Quote Originally Posted by Thailandnotes View Post
A concrete structure 30 feet high that takes four hours to penetrate costs $24.5 million a mile, he says. A smart wall, a system like what Anduril is proposing, is about a half a million a mile.


I think this meme:

The politics of Andurils founders may not be popular in liberal Silicon Valley

has to die in 2018.

There was a time when the politics of Silicon Valley were liberal. They are not any more. The software industry is no longer young. It is mature. And many years ago it turned away from innovation to 'disruption,' from creating new things to building bigger walls around monopolies, from submitting research grants to government and praying to being the biggest donor bloc in Washington for both parties and a having the biggest lobbying arm on K Street. From trying to make user experiences better to monetizing them. From "don't be evil," to "be cruel." From "invent things beyond the frontiers of law," to "break any law possible for a comparative advantage and pay off politicians to look the other way." The software leaders have branched into other industries too. And now they bring their "move fast and be cruel and break things" ethos there. They are to a T anti-union, anti-worker, and very greedy people, who are almost always showing a shade of megalomania, demanding both the CEO and Chairman's role simultaneously, demanding massive, outsized compensation packages for the new industries they venture into, and uniformly insistent on never paying a dividend. And they also happen to be almost exclusively WASP men at the top level, for whatever that's worth.

If that doesn't sound terribly liberal to you, I think it's because it's not really. I mean, a lot of these techies do drugs, and a lot of them are gay men. In the past, that was enough to keep them away from conservatives. But as things evolve, those were really the only two issues that most of them are liberal on. And now those issues are not as front and center in the debate--since Obergefell v. Hodges settled the marriage thing and one by one the state dominoes are falling on the weed issue--burning man is a place you can go to be alt-right as well as a hippie. It doesn't matter. Republican Senators might be consuming marijuana daily like Rand Paul or still believing it ruins civilization like Jeff Sessions. And Democrats are at kind of an even split the same way. It was a purple state in Colorado that first flipped. And Maine will go about as fast as Massachusetts. Weed is not as much of a left/right issue.

Anyways, that's all they care about. They do not want high taxes on rich people. They are the richest people in the world. They do not want a better safety net. They do not want a union workforce. They do not want affordable housing. Because they do not want to pay for these things. In fact, they do not want to move a single dollar of capital outside their cloistered little valley if they don't have to. They don't want more democratic control of government. If anything, they want total control themselves. Even gay men like Thiel don't like Democracy at all, and think women should never have gotten the right to vote. Then again, this is a guy who was publicly closeted and got so furious at being outed he threw money at lawyers until they burned an entire media company (Gawker) to the ground. Those old dead VC guys like Tom Perkins even years ago hated Democracy so much he thought it ought to be one dollar one vote, like a true classic Platonic oligarchy.

If this doesn't sound very liberal to you, but sounds a lot more authoritarian, then I think maybe you've got the right idea. Even the more liberal old guard, like Bill Gates, is anti-minimum wage. Not just not in favor of raising it; in favor of abolishing it. He's against teacher's unions. He's against publicly run public schools. His people go around the country with the more conservative Walton family's, plunging money into political campaigns and candidate who promise to privatize them by converting them into charters and mayoral academies. Again, not sounding very liberal. Or remember when Zuckerberg and Oprah did the same thing through Booker and wrecked the Newark school system by privatizing it, taking democratic accountability away, and plunging billions into it? Again, notice the trend: 1) we are silicon valley, we don't like democracy, we know better than you, just shut up and do what we say, 2) we don't trust the public sector, but we have limitless faith in markets, things like schools and hospitals that have been not for profit historically since antiquity should be run for-profit now, 3) workers do not matter, they are scum, if they aren't billionaires they're a drag on society and they should die to reduce the surplus population.

I stole the last line from Scrooge. But I think it's fitting, and generally reflective of the John Galt complex that generally floats around Silicon Valley. I mean, there's a reason the actual hippies in San Francisco are have been protesting them for a decade instead of cheering them on. I mean, if you haven't been paying attention, the protests are ramping up too. Here's one from last week. They're carrying signs that say "techsploitation" and "evict Google," and "destroy the tech-savior industrial complex." The delete Uber campaign was no joke either. The Google Bus protests lasted three years. And Google did end up eventually having to pay to use public bus stops for its private bus fleet. The massive rents cause massive homelessness, and private and public efforts to deter homeless people from living there are met with liberal protest scorn.

The deals Silicon Valley makes with Saudis and other foreign autocratic leaders are immediately protested. The very idea of the King of Saudi Arabia coming to Silicon Valley proves the software industry is now at a zenith of power and influence if anything does. Think pieces trash the Valley's disdain for labor law and the safety net. And the special snowflake busses for Google and Apple employees are still under attack. I mean, this article I think sums it up well--a bunch of doe-eyed wannabe young tech workers with stars in their eyes moved to Silicon Valley to be part of the excitement 10 or 12 years ago. Now they all want out.

Tech isn't dead. The valley's not dead. But it's at the crest of the hill. The peak of its power. And it's no liberal bastion. And it's not going to get any more liberal as it slides over the hill and moves towards protecting what it has. But if you ask me, the valley is a lot like Detroit in the 50s. Lots of redlining or the equivalent. A monoculture of industry. A place that really felt its boom on the bleeding edge 10 and 20 and 30 years prior, but that was mature and looked stable for a while. A place that was no longer on the bleeding edge, but to where migrants still flocked due to reputation. And a now-mature industry being replaced and usurped and challenged everywhere by foreign competition.

Of course, this is just a rhyme, not a repeat. But just like almost none of the teenagers and 20-somethings I talk to use facebook anymore, fewer and fewer are interested in going to Silicon Valley when they graduate. 10 years ago, they all wanted to. Now, they're not sure where the next big thing is, but they don't want to try to move into that nightmare hellscape. There's nothing rebellious at being pampered in one of the world's most expensive and cloistered cities getting bussed to work at one of the worlds richest and biggest employers. It's not the sexy, start-up life most had promised. And if that's what they want, they can grab something at some big company right here in Boston. It's just another soul-less job now. The sheen still hasn't rubbed off the markets. But once bitten, twice shy, right?

This isn't your father's Silicon Valley. And it's certainly not your grandpa's summer of love in San Francisco. The weather there will always keep it somewhat attractive. But even tourism is down. And who does liberal San Francisco blame it on? The homeless, of course, not the concentrated tech wealth that prices them out of the empty $4,000/mo studio apartments. UN fact finders were even shocked at the street homelessness level in the valley. It's a cruel, uncaring place. If you include people living in cars, the problem really explodes. Here's an article on that. San Jose's median rent is $3,500/mo. Its median income is $12 per hour. A production associate job at the Tesla plant in Freemont pays $17 per hour with shoddy health coverage and no retirement plan at all--not even a measly 1% matched 401(k). Nothing. These people must be living in their mother's basements or homeless to work these jobs. Because you cannot afford to rent a room on those salaries.

And what is the city's response? Letting tech companies install unmanned security robots and retracting sidewalk spikes to harass the homeless. Again, not really a bleeding-heart move. Teachers and professors there can no longer even afford to live in a home. I mean, here's an older women living in her damned car then going to teach kids. It's all screwed up. But these people who talk about setting up new societies on floating platforms or on the ocean or on Mars; who say they can solve all of life's problems if they were just put in charge; do they do anything about it? Do they care at all? I guess that's up to you to decide.

But I just don't think people have really caught up with how mature the industry is; and how people and industries tend to become more conservative as they grow older. This is pretty much it. There's not going to be a whole lot of new innovation for a while. Another industry somewhere will get its turn.