Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Why "Tech" Changed from Conservative to Liberal

I have worked in tech for over 25 years, and way back when I started the vast number of people in tech were conservative.  Of course back then tech companies actually designed and manufactured things you could touch and feel (and they were still mostly manufacturing in the US).

These "real" tech companies had to employ engineers who had to deal with trade-offs, limited resources, and the real-world consequences if their devices failed.  They had to be grounded in the real world, which gave them a conservative outlook on things.  Engineers know there is no such thing as a free lunch.

So last week when I was reading about "liberal" Silicon Valley's reaction to the election, I had to stop and think why there was a change from conservative to liberal.  A few thoughts came to mind:

  • A Lot of Silicon Valley is Not High Tech - Facebook and every other social media company are not technology companies, but media companies. Salesforce and the other "cloud" companies couldn't engineer themselves out of a paper bag.  They didn't build the phones or computers users read them on.  They didn't design the networks.  Or sever farms.  Or much of anything else.
  • Software Isn't Engineering - Software engineers don't recognize trade-offs.  Ever wonder why your computer needs just a little more memory, a little more processor power, and a little more bandwidth to run that software program?  It's because the software engineers didn't bother to deal with the resource tradeoffs.  They did what they did, and let the users deal with the consequences of their bad planning, just like liberals. 
  • Riches and Wealth - Back in the day people did tech because it was cool.  It was interesting.  And you made an okay living.  It paid better than manual labor, but less than medicine or law.  Today people rush into tech to get rich.  These people have fewer principles other than themselves, and people who receive millions of dollars in stock options in their 20s or 30s have no concept of the real world.  Political policies and laws that hurt others have no affect on them.  They are free to virtue signal how great they are, and have money left over for an overpriced Tesla and a vacation in Europe. 
  • More Women (and not in engineering) - The few women engineers I've encountered are either conservative or too far over the Asperger curve to care about politics.  In the mean time the HR, PR, Legal and Marketing departments have gotten stuffed with women, mostly as a result of companies trying to make their "numbers" look better.  The number of women in engineering will never match the number of men in engineering since it is just a simple fact of nature that men are better in math and science.  That same nature also makes women trend more liberal than men.
  • H1B Visas - Those of you outside of tech or Silicon Valley have no conception of the broad abuse of H1Bs visas by the Silicon Valley titans.  I have walked through company corridors for meetings thinking I had landed in another country.  And it has nothing to do about "finding talent". It is all about lower wages.  If it was about talent you would see a broad spectrum of H1B workers at any given company.  But it is not that way.  At a given company it is all from a single country: All Chinese.  All Indian.  All Pakistani. And these slave wage earners care nothing at all about the US or other Americans.  They want to keep what is (to them) the gravy train, and that won't be with a firmer immigration system.
  • Disconnect from The US and Reality - The last thing about Silicon Valley (I don't work there, but work in tech and visit there), is that they are totally disconnected from the US.  The average worker there lives in extreme poverty compared to lower class people in, say, Texas.  They pay well over a million dollars for a 1500 square foot crap-shack and commute over an hour each way to go to a job that pays over $100K, but they live this crap lifestyle thinking they are not only better than anyone else in the US, but that they will get that multi-million dollar payoff one day. 
In short, Silicon Valley has become disconnected from the US and from reality.  I don't see it getting better without a yuge and long correction in tech stocks and VC malinvestment, which means no time soon.

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