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Megabits Among the Homeless

By kallisti in MLP
Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 11:02:13 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

While digging around Game Developer I came across this interesting writeup of one man's trip to an San Francisco Internet company. It is probably too obvious to those who live in the Bay Area, but I thought others might find it interesting. SF can be a very surreal place to live.

Update [2000-10-19 13:36:3 by rusty]: We have since reprinted the entire article linked above here on K5. Well worth a read.


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Megabits Among the Homeless | 18 comments (11 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Interesting (3.00 / 5) (#4)
by h0tr0d on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 07:21:33 PM EST

Very interesting perspective. Too bad the VC's don't actually have a conscience when they dump millions into places like this. For the life of me I can't understand how CEO's etc. see this as a good way to run a business. I once worked for a start up that was run out of a garage. Now that's what a start up should be like. A smart group of people working towards a common goal because of their desire to achieve and succeed not because of the putting green in the lobby. Sorry for getting off topic, I've just seen too much of this wastefulness.

-- It appears that my spleeing chucker isn't working again.

Wow. (3.75 / 4) (#5)
by rusty on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 07:31:31 PM EST

That's one of the best articles I've ever read. I emailed Zack Simpson (the author) and begged for permission to run it here. Absolutely astounding, and utterly true.

____
Not the real rusty
NYC... older concrete (2.00 / 2) (#8)
by nutate on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 08:11:17 PM EST

In my time here, I have visited such co-lo centers, mainly filled, not just starting, and well... yeah... there they are, part filled with get rich quick schemes and part filled with companies with something to do. Even then some like urbanfetch just haven't made it. Bad focus I guess, second to market, whatever.

On the issue of homelessness, it remains symptomatic of a country that believes that work for (lawful) self perpetuating institutions of greed has more importance than eliminating poverty.

Now homelessness != poverty or vice - versa, but whatever, this whole thing is a prelude to this link that I think gives real insight into the homeless folks living in the blocks around where I live.

Vagrant Gaze

Some truly amazing stories and photos there, not to mention the links. I don't see any easy answer to any of these issues in the U.S., except it's easy to see that when the poorest 120 million people in the U.S. have the combined net worth of the richest one man that the divide is simply growing too large. Will it get fixed? Will our nation's disproportionate share ever be wrenched away from us by the starving? Will I move to Toronto? London? Bogota? I dunno...

[ Parent ]

Misleading statistic (2.00 / 1) (#12)
by Broco on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 09:49:33 PM EST

it's easy to see that when the poorest 120 million people in the U.S. have the combined net worth of the richest one man that the divide is simply growing too large.

I agree that the plight of poor people is very important, but that statistic is not really a good indicator of poverty. Because most of those 120 million people have a net worth of less than nothing: they're in debt. I'm a college student headed for a high-paying job, but right now my net worth is 0. So I would included in that statistic if I lived in the US!

So net worth doesn't really say much. You can have a good job but be over your head in debt and that would make you one of those "poor" people, despite your high standard of living. It's better to look at yearly income.


Klingon function calls do not have "parameters" - they have "arguments" - and they ALWAYS WIN THEM.
[ Parent ]

No, it's not misleading. (5.00 / 2) (#13)
by final on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 01:22:06 PM EST

Sorry to break it to you buddy, but if your net worth is 0 or less, you are POOR. That's P O O R in case you missed it. You are not "potentially rich," "middle-class working under borrowed assets," "economically challenged," or "hard-working, yet under-compensated." YOU ARE POOR. Guess what? I'm poor, my wife is poor, everyone I've -ever- met is poor. In fact, everyone you or I will pass with 50 feet of for our entire lives is POOR. -That's- what "120 million of the poorest people in the nation controls equal wealth to the richest man," means. (That's man, not woman, not men, not municipality, statehood, goverment, or nation. Man.) Add on a few more of the richest men, (like 5 or so,) and your talking about wealth equal to a significant number of the poorest nations on the planet. In other words, equal wealth to many hundreds of millions of people.

