HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » Editorials & Other Articles (Forum) » Google As Landlord, The N...

Thu Jul 11, 2019, 03:16 PM

Google As Landlord, The New 'Company Towns'? A Looming Feudal Nightmare

"Google As A Landlord? A Looming Feudal Nightmare." To fight a housing crunch of their own creation, tech companies are planning company towns worthy of Gilded Age robber barons. The Guardian, July 11, 2019.

Much contemporary criticism of Google focuses on the invisibility of the company’s vast monopoly power and the consequent indifference of both everyday consumers and government regulators. In ways that we rarely stop to acknowledge, much less understand, the tech giant’s digital domination shapes everything from the profitability of individual corporate enterprise to our consumption and communication practices.

Soon, however, as Google expands its geographic footprint beyond the digital world into physical urban spaces, the potential impacts of the company’s unchecked powers may become both obvious and intolerable. This year alone the tech giant will spend $13bn expanding in 24 US cities. In some places, the company will bring not just jobs but entire campuses with fully equipped offices, data centers, retail spaces and even residences.



- Richard Suchanuk cuts grass in front of one of his rental properties in Marktown section- a former company town- of East Chicago, Indiana, April 16, 2013.

Like industrial monopolies before it – from US Steel to the Pullman Company – Google is leveraging its significant influence to create entire urban economies dedicated to its own productivity and profitability. While this may sound like a recipe for economic boom, history suggests that the intimate intertwining of monopoly-driven corporate profit, governance and everyday life may undermine both democracy and individual autonomy.
Already, much of Google’s geographic development has been shrouded in secrecy, making it nearly impossible for local communities to understand – and to oppose – the long-term impacts. Only through public records releases has the public learned that the US locations of Google’s expansion have been influenced by furtively secured tax breaks.

But are the jobs and financial investment that this behemoth company brings nonetheless worth it – especially for cities with stagnant economies? What’s the worst that could happen? It’s hard to imagine, but the example of Google’s expansion in San Jose – where a profoundly undemocratic, feudal nightmare looms – may be instructive.
Google has spent $380m on land for the development of a new company campus in this Silicon Valley hub. Rather than celebrate the company’s impending presence, savvy residents and watchdog groups have raised alarms that Google’s expansion will exacerbate the high cost of living and augment displacement and homelessness. Amplifying their fears is the reality that city’s negotiations with Google have essentially taken place behind closed doors through the company’s use of non-disclosure agreements.

But Google has assured the public that it also plans to address the local housing crisis that it helped to create by investing $1bn in the development of 20,000 new homes in the Bay Area – 5,000 of them in San Jose alone...

More, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/11/google-as-a-landlord-a-looming-feudal-nightmare

Related, 'Facebook & Amazon are so big they’re creating their own company towns- 200-year evolution, Business Insider,' 3/26/18.https://www.businessinsider.com/company-town-history-facebook-2017-9



14 replies, 905 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 14 replies Author Time Post
Reply Google As Landlord, The New 'Company Towns'? A Looming Feudal Nightmare (Original post)
appalachiablue Jul 11 OP
in2herbs Jul 11 #1
appalachiablue Jul 11 #3
Igel Jul 11 #6
appalachiablue Jul 11 #7
get the red out Jul 11 #9
appalachiablue Jul 11 #10
LisaM Jul 11 #2
appalachiablue Jul 11 #4
LisaM Jul 11 #5
Tech Jul 11 #8
Blue_Tires Jul 11 #11
Jo 6 Jul 12 #12
marble falls Jul 12 #13
gopiscrap Jul 13 #14

Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Thu Jul 11, 2019, 03:18 PM

1. Corporations control our homes, towns and our healthcare. What could go wrong? nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to in2herbs (Reply #1)

Thu Jul 11, 2019, 03:36 PM

3. Employees paid in 'company scrip' (money) issued well into 20th c.

Wiki. Company scrip, Company scrip was a credit against the accrued wages of employees. In United States mining or logging camps where everything was owned and operated by a single company, scrip provided the workers with credit when their wages had been depleted. These remote locations were cash poor.

Workers had very little choice but to purchase food and other goods at a company store. In this way, the company could charge enormous markups on goods in a company store, making workers completely dependent on the company, thus enforcing their "loyalty" to the company.
Additionally, while employees could exchange scrip for cash, this could rarely be done at face value. This kind of scrip was valid only within the settlement where it was issued. While store owners in neighboring communities could accept the scrip as money, they rarely did so at face value, as it was worth less than that. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrip

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to appalachiablue (Reply #3)

Thu Jul 11, 2019, 04:02 PM

6. Could.

My parents were raised (at least partly) in a company town. Separately, of course. The company built churches, schools (including one of the first in the county), stores, post office. You could live in the house--paying rent--for as long as you had a connection to the company.

