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Protesters Block Apple and Google Buses In California 653

Posted by timothy
from the stop-disrupting-the-peaceful-gridlock dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Business Insider reports that protesters have stopped a bus filled with Apple employees in San Francisco and a Google bus in Oakland. Tech companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook provide free buses that take their employees from San Francisco to their headquarters in the suburbs. Protesters are mad at the tech companies because the wealthy tech employees have driven up the price of housing in San Francisco, which is pricing out some people. The buses also use public transit stops, and some protesters think that's wrong. Between 70 and 100 protesters gathered for the blockade of Apple private tech shuttle to protest evictions in the city of San Francisco. The activists in San Francisco were from Eviction Free San Francisco, Our Mission No Eviction, Causa Justa /Just Cause. Protesters stood in front of a white shuttle bus holding banners and signs. Some peeked through cardboard signs fashioned in the shape of place markers on Google maps, with "Evicted" written across the front. Meanwhile violence occurred in Oakland, according to reports from IndyBay, as protesters unfurled two giant banners reading "TECHIES: Your World Is Not Welcome Here" and "Fuck off Google" and "a person appeared from behind the bus and quickly smashed the whole of the rear window, making glass rain down on the street. Cold air blew inside the bus and the blockaders with their banners departed." Two weeks ago, protesters stopped a Google bus."
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Protesters Block Apple and Google Buses In California

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  • Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @09:32AM (#45753049)

    This just in: The homeless and unemployed mobbed a bus full of people perceived to be rich, perhaps unaware of the 60-80 hour work weeks endured by software engineers, that once you take that into consideration, many in the industry make at, or less, than minimum wage.

    -_- Guys... if you're gonna have a protest against the rich, go pitch a tent on the CEO's lawn, not in the middle of the street where a bunch of people only doing slightly better than you are take the bus to work every day. Not only will you win an Irony award from me, but you'll get arrested for obstructing traffic too -- and rightfully so. Time and place. First two things you learn in activism. Time. Place. Learn it.

     

  • by kruach aum (1934852) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @09:38AM (#45753079)

    The tech industry is not responsible for driving up housing prices. The greed of people who set housing prices is responsible for driving up housing prices. However, it is much harder to visibly protest the upscale equivalent of a slumlord (I guess still a slumlord), especially when such highly visible symptoms as environmentally friendly commuter buses are within easy reach.

  • Re:Hmm. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 21, 2013 @09:41AM (#45753087)
    And the rich desk jockeys don't understand what it's like to not have food to eat or a place to sleep or what it's like to do back breaking manual labor in the freezing cold for 12 hours a day, every day just to be able to afford a small apartment and the basic necessities of life.
  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @09:42AM (#45753089)

    Or are they just trying to scare successful people away?

    They want them to move away from San Fran, so that the whole place will become a slum that they can afford to live in.

    Either that or they want to force them all to buy cars, producing more gridlock, more pollution, and more wear & tear on the roads.

  • by envelope (317893) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @09:42AM (#45753093) Homepage Journal

    It isn't greed so much as supply and demand. There's no real estate master setting prices for the area. Each house sells at its own price.

  • by Cheviot (248921) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @09:43AM (#45753101)

    I don't agree with the protesters, but their argument is that by providing these busses, Apple and Google are encouraging their employees to live in the area the busses service.

    Previously the employees would have chosen to live somewhere convenient, but more expensive, due to the need to drive themselves. Now the Apple and Google employees can buy up places near the bus routes, causing a mini-housing shortage and driving up prices, thus pricing locals out of the housing market

  • Cake (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danceswithtrees (968154) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @09:59AM (#45753159)

    There is an ever widen inequality gap in America. Gaps in wealth, income, education, access to healthcare, life expectancy, etc. Much attention has been paid to the life of the top 1% but not so much to the bottom 20%. Real incomes for them have stagnated or gone down over the last decade. The urine poor public education system gives little opportunity for upward mobility. Hunger, cold, and loss of housing are constant worries.

