Something is terribly, terribly wrong in Silicon Valley. Probably the rest of the nation too. But, as they say, everything starts in California then heads east. So whatever’s happening here will soon hit your home town if it hasn’t already. Yes, living in Silicon Valley takes its toll on incomes and your patience.
This morning’s paper is filled with new and continuing stories related to the economy: our Valley Transportation Agency is nearly 100 million in the hole, impacting mass transportation that saves money and spares the air.
A couple of Bay Bridge steel plates fell on top of moving traffic. (Luckily, no one was hurt.) The FDC closed nine more banks, including California National, based in LA. And since it’s Halloween, Arnold, our star Governor, and other wise folks in Sacramento, announced the State is increasing payroll tax deductions by 10% starting Sunday. (Not a tax increase, they say; workers get excess taxes back next April.) I guess Arnold and our State legislators didn’t read my post on Wyoming’s economy.
Growing up in San Jose brings a few memories to mind. Take public transportation. While my Dad worked, Mom would take me and my sister downtown on the local bus for a dime. Yes, ten cents took us from the corner of Alum Rock and Capitol 4-5 miles to a thriving shopping center called “downtown,” before strip malls destroyed inner city commerce.
No one thought life should be any different. We had a bus system. We paid a dime. We went downtown. We had fun window shopping even though we couldn’t afford most things we saw. Mom bought my sister and me a milk shake, a real milk shake made with ice cream that tasted like ice cream and milk without bovine sludge.
Living in Silicon Valley not for the Timid
Things have become more complex in Silicon Valley and the rest of the Bay Area. Most people don’t “go downtown” to work, shop and play. Commuters take bus and rail systems, like BART, 40 miles to work. If you live in Fremont, as I do, it costs $11.20 per day to commute from Fremont to San Francisco and back. That’s 112 dimes. Brother, can you spare 112 dimes?
Well, at least we don’t have to worry about the Bay Bridge collapsing on our car…Take that back, the BART trans-Bay tunnel to San Francisco is directly underneath the Bay Bridge.
We could take AC Transit. Picks you up at the Fremont Bart station, then connects with either BART or another bus. While the round-trip fare from Fremont to San Francisco is cheaper than BART, our commute time doubles due to all the transfers.
Oh, AC Transit also uses the Bay Bridge. So if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, you might find a steel plate in your lap while using public transit.
What happened to the dime bus ride? The milk shakes? Going downtown? Having fun? Are the Bay Area’s and California’s problems only a result of increased population? Or did we make choices ions ago affecting how we now live? Did we individually and collectively make decisions that now challenge our lifestyles? That’s living in Silicon Valley.
If I knew the answers, of course, I’d write a book with the answers, appear on Oprah, get invited to the White House and make lots of money. But I don’t. Neither do the “experts.” We’re holding back a dike with five fingers but the dike has 50 holes.
But I know they’re answers to these and other problems–answers that must come from political and community leaders who “think outside the box.” Instead of blaming everyone, including the school janitor, for our woes and pains, why don’t we reject the tired babbling from the mouths of naysayers and try something new? We need more gas and less exhaust.
Until then, brother can you spare a dime?