Why Would Anyone Expect Silicon Valley to Give a Damn?

Print
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 04:49

I have had several people send me this George Packer article in the New Yorker on the political and social attitudes of the Silicon Valley millionaires and billionaires. While the piece makes for entertaining reading, it is difficult to see it as any great expose.

The piece basically shows that Silicon Valley fast lane is filled with self-absorbed twits who don't have a clue about what the rest of the country looks like. So?

Seriously, who did we think was making big bucks in high tech, great philanthropists? As a general rule it is reasonable to assume that people who make lots of money in any industry, whether it finance, manufacturing, entertainment, or anything else, are primarily concerned with making money in that industry. I don't know whether we should blame them for that fact, but we certainly should blame policy types who then imagine that these people's success at money making gives them great insight into how we should run society.

Bill Gates got incredibly rich because he has sharp elbows and perhaps was willing to bend the law more than his competitors. The same applies to Mark Zuckerberg. That doesn't mean that both are not smart and hard working people, but it does mean that they may not be the best people to determine our education policy or how best to lift the world's poor out of poverty. Their money may give  them considerable voice in these areas, but there is no reason to assume that their insights are any better than those of the latest Powerball winner.