    Meanwhile in congress, politicians want to cut social welfare programs, keep taxes on the wealthy at record low rates, give tax breaks for corporate jets, cut unemployment benefits, send the poor to fight stupid wars (how many of the Apple and Google employees have friends and family serving in the Middle East?). The list goes on and on. I am fighting the urge to blame this all on the Republicans because the Democrats don't really seem to want to fix the problem.

    So the situation has devolved into this-- where the poor, disaffected, resentful masses with little hope of improving their lot see the gleaming buses give free rides to the Apple and Google employees with their free lunches. To be fair to the employees in the buses, they are probably not the really rich because they have onsite parking. First the spray cans. Next the torches, rocks and sickles. Meanwhile the politicians in Washington cry "Let them eat cake."

  • by cardpuncher (713057) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @10:03AM (#45753165)
    >The tech industry is not responsible for driving up housing prices

    Yes it is. The tech industry is supposed to have made location an irrelevant criterion.

    The tech industry is not only refusing to eat its own dog food, it's wilfully jacking up its costs and risk by insisting on stockpiling its live meat in one location.
  • Re:Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 21, 2013 @10:03AM (#45753167)

    It's easily to afford a small apartment in Nowhere, Montana. These protesters specifically insist on the luxury of living in San Francisco.

  • by lophophore (4087) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @10:10AM (#45753205) Homepage

    Exactly what is wrong with "gentrification"? One commenter on the linked article on IndyBay points out the City of Detroit as an example of what happens when the middle class leaves. Is that what they want for Oakland?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 21, 2013 @10:17AM (#45753233)

    We are starting to see the social unrest caused by the wealth disparity in the US - a disparity of Third World proportions. You have people being left begind in the economic prosperity and to add insult to injury, they are then told it's because of their character: unwillingness to work hard, poor money skills, getting the wrong education or degree. (It's funny, back in the 90s, all those tech people were saying "follow you passions! That's how you make it big!" and "We only hire people who are passionate about what they do!")

    The techies were just the first targets. Don't worry, the CEOs will come next - if they can get through shareholder paid for armed security. Security for big shots is a BOOMING business, btw.

    This is what happens when people feel like there's no hope for them to better their lives. They see that "work hard" means nothing when you have assholes who know the right people become billionaires with little or no effort - they just had the contacts to folks who knew how to set it up to sucker investors with an IPO.

    It's starting to happen folks! Social issues like this were solved in the 30s but we went BACKWARDs in the last couple of decades.

    We need 1950s income tax rates back; which was the most prosperous times in US history. Back then working hard and having "good" character got you some where.

    "I'd rather have to give half away than have all if it taken away!"

    -Joseph P. Kennedy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 21, 2013 @10:22AM (#45753255)

    The buses aren't driving up housing prices, the are simply going to where people have already chosen to live.

    And there is no "mini housing shortage", there is a big housing shortage all across San Francisco, and it's due to stupid city policies: rent control, zoning, lots of red tape.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 21, 2013 @10:39AM (#45753353)

    You have people being left begind in the economic prosperity and to add insult to injury, they are then told it's because of their character: unwillingness to work hard, poor money skills, getting the wrong education or degree. (It's funny, back in the 90s, all those tech people were saying "follow you passions! That's how you make it big!" and "We only hire people who are passionate about what they do!")

    You're exactly right, and the difference between the 1990s and the 2010s is that now, being passionate about what you do is considered a character flaw. The only correct attitude to have is to be motivated by money and absolutely nothing other than money, because people who do anything for money are easy to control. If you're not motivated by money and you're not in debt, you simply will not be allowed to work anywhere.

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @10:49AM (#45753411)

    Despite all the complaints about a lack of housing, SV hasn't become more urbanized. Is there any reason for that other than zoning and other government imposed limits? If SV companies really wanted more housing in the area, they'd pressure the local governments to change that. It's absurd to complain about lack of housing when you don't see 10 story apartment buildings everywhere.

