First wants nothing to do with Grover Norquist.

Bush the First actually has a certain amount of patriotism and a (perhaps somewhat paternalistic, but nevertheless real) idea of public service to go along with his wealth and privilege. Norquist is just straight up loathesome.

With only about 85 people controlling about half the world's wealth, it wouldn't take a radical progressive movement to do in the Super wealthy. Just a dozen disgruntled people with easily purchased American guns and 100 bullets.

Of course, while those 85 might benefit the most from how the world is run, there's a whole apparatus full of people who benefit enough from the same institutional setup to defend it. And wouldn't you know it, they have most of the guns. Hell, they make most of the guns.
posted by AdamCSnider at 9:33 PM on January 25 [7 favorites]


I wouldn't mind wealthy people being wealthy, if so many weren't so intent on grinding the nonwealthy into the dirt to get juuuuust a little more.
posted by emjaybee at 9:34 PM on January 25 [20 favorites]


With only about 85 people controlling about half the world's wealth, it wouldn't take a radical progressive movement to do in the Super wealthy. Just a dozen disgruntled people with easily purchased American guns and 100 bullets.


Great movie plot.
posted by sweet mister at 9:34 PM on January 25 [13 favorites]


Perkins is right about one thing. There is a reckoning coming, and he and his ilk can sense it.


McMasters: If they were my brothers, I'd want revenge, too.

Doc Holliday: Oh, make no mistake. It's not revenge he's after. It's a reckoning.


From Tombstone.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:41 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


This guy is a troll, and he's trolling us so that we forget about pulling the noose around dynastic wealth like his by upping the estate tax (which we should totally do) or by effective corporate tax enforcement (which we should also totally do).

It's really very clever: on the one hand, he's making a fool out of himself with this letter to the WSJ. On the other, he's keeping the focus on the spectacle of this sideshow protest, and off of the message of the "Occupy" movement at large -- that wealth like his is a threat to a free society, and that as a free and democratic society we can ...

I dunno, take his obscene yacht in taxes?
dammit, it's midnight.
posted by wormwood23 at 9:56 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Can I say I think the Google bus thing is interesting, it's in no way actually relevant? The 1% thing is a slogan, but those 85 people who possess half the world's wealth is a much better idiom for indicating who is culpable for the current situation and the current mood. Anyone taking a bus in to work every day, to a job that involves actual labor, isn't really part of the problem, any more than some guy cleaning out the restrooms in a McDonalds somewhere is. It's part of the program of the truly rich to set working people against one another and fan their resentments for one another. Damn those hoidy-toidy bus-riders in SF! Who do they think they are? I saw this recently in my own Facebook feed as rediculously under-compensated public-sector friends of mine vented their rage at fast food workers demanding a higher minimum wage.

We need, as a movement, to discern who the workers are and to inculcate empathy and mutual respect and support among them. People at the top of the wealth scale who seek to seed resentments among different classes of workers are also at the top of the list of people who should be clearly called out as part of the problem.
posted by newdaddy at 10:02 PM on January 25 [28 favorites]


There was an article recently in NYMagazine about DiBlasio's proposed tax on the wealthy. And how the wealthy (expressed through former Hizzoner Bloomberg) were up in arms. The tax on income over 500,000$ is to be raised from 3.8 to 4.4. The cost (on average) will be about 8,000$ per. This seems so remarkably reasonable, the benefits so large (pre-K and after school programs) that it should be a no-brainer, shouldn't it? You kick in a relatively very modest amount and this huge swath of kids are benefitted. Or you buy six months of underground parking for you car?
There's a deep problem there that gets batted away as, "lazy welfare queen, no free money for you!" When it should be, "yeah, let me give you a leg up cause, you know, a rising tide raises all boats."
Which is to say, I guess, that smart and rich are in no way co-contingent and I guess I'm not rich enough to get what the fuck is going through their heads.
posted by From Bklyn at 10:08 PM on January 25 [13 favorites]


I'm obscurely irritated that he couldn't find a better historical metaphor. I mean, hello? Communists! Socialists! Bolsheviks! Levellers!
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:10 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]


We need, as a movement, to discern who the workers are and to inculcate empathy and mutual respect and support among them.

You are completely right. Oh those 85 people (do we have a list? because I heard something on the radio the other day about the explosion of billionaires in China in the last decade) I wonder how many live in Qatar? Or own soccer teams?

Because apparently 185 Nepalese workers died in Qatar last year building fields so that a bunch of overpaid monkeys could run around a field to help sell merc and shirts and advertising spots.

And yet Bill Gates thinks we;ll have wiped out poverty in a few decades. He seems nice (now), but my god, you can't wipe out poverty so easily.
posted by Mezentian at 10:11 PM on January 25


I think what's going through their heads is "DON' TAKE MAH MONIES." Not sure it goes any deeper than that.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:11 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Communists! Socialists! Bolsheviks! Levellers!

Don't forget the Diggers, man. (Though points for including the Levellers.)
posted by wormwood23 at 10:12 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]


He seems nice (now), but my god, you can't wipe out poverty so easily.

You can if you kill off all the poor people.
posted by elizardbits at 10:16 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


If they're so rich, why ain't they smart?
posted by tspae at 10:20 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]


If you kill off the poor people who will form the bottom of the pyramid?
posted by Mezentian at 10:21 PM on January 25


If you kill off the poor people who will form the bottom of the pyramid?

The middle class.
posted by Pudhoho at 10:22 PM on January 25 [7 favorites]


Is this actually an op-ed or just a letter to the editor? It reads and looks a little more like a letter. If that's the case i won't be able to berate the WSJ for publishing it as much as I might like.

Right, because Rupert Murdock's flagship newspaper is as "fair and balanced" as Rupert Murdock's flagship TV news station.
posted by JackFlash at 10:23 PM on January 25 [6 favorites]


"If you kill off the poor people who will form the bottom of the pyramid?"

Robots.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:51 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]


Sorry, wait. Danielle Steele exists?
posted by bicyclefish at 11:20 PM on January 25 [4 favorites]


Can we please not have the same fucking argument about housing costs in San Francisco when the subject is actually wealthy elites like this douchebag (who don't actually need housing or shuttles to work!) wanting to make their views into actual public policy?

To be fair, the Internet is a big place and douchebags like Perkins can't be everywhere at once, defending illegal and exploitative behaviors of companies like Google and others in the Bay Area.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:31 PM on January 25



Can I say I think the Google bus thing is interesting, it's in no way actually relevant?

Especially as this guy probably never actually rides a bus, google or otherwise and for christs sake, a bus stop is for busses. Who the hell cares what kind of busses ? If your goal is more people on busses instead of cars the Google bus is a goddamned win. If your goal is religious purity, then STFU you goddamned communist. Sometimes market solutions are actually superior.

yes, I know the economics of housing and commuting are completely fucked in San Fran. The google busses are neither the cause nor the solution to that issue. I'm not even sure they are a symptom.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:46 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


Sorry, wait. Danielle Steele exists?

as mentioned above.. robots.

Wait.

Sorry, got my sensors scrambled again, but you know Steele/robots, have you ever seen Danielle Steele and a robot in the same room? I. think. not.

Man it's late.
posted by edgeways at 11:48 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Who the hell cares what kind of busses ?

If private buses are using public facilities and inconveniencing the public without paying their fair share for those facilities, then the public should care.

If your goal is religious purity, then STFU you goddamned communist. Sometimes market solutions are actually superior.

These are not market solutions. This is an ultrarich corporation providing a private service for their employees. Just because it's not owned by the state doesn't mean it's a fucking democracy, or even capitalism.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:52 PM on January 25 [11 favorites]


People at the top of the wealth scale who seek to seed resentments among different classes of workers

Yah, this guy is just embarrassing his own side in the public eye. Gawker, now...

(Another thing about resentment - some of this, I have to think, is just Media hitting back at Tech for the ongoing business reaming Tech is giving Media.)

Revolutions? Guillotines? Do they no longer teach enough history to know how that turns out? And how many are you guys personally prepared to string up on lampposts? You do realize your ideological enemies - not even the government, just citizen counter revolutionaries - possess more weapons, more skill with their use, more combat training, and hold the bulk of the terrain, including the agricultural regions?

many of the wealthiest people in the country, especially people in financial services, not only didn't support Obama (not terribly surprising) but had a real and palpable sense that he was out to get them.

I dunno, I kind of feel like Wall Street on average doesn't give a damn about politics aside from procuring a free hand to do money business and not paying too many taxes, has a very transactional mindset and much cash, and so generally just pays both parties sufficient to be mostly left alone.

Who the hell cares what kind of busses ?

I think there is a disease infecting both tribes, some sort of public-private essentialism, merely differing of course in which one is essentially good.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 12:02 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its "one percent," namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the "rich."

This is anti-Semitic and disgusting. The "Jewish cabal" (Nazi Germany's 1%) reference is literally taken straight from Nazi propaganda. Millions of real people were tortured, exiled, and murdered with this as the "justification." Millions of real lives were destroyed because of anti-Semitic lies like this.

This guy is a troll, and he's trolling us so that we forget about pulling the noose around dynastic wealth like his by upping the estate tax (which we should totally do) or by effective corporate tax enforcement (which we should also totally do).

I agree that he's trolling. And that makes it even more vile, I think -- that he doesn't even believe this argument, that it's just some bullshit, mocking rhetoric.

And no, I don't think he believes it. I believe that the super-rich do have a siege mentality, are paranoid, etc etc etc. However, the use of Nazi propaganda to make an analogy linking the writer with the Jewish people who the Nazis sought to exterminate in the Holocaust is self-contradictory, so I assume it's sarcastic.

If you kill off the poor people who will form the bottom of the pyramid?

Don't worry, they'll find a new scapegoat. Shit always rolls downhill.
posted by rue72 at 12:02 AM on January 26 [6 favorites]


"Our campaign of inflamotory rhetoric, general harassment, intimidation, window smashing and Stalking is totally not like the the Nazis one" still isn't all that great a claim, really, no matter how ineffectual you are.
posted by Artw at 12:06 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Sometimes market solutions are actually superior.

How is private enterprise using public services for (essentially) free a superior solution? Isn't this almost a de facto tragedy of the commons in the making? Can all private shutter services use the same facilities at the same cost?

A "market solution" would be for Google to contract with a local business that has a parking lot, or similar, available for it's employees to be picked up at. I am not a San Francisco-ian, and really have no dog in the fight, but even here in what some coasters tend to dismiss as fly-over country, the local private shuttle service for certain long distance trips contacts with a hotel as the pick-up site for it's passengers, and not the public transportation centers.
To me, it sounds like Google is providing a good perk to it's employees, but is inappropriately using public infrastructure without anything approaching market-rate compensation for those facilities. That isn't market solution, it's opportunism.
posted by edgeways at 12:10 AM on January 26 [23 favorites]


How is private enterprise using public services for (essentially) free a superior solution? Isn't this almost a de facto tragedy of the commons in the making?


I haven't seen anywhere that the google busses are actually causing delays for regular municipal busses. To the extent that they, they maybe could curtail that at those stops.

