I wrote this today to Thomas Frank.
Your book is fantastic, thank you for it.
I dropped out of high school first semester in 10th grade. In 1985 I learned of the Minitel in France. I saw then what is today’s Internet. I found a mentor. Him and i smoked a lot of pot, dropped a lot of LSD. He helped me learn C Programming.
I’ve been in tech since 1989. Done a few startups.
Tech is killing more jobs than it’s creating. Social media is a social disease. The money in tech is all staying at the top.
I grew up in Denver. Now we live in Eagle, CO. Boulder is 2 1/2 hours East. Walk into any startup in Boulder. You don’t see people of color. What you see, are highly educated white folks. Tech jobs are only going to blue bloods.
The lie about VC money, as you probably know, is that it’s only going to friends of the VC’s. From there, it’s only going to bluest of the blue bloods. It’s impossible to get VC money unless you’re deep on the inside and you went to either Stanford or MIT, and graduated top of the class. If you don’t know anyone or went to a state school? Fuhgedaboutit.
Boulder is full of Democrats, same as Boston (I loved the Inno chapters). They’re anything but that. They just pass money to each other, they could care less about the working class.
When I started in tech a kid with barely a 9th grade education could make it. That kid was me. Those days have been long gone, they’re never coming back. Now, it’s all about what school you went to, who you know.
What America needs is to start in the poorest parts of the country and build out from there. I write it about it on my blog.
I have a dream to go into the poorest parts our country and make them strong. Starting, in Denver.
I’d start with trucking in loads of healthy, organic soil (we’ve lost our Agrarian roots). Then I’d build a green house. Then I’d convince a company to start an office there and fill it with people in the neighborhood. They company wouldn’t pay any taxes if they did. More businesses would be recruited. The taxes each business pays would be directly proportional to the income of those within say a certain radius. In other words, if people nearby the office are doing well, the business pays zero taxes.
People would walk to work. Child care would be covered. People in the neighborhood would get free training to prepare them for our knowledge economy, for sure. But they’d also learn valuable skills such as making furniture. Maybe I could bring some folks over from Iran to make rugs. Stuff would be made in the neighborhood.
A big problem we have is nothing is made here anymore. Because of tech and our obsession with cheap and free, millions of people have no other income possibilities than working at a fast food joint. I want to change that. But I’m not going to use robots to make stuff. Stuff will be made by people in the neighborhood, who walk to work. Apple needs to make its stuff in my neighborhood. Why not?
As the neighborhood grows more soil would be trucked in, more greenhouses would be built. Another big problem we have is Americans are in poor health. My dream also envisions the neighborhood providing most, it not all its own food. No pesticides or fast food would be anywhere near the neighborhood. As my good friend Brook Le Van at Sustainable Settings says, “Build Soil Or Die”.
Where will I get the money? I’ll get the government to give me some. When a tech company opens an office they’ll kick in. Word will get out, billionaires will kick in. Maybe I can convince Tim Cook to chip in a 100 million or so. He seems like a good dude. Between Tim and his liberal friends, I bet I could put together a billion bucks. I could do a lot with a billion bucks.
There’s over a trillion dollars of tax money overseas. Companies do this because they can. I need one tax change made — the company pays zero taxes if people in the neighborhood are doing well.
You’re so right. The Democrats think the answer is for everyone to go to college and work at a tech company. That’s not the answer. The answer, is to focus on the poorest areas of country and get them healthy and thriving. It’s what I want to do. I’ve had this dream for a few years now.
Our country has been led to believe that free and cheap is where it’s at. That getting into a Uber car is better than a taxi. That downloading music is better than going to a record store. That social media is the future. It’s all wrong. It’s all cost our country dearly, as you so well lay out.
There’s been a high cost of free software. It all started with the dot-con era. I know, I was there. The distraction economy is dot-con redux. Kids are seeing the world through 4” screens. Information is being filtered. We’re losing our freedom. I don’t like the phrase “income inequality”. Instead, I like income opportunity. Tech hasn’t lived up to the hype – it’s the opposite. Tech has had a lot to do with what ails us.
I’ll never forget a conversation my brother and I had in my Mom’s kitchen. I think it was 1990. I was just getting started in tech. My brother had been using Quark for a few years. My brother protested the Vietnam war. I was a young buck, stoned out of my mind, high as a kite knowing I was one of the early one’s. I don’t have any education, but I have a unique ability to see things that most others don’t.
My brother, who’s 9 years older (I’m 57), was doing well too. He was making a good living using Quark, about to become the Creative Director at a big marketing firm in Denver.
My brother could see the future too. Only he saw the dark side. He could see that secretaries weren’t going to be needed. He saw music and hardware stores dying. He even saw newspapers dying. He paused for a moment, looked at me and said, “Entire gene pools, million of people will become unemployable. The government is going to have to pay people to stay home”. I agreed, but figured I’d make the cut.
My brother was right. Now, millions of people have nowhere to go, income wise. Not everyone wants to go to college, as the Democrats believe. Now, the closest millions in our country will get to the American dream is seeing it on a billboard. Tech and the Democrats are big reasons why. I want to change this.
BTW. I voted for Reagan twice. I traveled to Grant Park from Eagle when Obama was elected. I thought he was going to change things. Not so much. I’m holding out for Bernie, although I know it’s a dream. I’ll end up holding my nose and voting for Hillary. That woman has no clue, but she’s better than Trump.
I’ve had a good career, don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for it. But now it’s time to turn walk the wheel the other way.
My brother was right and so are you. Your book is right on, thank you so much for it. If you know anyone who can help me with my dream, please let me know.
All the best to you and yours. Happy trails. Be cool — or just be.
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