  • Re:Hmm. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @10:50AM (#45753419)

    Exactly. If it's not Google or Apple employees, somebody else is going to want to live there. Popular living destinations always attract high costs of living...this isn't even a new thing, it's been going on for centuries, get over it.

    Effectively these people are saying that just because they're poorer they're somehow more entitled to live there than somebody else who is willing to pay more. It's the 99% syndrome where you believe that because you are a member of a larger group means you're automatically more important.

    You don't necessarily have to live in Nowhere, Montana either. Places like Phoenix and Houston are probably easier to find jobs in than SF and the cost of living is MUCH lower (both places are just slightly below the national average of cost of living, whereas SF is about two and a half times the national average.)

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @10:52AM (#45753433)

    Technological improvements have been "engulf[ing] more and more low-skill jobs" since the start of the industrial revolution in the mid to late 18th century.

  • Re:Hmm. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @10:58AM (#45753485)

    Most of us "desk jockeys" started out that way. Hell, right out of high school I started in the Army in a combat arms MOS, which some job indices consider to be one of the worst jobs you can possibly have. I lost that job after a year due to problems with my eyesight. Without even counting that, I can guarantee you I've seen much worse hardship than you have. I'm not bitter over it; quite the opposite as it made me stronger. The difference between people like you and people like me is that we find our way around these problems instead of taking that bitterness out on other people and smashing their bus windows in.

    Can't afford a small apartment in New York? No shit, it's because it's expensive as hell to live there. If you crave the city, try some place like Miami which is much cheaper. Sure it's not New York, but I can almost guarantee you a better quality of life because you'll be living within your means.

  • by femtobyte (710429) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @10:59AM (#45753495)

    There's a difference between "the middle class leaves" (because middle-class jobs are gutted) and "the middle class is forced out of their homes by the upper-middle-class." The people being evicted are representative of the vast overwhelming majority of the population; general working people who keep a city going. Perhaps you don't believe anyone should be allowed to settle down and work and live in a small but reasonably comfortable home if they can't pull a six-figure salary; these people disagree. Maybe you don't worry about losing your home, having to move far out of town; losing your friends, community, school zone, and perhaps your job, too. Maybe you were raised with a silver spoon in your mouth, with zero experience of the actual struggles and concerns of the majority of working American families. But don't let your ignorance control your disdainful attitude towards the working class.

  • Re:Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @11:06AM (#45753519)

    She makes a valid point but I'd say it's not really relevant. People are protesting about their conditions and are going after a soft target because

    ... Because they're cowards. When Martin Luther King marched, he marched in the deep south, in the open streets. When Ghandi protested, he sat in plain public view, risking death, to champion non-violent revolution. In fact, you look back at the major protests and civil rights battles in this country and you'll find that "soft targets" weren't on the menu. That's what we call biting the hand that feeds you.

    If you got a problem with The Man, go camp on The Man's front lawn, and make sure the whole world, and especially him, knows it. Don't instead decide to double park The Man's janitor so he can't get to work in the morning. There's nothing noble about that... it's the move of a coward raging in his own impotence.

  • by xelah (176252) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @11:09AM (#45753541)
    I don't think you can blame landlords for increasing prices when the value of the housing they're renting goes up. You can't expect landlords to continue to let houses they could sell and then use the proceeds to invest in something similarly risky with a better return (like housing elsewhere, for example). If the cost of housing is going up because there are more households who want them than housing available then its going to affect rents as much as prices - and, if it somehow doesn't because you use something like law to prevent it then you're still going to have the problem of how you choose who gets a house and who gets to be homeless or move elsewhere. A shortage of housing (or of good quality housing) is a physical problem that can only have real, physical answers, not financial ones - building more good housing, building something like high speed rail lines to expand the land area in use, or moving people (and, more to the point, their employers) elsewhere.
  • Only in California (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WoodstockJeff (568111) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @11:09AM (#45753549) Homepage

    In most parts of the country, cities lament that people LIVE in the suburbs, and only WORK in the city, robbing them of the property taxes they need to support the crumbling social and economic infrastructure, causing a collapse in property values (Detroit is a perfect example, but other large cities have the same issues).

