San Francisco is changing, and the old guard isn’t happy. Silicon Valley’s success is transforming America’s leftist paradise in to a Mecca for a new class of wealthy and technically savvy elites. The transition, and the gentrification and mainstreaming of what used to be counter culture has upset many, and we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg. New York Magazine reports:
In many ways, San Francisco is the nation’s new success theater. It’s the city where dreamers go to prove themselves—the place where just being able to afford a normal life serves as an indicator of pluck and ability. I had lunch the other day with a Harvard Business School student who belonged to a 90-person section, of whom 12 were start-up entrepreneurs. You can imagine the whole dozen packing their bags for the West Coast after collecting their M.B.A.’s, thinking: If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.Which isn’t to say that San Francisco has pulled off this transition effortlessly. The city still has its lefty legacy, after all, and as the tech sector has grown into an economic powerhouse, so has resentment toward its elites. Protesters, angry about Silicon Valley’s effect on the local economy, are blockading tech-employee shuttles in the streets; in Oakland last year, a Google bus had its window shattered by a rock. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, long suspected of being in the tech industry’s pocket, is accused of not doing enough to help the working class cope with rising costs and widening inequality. Although most right-thinking one-percenters cringed when venture capitalist Tom Perkins compared the treatment of the rich in San Francisco to the treatment of Jews by Nazis on Kristallnacht, the hostility he felt is real. Silicon Valley is exploding, as Wall Street did in the 1980s, as Detroit did in the 1940s. And as in those booms, not everyone is going along for the ride.
Read the whole thing; it’s important. San Francisco is the front line of a seismic cultural shift, felt more keenly by the millenials and now thirty-somethings who grew up enchanted by the hope-y change-y promise of Silicon Valley, which seemed at least as intent on making people’s lives better as it was on making money. That veneer is rubbing off in places now, as increasingly America’s best and brightest realize the potential ahead for tech companies in an information economy.A peasants revolt is under way in the Bay Area, but the “weirdness” many might want to keep in San Francisco is fleeing before a tsunami of wealth, and as firms like Google, Facebook, Yahoo! and the like become the new blue chips of the US economy, there’s no going back. Pandora’s Box is open; it may be time to start looking for a new bastion of American liberalism.