Silicon Valley: Where America's Middle Class Died

Behind Google and Apple, there's a stark class divide: Charlotte Allen

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 30, 2013 1:55 PM CST
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(Newser) – Silicon Valley is home to creative thinkers, green cars, and cool cafes—right? True enough, but it's also a place where rich entrepreneurs live in one part of town and their poor Hispanic maids and gardeners live in another. And tech workers cluster in apartments because houses are too expensive to buy. So lo and behold, friendly Silicon Valley is ground zero for the death of America's middle class, writes Charlotte Allen in The Weekly Standard. As one analyst put it, "It’s a weird Upstairs, Downstairs world in which there’s the gentry, and the role for everybody else is to be their servants. The agenda of the gentry is to force the working class to live in apartments for the rest of their lives and be serfs."

But it wasn't always so. In the 1970s, people flocked to Silicon Valley (formerly known as the Santa Clara Valley) to raise families and work factory jobs at companies like HP and Intel. Then came the lowering of trade barriers, the exodus of manufacturing jobs, and the brutal dotcom crash of 2000. Now companies like Google and Facebook rule the roost, but employ surprisingly few people—many of whom can barely afford Silicon Valley unless they move to the suburbs and endure long commutes. So if the Occupy movement is looking for more bad guys, they needn't look far: "The '1%' were ... supposed to be striped-pants, Republican-voting tycoons lifted from the Monopoly board," but in truth, they "ride bicycles and vote Democratic and green, green, green." Click for her full piece.

An office building in Silicon Valley.
An office building in Silicon Valley.   (Shutterstock)
Google workers walk on the company's Mountain View, Calif. campus.
Google workers walk on the company's Mountain View, Calif. campus.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
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