    In California, when people make an effort to LIVE in the city, paying all those higher taxes and propping up all that social and economic infrastructure, they're protested for harming the poor by keeping the property values from collapsing.

    Face facts, people - you can't have it both ways. If you don't want those middle-income people keeping your neighborhoods from turning into crack houses, you shouldn't complain when the landlords don't have to put up with any deadbeat who feels like squatting in their buildings.

  • Re:Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @11:21AM (#45753629)

    It's the 99% syndrome where you believe that because you are a member of a larger group means you're automatically more important.

    Careful there, Sir Social Darwinist. Everybody is equally important. They have every right to protest. Peacefully. On the sidewalk. Just like the KKK, neo-nazis, and people who want Sarah Palin for President in 2016. Anyone who interferes with that's getting my American Free Speech Boot up their self-entitled ass.

    But they didn't do that. They became violent. And 99%, 1%, or Percentile-agnostic, that's wrong. There is a time and a place for protesting, and it's not in front of the bus during the morning commute. That place is reserved for self-entitled bicyclists, angry motorists, and pedestrians on their cell phone wandering into traffic, thank you very much.

  • Re:Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @11:26AM (#45753665)

    Nice story bro. I do understand. I worked hard to keep food on the table and a roof over my family's head. I worked outside from dawn to almost dawn no matter the weather. I took a risk by continuing my education using student loans while working full time. It paid off in the end.

    Take your bullshit story that accuses others of living like royalty elsewhere.

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @11:34AM (#45753721)

    Being young, they like being able to walk from their apartments to the hottest clubs or concerts or whatever.

    True, but if the price of living in SV came down substantially, a lot more would consider the premium of living in SF too high.

    Also, if SV became more urbanized, there would be more clubs and whatnot. When Manhattan got expensive enough, you started seeing trendier and more desirable parts of Brooklyn.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 21, 2013 @12:01PM (#45753899)

    with modest jobs (think service sector, utility technician, etc.) until recently. The cost of living in SF is rising quite rapidly, correlated with the increase in value of firms like Facebook, Twitter and others. Especially correlated with such companies' appearances on the public stock exchanges, which gives their employees a lot of purchasing power, which escalates the prices of housing, property tax rates, rents and so forth.

    "Ordinary" jobs (jobs with compensation not de facto indexed to the rise of technology company valuations) don't keep up with increases in local costs of living in areas like SF or San Jose. This hits pretty hard on somebody, for example, like a service tech at a sewage processing plant. That's a moderately skilled job, one that provides real value to the community. Somebody who has filled that job well for 20 years, and who has been able to live in SF on their earnings, quite suddenly finds themselves being priced out of their community. How? Escalating property taxes (based on escalating home prices driven by demand from ISO-enriched techies); increased rents (same reason + others), increased prices of goods and services, etc. After 20 years, they find they can't keep up. Suddenly, living in SF is a "luxury".

    All they did was do a good, useful job, maybe raise a family, contribute to making a good community - in short, all the stuff we'd like Americans to do - and they're priced out through no fault of theirs. It's a problem for them, and it's a problem for all of us. It doesn't seem like a problem to those who are on the techie compensation skyrocket, but it is. They just won't notice the damage as soon as others around them.

  • Re:Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by femtobyte (710429) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @12:14PM (#45753987)

    What happens when your "proper places to protest" are reduced to nowhere effective? When you're corralled into "free speech zones" far from private property, which is every square inch of the city? Important protests of the past have blocked up private businesses, and even impeded "innocent bystanders" from going about their life: consider the Woolworth's lunch counter sit-ins central to forcing de-segregation during the civil rights movement. If you limit protests to where they are harmless and invisible and never intrude on the priorities of the powerful, then you'll never get anything out of them --- leaving the disenfranchised masses even more desperate and angry.