But if they are using the bus stop and not actually impacting public service, then what is the complaint exactly ? That Google employees are not riding the right kind of bus in the right way with the right kind of smelly homeless people harrassing them in the right kind of way ?

This is the way in which liberals fail each other - in their demands for religious purity. Google bus gets more people on busses and out of their cars and off the streets. This is a net win if you favor reducing gas consumptions and fewer cars on the road.

But no, a good enough solution that isn't ideologically perfect sucks.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:22 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


not actually impacting public service

But officer, everyone else is speeding!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:27 AM on January 26 [4 favorites]


Which is to say, even though Google's impact on public services is demonstrated by the fact that they got caught and are now finally paying for these services, whether breaking the law and abusing the commons had a deleterious effect is entirely beside the point.

More specifically: Acting above the law goes a long way to explaining Google's douchebaggery, Tom Perkins' douchebaggery, and the general douchebaggery of most of the tech and VC culture in and around San Francisco, and of the 1%, as a whole, that got bailed out in 2008 and still acts like they are victims.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:34 AM on January 26 [10 favorites]


Oh, but it can happen so,so easily one way or the other, if the people are sufficiently motivated.

Ok so let's put our minds to it people
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:47 AM on January 26


If not for the shuttles, more Google employees would be driving private cars to work, and the effect on traffic would delay the MUNI buses far more than the use of these stops.

many people in sf don't have private cars (we've been without one for 19 years), so i'm not sure why you would assume such drastic traffic effects. what often goes unsaid in this debate is that the MUNI stops are part of a transportation system that many people use to get all over the bay area, and google employees could (and, if necessary, many would) use it as well. part of the resentment is that they take advantage of an infrastructure that has been debated and developed over decades by others, without contributing to its growth and improvement, based on the idea that their people are too good to be subject to public transportation.

if google were so concerned about issues such as the effects of increased traffic, they might have considered a good-citizen effort (particularly given the advantages the city extends to the industry, including agreeing to this fucked-up arrangement) to offer their own funds and expertise to improve the existing public transportation system to benefit their employees and the communities they live in and enjoy. they chose, rather, to build a separate private luxury transportation system on top if it.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 1:09 AM on January 26 [31 favorites]


The cost (on average) will be about 8,000$ per. This seems so remarkably reasonable, the benefits so large (pre-K and after school programs) that it should be a no-brainer, shouldn't it?

Talk to some low-tax voters and ask them. Their argument against it is always 1. the government mismanages/wastes the money it already has, and 2. if they get $8000 more this year, they'll ask for $16000 next year; there's always some new no-brainer obvious cause that needs money.

There are a ton of people who think this way. My family is full of them. (No, I don't agree with them)
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:26 AM on January 26


Ah the gilded age and the robber barrons of the late 19th century.
{Excuse lack of citations} In the 1890s a rich group briefly had the supreme court abolish taxes for people earning over a threshold. (Probably 100 million dollars) Common sense returned and the laws were overruled.
For a time steel magnate Andrew Carnegie controlled 25% of USA's gross domestic produce.
Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook have a similar dominance today but employ far less people.
posted by Narrative_Historian at 1:31 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Pogo_Fuzzybutt and Ocschwar. Privatise profits and socialise costs. Amirite. Everyone should become a corporation with a private army and then we can all compete on a scorched earthen playing field. It will be a libertarian paradise.
posted by vicx at 1:38 AM on January 26 [5 favorites]




I have seen google busses delay muni busses with my own two eyes. I have seen people get tickets for parking their cars in bus stops when no bus is around. The question is who are the laws for?

I think "acting above the law" is only a small part of the problem; the bulk is "not enforcing the law."

A visionary municipal government might track where the busses stop and ticket them for every infraction ($271). Then use that cost as leverage to strike a deal for use of the stops that puts serious money into the city's coffers instead of the ridiculous $1/day/stop they've just put in place.

The city is too enthralled by corporate dollars, though. Nothing unique about that.
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:49 AM on January 26 [7 favorites]


My chief problem with the private buses in the Bay Area is that they reduce pressure to develop the public infrastructure the area badly needs. Given that there's no straightforward way to ban these private services, or (better) to force them to start taking customers from the general public, it seems insane not to at the very least charge what the market will bear for these public resources. I can't not interpret this "one dollar a stop" nonsense as a sign of deep corruption. Hopefully it will be a campaign issue in future municipal elections.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 2:08 AM on January 26 [23 favorites]


The guy is clearly a dick, and I appreciate the context you provided, and he raises some very interesting ideas about what to do with the rich, but this being a letter to the editor it doesn't seem like that huge of a deal, frankly. I would expect the letters to the editor page of any paper to regularly contain at least one angry rant from an asshole.
posted by univac at 2:12 AM on January 26


The "Jewish cabal" (Nazi Germany's 1%) reference is literally taken straight from Nazi propaganda.
Yes, exactly. This comparison jumped out and grabbed me--it's the most horrifying statement, I thought, in the entire piece.
posted by etaoin at 2:29 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


[A couple of comments deleted; please drop the whole "killing the rich" thing. Also, let's leave the gratuitous drive-by fat shaming and penis jokes offsite. Thanks. ]
posted by taz at 2:30 AM on January 26 [9 favorites]


He seems nice (now), but my god, you can't wipe out poverty so easily

Actually, over the last couple of decades there's been a massive decline in poverty, and with the development of markets in the developing world, that's anticipated to continue.

Which isn't to say the 85 aren't a major problem, as is the general concentration of wealth. It's a problem that WILL be dealt with, one way or another. But that's no reason to ignore signs of progress. In fact, those signs of progress should be cherished as proof that things can be changed for the better, something the reactionaries want to fervently deny.

Now back to the SF busing imbroglio. Bring popcorn.
posted by happyroach at 2:33 AM on January 26


But if they are using the bus stop and not actually impacting public service, then what is the complaint exactly ?
If I torrent a film or TV show I never had any intention of paying for, then what is the complaint exactly?

Also the Cake Clock just ticked a minute closer to midnight.
posted by fullerine at 2:39 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


The city is too enthralled by corporate dollars, though. Nothing unique about that.

Well the city isn't apparently that enthralled by corporate dollars. After all, they're only asking $100k for private use of the bus shelters.

In this case, I bet the city is much more interested in the type of people Google employs than Google itself. For use of some bus shelters they make the city even more attractive to exactly the type of resident every big city wants: wealthy, educated, stable job, low crime citizens. If it's not easy to live in San Francisco then these people are just going to take themselves (and their money) to surrounding areas.

It reminds me of the buses in my city and the deal they have with the university. The city runs the buses that move people around campus, and the campus community gets free use of the buses that run through the city. But that makes sense because the students aren't one monolithic unit with easily defined behaviors. You need generic routes taking people everywhere on campus they might want to go; it's exactly the same problem as a city bus system and it makes sense to run it that way.

But Google employees are a monolithic unit with easily defined behaviors. For about 2hrs every morning people want to go from their home to work. And for 2hr every evening they want to go from work to home. San Francisco's city routes could never meet those demands as efficiently as Google does; not without dedicating buses to doing exactly the same thing Google is now. And I bet that would go over just as well.
posted by sbutler at 3:02 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


TPM Editor's Blog - The Brittle Grip, Part 2
"We take it more or less rightly as a given that people in finance will have generally right-leaning politics - low taxes, tight money, lax regulatory regimes. Basically traditional money Republicanism. But over the last few years (since 2008), I think there's been a pretty dramatic growth in what we'd call Tea Party politics in that set - extreme conservatism that goes beyond hands off fiscal and regulatory policy, the kind of feverish mindset in which you could write with a straight face that progressives might be building toward some sort of mass wealth confiscation or internment or even extermination for the likes of Tom Perkins."
posted by gen at 4:04 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


I don't recall seeing any teabagging in finance. There's been plenty among bazillionaire business owners as there always has been.
posted by jpe at 5:04 AM on January 26


My chief problem with the private buses in the Bay Area is that they reduce pressure to develop the public infrastructure the area badly needs.
Dialectics as public policy! FWIW, there's no doubt that if the Google employees did take the public buses, people would be lambasting them for putting even more pressure on public infrastructure when they could be spending their own money on their own buses.
posted by jpe at 5:08 AM on January 26



{Excuse lack of citations} In the 1890s a rich group briefly had the supreme court abolish taxes for people earning over a threshold.

Sort of, but not really. The tax only applied to income over a high threshold. The court held that income from property couldn't be taxed.
posted by jpe at 5:16 AM on January 26


from TPM:
The disconnect between perception and reality, among such a powerful segment of the population, is in itself dangerous. And it's led to what I would call a significant radicalization of the politics of extreme wealth. My evidence for this is only anecdotal. But it's come up in conversations I've had with many business reporters who cover these folks on a daily basis.
it is a substantial irony, in an society dedicated to the free market, that so many economic decisions are made by people who are decidedly irrational agents.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:23 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


FWIW, there's no doubt that if the Google employees did take the public buses, people would be lambasting them for putting even more pressure on public infrastructure when they could be spending their own money on their own buses.

It's worth nothing, because this is bullshit.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 5:46 AM on January 26 [13 favorites]


Seriously I cannot believe people do not realize Nick Denton et al. are getting you riled up about Google buses like an FBI provocateur tries to get you to smash Starbucks windows, except you don't pay an FBI for their help.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:11 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


So let us enjoy our Hamptons estates and our private jets in peace and we'll do our jobs and you do yours. The crossfire hurricane that ripped apart that social contract stung a lot.
That wasn't a contract. Two parties did not agree that one would get massive increases in their wealth while the other got nothing. If I knock you over the head and empty your wallet as you leave the ATM, I don't get to say we had a contract.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:26 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


While we're on the subject of this silly Google bus class war

These guys are creepy as fuck and I am kind if suprised that people are giving them the time of day.
posted by Artw at 6:27 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Seriously I cannot believe people do not realize Nick Denton et al. are getting you riled up about Google buses like an FBI provocateur tries to get you to smash Starbucks windows, except you don't pay an FBI for their help.

Seriously? What's the grand plan then? I think they are pushing this story because it's getting clicks. People don't like Google, just like people don't like Wall Street.

I don't understand why "the left" never seems to get that picking on unpopular targets generates support. It certainly works well enough as a strategy for the right...
posted by ennui.bz at 6:28 AM on January 26


People don't like Google

The actual root cause - it sure as hell isn't anything to do with transit, if it was they would have cared enough about it to check if a deal was in progress.
posted by Artw at 6:38 AM on January 26


There may or may not be some real issues with the busses. I'm not from the area so I haven't really been following it. What I feel pretty sure about is that it is a Bay Area issue and not a national issue. Public transportation and commuting and traffic and parking are always major topics of city politics in the United States. Discussing it is off topic as far as getting to the real issues in regards to wealth inequality, but it's not off-topic because the crazy letter to the editor brings it up. Busses good or busses bad, using it as an example of an imminent genocide is so ludicrously wrong I don't even know how to finish this sentence.
-
I think communism is a god awful idea that has consistently shown it is unworkable and linked strongly with totalitarianism and mass murder. I don't want to live in a communist state. However, I think capitalism was better off when communism was a threat. You need to put a little fear in these people for the good of all of us. So, as crazy as this guy's rant was I do feel a bit cheered that he still has fear. It may be a completely inappropriate and irrational fear of imaginary fascists, but it's something.
-
A lot of times in these discussions we talk about who is really rich and how they are the real enemy. The problem with this is that the barrier to change in this country isn't just those folks, it's everybody voting Republican. That includes a lot of people who may not be really rich but they will still have to be convinced at some point that the good of the country has to come first. Not every action has to be targeted at the top of the pyramid.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:46 AM on January 26


These guys are creepy as fuck and I am kind if suprised that people are giving them the time of day.

