But it also prominently features a list of demands that seem sadly typical of activists who would rather party in the guise of protesting and promote fever dreams while smoking pipes filled with interesting substances.
Tech companies pay for their impact on housing & public infrastructure.
A moratorium on all no-fault evictions.
Preservation of rent-controlled housing.
Preservation of the heart of the city.
A city that cares for its elders, artists, families, and culture.
Investment in all people, not just tech.
I strongly agree with half of the first one -- if Google uses public bus stops for its private bus armada, then it should pay a percentage of what it costs to build and maintain those facilities. After that, it gets hazy. Exactly how should private business pay for its economically tenuous "impact on housing"? I suppose a housing fund for low-income families would qualify, and Google can certainly spare the change. But what about the other points? Let's take a look:
- A moratorium on all no-fault evictions. I don't think you can pin that on Google as much as opportunistic landlords and developers. Maybe putting horse heads in those beds might prove more effective.
- Preservation of rent-controlled housing. Again, not something tech companies control.
- Preservation of the heart of the city. Not sure what that one means. No new architecture on Mission Street? Or free cardiac care for Giants mascot Lou Seal? Either way, not a tech company responsibility.
- A city that cares for its elders, artists, families, and culture. Come on, that's not the American way. A city that exploits its elders for Medicare fraud, profits off artists' work after it kills them with drug-caused public transportation accidents, separates families to further human trafficking, and changes its culture like it changes mayors -- that's the American way. Get on board or move to Detroit.
- Investment in all people, not just tech. I have a funny feeling that tech contributes far more to political reelection coffers than "all people," so good luck with that one.
OK, those are cynical cop-outs, but I'm old and it takes a lot to get me off the couch and into a protest rally. I'm sure as hell not doing it during morning rush hour just to block a bus full of scared Google geeks who are probably so intent on their laptop screens they won't see my "Die Google Die" sign anyway.
Adjust your targets accordingly
I get that you need a villain, but why pick on Googlehound? That seems a weak ploy more likely cooked up by anti-Google ex-employees than protesters serious about stopping high-rent no-fault evictions. How about pillorying housing officials like secretary treasurer of the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council, Michael Theriault (sorry, Mike, but it looks like it's your turn) or Maximus Real Estate Partners, one of many real estate developers looking to build those new high-rent housing hells? I realize you might have to face the fuzz on that path, but at least you'd get the undivided attention of people directly responsible for your problem.
Amazon, Google, and Facebook are shaping up to be the evil empires of the new tech generation, but not because they use public bus stops. It's because Amazon wants to drive any delivery-based mom-and-pop shops out of business, Google wants to strap an interest-tracking search engine to your face and run your home from its data centers, and Facebook because it never stops looking for ways to invade your dreams and sell them to retailers, governments, and Somali pirates.
I'd hate it if San Francisco turned into a giant glass-covered office park with taupe walls and fluorescent lighting populated only by Colgate MBAs and Java jockeys driving occasionally exploding Teslas. But if you want to quash that, you have to spray-paint the right people, not chase a busload of Googlers trying to get to Mountain View.
This article, "Anti-Google protestors are barking up the wrong bus stop," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, follow Cringely on Twitter, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.