The conservative Weekly Standard looks at the rather startling inequality in Silicon Valley.
Turning corners, we drove past other fancy and half-hidden real estate owned by other Silicon Valley grandees; Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, and her husband David Goldberg, the CEO of SurveyMonkey, have a 7,200-square-foot house somewhere in the hedge maze. Before there was such a thing as Silicon Valley—that is to say, 40 years ago—Atherton was an affluent bedroom town for white-shoe law-firm partners and Old Economy executives who liked to ride the Southern Pacific Peninsula to their jobs in San Francisco, imitating their East Coast counterparts who rolled on the Hartford-New Haven line from the Southern Connecticut Gold Coast into Manhattan. That was before today’s hiding-the-house custom, and the executives’ front lawns surged out like green carpets to Atherton Avenue and its side streets. Now, Atherton is mostly teardowns and brand new mega-mansions—or at least as mega as their owners can get away with, given Atherton’s highly restrictive zoning laws that mandate enormous lot-to-footprint ratios. To increase their overall square footage, Atherton’s new breed of homeowners typically tunnel out vast underground extra space—wine cellars and home theaters—beneath their dwellings. The dominant style these days is a fanciful mix of Palladian Neoclassic, Loire Valley château, and Mediterranean villa, spreading out manor-house-style to cover as much ground as the zoning laws allow.
Expect more of this type of coverage. Much, much more. From liberal and conservative press, both. Awed and angered.
Lots of people around the country are struggling mightily. In Silicon Valley, wealth is the norm.
The open minds in this region have long preached of the many benefits they deliver to the country, the value of their technologies and services. They even happily talk about high taxes and social services — because they can afford them.
But money talks, more forcefully than just about anything else. There is a *lot* of money here. Expect a great deal of it to be taken.
Note: I expect this is inevitable. Silicon Valley, its companies and people, just have so much money — and so very much compared to the rest of America.
Billions will be taken — in the name of equality, security, morality, the public good.
So I don’t even focus much on that bit. It’s absolutely going to happen.
Rather, what interests me, are the efforts to create the necessary break between the “workers” of Silicon Valley and the leaders. To effectively pit Facebook employees against Mark Zuckerberg, for example. To get the vast majority of Google employees to agree that the “billionaires” need to pay far far more — and have them look upon Larry Page with disdain for daring to shield his many billions from “the people”.
That’s the story.