Before I make any comments in response - who are you talking about here Artw? Perkins? Google bus riders? Google bus protesters? Google engineers contributing to surveillance technology? Anti-surveillance protesters at the home of said engineer?
posted by eviemath at 6:46 AM on January 26


I don't understand why "the left" never seems to get that picking on unpopular targets generates support.

Isn't that exactly what these guys are doing in the most unpleasant way? It's hardly Kristallnacht but those incidents are still pretty reprehensible.
posted by topynate at 6:46 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


HuffPo: Langer Research Associates, a survey research management and consulting firm, contacted 1,007 adults from March 28 through April 1 to gauge their opinions of mega tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter.

The poll shows that a whopping 82 percent of Americans hold a favorable opinion of Google overall, while 53 percent hold a "strongly" favorable opinion of the expansive Internet company.

posted by Drinky Die at 6:50 AM on January 26


Isn't that exactly what these guys are doing in the most unpleasant way? It's hardly Kristallnacht but those incidents are still pretty reprehensible.

Yes, it is so unpleasant to go to someone's house and let him and his neighbors know that you think he is doing evil at his job. Why it's almost as if you were holding someone personally responsible for their actions, how horrible. What happens at work, stays at work, amirite?

I myself prefer to complain on the internet.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:56 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


Home protests are tricky. They can get into the territory of implied violence, as anti-choice protests have often shown, and have to be coordinated and planned carefully if that is not the goal. But it's the obvious and most direct tactic when the issue one is protesting is contributions to a surveillance state system and resultant lack of privacy (for everyone who is not in charge of the surveillance infrastructure or able to buy greater privacy with their wealth).
posted by eviemath at 7:02 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


The poll shows that a whopping 82 percent of Americans hold a favorable opinion of Google overall, while 53 percent hold a "strongly" favorable opinion of the expansive Internet company.

Considering that Google's modus operandi is basically to build cutting-edge technology and then give it away for free, that's not too surprising.

Yes, it is so unpleasant to go to someone's house and let him and his neighbors know that you think he is doing evil at his job. Why it's almost as if you were holding someone personally responsible for their actions, how horrible. What happens at work, stays at work, amirite?

Self-driving cars--something that would save lives, reduce the incentive for private car ownership, give additional mobility to seniors and the disabled, etc., etc.--are evil? (Levandowski is one of the main engineers on the self-driving car project.) What the hell?

What Artw said: "Our campaign of inflammatory rhetoric, general harassment, intimidation, window smashing and stalking is totally not like the Nazi one" still isn't all that great a claim, really, no matter how ineffectual you are.
posted by russilwvong at 7:05 AM on January 26


When I took Economics my TA was a Marxist and he told the class that the Wall Street Journal was the best newspaper to read every day so long as you made sure to skip over the editorial pages. This was a little over my head at the time but I have never once seen this advice contraindicated. Never once.
posted by bukvich at 7:06 AM on January 26 [5 favorites]


Pruitt-Igoe's link was a lot more clear on the main point of the Levandowski protest than topynate's second link. I don't know how or why the group identified him in particular, but surveillance technology seems to have been their primary concern.
posted by eviemath at 7:08 AM on January 26


Home protests are tricky. They can get into the territory of implied violence, as anti-choice protests have often shown, and have to be coordinated and planned carefully if that is not the goal.

The anti-abortion protests have some crucial differences: they are accusing the abortion providers of murder, there are a lot of serious threats of violence in the background, and they are also there every day.

Outside of legal definitions, there is a difference between making a statement and harrassing/intimidating behavior. Nothing I've read about the home protest suggests a campaign of intimidation...

(on the other hand, I think it's pretty politically tone-deaf... but I've yet to meet lefty radicals who thought much beyond how to fling the shit.)
posted by ennui.bz at 7:10 AM on January 26


Yes, it is so unpleasant to go to someone's house and let him and his neighbors know that you think he is doing evil at his job.

It's stalking and harassment. The guy had his kid with him, for fucks sake. Fuck these dirtbags.
posted by Artw at 7:13 AM on January 26 [8 favorites]


Also, "evil"? Get a fucking grip.
posted by Artw at 7:14 AM on January 26


eviemath: ennui.bz's comment was that Levandowski is a fair target because he's personally contributing to evil through his work. Based on what? The propaganda targeting him?

From the Berkeleyside link:
The anonymous protesters then placed flyers under the windshields of cars in the neighborhood. The fliers include a photo of Levandowski’s home and a lengthy statement that describes the Google staffer as bringing evil into the world. The headline reads: “Anthony Levandowski is building an unconscionable world of surveillance, control and automation. He is also your neighbor.”
If someone targeted like this posted a question to Ask MetaFilter, asking what they should do, the "Gift of Fear" advice would be to tell them to move immediately.
posted by russilwvong at 7:16 AM on January 26


Self-driving cars--something that would save lives, reduce the incentive for private car ownership, give additional mobility to seniors and the disabled, etc., etc.--are evil? (Levandowski is one of the main engineers on the self-driving car project.) What the hell?

I didn't say it was smart, or well-motivated, just that it was principled and not "reprehensible."

(Personally, I think the lack of public transportation in the US is, in fact, *evil* and the whole 'self-driving car" project was kickstarted by DARPA as a way of generating interest in autonomous vehicle control, no doubt for military applications. The idea that it is to help old people survive in suburbia is silly.)
posted by ennui.bz at 7:17 AM on January 26


Create autonomous areas where the laws and rituals
of capitalism are ignored. Do not look back at the fl ickering
lights. Develop ties with your neighbors. Defend the land.
Use your position in society—whether as a felon, a barista,
an immigrant or whatever your experience—as your starting
point for your revolt against it. Have courage. Find others
who feel the same way and block a tech bus. Steal from the
techies you babysit for. Take down surveillance cameras. Go
hard: The time is now.
That's from the leaflet itself (you'll need a pdf reader that can turn stuff upside down).

Fuck it, here's another quote:
Preparing for the action, we watched Levandowski step
out of his front door. He had Google Glasses over his eyes,
carried his baby in his arm, and held a tablet with his free
hand. As he descended the stairs with the baby, his eyes
were on the tablet through the prism of his Google Glasses,
not on the life against his chest. He appeared in this
moment like the robot he admits that he is.
posted by topynate at 7:21 AM on January 26


If someone targeted like this posted a question to Ask MetaFilter, asking what they should do, the "Gift of Fear" advice would be to tell them to move immediately.

Yeah, so much for the 1st amendment. You see, *scary* people leafletted my neighborhood complaining about what I do at work...

The only people in Oakland who have any rational fear of political violence are the Black Panthers.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:21 AM on January 26


Not to regodwin, but you can defend anything as "principled", I wouldn't trust "principled" as a reason why something isn't terrible and shitty for a heartbeat.
posted by Artw at 7:22 AM on January 26


I didn't say it was smart, or well-motivated, just that it was principled and not "reprehensible."

I still don't see how this position makes any sense. They're protesting against the evils of surveillance. So they're targeting someone who works on ... self-driving cars. How is this "principled"?
posted by russilwvong at 7:24 AM on January 26


I read ennui.bz' comment, thanks, and was adding my own unique perspective to the discussion.
posted by eviemath at 7:25 AM on January 26


Also, russilwvong, it sounds like you actually agree with the feeling behind WSJ letter, even if the Godwin's Law violation is embarrassing?

You are saying that the Levandowski and Google bus protests are creating a climate of intimidation and fear, yes?
posted by ennui.bz at 7:26 AM on January 26


That's the point of it, yes. What did you think the point of it was?
posted by Artw at 7:27 AM on January 26


You know, it's actually possible to think that both the Perkins letter and the Levandowski protests are outrageously stupid.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 7:30 AM on January 26 [8 favorites]


TBH the defence of the Levandowski protest is absolutely bringing the old "scratch a hippy, find a fascist" adage to mind.
posted by Artw at 7:32 AM on January 26


That's the point of it, yes. What did you think the point of it was?

Jesus. You really believe that no one has a right to protest against you personally for what your company does? If making a sign and leafletting a neighborhood is intimidation and violence then there is actually no hope of democracy in this country.

There are a lot clearer ways to intimidate someone that don't involve showing up in the middle of the day armed with paper.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:33 AM on January 26 [6 favorites]


The Google bus protests, no -- whatever, we have fights here in Vancouver about buses and bike lanes all the time.

I have a big problem with the campaign targeting Levandowski. I may have a personal bias here, because I think self-driving cars would provide huge benefits to society.
posted by russilwvong at 7:33 AM on January 26


Jesus. You really believe that no one has a right to protest against you personally for what your company does? (Emphasis added.)

How does this make any sense? Are all people working for Google fair game?
posted by russilwvong at 7:39 AM on January 26


Clearly ennui.bz would be absolutely okay with us distributing inflammatory screeds about him to his neighbours and blockading him inside his house.
posted by Artw at 7:40 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


The Google bus protests, no -- whatever, we have fights here in Vancouver about buses and bike lanes all the time.

the bus protests aren't much different, except that they affect groups of Google employees instead of individuals. I mean they are actually interfering with people's commutes...

I think there is actually a much greater chance of violence at the bus protests than the Levandowski thing.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:41 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


How does this make any sense? Are all people working for Google fair game?

That's pretty much the tone of all Google Bus protestor literature.
posted by Artw at 7:41 AM on January 26


Actually, over the last couple of decades there's been a massive decline in poverty, and with the development of markets in the developing world, that's anticipated to continue.

Sounds like an argument for downplaying talk of problems in wealth disparity, perhaps even favoring the phenom.

Meanwhile, for the shallow among us, some pics of Ms Steele's house sans hedges.

The architect would not be pleased.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:44 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


It can be kind of like the Westboro Baptist funeral protests if you don't carefully choose a reasonable target for protest and communicate a logical message. It can be legal, but you might look like a nut.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:44 AM on January 26


I also read the Berkeleyside link, where they quoted the leaflets that the protesters passed out in order to explain the purpose of the protest, as being: "Anthony Levandowski is building an unconscionable world of surveillance, control and automation."

I garnered from my reading that the protesters made this charge based on his participation on a particular Google research team that, in addition to working on self-driving cars and Google Glass, the protesters allege has developed tools that allow Google products to be used for surveillance and invasive data mining.

I'm not giving an opinion on the veracity of these claims. I don't have sufficient knowledge to do this. I am pointing out that, beyond the rhetoric, this seems to have been a central thesis of the Levandowski protest.