  • Re:Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Entrope (68843) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @12:22PM (#45754043) Homepage

    Are you suggesting that these protesters were limited to useless "free speech zones"? Which SF laws or regulations keep people from protesting on the sidewalks? Keep in mind that there is an important distinction between trying to make your message seen -- a speech-focused protest -- and trying to disrupt a person or business who you think is behaving unjustly -- a conduct-focused protest. Sit-ins are an example of conduct-focused protest. Conduct-focused protests are ineffective when either the conduct or the target is chosen poorly, and both conduct and target were chosen poorly by the protesters in this case.

  • by Guppy (12314) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @12:26PM (#45754057)

    60-80 hour work weeks endured by software engineers

    You know, that might be part of the problem, too. With a 60-80 hour work week, how much time do you think software engineers have to participate in the community itself? A neighborhood isn't just a set of nice buildings you drive past in-between work/sleep cycles.

  • Re:Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by femtobyte (710429) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @12:29PM (#45754073)

    If you got a problem with The Man, go camp on The Man's front lawn, and make sure the whole world, and especially him, knows it.

    The man's front lawn is surrounded by a very high fence, with the house set off from view of the street by several acres (possible patrolled by armed guards who will shoot trespassers). You really think you can walk up to the front door of Google, Apple, or Facebook executives' house and leave door hangers telling them what naughty boys they've been? That their staff won't route them to the helipad instead of the Bentley if their street to work is blocked by protestors? Today's immense wealth disparities mean the oligarch class can live entirely insulated from any public street where protestors can legally and ineffectively gather. Shouting at The Man's front yard's external fortifications won't get you anywhere.

    During the "major protests and civil rights battles in this country," the exact same concerns you raise --- that only innocent, hard-working folks were harmed by obstructions to streets and businesses --- were spouted by the powers-that-be opposing change. If you protest according to the rules of the rich and powerful, all you'll get is the continued rule of the rich and powerful.

  • There's a difference between "the middle class leaves" (because middle-class jobs are gutted) and "the middle class is forced out of their homes by the upper-middle-class."

    There's only so much San Francisco to go around. Why should the people who got there first have a right to it? We pretty much destroyed that precedent when we founded this nation on top of the natives' ground. In fact, if we follow American historical precedent, those people should not only be forced out of their homes, but also murdered, raped, etc.

    Perhaps you don't believe anyone should be allowed to settle down and work and live in a small but reasonably comfortable home if they can't pull a six-figure salary

    The issue is whether they should be able to live anywhere they want. The truth is that if the value of your home increases to the point that you can't afford to pay the property taxes, you can afford to sell your home and move someplace else. People are always complaining about civilization arriving where they live. Here's a nice example. There's some folks on our road who have been here apparently since before it was paved. One day I evaporated one of their chickens with the Astro because they couldn't keep them under control and they were out on the road. One of them decided to dart under the van as I was passing by it and the rest (and the chicken) is history involving a gigantic expanding spherical cloud of feathers behind the van. Their response was not to improve their coop, but to spray paint SLOW DOWN on the road, which is [a minor, admittedly irrelevant form of] vandalism. They did in fact do a crap job so it does in fact look like shit.

    These are some people who wanted to live on a dirt road in bumfuck, but when civilization showed up, they didn't move. And let me tell you, their place is a crap little shit-shack, but they could have sold it to a grower and slid out of there long before now, and surely made a massive profit. They could move to some other shit-shack in this shitty town and actually improve their situation but they're married to a particular shitty piece of ground. And instead of making themselves happy, they're standing against the tide and being upset about it.

    But civilization always arrives, and if I'd hit that chicken with the front of the vehicle and damaged the plastics, they'd have been liable because civilization recognizes that you can't have chickens running around the road. Instead of moving to where people won't be going by so fast, they demand that everyone else alter their behavior to please them. And the reality is that they could be living someplace nicer if they weren't so addicted to false stability. That little piece of ground could be wiped out by anything next week; since they have grossly inadequate clearings and fire danger has been increasing year on year, fire is a likely candidate. They have no security whatsoever in their tin box that could be opened with a can opener.

