America’s bastion of liberal ideology is under attack from the forces of capitalism. That’s the picture George McIntire paints in a recent piece for for Salon. He describes the city’s progressive heritage:
The city of San Francisco holds a unique and storied place in liberal America. It’s the place where radically liberal ideas that never see the light of day in the rest of the county come to fruition. Ten years ago, the city became the first municipality in the country to issue same-sex marriage licenses. It has among the strongest tenants rights in the whole country, the highest minimum wage at $10.68, and universal healthcare. A list of banned items in the city include: happy meals, plastic bags, the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies, and the mixing of compostable trash with regular trash. It’s the home of the beat movement, the Summer of Love and Harvey Milk.
But goes on to point out that all is not well in the City by the Bay:
Now in the age of the Google bus, that cherished identity, and reputation as the beacon on the hill for liberalism, faces the possibility of being relegated to the past.The city is currently experiencing a massive and swift demographic change like nothing it has ever seen in its history. Hundreds of families continue to leave the city due to eviction and huge rent hikes. The Mission District saw the price for the average apartment rental go up by $591/40 percent between 2011 and 2012, in the Western Addition neighborhood those numbers were $958/53 percent. The tech-fueled rise in the cost of living has had such an impact on the city, we now use the term “hyper-gentrification” to describe it. In a recent interview with Time magazine Mayor Ed Lee defined middle class as between $80,000 and $150,000. In addition, even with its high minimum wage, you would still need to work at least three full-time minimum wage jobs to afford to live in a two-bedroom apartment in any neighborhood in the city.
Big Tech is Big Business, and that’s bringing on Big Changes to the Bay Area. At its inception, Silicon Valley positioned itself as apart from corporate culture. Tech startups had their relaxed dress codes, while behemoths like Yahoo created campuses in place of monolithic office buildings, and Google publicized its “do no evil” credo.But that’s all changing. Geek culture has become mainstream, much to the chagrin of many of its members (ask a scientist friend about their opinion of CBS’s The Big Bang Theory). More importantly, as the US transitions to an information economy, the tech industry’s clout is rising dramatically. Big Tech’s “other-ness” is being crushed under the weight of its economic importance.As a result, we’re seeing a backlash against the Valley. It’s being played out in microcosm in San Francisco, where fights over techno-gentrification have made national headlines in recent weeks, but this feeling of betrayal isn’t limited to California. With a sense of inevitability, the Silicon Valley “peasants’ revolt” is underway.