Reading comprehension skills folks, they come in handy.
posted by eviemath at 7:45 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


I can assure you of one thing: Tom Perkins does not ride a fucking bus.
posted by Artw at 7:46 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


ennui.bz: the bus protests aren't much different, except that they affect groups of Google employees instead of individuals. I mean they are actually interfering with people's commutes...

Psychologically, from the point of view of the target, that's a pretty big difference!

I suspect that having protesters ringing your doorbell at 7 am and then standing outside for 45 minutes might also interfere with your commute.

topynate, thanks for posting the text of the flyer.
posted by russilwvong at 7:46 AM on January 26


Clearly ennui.bz would be absolutely okay with us distributing inflammatory screeds about him to his neighbours and blockading him inside his house.

By all means tell my neighbors how evil I am, but that's not going to blockade me in my house. What I do in my life has consequences for the people around me. if the corporation, whose checks I cash, makes that money by doing evil, then I am responsible to some extent. I don't have to cash those checks.

Do other people have the right to bring me to justice on their own initiative? No. But they have every right to let me know what they think and let everyone around me know that they think I am responsible.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:47 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


I think the antichoicers have poisoned the well when it comes to targeting employees in their homes, although CEOs in security gated mansions get less concern from me, but it's a tactic that generally backfires.

If Google buses never caused any delays for city buses (which I doubt) they would still add to wear and tear on streets and at stops; they should not get to use those facilities for free. It's about fairness and coopting taxpayer dollars for private profits.

The bus thing is only stupid if you don't understand how it symbolizes the feeling of residents that their city is becoming a corporate park they can no longer afford to live in. Taking people's homes away tends to rile them up. You don't have to agree with every tactic of every ideologue involved to understand this.
posted by emjaybee at 7:49 AM on January 26 [5 favorites]




Though to be fair, from the flyer they do seem to have something against the self-driving car as well. Some combination of its potential military applications, and two complaints not specific to the self-driving car itself, but using it as an example of technology (which they seem quite ambivalent about even in the absence of all other factors) and of ways in which capitalism as an economic system corrupts everything (in this case the self-driving car not actually being a bad thing in and of itself, but something that will inevitably be put to dehumanising uses).
posted by eviemath at 8:04 AM on January 26




The best comment I've read about Perkins' letter is from Hunter Walk
You know, one could see this as Perkins' greatest gift -> uniting the 1% & 99% in outrage against his oped. Let the healing begin.
I hope we can all agree that a flier that says "we watched Levandowski step out of his front door. He had Google Glasses over his eyes, carried his baby in his arm, and held a tablet with his free hand. As he descended the stairs with the baby..." and "We're coming for you next" in the context of a confrontational protest at the guy's house is creepy. OTOH Perkins' letter comparing this kind of childish over-the-top rhetorical protest to Kristallnacht is disgusting, offensive, not to mention historically unfounded.

Fuck 'em all. Let's find some actual solutions to the Bay Area's problems of inequality, shitty transportation, and ineffective government.
posted by Nelson at 8:07 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Seriously? What's the grand plan then? I think they are pushing this story because it's getting clicks. People don't like Google, just like people don't like Wall Street.

It's not inconsistent with pure clickbait greed, but on the other hand when a guy worth like half a bill spends his time encouraging the enemies of plutocracy to self-defeat, I kinda wonder.

If you don't think these protests are counterproductive or you can say "people don't like Google" with a straight face, consider that epistemic closure might be at issue here...
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:11 AM on January 26


it seems insane not to at the very least charge what the market will bear for these public resources.

The $271 is a fine for misusing the stops. It's punitive, not market rent. It's to prevent the thousands of people driving by in private cars from using the stops as a parking spot, or even a place to stop and linger. Private buses rolling up on a schedule to load and unload passengers, and then move on, are not really misusing the space in the same way.

they would still add to wear and tear on streets and at stops; they should not get to use those facilities for free.

You want to charge them for using the streets?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 8:14 AM on January 26


> Private buses rolling up on a schedule to load and unload passengers, and then move on, are not really misusing the space in the same way.

What?! I mean, what?! The other people using the space are probably "on a schedule" too - except that they're loading/unloading one passenger once instead of many passengers, dozens times, every day.

There's an obvious reason to complain about the busses: they are helping to make SF unaffordable for everyone else.

[...] rents around the stops used by the Google buses were up to 20% higher than in otherwise comparable areas. They also found that 30-40% of tech workers would in fact move closer to their jobs if the bus service did not exist. (Source.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:35 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


You know, one could see this as Perkins' greatest gift -> uniting the 1% & 99% in outrage against his oped. Let the healing begin.

The point Josh Marshall was trying to make is that Perkins' sentiments are widely shared among his cohort. What he got published in the WSJ was just what is commonly discussed around the dinner table among both the ultra rich and among many of the "aspirational 14%."
posted by deanc at 8:38 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


ennui.bz: What I do in my life has consequences for the people around me. if the corporation, whose checks I cash, makes that money by doing evil, then I am responsible to some extent. I don't have to cash those checks.

Thanks for clarifying. Maybe we can move on from the discussion of the specific campaign targeting Levandowski. Obviously I disagree strongly with it, but I don't need to keep repeating my opinion.

Stepping back, I thought Josh Marshall's post on "socioeconomic acrophobia" and the siege mentality of the 1% was particularly interesting:
The extremely wealthy are objectively far wealthier, far more politically powerful and find a far more indulgent political class than at any time in almost a century - at least. And yet at the same time they palpably feel more isolated, abused and powerless than at any time over the same period and sense some genuine peril to the whole mix of privileges, power and wealth they hold.
I remember a friend from Colombia telling me years ago that you always know there's going to be someone richer than you--that's not the problem. What's much harder to take is when it's in your face all the time. He commented that in Canada, there may be people just as rich as in Colombia, but they don't go around showing off their wealth all the time. Everybody lives more or less the same way, regardless of how much money they have: their kids go to public schools, they use the same doctors and hospitals, they drive the same kinds of cars.

And it seems to me that here, the banking sector in particular isn't hated the way it is in the US. Why not? A few reasons that come to mind:

1. The banks have a much less adversarial relationship with regulators. The Canadian banks follow the rules, they don't try to break them or search for loopholes.

2. Perhaps as a result, they didn't screw up in the same way as the US banks.

3. Canadian bank CEOs have a much lower profile than people like Lloyd Blankfein or Jamie Dimon, and when they do show up in the media, they often talk about inequality--it doesn't seem like they're off in a bubble somewhere.

A Huffington Post story on a speech given by Ed Clark, CEO of Toronto-Dominion Bank (one of the big five banks):
"Globalization may make the world better off, and makes those in the western world with highly valued skills better off. But others are falling behind. ... The middle class has shrunk. And the working class struggles. While the highest income earners have become better off," Clark said. "Without fully understanding all the forces at play – people get it. They recognize the prize has just got smaller – and their instinct is to protect their share."

Though the TD Bank chief noted that "this discourse has remained relatively muted in Canada," he warned that the global trends "are putting pressure on societal allocation of resources. And so we should not be complacent nor too reliant on Canadians' natural desire to find consensus."

To that end he urged business leaders and politicians to "stand against divisiveness and political extremes."

Clark had some encouraging words for the Occupy movement. Asked by the Toronto Star what he would tell the protesters, he said: "My main advice is stick to your guns. When people say, 'You don’t have a solution,' say, 'Of course we don't. If there was a solution, don't you think people would be doing it?' To ask the people who occupy Wall Street or Bay Street to have a full answer is absurd. They're doing their job which is to say, 'If you think this [system] is working for everyone, it's not.'"
So if people like Perkins or Jamie Dimon want to know what they could do to avoid being hated, a few suggestions:

1. Follow the rules. In particular, pay your taxes. Every time there's a story talking about how the banks are fighting regulations, or how rich people are using loopholes to evade taxes, it makes the problem worse.

2. Keep a lower profile. Don't spend millions of dollars building a mansion; try to live the way that everyone else does. If that seems impossible or crazy, see The Millionaire Next Door.

3. Try to expand your perspective. Think about the stability of society as a whole, not just your own self-interest. Piling up hundreds of millions of dollars isn't going to do you any good if society as a whole is getting progressively worse.
posted by russilwvong at 8:39 AM on January 26 [16 favorites]


Keep a lower profile. Don't spend millions of dollars building a mansion; try to live the way that everyone else does. If that seems impossible or crazy, see The Millionaire Next Door.

Culturally speaking, the top 1% has been encouraged by a culture of showcasing their new homes and wealth. It's well and good to tell them to "do the right thing", but they are dealing with a fawning media desperate to talk all about them and their trappings of wealth and "success." They thrive on the public love and attention, and the events since fall 2008 have taken that away from them-- which took away exactly that which was most valuable to them.

Your advice will be for the next generation of bankers -- the ones analysts and associates of today-- after the current cohort retires.
posted by deanc at 8:45 AM on January 26


A friend on fb linked to an article (and now I can't find the link because fb) that pointed out that the Art Institute - which has many facilities in the city and runs private buses between them - is charged $35 per stop and is limited to stopping at certain stops (and possibly also certain times of day). They must be pissed. And ready to renegotiate their deal.
posted by rtha at 8:54 AM on January 26 [13 favorites]


> Your advice will be for the next generation of bankers -- the ones analysts and associates of today-- after the current cohort retires.

Yeah, don't believe it. They'll keep up their lavish lifestyle and simply not reveal it to the rest of us - and/or have better security guards than they do now.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:55 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Private buses rolling up on a schedule to load and unload passengers, and then move on, are not really misusing the space in the same way.

A private car, rolling up during rush hour traffic to load and unload family and friends going to work, and then moving on, is not really misusing the space in the same way...

But, really, when it comes to breaking laws, we make exceptions and apologize for certain corporations, while pursuing punitive measures against individuals.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:13 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Though it's obviously not a perfect parallel, occasionally Canada has a debate about a two-tiered healthcare system—relieve pressure on the public, taxpayer-funded system and provide better care for those who want to pay extra by setting up a private system that sits alongside the public one. The concept of a two-tiered system almost never flies because people seem to understand (or at least believe) that a two-tiered system will lead to dollars leaving the public system in favour of the private one, leading to worse care for everyone not able or willing to participate in the private system. School voucher debates skew the same way, except in that particular case you're (almost?) literally refunding people's tax dollars in the form of vouchers in order to move their kids out of the public schooling system.

Obviously San Francisco is one city out of an entire country, and places like New York don't really have the same issue. But between the tech-sector private shuttles and services like Uber taking advantage of things like transit strikes (to bring in new customers via promotions) and inclement weather (to jack up the prices for fares), I feel like there's a private transit system being created instead of the public one already in place being improved. And yes, that is an ideological stance I'm taking, but so be it.
posted by chrominance at 9:25 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


I'm wondering what, if any, arrangement the various shuttles operating in the Seattle area have with the city.