    Maybe you were raised with a silver spoon in your mouth, with zero experience of the actual struggles and concerns of the majority of working American families.

    Well, I was raised with beans and rice in my mouth, and I still think it's bullshit. You don't have a right to make the world stop around you. The only people I feel bad for in SF are the young people trying to get out. They haven't had time to make any money, and it's difficult to make any money in SF while paying living expenses. People pay for part of a room (often one which doubles as a hallway in the crappy floor plans of the narrow dwellings of SF) for what I pay for half a house (shared with my lady.) How is a youth going to climb out of that money well?

  • by Aquitaine (102097) <`sam' `at' `iamsam.org'> on Saturday December 21, 2013 @12:30PM (#45754083) Homepage

    It's a lot more mundane than that: supply and demand.

    When a place becomes desirable over a long period of time, lots of people want to move there. How cities manage this relatively good problem to have is very telling about the character of their politics.

    San Francisco decided a long time ago that it didn't want very much new construction. Their land-use restrictions are among the most restrictive in the country, and even if you can get past them, the amount of red tape to either build something or renovate something (particularly if anybody thinks it has historical character, which is not a high bar in SF) combined with the frequency and ease of anti-development lawsuits means that the city has been encouraging people to come to town while adamantly refusing to find anywhere to put them.

    This is the inevitable result of a certain kind of liberal mindset: the same people who are in the streets and protesting the lack of affordable housing are the ones who will file lawsuits and protest development that provides housing. It may not be the housing they like, but the thing about the housing market is that you have to have somewhere to put everybody. SF is like New York in this respect: the high end is fine, even if it costs a lot more to be rich in SF than most anywhere else in the United States. The low end, while hardly fine, is served through affordable housing: if you are willing to survive the Waiting Lists of Housing Limbo, you can qualify for a place to live, so long as you never make too much money. Politicians love this stuff because it lets them point at families that could never live in a place like that and take credit for solving the problem that they are making a lot worse, because there is no longer a middle to the housing market.

    This problem isn't inherent to government-subsidized housing - you could figure out how to build and/or subsidize low-cost housing without completely distorting the market. But combine it with land-use restrictions and your average San Francsican's general unwillingness to tolerate tract homes and voila, nobody can afford to live there. Blaming Google and Facebook for this is not only ignorant, it's the worst kind of envy: you have what we want, so you must be responsible for the fact that we haven't got it.

    Austin has experienced a similar boom to SF and some of the same problems, but even though we've failed on the infrastructure side, we didn't limit development to anywhere near the extent that SF has. Consequently, Austin is still the most expensive place to live in Texas, but the average cost per square foot is between 1/3 and 1/4 of what it is in San Francisco.

    TL;DR: If you want everyone to have a place to live, you have to be OK with the fact that they won't all live in charming bungalows or 19th century restoration hardware displays. Anyone who thinks that getting rid of the tech sector in San Francisco is a solution should go visit Detroit to see what a city looks like when business leaves. Just don't call the cops or the fire department unless you have an hour to kill.

  • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @12:37PM (#45754135)

    Dear Google and Apple,

    I saw on the news that local residents hate you now and are preventing your workers from arriving to work on time. Please move your operations to our state and we will show how much we appreciate all your paid employees spending their money in our neighborhoods.

    Sincerely,
    The 49 other saner states.

  • Re:Clueless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joe_frisch (1366229) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @01:01PM (#45754293)

    Disparity and poverty are very different. The US has quite high disparity, but the average wealth is quite high, so the poor in the US are in general not nearly as poor as the poor in 3rd world countries.

    Disparity and poverty are both bad and both cause very serious problems, but they are different.