The problem with our (citizens of the U.S.,) conception of wealth is that as long as we can point to someone who has slightly less wealth than we do, we count ourselves among the very wealthiest. We look at the man on the street, who has just a few hundred, thousand, or million dollars less than we do, yet immediately identify with Bill Gates. Wake up. You and everyone you've ever known has a lot more in common with the guys pulling tees out of the dumpster than Bill Gates. The only way to change that is to restructure the society and economy that created him.

[ Parent ]

You are grossly mistaken (3.00 / 2) (#15)
by trhurler on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 02:22:40 PM EST

Sorry to break it to you buddy, but if your net worth is 0 or less, you are POOR.
So then even though I live in luxury and am saving enough money that I'll easily retire a millionaire barring any major economic collapse, the fact that I have an outstanding loan worth more than my car, clothes, stereo setup, and computers means that I'm poor? Nah. I'm pretty much set; I'll make more and more money every year, and I'll be able to save larger percentages of every raise I get each time. If I do even moderately better than expectations, I could easily retire ten or twenty years earlier than you'd otherwise expect.
In fact, everyone you or I will pass with 50 feet of for our entire lives is POOR.
Wrong. I work for a small company. One of the owners has a -lot- of money, and is making more all the time. Odds are that I might well outrun him in twenty years or so.
Add on a few more of the richest men, (like 5 or so,) and your talking about wealth equal to a significant number of the poorest nations on the planet.
You apparently have no conception of the wealth of even a poor nation. Their land holdings alone are typically worth more than all of Bill Gates' fortune; not all wealth is counted in GNP or bank accounts.

Your problem is called "envy." You are torn up about how Bill Gates has more money on hand than he'll ever need. Here's a hint: he doesn't, really. His money is mostly stock certificates. He can't cash them out without destroying Microsoft in the process. His -actual- liquid assets are probably less than a tenth of a percent of his stated wealth. Note that his charitable donations are in the form of Microsoft stock, even. The same is true of most really wealthy people: their wealth is tied to successful businesses, and cannot entirely be split from them. That's not a bad way to live, but you don't need it in order to end up wealthy. Poor people in two bedroom apartments today have luxuries that the kings of a century ago could only daydream about, if they even had the imagination for it. Life is good, and life is easy, for most people. They piss and moan, but that's because they have no idea what privation really is.


--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Thank you. (none / 0) (#16)
by final on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 03:36:10 PM EST

You have proven my point rather nicely. Thank you.

You did, however unwittingly, bring up another good point. By rationalizing my behavior here as natural for an envious man, you quickly deduce that my looking at Mr. Gates' situation produces in me envy, and that I am searching for an outlet to this envy. Sorry, but I already posses more wealth than I ever thought I might, and make more money than my parents ever did. Further, were I to wake up tomorrow in Mr. Gates' economic and social position, fully aware of the devestation wrought on my climb to the top, the first thing out the door would be my brain, followed closely by a .45 calibre bullet. Your reasoning does not stand in the face of reality. I do not want the entire world, or even just myself to be as rich as Mr. Gates', I want the entire world to be as rich as I.

Your ease at ascribing to me this trait leads me to believe that you have done this before, or that you have witnessed it. Perhaps it is easy for you to look at the behavior of others and assign them motives you might posses yourself? I can only hope that this sort of baseless rationalization is not common among your peers.

[ Parent ]

Do they speak English in What? (3.00 / 2) (#18)
by trhurler on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 04:38:16 PM EST