I have to admit the whole thing makes slightly smug because our transit system is capable of supporting their existence of these arrangements without melting down or freaking people out.
posted by Artw at 9:27 AM on January 26


Oh, and to get back to the topic at hand: all that op-ed shows is just how out of touch people of his ilk are. It's practically a "let them eat cake" moment, except with Godwin overtones.
posted by chrominance at 9:27 AM on January 26


TBH I suspect it may be a sign that San Francisco is a bit doomed in the long term, being so utterly unable to solve all it's problem. To whatever degree the Google Bus Protestors succeed in driving people with jobs out of the city that's going to speed up the whole process, but something is going to give anyway you cut it.

And to those that WANT to live in an economically collapsed city, well, good luck to them.
posted by Artw at 9:32 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


When even your enemy carries your message to the people, you have already won.

We won. Thank you all for noticing.

Sincerely,

Occupy Tom Perkins
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:34 AM on January 26


Microsoft Connector buses came to an agreement with Seattle Metro to be able to use service bays, but they do not use bus stops and have made private arrangements with businesses to use private spaces as stops. They also offer free Metro transit passes as an employee benefit. To Microsoft's further credit, they also don't appear to get employees to astroturf the city when they get caught breaking the law.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:56 AM on January 26 [11 favorites]


TBH I suspect it may be a sign that San Francisco is a bit doomed in the long term, being so utterly unable to solve all it's problem.

People have been saying stuff like this since the Gold Rush.
posted by rtha at 9:58 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


TBH I suspect it may be a sign that San Francisco is a bit doomed in the long term, being so utterly unable to solve all it's problem. To whatever degree the Google Bus Protestors succeed in driving people with jobs out of the city that's going to speed up the whole process, but something is going to give anyway you cut it.

And to those that WANT to live in an economically collapsed city, well, good luck to them.


Local politics and its problems and messes aside, it's not like San Francisco didn't have jobs before the tech boom, or that all the people being evicted to make way for higher rent uses of space don't have jobs. The gentrification going on currently that is tied up with tech industry demographics is also driving people with jobs out of the city, and speedily.

As well, I hadn't heard of San Francisco being near to financial ruin prior to the tech industry moving in either, though to be fair I was in high school far far away and not paying close attention, but the tech industry as saviors of a struggling city isn't a narrative I've ever heard since then of San Francisco. The tech industry as bringing even more fabulous wealth to the area, yes. But San Francisco doesn't seem to have a gun to its head or have a similar relationship to the tech industry as, say, Detroit to the auto industry mid-century, at least as far as I can tell from a distance.

Rather, a policy choice is being made about which residents with jobs and exactly how much money and from which sources the city wants to support.
posted by eviemath at 10:00 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


I don't recall seeing any teabagging in finance.

Huh? The catalyst for the formation of the Tea Party is credited to the spittle-flecked rant by financial toady Rick Santelli complaining about irresponsible poor people from the floor of the Chicago Commodities Exchange (Sell, Mortimer, sell!). You can't get more stereotypical "finance" than that.
posted by JackFlash at 10:04 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


TBH I suspect it may be a sign that San Francisco is a bit doomed in the long term, being so utterly unable to solve all it's problem.

So when the doom comes, please bring all your jobs and culture to Philly please. City on the rise here.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:07 AM on January 26


The greatest trick Seattle ever pulled was convincing all it's hipsters to move to Portland.
posted by Artw at 10:13 AM on January 26 [4 favorites]


I kind of think Google should piss off enemies by acceding to their demands to debus, and put the offices on a cruise ship in the bay.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:23 AM on January 26


I have always been willing to agree to a 10 percent income tax rate on all earned income, more or less the same on capital gains, as long as we can have a no-loopholes 90 percent inheritance tax on all estates and corporate assets in bankruptcy/takeover/offshoring situations.

Use it while you're here producing. Lose it when you go.

Always seemed like a sign of faithlessness to me that churches are so psyched about not paying taxes -- on the off chance they might be right about what comes next, who needs accumulated wealth on earth?

Not no loopholes: your way around the estate tax is to give it all away to randomly chosen poor families and startup businesses and community nonprofits in your will if you don't want government choosing how it's going to be specifically reinvested.

Family or oligarchic wealth accumulation without robust reciprocity is inimical to democracy -- nay, social cohesion as such.
posted by spitbull at 10:48 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Not no loopholes: your way around the estate tax is to give it all away to randomly chosen poor families and startup businesses and community nonprofits in your will if you don't want government choosing how it's going to be specifically reinvested.

I hearby bequeath the riches of my vast urinal cake empire to the Urinal Cakes For The Poor Foundation, of which my children are coincidentally the entire board of directors.
posted by indubitable at 10:55 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]


spitbull: that's not going to work. If I'm a billionaire who wants to avoid the 90% tax when I die, I can give my money to my children (taxed at 10% in their hands) while I'm still alive.
posted by russilwvong at 11:20 AM on January 26


Not a dime to those who inherit, ever.

Tax it at 100%. Birth is never an excuse to receive income.
posted by moo at 11:25 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Tax it at 100%. Birth is never an excuse to receive income.

Pretty dogmatic there. I've known various minor age orphans whose inheritances got them through school. Pretty good excuse to my way of thinking.

What about life insurance? 100% of that as well?

(And by your logic, why should it go to the government? That's just another bunch of accidentally born people without even the love connection to the wealth creator. Human nature being what it is, one reason why a lot of people work as hard as they do, in order to leave to their children. Cut out that incentive and you cut out a bunch of hard workers. They tend to go to countries they are treated with a bit more respect.)
posted by IndigoJones at 12:02 PM on January 26


Pretty dogmatic there. I've known various minor age orphans whose inheritances got them through school. Pretty good excuse to my way of thinking.

And if we taxed inheritance at 100% the education of orphans could be fully funded, as would their sustenance.

And by your logic, why should it go to the government?


Is it better that it goes to the scions of those who lucked out and exploited the circumstances of the market or to the population as whole?
posted by moo at 12:13 PM on January 26


And by your logic, why should it go to the government? That's just another bunch of accidentally born people without even the love connection to the wealth creator.

I am not necessarily advocating a 100% inheritance (well...not anymore I guess) tax (although I am also not not advocating it), but surely you can see that no individuals in the government would directly benefit like the inheritors would...right?

They tend to go to countries...

People threaten this all the time, but it seems to be quite rare, actually.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:14 PM on January 26


Really, inheritance is privilege in its purest form. You get something because you are born. That is it. How can that be justified?
posted by moo at 12:19 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Should inheritance tax be 90% or 100%? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
posted by russilwvong at 1:01 PM on January 26


More constructively, it's probably better to focus on increasing the top marginal tax rate on income (particularly investment income), as with the 0.9% Medicare surtax increase and the 3.8% Medicare surtax on investment income (for people with income over $200,000).
posted by russilwvong at 1:08 PM on January 26


Normally I don't really care to get into this stuff, but I gotta respond to a few points.

"Our campaign of inflamotory rhetoric, general harassment, intimidation, window smashing and Stalking is totally not like the the Nazis one" still isn't all that great a claim, really, no matter how ineffectual you are.

Except you could point out that the campaign of harrassment and intimidation is not based on ethnicity, but actions taken by a corporate entity of which the target is a part. It's not a generalized societal spasm of fear and hate against an entire population. So equating it with Nazism is not that great a claim, really.

Also, "evil"? Get a fucking grip.

When your informal corporate motto is "Don't Be Evil," don't be surprised if people bring it up when they disagree with you.

Regarding all the rhetoric about how the tech buses alleviate congestion on the freeways: if you took away the buses and forced all those employees into cars, then you might find that the peninsula traffic becomes horrific. And the net effect of that might be a more equal distribution of population away from trendy fucking San Francisco and perhaps a bit closer to the office. As it is, a ludicrous number of people live in SF and commute forty miles to the office via these buses, driving up the costs in the city. Meanwhile, CalTrain goes on underutilized. There's a lot of stupidity, NIMBYism, and money driving problems in the Bay Area. But don't act like the tech industry is an unalloyed good for all. It's just another avenue for privilege, education, and connections to concentrate money in the hands of the privileged.
posted by Existential Dread at 1:20 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]


With only about 85 people controlling about half the world's wealth, it wouldn't take a radical progressive movement to do in the Super wealthy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lernaean_Hydra
posted by cell divide at 1:25 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


When your informal corporate motto is "Don't Be Evil," don't be surprised if people bring it up when they disagree with you.

Oh right. That totally make it alright for tin-foil hat wearing lunatics to stalk and harass people.
posted by Artw at 1:47 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


the campaign of harrassment and intimidation is not based on ethnicity, but actions taken by a corporate entity of which the target is a part

Maybe this isn't such a fashionable opinion any more, but I try to judge people by what they're doing, not who they're doing it to. Which I admit can be hard when the issue is politicized.
posted by topynate at 2:08 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Oh right. That totally make it alright for tin-foil hat wearing lunatics to stalk and harass people.

Not what I said. I was merely commenting on how the word "evil" came to be used in the conversation.

Maybe this isn't such a fashionable opinion any more, but I try to judge people by what they're doing, not who they're doing it to. Which I admit can be hard when the issue is politicized.

That's fair. Even so, the tactics and scale aren't even remotely similar.
posted by Existential Dread at 2:17 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


A friend on fb linked to an article (and now I can't find the link because fb) that pointed out that the Art Institute - which has many facilities in the city and runs private buses between them - is charged $35 per stop and is limited to stopping at certain stops (and possibly also certain times of day). They must be pissed. And ready to renegotiate their deal.

That is an interesting case (though I'm pretty sure you mean the Academy of Art, not the Art Institute which just has the one campus in North Beach). There have been various private shuttle buses of various kinds running around SF for years, generally using the normal Muni stops, which as someone else pointed out are engineered to handle the wear and tear of frequent heavy bus stops. As far as I know, most of these run inside the city, though.

It's not really a mystery that San Francisco's government is encouraging the Google buses to stick around (eg, by charging them a lot less than the Academy shuttles). In a simplistic analysis, the buses function as a massive transfer of tax revenue from Silicon Valley into the city itself, since people being paid Google wages wind up spending a lot of money in the city on food, drinks and other things young rich people like to consume.
posted by whir at 2:21 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Well, it's not 30s Germany, so the outcome isn't likely to be similar, and the scale is off, but not-remotely-the-same tactics are pretty much the same tactics in all but degree, aren't they?
posted by Artw at 2:24 PM on January 26


No, I don't think so. It's not a major political party scapegoating a disadvantaged section of the population. There's no paramilitary wing agitating for a pogrom. No one is being rounded up and arrested. A few broken bus windows does not qualify as a kristallnacht.

If you really wanted to make a comparison, it might be fair to compare the Levandowski stalking to pro-lifers protesting physicians at home, or publishing their addresses online a la Operation Rescue.
posted by Existential Dread at 2:35 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


though I'm pretty sure you mean the Academy of Art,

Yes, yes I did! I should know better, having been nearly run over by one of those buses on Polk street one day after work.
posted by rtha at 2:38 PM on January 26


How about... DON'T smash any windows? Or posit that ANY groups are vile less-than-human scum? Seems reasonable if you really hate the comparison that much.
posted by Artw at 2:40 PM on January 26


but not-remotely-the-same tactics are pretty much the same tactics in all but degree, aren't they?