During the Depression the company shut down for a while. They stopped charging rent because all their employees were laid off.

My parents said that their parents got paid partially in scrip, which worked out ok. The prices weren't higher than elsewhere, and were often lower (since the company wasn't making much profit at the store--it wasn't quite in the middle of nowhere, but it provided a significant portion of the labor force). It was good for staples. The alternative was, after it was built, taking the streetcar. You could always buy your own car, of course, but this was the 1910s and '20s and '30s. Before the streetcar went in, nobody wanted to ride a horse that far each way 5 or 6 days a week And once the streetcar went in, it was still inconvenient to get back and forth. The streetcars didn't run empty--they ran frequently when shifts changed, not at all when there were no shift changes.

During the company shut-down, the company continued to issue scrip against future wages. You'd be out of work for 5 months and still draw scrip that would give you and your family food while you lived rent-free. When the company restarted, those in company housing were rehired first and had to repay the scrip. Of course.

Downside? Sure. Many. You built up limited equity in your house. My mother's father died in a car crash when she was 5. With no company employee in the household, they were evicted. Same when you hit retirement age. And at one point the company decided it wanted to built on the company town's land so they told everybody to get out, tore the town down, and put up additional production facilities.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Igel (Reply #6)

Thu Jul 11, 2019, 04:14 PM

7. Glad your family's experiences weren't all horrors but personally

I'd always prefer govt. issued currency. I recall reading several years ago that a Walmart was found using 'scrip' in Mexico, don't know how prevalent that is. ~ A return to the old system, not good.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to appalachiablue (Reply #3)

Thu Jul 11, 2019, 04:45 PM

9. Both my Grandfathers

Were paid script when they started in the mines, and lived in company housing when they started families. These days, I don't put it past "corporate American" to find a way to get some form of this going again. I can't imagine being basically under easy observation by co-workers and supervisors in my off time. That's certainly a recipe for abusive control.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to get the red out (Reply #9)

Thu Jul 11, 2019, 04:49 PM

10. Given the history it's difficult to see anything positive for workers.

> That's certainly a recipe for abusive control.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Thu Jul 11, 2019, 03:33 PM

2. "To fight a housing crunch of their own creation, tech companies are planning company towns worthy

of Gilded Age robber barons."

Welcome to Seattle, 2019.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink



Response to appalachiablue (Reply #4)

Thu Jul 11, 2019, 03:58 PM

5. It's all so sickening.

In Seattle, they are knocking down - apace - beautiful, gracious old houses that people have lived in happily for over 100 years or more to build these horrible, ticky tacky, ugly, and tiny hamster cages. They'll all be obsolete in ten years, but never mind, they're "thoughtfully planned' and "carefully curated". Never mind that they're all smaller than a double wide, and now we're in the process of cutting down 5300 trees (and destroying bird habitat) to house these tech workers.

https://komonews.com/news/local/concerns-raised-as-sound-transit-tree-cutting-coincides-with-peak-bird-nesting

I understand that people have to live and work somewhere, but there are other old cities in this country emptying out. There has got to be a happy medium somewhere.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Thu Jul 11, 2019, 04:18 PM

8. A new variation of "I owe my soul to the company store"

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Thu Jul 11, 2019, 07:21 PM

11. Been telling folks that Google was

planning to have direct control over every aspect of our lives, this is merely the next chapter.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Fri Jul 12, 2019, 12:19 PM

12. How generous of Google!

One Billion Dollars ($1,000,000,000)

"But Google has assured the public that it also plans to address the local housing crisis that it helped to create by investing $1bn in the development of 20,000 new homes in the Bay Area – 5,000 of them in San Jose alone..." ($1B for 20,000 homes = $50,000 per home)

Per Zillow: "The median price of homes currently listed in San Jose is $998,000 while the median price of homes that sold is $949,600." ($1B divided by $949,600 = 1,053 homes)

If only the 5,000 homes get built by Google in San Jose: ($1B divided by 5,000 = $200,000 per home)

So much for home values in the Bay Area! The benevolence of Google knows no bounds!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Jo 6 (Reply #12)

Fri Jul 12, 2019, 08:33 PM

13. Nice post, welcome to DU!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Jo 6 (Reply #12)

Sat Jul 13, 2019, 11:14 AM

14. welcome to DU

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread