Friday, May 30, 2014

Mike Beggs — Not Another Piketty Symposium

In February, a column in the Economist registered the resentment spilling over San Franciscan streets, erupting outside IT-industry awards nights and in front of the Google buses. The anonymous “Schumpeter” columnist was bemused that glamorous tech companies had joined Wall Street as villains for the Left and become blamed for gentrification.

To some extent, “Schumpeter” assured readers, this was a wacky San Francisco thing. The city “has more than its fair share of professional protesters — including those who think they have the right to live in one of the world’s most desirable places even if they can’t rub two pennies together.”

Meanwhile, “most people outside San Francisco still look on its tech firms with admiration, not disgust.” But those beyond the Bay Area ought to pay attention, “Schumpeter” went on, because this was a harbinger of things to come — namely, the “triumph of meritocracy.” The tech industry exemplified and increased “the relationship between IQ, education and reward.”

But when meritocrats enjoy those just rewards, it must be hard for the rest of us to take. “[T]hey buy up, occupy and gentrify whole urban districts: they are seceding in plain sight. This inevitably creates tensions as the service class sees a parallel world being constructed before their eyes.”

A few weeks later, this already reads like a period piece from another time: the pre-Piketty era.
Not Another Piketty Symposium
Mike Beggs, an editor at Jacobin and a lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Sydney

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