You can totally disagree with and hate their tactics (the window-breaking, the house-picketing) without going anywhere near Kristallnacht comparisons.
posted by rtha at 2:43 PM on January 26


Hell, a much more accurate comparison might even be soccer hooligans, or the Vancouver hockey riots. Broken glass, two opposing rival groups, and few buses get vandalized.
posted by Existential Dread at 2:44 PM on January 26


No, they're not the same tactics at all. If we denied the rich entry to public places and facilities, like schools and public pools, if we forced them to wear badges branding them because of their "bad blood," if we denied them citizenship and papers because they weren't "real Americans," if we stole or destroyed everything they had, forced them from their homes, rounded them up onto camps where we practiced sadistic medical experiments on them, sterilized them, slaughtered entire families of them in order to exterminate them from the earth while justifying it as their being subhuman and evil - then the tactics would be similar. What the Nazis did was commit an atrocity. They committed crimes against humanity.

I think that these particular protesters are skirting too close to vigilantism, which I don't support, and their protests tend to be theatrical in a way that I find dishonest and manipulative, and therefore counterproductive at best, unethical at worst. However, they aren't behaving like Nazis, and the way Perkins frames his "the oppressed 1% claim" isn't just stupid, inappropriate bullshit, it's anti-Semitic in that it uses Nazi propaganda (the "Jewish cabal"/Germany's 1%) to make its point. If you don't like the protesters' tactics, that's completely valid and you may have a strong point - but please don't give Perkins's offensive analogy the dignity of taking it seriously.
posted by rue72 at 2:45 PM on January 26 [10 favorites]


I kind of think Google should piss off enemies by acceding to their demands to debus, and put the offices on a cruise ship in the bay.

you mean this thing?
posted by ninjew at 3:05 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Does tinfoil hat now encompass anyone whose agenda we don't like, or is there actually weird anti-government theories / google brain waves / whatever posited by this group of protesters? I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case but also think protecting the original usage of "tinfoil hat" as a descriptor is important to the language.
posted by cell divide at 3:06 PM on January 26


His letter is further evidence that we cannot trust our economy to the likes of plutocrats. The mentality will be that of entitlement and arrogance, with a belief that their success makes them immune the the simple problem of being mistaken about what actually makes the economy run.
posted by john wilkins at 3:08 PM on January 26


Oh, tryst me, I know it's very different. But the differences are all in scale, capability of the mob and, um, "worthiness" of the target. The tactics don't vary much though, because drumming up a mob against a group isn't a very complicated thing and there isn't much room for variation in it.
posted by Artw at 3:15 PM on January 26


Does tinfoil hat now encompass anyone whose agenda we don't like, or is there actually weird anti-government theories / google brain waves / whatever posited by this group of protesters

It encompasses anyone who thinks the Google self driving car is Skynet and it's creator is the Borg because he didn't look at his child right in their judgement.
posted by Artw at 3:18 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


The difference is in one case, the government demonized an identifiable group of people and ordered and encouraged its paramilitary groups to attack them. In the other case, this is not remotely what's happening.

I don't know why you seem so wedded to the idea that they *must* somehow be comparable. What the protesters are doing can still suck and you can still hate their tactics without them being anything like the government-sponsored mobs of Nazi Germany. Why do you feel like you have to give credence to Perkins' framing?
posted by rtha at 3:20 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Because he's a tasteless asshole but he's not entirely wrong, and your reasoning on why he's wrong (Google workers deserve it) is incredibly flimsy.
posted by Artw at 3:26 PM on January 26


And, frankly, to whatever tiny degree the jackboot fits these people should reconsider their actions.
posted by Artw at 3:27 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


and your reasoning on why he's wrong (Google workers deserve it) is incredibly flimsy

Where did I say that?
posted by rtha at 3:32 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


You and others, pretty much, yup.
posted by Artw at 3:33 PM on January 26


No, not "pretty much." That's bullshit. Me, I've said exactly zero about Google employees in this thread. I'm calling you on your apparent desire to compare these protesters with Nazi mobs, and your response is to accuse me of something I have not only not come anywhere near to saying, I've literally not mentioned them.
posted by rtha at 3:37 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]


Cell divide: Lernean Hydra

Well played, well played.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:45 PM on January 26


It encompasses anyone who thinks the Google self driving car is Skynet and it's creator is the Borg because he didn't look at his child right in their judgement.

I wouldn't call it tinfoil hat. Levandowski was associated with the Google Street View scandal in which they illegally intercepted and permanently recorded residential wifi traffic while prowling the streets. They associated MAC addresses, SSIDs, email and email passwords with residential street addresses. Google paid a $7 million fine in the U.S. for illegal interception and is still in the courts in a dozen countries for their behavior. People would be screaming bloody murder if the NSA were doing this. Evil?

It is a bit ironic that the protest flyers included a Google Street View picture of his house showing the street address.
posted by JackFlash at 3:48 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


And the net effect of that might be a more equal distribution of population away from trendy fucking San Francisco and perhaps a bit closer to the office.

I think you're more likely to see a more equal distribution of workers and eventually companies to NYC, Seattle, Boston for robots, etc... People ain't busting ass becoming tech elite meritocrats for a big house in the suburbs anymore.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 3:48 PM on January 26


Any comparison between the anti-tech protestors in the SF Bay Area and Nazis is entirely wrong. I think the engineer-stalking protests are creepy and deplorable but there's absolutely no comparison to state-sponsored terrorism on a national scale. The only vague parallel is the use of personal intimidation as a tactic, but then that describes all sorts of thuggery. Kristallnacht is a specific historical event in a period of institutionalized genocide and invoking it to describe the anti-tech backlash is offensive.
posted by Nelson at 3:50 PM on January 26 [3 favorites]


Ah, fair enough, it's pretty much just others that have implied that the problem was the target.
posted by Artw at 3:52 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


85 people now own more wealth than half of the world's population. Venture capitalists know their PR, and the first strike is to turn the tables before a meme appears that the poor are being treated like holocaust victims. It often works. Huckabee did it last week against Democrats concerning his war on women, for example, suggesting that he must care more about women because he thinks they are mature enough not to be allowed to have birth control.
posted by Brian B. at 4:10 PM on January 26 [5 favorites]


I made a reference to the 85 in a comment that has since been deleted. Presumably, enough people read a "death to the rich" sentiment in my rhetoric that it was flagged and deleted. Let me take this as an opportunity to expand upon my original message.

Perkins' lack of historical perspective aside, he is a fearful person. With some snark, I will add that it must be awful to be so ludicrous wealthy and be so afraid because of that wealth.

The fear he has specifically created for himself is "oh no, all the poors and liberals have created a government that is going to murder me and all of my friends because of our deeply held Randian libertarian beliefs (and money)."

The truth of the matter, of course, is that there is no such mass movement advocating that he or his ilk be murdered. His either deliberate or hysterical misreading of the Google bus protests and the Occupy movement is just a fantasy that he uses to make himself feel important/persecuted.

What he should be on the guard against is tone deaf "let them eat cake" style rhetoric. While that isn't going to inspire the cowed masses to revolt, there are enough angry people out there that it would only take a small group of pissed off people to do some significant damage to the few ultra-rich out there, private armies or no. I'm certainly not advocating this, but the easy availability of weaponry (particularly in the US) coupled with the anti-wealthy sentiment that even the far right stokes up in order to secure votes, is a potentially bad combination.

russwvong, in his excellent description of the Canadian wealthy, makes a few points about how the obnoxious wing of the obscenely rich could be less fearful simply by being better citizens.

Anyhow, wiser Mefites than myself have shared the Josh Marshall/TPM anecdata about the bunker mentality of some of the current bourgeoisie. Not to out-Godwin Watson, but you know who else was delusional and had a bunker mentality...
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:38 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


the bunker mentality of some of the current bourgeoisie

Perking et al. are not the bourgeoisie. They're the aristocrats of our classless class system.
posted by immlass at 4:46 PM on January 26


The other people using the space are probably "on a schedule" too - except that they're loading/unloading one passenger once instead of many passengers, dozens times, every day.

"On a schedule" as in 10 or whatever buses per hour. You don't want to give that option to the thousands of cars driving by every day.

There's an obvious reason to complain about the busses: they are helping to make SF unaffordable for everyone else.

That's the heart of it. But SF was becoming unaffordable without the help of the buses, and those buses were going to keep rolling even if they couldn't use the Muni stops - for example they could have partnered with private businesses like hotels and used their loading zones.

But, really, when it comes to breaking laws, we make exceptions and apologize for certain corporations, while pursuing punitive measures against individuals.

It's not like Google could park any company car in a bus stop. They have an agreement to let their buses use the stops, because they are operating a fleet of buses. If a city encourages carpools, why wouldn't they want to encourage this, an even more efficient form of ride sharing?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:49 PM on January 26


I think you're more likely to see a more equal distribution of workers and eventually companies to NYC, Seattle, Boston for robots, etc... People ain't busting ass becoming tech elite meritocrats for a big house in the suburbs anymore.

Ironically, from one specific viewpoint you might argue that SF has now become a "suburb" for Palo Alto, Mountainview, Sunnyvale, and Cupertino. These workers commute well over 40 miles from their homes to their offices, in a manner similar to how a worker in Everett might commute to Seattle. Besides, Palo Alto, Mountainview et al are actual cities, with great downtowns and everything. I think that whir has it nailed; for SF, this is about transferring economic activity from the southern end of the peninsula back up to SF.
posted by Existential Dread at 4:55 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Immlass: Thank you for that correction. That's a crazy mistake on my part.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:02 PM on January 26


Because he's a tasteless asshole but he's not entirely wrong, and your reasoning on why he's wrong (Google workers deserve it) is incredibly flimsy.

The basis of our Constitutional and legal system ensures the right to life, liberty, and property. "To receive social approval from the public" is not on that list. If being a high profile employee of Google subjects you to public disapproval, that's unfortunate, but you were never guaranteed rights of public approval of your professional and lifestyle choices.
posted by deanc at 5:03 PM on January 26




There is a remarkably dark interpretation of your our Lernaean Hydra comment, cell divide.

I agree that "there's a whole apparatus full of people who benefit enough from the same institutional setup to defend it", AdamCSnider. We thin that heard by automating their jobs in administration, management, finance, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:33 PM on January 26


I said: My chief problem with the private buses in the Bay Area is that they reduce pressure to develop the public infrastructure the area badly needs.

JPE replied:
Dialectics as public policy! FWIW, there's no doubt that if the Google employees did take the public buses, people would be lambasting them for putting even more pressure on public infrastructure when they could be spending their own money on their own buses.
Sorry for reaching so far up-thread, but this is a statement that is false. One really neat thing about mass transit is that on the whole, it gets better the more people use it, because heavily-used routes can support higher frequencies of service. This is an aspect that distinguishes mass transit from single-occupancy vehicle road transit, which is better the fewer people use it.

To use an extreme example, NYC's subway line under Lexington Avenue (which carries more people than most other cities' entire networks) can run a train every two minutes or so, more or less around the clock. No one ever has to think about a schedule or making their train or waiting for a train when they're going along that line. Very convenient. One of the reasons why it's convenient is that more or less everyone (barring people who can take, like, private helicopters) relies on that line. We're, well, we're all in it together.