  • by Solandri (704621) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @01:13PM (#45754367)

    That is the fundamental flaw of property taxes - the taxes can go up even if your property stayed exactly the same just because a bunch of people around you overpaid.

    That's actually the purpose of property taxes. The alternative is to have some guy who owns a strawberry farm in the middle of what is now a major city just sitting on that property and impeding growth (sometimes they're just waiting for its value to go up), instead of selling it to someone who'll make better use of the property. (True story. Disneyland eventually bought the 52 acre farm for ~$90 million.)

    What's best for you is not necessarily what is best for the public at large. Rising property taxes are a way to "encourage" people doing economically inefficient things with their property to sell to someone who could make better use of the property. "Better" defined based on what sort of business or residence the surrounding area has turned into. It's a less drastic measure than eminent domain.

    The problem with the "bunch of people around you overpaid" scenario is that many municipalities are greedy and (1) increase property taxes every year, when a 5-year or 10-year average would help smooth out a lot of the bumps in market prices, and (2) don't have provisions for lowering property taxes when the value of real estate decreases. Otherwise, if the real estate value remains high, those people didn't overpay.

  • by MtViewGuy (197597) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @01:45PM (#45754591)

    What we need is a MASSIVE overhaul of national taxation so it doesn't discourage savings and capital investment in the USA. The current tax code is rife with corruption, is 70,000-plus pages of tax law so complex that even the IRS can't figure half of it out, costs Americans just about US$500 BILLION per year in compliance costs, and drives millions of jobs, thousands of factories, hundreds of corporate headquarters, and (by some estimates) around US$15 TRILLION in American-owned liquid assets to foreign financial institutions as a means of income tax avoidance.

    Economic and political insanity, in my humble opinion. Maybe it's time to seriously look at the no-loophole flat rate tax proposed by Steve Forbes in 1996 _at minimum_ as the tax reform, a reform that would encourage savings and capital investment staying in the USA and free up as much as US$375 BILLION per year now spent on tax compliance for more productive purposes.

  • Re:Hmm. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lecoupdejarnac (1742408) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @01:48PM (#45754609)

    Software developers (especially at Google and Apple) do not make "at, or less, than minimum wage"; this is absolutely absurd. According to sfgate.com [sfgate.com] the average salary in San Francisco right is $110,950 for application developers and slightly higher for systems developers.

    According to the same link, food service workers make and average of $22,180 a year in San Francisco. That's a very wide income gap, indeed.

    So engineers at some companies work long hours, so what? Most engineers (myself included) love the work they do, and it's a far cry from working multiple jobs with little or no benefits to barely be able to feed your family and be unable to afford a nice place to live.

    Not only will you win an Irony award from me, but you'll get arrested for obstructing traffic too -- and rightfully so. Time and place. First two things you learn in activism. Time. Place. Learn it.

    The time and place for activism: somewhere with a lot of impact and that probably means it should be extremely disruptive to a lot people. Sure it's a pain in the ass to have your commute screwed up by striking transit employees or something like this bus protest. But that's a cost of democracy, and we're all better off if people are free to protest and to be disruptive. Without disruption, protests are too easily ignored and the power of the masses is too easily constrained. To hell with "free speech zones" and protest permits. I agree that protestors shouldn't overdo it, or they'll lose the support of the masses. Unfortunately in the US, they rarely get any support at all. People cling to their sense of entitlement and have no willingness to stomach some inconvenience for the sake of the greater good.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 21, 2013 @03:28PM (#45755309)

    Having been poor in the U.S., I can tell you first hand you do not know what you are talking about.

    I had no roof over my head, and would have to jog around in the middle of the night to keep from freezing (the cold was the worst part, I can't express this in a way someone who hasn't experienced it will fully understand-- it was horrible-- I would hurt-- ache with cold). I also was working (and, had no substance abuse issues). But, all of my pay went to child support (yes, queue the "your fault for having a child" comments). In my low year, I was 130lbs, over 6 ft tall, with broad shoulders (XL shirts) but a 28" waist. I was not quite a walking skeleton, but pretty close (some people thought I had cancer or AIDS). No, I didn't suffer to the extent of the folks in Ethiopia, but it wasn't the other extreme you suggest, either.