You have proven my point rather nicely. Thank you.
No, I haven't, unless your point was some attempt at humor. Among other things, you claimed that none of us will ever walk within 50 feet of a really rich person; I've stayed in their homes, and I'm well on my way to being one of them. You claim that someone without immense savings cannot be anything but poor; I claim that I live better than a couple of genuinely wealthy friends of my family. Read "The Millionaire Next Door" sometime. Most wealthy people are not tycoons, and most would-be tycoons never become wealthy.
Further, were I to wake up tomorrow in Mr. Gates' economic and social position, fully aware of the devestation wrought on my climb to the top, the first thing out the door would be my brain, followed closely by a .45 calibre bullet.
Were it not for Mr. Gates' "devastation," the personal computer as we know it would still be a toy for wealthy people with too much free time. There have been many computer platforms, but the PC has done more to make computers a commodity than any other development ever has or will, and those of us running PC hardware with non-MS software are every bit as dependent on the work Gates' company has done as any of their customers. Your assessment of the overall social impact of Microsoft is way off; yes, they drive out competition and do all these other supposedly evil things, and yet, without them to provide the platform, most of their competition wouldn't even have had a chance to get started.
I want the entire world to be as rich as I.
Which flies in the face of what is possible. Wealth is created. It is not created by egalitarian bullshit; it is created by guys like Bill Gates. Yes, that process can be ugly, painful for many, and is generally only well understood well after the fact. However, the end result is poor people who have microwave ovens, cars, satellite tv, computers, internet connections, and so on - in other words, who aren't poor by any standard except comparison to "rich" people. They would never have gotten there if not for guys with names like Gates, Rockefeller, and Ford. I don't mean that it would have taken longer - I mean -never.- All progress has always been caused by such men, and this is probably the way it will always be. They don't always invent the things they produce, and they often take too much credit for them, but without those men, none of it would ever be anything but a daydream. They make the possible into the real, and then whiners like you come along saying they'd rather we all lived the lives of subsistance farmers. Of course, that isn't what you say, but that is what your suggestion would mean in practice.


--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Poor (none / 0) (#14)
by nutate on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 01:39:02 PM EST

Yep, you're poor. I'm poor too. So's many of the people I know (of course going to an 'good' college, I have met a lot of children of rich parents). Under economic circumstances where you can get a job and pay off your debt, you will no longer be poor, but if you decide to get a loan for a car or a house (mortgage, etc) you'll be right back in the hole and hence poor.

Now luckily, I don't have any credit card debt at the moment, and I have a job. But if everything shakes out, I certainly won't be living in new york city, and I could even live at home.

Now Marshall McLuhan stated, in perhaps 'the medium is the massage,' that "Cash is the poor man's credit card", and perhaps this is true. The fact that I have credit means that I can take control of getting money ahead of my pay schedule... but the fact is credit card companies (read every single one I've ever seen) send out cards with interest rates based on the person's credit... the worse it is, the higher the rate. You can still get a credit card with bad credit, but miss a payment and you get screwed 2-3+ times more than the person with the lower rate (and 'better credit'). Self fulfilling demarcations, creating the working poor, all for the profit of these large corporations. Now the CEO of a credit card company isn't poor by any standards, but the people s/he profits off of are. Just like rent-to-own stores and... the list goes on.

So people say that the most revered generation in U.S. history survived the depression and WW2. Personally, I revere the working poor of today just as much. Those whose living conditions aren't substantially different than the one's my parents and their parents went through in the twenties and thirties. I would have to say that if we hit another big dip, we might just end up rather revered too. Imagine what sort of government supported industry would get us out of that one? Maybe the internet already is it? Questions, questions, still no concrete answers.

[ Parent ]

Annual Income (none / 0) (#17)
by Spendocrat on Thu Oct 19, 2000 at 04:02:50 PM EST

The only problem with looking at annual income is that the vast majority of wealthy people make very little "income" compared to capital gains, where they make most of their money. We're in a funny industry as tech-people because outside of tech most people make their money through real-estate. The rich also own very little on their own. Anyone who's seriously into making money and being rich is in control of corporations instead, you pay a great deal less in taxes that way.

Maybe the most important thing to look at is the comparison of asset ownership between the top and the bottom. I don't have any figures, but I'm betting a large percentage of the wealth in the US and Canada (the only countries I"m more than passingly familliar with :) is concentrated in the hands of very few people, perhaps less than one percent of the population.

[ Parent ]

Very good (2.50 / 2) (#11)
by nexus_vi on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 09:21:56 PM EST

Definitely a good read. It gives pause when politicians actually start throwing out terms like "digital divide" and stop talking about censoring the internet in libraries. (Yes, my local library had a copy of the anarchist's cookbook long before they had an internet connection. Good thing my mom stopped me before I actually built anything.)

Megabits Among the Homeless | 18 comments (11 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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