Caltrain, the train service down the SF peninsula, runs one train an hour most times of day. Very inconvenient for everyone. You end up getting to work early and leaving late, because that's when your train runs, and sometimes you end up waiting on the platform for 59 minutes because you missed your train.

So, yes, I want googlers on my train. Tons of them. Loads. All the googlers. And the facebookkeepers. Also the apple people (though their campus is out in the middle of nowhere and they'd probably have to take a pretty long shuttle bus ride from the Caltrain station). No one anywhere has expressed the sentiment "get those dang googlers off my train" or "gosh I'm glad there's no googlers on this train."

Thank you for your contribution, though.

also, I'm not clear what you mean by "dialectics as public policy."
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:49 PM on January 26 [20 favorites]


Artw. You're wrong. And I say this even though you are, like ArmyOfKittens and clavdivs, on my list of people who are right about everything. Not this time!
posted by Drinky Die at 8:55 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


At any rate I'm at the point where I'm starting to believe people are deliberately misinterpreting the word "tactics" just to fuck with me, so I should be done with this thread.
posted by Artw at 2:53 AM on January 27


Paranoia of the Plutocrats by Krugman

"I also suspect that today’s Masters of the Universe are insecure about the nature of their success. We’re not talking captains of industry here, men who make stuff. We are, instead, talking about wheeler-dealers, men who push money around and get rich by skimming some off the top as it sloshes by. They may boast that they are job creators, the people who make the economy work, but are they really adding value? Many of us doubt it — and so, I suspect, do some of the wealthy themselves, a form of self-doubt that causes them to lash out even more furiously at their critics."
posted by jeffburdges at 4:38 AM on January 27 [6 favorites]


I was hoping to include a reaction or two from right-leaning outlets when I put this FPP together, but I wasn't seeing anything from the handful of conservative blogs that I follow. Thankfully, The Village Voice's Roy Edroso works the rightblogger beat for a living, and has posted a comprehensive roundup of conservative reactions to Perkins' letter.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:46 AM on January 27


Is Perkins unaware that Germany's 1% (and some of the rest of the world's 1%), supported the Nazis before and after Kristallnacht?
posted by notyou at 8:07 AM on January 27


I am kind of gobsmacked that SF doesn't have an income tax for residents (i.e. not through the workplace) in the same way as NYC does. They could even make it a sight more progressive: nothing if you make under 30K, for instance. (Or a wealth tax, to cover the actual 1%.) At least then the schmancy tech workers would be putting money back into the city. People put up with it in less liberal cities, after all.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:27 AM on January 27


However, famed venture capitalist Tim Draper of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, tells us that Perkins is a "brilliant" man, who has identified a real problem – "schadenfreude, something that continues to be a thorn in humanity’s side."

On Tom Perkins, he is a brilliant man, and he is identifying schadenfreude, something that continues to be a thorn in humanity’s side. The bitter taste of envy brings us all down. I like to celebrate the wealth and success of great heroes like Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Larry Ellison. I think it makes us all better to strive to be better and brighter. … and I like a good bus. If our government focused on providing the kind of service to its constituents that Google provides its employees, I wouldn’t have to initiate SixCalifornias.info.

Er, it's not schadenfreude we're feeling, just like it's not rich people who are victims of government-sponsored pogroms. Also? Governments can't provide services when the very idea of raising revenue is anathema to people like you. Services do not grow on trees.
posted by rtha at 10:41 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


One visit to sixcalifornias.info should tell you how serious of a person Tim Draper is.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:56 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


I'm at the point where I'm starting to believe people are deliberately misinterpreting the word "tactics" just to fuck with me

Up-thread, I listed a lot of tactics that the Nazis used within their overall strategy of "The Final Solution," which they pursued in service of their goal of world domination. Breaking windows, engaging in theatrics, and showing up at someone's house to shame him didn't make the list, because those are such general and honestly, low-level, tactics that they can't be said to be particularly "Nazi" and the Nazis didn't even practice them in a notable way.

I don't know why you insist that the main difference between the rulers of a fascist state committing genocide, and civilian protesters staging a protest that involves a broken window or leafleting someone's house, is that the Jewish people were a less "worthy" target of genocide than the rich. For what it's worth, I haven't even seen anyone claiming that's the case. The difference is actually not just of degree, it's also a difference of tactics, strategies, goals, values, and power dynamics. Like so many people have said, you can find the protesters' tactics *wrong* (I don't personally agree with the tactics they've chosen), but that doesn't make the tactics they use especially like the Nazis', especially in respect to the Holocaust, and it doesn't make the circumstances of the 1% now especially like those of Jewish people during the Holocaust (or frankly, even similar to their circumstances in Weimar Germany).

If Perkins wants to make hyperbolic comparisons, a better one would probably be to the Reign of Terror after the French Revolution. The Women's March on Versailles could serve as a comparison for protesters leafleting the Google employee's home, and the Storming of the Bastille could serve as a comparison for the protestors' assault on the Google Bus. The Paris Commune could even serve as a comparison for Occupy. Also, the French Revolution actually was a revolt against the aristocracy for some of the same reasons people are upset about the 1%'s behavior today. I don't think that's a great comparison, either, (and I don't know who would stand in as the modern-day Robespierre!) but I think it at least makes *some* sense.

Anyway, I don't know why you're entertaining what is to me clearly a disingenuous, incendiary analogy on Perkins' part (or I guess it could possibly be incredibly ignorant and/or delusional, though as I said earlier I think that the self-contradiction in the statement is a tip-off that he was consciously trolling). I'm also frankly surprised that you are entertaining it, because I usually respect and even agree with what you have to say. Is there some specific way in which you think that Perkins's analogy holds up, or are you just saying you don't think the protesters' tactics are appropriate and that you think genocide is always wrong? Because I can agree on the latter two points, but I can't agree that Perkins's analogy has merit.
posted by rue72 at 11:01 AM on January 27 [5 favorites]


rue72: since Artw said he's done with the thread, maybe take it to email?

For anyone interested in self-driving cars, the original New Yorker article is worth reading.
posted by russilwvong at 12:53 PM on January 27


America's Idiot Rich (May 2012), more about the narrative of billionaires being an oppressed minority.
posted by Nelson at 2:02 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Perkins doubled down on his statement in an email to Bloomberg. The full email doesn't seem to be online, all that's getting passed around are a few quotes like “In the Nazi area it was racial demonization, now it is class demonization” He also took to TV and was apparently totally quotable. "This isn’t a Rolex. I could buy a six-pack of Rolexes for this." Also he's tried to drag Al Gore and Jerry Brown into it.

At this point it may be kindest to note the man is 82. He sounds lucid enough in the TV interview but he's not exactly speaking for anyone I know, more of an "elderly area man goes on a rant". I'm glad he's no longer a meaningful force in the tech industry.
posted by Nelson at 5:17 PM on January 27




"I deeply apologize to you and anyone who has mistaken my reference to Kristallnacht as a sign of overt or latent anti-Semitism,"

I am sorry you made the mistake of thinking my anti-semitic words were a sign of anti-semitism.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:31 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]




The New Yorker article that Immlass just linked is excellent. One thing that is pointed out in the article is the enormous contributions to charity that some of the very rich have made. Good for them, but this is no substitute for a sane tax system. The targets of charitable donations are selected by their donors so a wealthy person can choose won their money benefits. Taxes go to pay for the things that best benefit all of us based on infrastructure and emergency needs. Letting the wealthy decide what societal needs are met is not an especially sane route to ensuring that all the needs are met.
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:30 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


Man, Perkins is tone-deaf and the response to his comments hasn't woken him up:

"I deeply apologize to you and anyone who has mistaken my reference to Kristallnacht as a sign of overt or latent anti-Semitism"

From Perkins' "apology," regarding Kleiner Perkins' response:

"They chose to throw me under the bus," Perkins said on Monday about the firm, which has gone through a few years of lackluster returns and is battling a former partner in a gender-discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. "As I've distanced myself form the firm, there's been a corresponding decline," he said.

Maybe we shouldn't be paying attention to this old man who hasn't been involved in what he's discussing for 20 years.
posted by benbenson at 10:48 PM on January 27


"They chose to throw me under the bus," Perkins said

Don't worry, the Google buses have really good brakes!
posted by en forme de poire at 11:35 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


At this point it may be kindest to note the man is 82. He sounds lucid enough in the TV interview but he's not exactly speaking for anyone I know, more of an "elderly area man goes on a rant". I'm glad he's no longer a meaningful force in the tech industry.

Oh Jesus I thought he was like 50 something. Come on, just let a crazy senile old man be crazy, don't give him a platform, and try to discourage him from soiling himself too badly.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 12:47 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


David Sirota on how this isn't an isolated incident:
The point here – beyond simply deploring aristocrats for their gross insensitivity to those who lost family during the Holocaust and Jim Crow – is to understand all these outbursts not as anomalies, but as statements that are part of a larger narrative.

That deceptive narrative is what I called in my first book The Myth of the Persecuted Billionaire, and what Thomas Frank later called a trick designed to make us “pity the billionaire.” In the plutocrat-glorifying fable, the Tom Perkinses comprise the rag-tag team from “Inglourious Basterds” – the underdogs bravely defying the scourge of oppression and genocide.

The objective of this hideous mythology should be obvious. Rather than permit any honest discussion about the serious problems that accompany rampant economic inequality, the winners of that economic system aim to manufacture story lines that depict themselves – not the poor – as victims on par with history’s most persecuted peoples.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:54 AM on January 29 [3 favorites]


WSJ doubles down: Perkinsnacht.
posted by immlass at 8:33 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]


"Liberal vituperation makes our letter writer's point."

LIBERAL VITUPERATION: THE NEWEST HATE CRIME?
posted by en forme de poire at 8:37 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Also, I love how they reference a completely centrist, middle-of-the-road article about how neither Democrats nor Republicans have the right idea to solving income inequality (note how they don't actually link there - there you go!) as if it is whipping up some kind of a frothing mob about to seize Perkins from his enormoyacht and guillotine him.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:44 AM on January 30


WSJ doubles down: Perkinsnacht.

"an ungallant rebuke from Kleiner Perkins..."
In a tweet, KPCB said, “Tom Perkins has not been involved in KPCB in years. We were shocked by his views expressed today in the WSJ and do not agree.”
Oh my, fetch the smelling salts. The use of the word "ungallant" is such a perfect little encapsulation of the hurt feelings of those who consider themselves the gentry when those they think of as peers don't respond to their idiocy with the perfect politeness and "aren't we above all the hoi polloi, you and I" reservation that they believe they are entitled to.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:09 AM on January 30 [3 favorites]


My favourite part is where the WSJ Editors refer to Perkins as "our friend". I'm sure they're having a good laugh together about it all at the club.
posted by Nelson at 9:20 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Yeah, everyone who wants to file this under "Old Man Yells at Cloud" needs to read that WSJ piece and this Instapundit post (via). This is conservative conventional wisdom now, not just the ramblings of an elderly out-of-touch one-percenter.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:02 AM on January 30




"There is a worry among our clients that they are being judged and people are making assumptions about who they are based on their wealth."

