How Tech Companies Ruin Urban Societies

In general, it’s good for a country to have large, powerful companies that employ a lot of people and pay them very well (more taxes). However, the resulting income inequality causes some serious trouble in communities hosting or close to high-pay hotspots.

One of the saddest examples is San Francisco, where property prices have skyrocketed during the past decade, mostly due to an influx of well-payed employees from corporations such as Google, Apple and Facebook as well as a host of tech startups and highly profitable medium-sized companies.

Certain individuals fed up with the trend have taken matters into their own hands. They proceeded to smash the windows of shuttle buses belonging to large corporations, while in transit transporting employees to work:^

It’s a pity that the employees of these companies are the ones enduring social stigma^ for something that is not (directly) of their own making. In war, one usually can’t blame the soldiers for what their commanding officer has ordered them to do, if certain conventions aren’t broken. So perhaps some of the affected communities need to establish some conventions?

Fixing this situation is totally within the responsibility of the town administration, which can set certain rules for property prices. There are many other cities suffering from the Ridiculous Property Prices syndrome. I live in one of them. Despite having been able to afford a property here (thanks to being lucky enough to work in the “right” industry for these past couple of decades), I would vote for a “Convention for Fair Living”.

What would such a convention consist of? Hard to say precisely, but I would definitely consider an obligation for a community to get a higher percentage of the taxes gathered by the government from certain wealthy entities. The community would then have funds to build additional housing and a fast transportation network to ensure quick access to the city center even for those living further off. The newly-rich in congested cities could also have to pay higher taxes. Perhaps this would make a community less attractive to certain companies, but maybe this is exactly the sort of self-balancing that would cause and ensure fair prices for properties.

When it comes to areas where there are a lot of high-paying jobs, the employers could subsidize the construction of campuses or entire new towns. These would be located further away from large, already congested communities. This will keep the market prices fair and provide employees with good housing. As long as quick access to the nearest large cities is provided, this should keep things in balance. Furthermore, locals that have been living in an area for many years could be supported in purchasing a decent property through various means (lower prices, priority in a queue system). I’m sure smart solutions can be found if there is the will to do so. Until the manifestation of such will is obvious to the people, despair will continue to consume them and lead to more social conflict and tragic actions.

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