    The root cause of the suffering for poor everywhere is the same. Selfishness. Folks with a lot, only want more. There is plenty for everyone if it were not for this selfishness of the few. The "owners" I worked for, owned multiple homes, but wanted more, so paid as little as they could get away with, to the point where at least one of their employees could not afford any home.

    The "owners" should be targeted for other protests, but this protest was over gentrification, and these protesters got exactly the right targets. "Improving neighborhoods," to the point where anybody, short of the janitorial and cafeteria staff, working for google or apple would live there, just means pricing the folks who already live there out. And, where are those people supposed to go? These are the folks who can least afford to pick up, and move to another city or another state, just to gamble on finding a place where wages and cost of living are more in line. For me, my son's mom moved to the place I could not find sufficient employment in-- I wanted to be a dad to my son, so followed-- I finally gave up, moved to a city 200 miles away, got a reasonable job within days (I was in top 10% of my class at a top-tier university, comp sci and neuro sci double major). For the next three years, I only saw my son on weekends (yes, I commuted up every weekend). Eventually, I found a decent job (made 28% of what I made in the city, but enough to survive), and moved back to the town where his mom lived. The flippant comments, "their fault for wanting to live in an expensive city," are the same as, "[no bread,] let them eat cake."

  • Re: Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grishnakh (216268) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @04:07PM (#45755581)

    I see I've been modded Funny, but I'm entirely serious: if it's too expensive for janitors and waiters to live in a city (or commutable distance), something will happen. Either the wages for those jobs will go up, to get people to take those jobs, or the wealthy people living there will get sick of having nasty toilets and self-serve restaurants and dirty streets, and will move elsewhere, which means the cost of housing there will fall, so that poorer people can move back in.

    Or, maybe they'll just learn to like dirty streets. Just look at NYC. There's lots of very wealthy people there who don't seem to mind that the sidewalks are all nasty and it smells like a sewer; they're all perfectly happy to pay ridiculous rents there for ramshackle little apartments and commute on an ancient, foul-smelling, noisy subway system that looks pathetic compared to subways in European cities.

  • Re:Hmm. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thegarbz (1787294) on Saturday December 21, 2013 @07:04PM (#45756653)

    As opposed to breaking a bus window of a few people on their morning commute?

    Sorry but this is NOT an effective protest. Just like the Occupy protest in the park in my city (it made it all the way down here to Australia). It's one thing to protest directly at the 1% and quite another to tie up a park that was actually used by the 99% and was supposed to be part of a city festival for the 99%. I didn't care at all when they got evicted, and when your very peers don't care you are NOT effectively protesting.

    This protest has similar issues. I don't know of any filthy rich people at Google or Apple. I'm sure there are some there, but I'm equally sure they don't catch the bus to work. A bunch of whining people who can't afford their homes protesting a bunch of workers who in all likely hood have massive mortgages or high rent and not a shitload of disposable income is also not an effective protest.

    The "proper place to protest" is in a place where it makes a difference, you said it yourself through the use of the word "effective".
    What do you think will happen here? Will a bunch of workers suddenly realise that the protesters are right, and quit their jobs only to have their house repossessed? No. The protesters aren't winning hearts and minds here. They aren't making a difference, they are simply causing a minor inconvenience to their peers. This is not effective.

    This goes doubly for the method of protest using language and violence. They want us to see desperation? I see thugs.

  • Re: Hmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Sunday December 22, 2013 @01:18AM (#45758161) Homepage

    So you worked for years, decades maybe to make your neighborhood a desirable place to live. Got on the school's PTA, residents association, neighborhood watch, voted every election, helped clean up the housing stock. Now someone with more money wants to live there, so GTFO peon. Thanks for your hard work, now fuck off.

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