If I comment on this, it will be snarky, so I'll post without further comment.
posted by eviemath at 1:43 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Conservative tries to use the 2011 Oakland Occupy violence as proof of Kristallnacht. Steve M. burninates with extreme prejudice:
Reynolds goes on to link a post by PJ Media colleague Ed Driscoll, which argues that Kristallnacht already happened a year and a half ago, and any attempt to reason with the new Nazis is corporate Neville Chamberlain-ism:
Incidentally, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers quickly distanced themselves from its co-founder's original remarks, presumably in the hopes that should Occupy Wall Street rise up again, it will devour them last. Its vaguely reminiscent of the Occupy-friendly appeasement tactics of the Oakland Mens Warehouse in November 0f 2011, before their own storefront windows were shattered, during what might be described as an evening of wanton socialist violence and destruction characterized by million of crystalline shards of broken glass.

For lack of a better term, of course.
Yeah, a Men's Wearhouse in Oakland did put a "We stand with the 99%" sign its its window before an Occupy demonstration in Oakland that turned violent, and the window itself was smashed.

But do you know what else happened during that demonstration? Multiple arrests, as well as other police acts against demonstrators and journalists that have been described as excessive force.

I'm not going to address the particulars of what the police did. I'm just pointing this out because, if there are window-breakers in the streets and the government is unambiguously on the opposite side, then YOU ARE NOT LIVING THROUGH KRISTALLNACHT.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:27 PM on January 30 [7 favorites]


If I comment on this, it will be snarky, so I'll post without further comment.

Fortunately, I have no such scruples.
"Any time there's an outside focus on wealth," it's not fun for the wealthy, [Traeger-Muney] says. Heirs, she adds, have it the worst: "They feel like they're in this 1 percent position. They get bad press from people who make fun of them. It feels like their worst nightmare coming true: the idea that they're now responsible for other people's unhappiness and lack of wealth, when they didn't ask for [their millions]."
Aw, poor babies. I didn't ask for it! I mean, I'm sure as hell not getting rid of it, but I didn't ask for it!
She just tries to get her clients to acknowledge the fact that they're rolling in dough and learn how to enjoy it.
God, is there anything about being rich that isn't gross? This person is not a therapist, she is an enabler. I wonder if she really buys her own bullshit or if she's just a skin parasite on the kaiju of wealth.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:15 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Bill Moyers & David Simon: Advice to Plutocrat Perkins: Time to Shut Up!
posted by homunculus at 9:57 AM on January 31


Omnivore: Get serious about rising inequality
posted by homunculus at 1:34 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Found this interesting: American public: "rich/poor gap" the 8th biggest problem facing America today. 6th biggest for Dems. "Government" broadly cited as worst problem.

67% do express dissatisfaction with the current income distribution, but it would seem America sees other problems as much more important.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:56 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


The problem in America was never the persecution of wealth, but the blatant worship of money. For example, if a wealthy person committed a massive money crime, they would be treated with the benefit of doubt, as most people would rather assume it was an investment mistake or the accountant's fault. Many would question if the wealthy person was not a victim of jealous enemies. However, if a poor person was caught with a stolen item, it would be like an engraved invitation to violate their rights. Even the idea of a kid getting an accidental free lunch is wrong to some, on principle. I would wager that the respect level towards concentrated wealth has dropped slightly, and it really bothers them.
posted by Brian B. at 9:31 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Salesforce CEO Benioff on how to fix San Francisco
The first thing is you can’t be throwing all these people out of their homes. They are using the Ellis Act during this unbelievable boom time, to toss everyday residents out of their homes. I think is unfair and I think it has to change. I think that our government, our industry leaders and everyday citizens — all three stakeholders — need to come together in a conversation and change that. I think these buses — which if you hang out in the Mission, [they come] every five minutes — they’ve got to be massively regulated, we have to get them off our streets. Those are two things we absolutely have to do. And the third thing is we need to get the tech community giving back more aggressively. Those are three things that need to happen now.

...

I’m a fan of civil disobedience. I think that what has been happening has mostly been good. This is a San Francisco tradition actually. This is not the first time we’ve had civil disobedience, and it will not be the last time. It’s a part of who we are as a city. But I also encourage this multi-stakeholder dialogue where we can bring together the tech leaders, the government leaders, the non-governmental organizations, the nonprofit organizations, the schools, the hospitals — let’s get everybody together and figure out how we’re going to use the next decade to make San Francisco better. I think it’s that easy.
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:32 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]


There are only about 300 Ellis Act evictions per year. The peak was 440 in 1999-2000.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:27 PM on February 2


The Myth Of The Self-Made Man
I understand the point Perkins was making. But these aren’t the comments that interest me. Instead, I was intrigued by some comments Perkins made in the Bloomberg TV interview. At one point, he discussed how he came from the 99% and declared:
“i am your classical self-made man, if you will.”
I always find comments like this to be a little bizarre. There’s a certain level of egotism in this idea that anyone is a “self made man”. As if they’re Robinson Crusoe alone on an island building everything from nothing only to find themselves later surrounded by swarms of people dying to do business with them and praising their past efforts. Of course, that’s not at all how life works. We are inherently social creatures residing and evolving within an incredibly interconnected world where our future success relies on the past, present and future successes of many.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:39 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


The link Pruitt-Igoe posted has some interesting and valuable charts and some dubious conclusions. Basically says that since the number of evictions is far below what it was in dot com 1.0 "there is no eviction crisis in San Francisco."

The fact that evictions are down from a previous peak is meaningless without a lot more context. And isn't it right to raise the alarm before things get as bad as they once were?
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:48 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Felix Salmon has a blog post describing the problem of rental affordability at the national level: America's rental crisis. He quotes a Harvard report:
In 2011, 11.8 million renters with extremely low incomes (less than 30 percent of area median income, or about $19,000 nationally) competed for just 6.9 million rentals affordable at that income cutoff—a shortfall of 4.9 million units. The supply gap worsened substantially in 2001–11 as the number of extremely low-income renters climbed by 3.0 million while the number of affordable rentals was unchanged. Making matters worse, 2.6 million of these affordable rentals were occupied by higher-income households.
From the press release for the report:
... half of U.S. renters pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent, up an astonishing 12 percentage points from a decade earlier. Much of the increase was among renters facing severe burdens (paying more than half their income on rent), boosting their share to 27 percent. These levels were unimaginable just a decade ago, when the share of American renters paying half their income on housing, at 19 percent, was already a cause for serious concern.

Escalating affordability problems come at a time when the share of Americans that rent has increased from 31 percent in 2004 to 35 percent in 2012. In fact, the 2000s marked the strongest numerical growth in renter households in the last fifty years. As ownership rates fell, housing markets have adjusted dynamically to the increased demand for single-family rentals, with about 3 million existing homes switching from owner to rental occupancy from 2007-2011 alone.

On the strength of the surge in demand, rental vacancies have fallen, rents have climbed, and construction of new rental housing has picked up sharply, giving an important spur to the struggling residential construction market. Rising rents combined with softness in wages has put the squeeze on affordability. The report points out that between 2000 and 2012 real median rents nationally (adjusted for inflation) increased by 6 percent, while over the same period the real median income of renters dropped by 13 percent.
posted by russilwvong at 11:04 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


too damn high
posted by Drinky Die at 5:54 PM on February 3


immlass: "WSJ doubles down: Perkinsnacht."

...aaand triples down. I sincerely hope the GOP stays with this messaging approach in the mid-term elections.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:38 AM on February 4




Tome Perkins Was Right: We Do Hate The Rich
But Perkins was right about one thing: People don’t like the rich. “I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful 1 percent,” Perkins wrote.

I wonder why that might be? Could it have something to do with the way America’s economy has grown out of recession for the past seven years, but the vast majority of that growth has gone to the wealthy instead of working people? Could it have to do with the fact that the stock market has increased vastly since 2007, but wages have not only stagnated, they’ve declined substantially relative to 1970 levels?
The 1 percent’s frothing paranoia: Tom Perkins is a symptom
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:17 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]




Tom Perkins: The War on the 1%, a talk on Feb. 13 at the Commonwealth Club of California.
posted by Nelson at 2:04 PM on February 10






Gosh. Justine Tunney doesn't seem.... nice.
posted by Mezentian at 9:07 PM on February 10






"Greg Gopman, who is the CEO of a startup" doesn't seem to understand the meaning of the term "working class".
posted by eviemath at 4:15 PM on February 11


If The Algemeiner has started making sense the world is probably about to come to an end, but here goes: A Misguided Argument About Anti-Semitism
[...] Progressivism made the America in which Jews may feel so secure. To think that American Jews should fear progressive interest in economic justice, progressive belief in what Madison gave us as the proper “regulation of these various and interfering interests” that arise from and expand “the various and unequal distribution of property” is to counsel Jews most unwisely against their own interests. For an America committed in belief and in policy to serving equity and justice will remain for Jews a secure home.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:52 AM on February 12




Perkins talked* at the Commonwealth Club last night.

As he is in personal conversation, Perkins was, by turns, genial and charming — right up until some observation comes way out of left field.

For instance, he disowned the Kristallnacht comparison completely — then observed that “if American gun laws had been in place in Germany, Hitler never would have risen to power.”

Um, excuse me?


[snip]

And, just as everyone was thinking that Perkins was a tiny bit off his rocker, he suggested that he had the solution to America’s problems. In order to vote, he proposed, everyone should have to have paid at least $1 in taxes.

“And those who have paid a million dollars in taxes,” he continued, “should have a million votes.”

In a press session afterward, he was asked whether he was really serious about that.

“Of course not,” he said. “I intended to be outrageous and I was.”


Never too old to troll, I guess.


* To whomever is responsible at sfgate for creating URLs: It's persecuted. Not prosecuted.
posted by rtha at 8:08 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]




Tom Perkins tells us about the 1%’s vision of a New America
Every day the New America grows on the ruins of the America-that-once-was. Every day our apathy weakens the Republic. Every day powerful people — each wielding wealth greater than millions or tens of millions of other Americans — add new brinks to the new plutocracy that will govern our children and their children. They’re doing so openly. To minimize our fear and guilt we laugh at them. They smile at our folly; the Founders cry silently.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:49 PM on February 17


Paranoid Billionaires Are Just Rich Versions of George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn
The rich want to believe that they're under siege, too. That would make them heroes just for continuing to show up at their offices, and for giving a few people jobs. If the rich are under siege, then whatever they want government to do to the have-nots -- cut the social safety net, permanently refuse to raise the minimum wage, transfer even more of the tax burden to the 99% -- is justified, because those people are trying to harm them. That makes the millions the rich contribute to pro-plutocracy, pro-inequality politicians the only reasonable response: What? We're supposed to have a social contract? With these savages who want us dead?

I don't think the angry rich feel the slightest guilt. Just the opposite. They think they're the ones fighting to keep the barbarians -- us -- away from the gates. They perceive an imminent threat -- and as in Florida, it doesn't matter whether that threat is real so long as they feel it is. So they're standing their ground.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:29 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


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