Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Tag Archives: Silicon Valley

The World Doesn’t Care About Groupthink

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

Conventional wisdom may change in a flash (remember ‘peak oil’?), but elites remain elites, united by common interests.

“All things are in flux.” — Heraclitus

The adage “nothing last forever” is an understatement. Far more accurate is something like “nothing lasts until next week.”

Saint-to-Sinner Silicon Valley

A decade ago, even most Republicans admired the rugged entrepreneurialism of the high-tech Masters of the Universe who had built a multitrillion-dollar, world-dominating Internet, and the computer, mobile-phone, online-sales, and social-media industries, defined by marquee companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Yahoo.

In turn, Democrats gave up their suspicions of big money, as they canonized liberal Jeff Bezos, Sergey Brin, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg. Their wealth was okay, since the creators of it were progressives and dressed like Woodstock hipsters as they spread their billions freely among progressive think tanks, foundations, and political campaigns.

Not now.

In a near blink of an eye, Republicans finally caught on, and they now see the new billionaires as rank partisans who rig Internet searches, censor social media, manipulate data to help warp elections, push far-left causes, bully their own nonconformist employees, and demonize their conservative critics.

Read the full article here.

The Valley of the Shadow

How mansion-dwelling, carbon-spewing cutthroat capitalists can still be politically correct.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Technology and Wisdom

Tech advancements make it too easy to forget age-old realities.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online 

Americans now have more computer power in their smart phones than did the

AVIDAC was Argonne's first digital computer. Designed and built by Argonne's Physics Division for $250,000, it began operations Jan. 28, 1953.

AVIDAC was Argonne’s first digital computer. Designed and built by Argonne’s Physics Division for $250,000, it began operations Jan. 28, 1953.

Pentagon in all its computer banks just 30 years ago. We board a sophisticated jet and assume that the flight is no more dangerous than crossing the street.

The downside of this complete reliance on computer gadgetry is a fundamental ignorance of what technology is. Smart machines are simply the pumps that deliver the water of knowledge — not knowledge itself.

What does it matter that millions of American students can communicate across thousands of miles instantly with their iPads and iPhones if a poorly educated generation increasingly has little to say?

The latest fad of near-insolvent universities is to offer free iPads to students so that they can access information more easily. But what if most undergraduates still have not been taught to read well or think inductively, or to have some notion of history? Speeding up their ignorance is not the same as imparting wisdom. Requiring a freshman Latin course would be a far cheaper and wiser investment in mastering language, composition, and inductive reasoning than handing out free electronics. Read more →

Meet the Richerals

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media

The new millennium has also given us a new American profile — the hip richeral. Richerals are, of course, well off. But they are even more cool and liberal. The two facts are not so much incompatible, as Stack_of_moneycomplementary.

For some, big money allows three things: wealth’s cocoon enables you to dream safely about utopia rather than being laid off and broke; it exempts you from worrying much about the high taxesand regulations needed to pay for your redistributionist fantasy agendas; and it gives you the influence, capital, and opportunities to flee from the messy ramifications of your own ideology.

The other side of being liberal is just as important for the richerals. Guilt is a primordial human emotion — usually in civilization’s history assuaged by religion and the accompanying fear of damnation in the hereafter. But richerals are more likely than average to be either agnostic or atheistic. Yet that fact does not mean that they feel any less guilty about unfairness and inequality. So they do have deities of sorts — a hip Read more →

Let’s Save California Now!

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media 

Just a handful of legislative acts might still save California. Here are 12 brief examples:

1. The Hetch Hetchy Smelt and Salmon Act

This so-called “Skip a Shower, Save a Smelt Act” would transfer control of the Hetch 800px-Flag_of_California.svgHetchy reservoir releases from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The legislation would dismantle sections of the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct west beyond the San Joaquin River, stop the present unnatural diversion of fresh water to San Francisco, and allow instead Hetch Hetchy fresh water to resume natural flows to the San Joaquin River — thus allowing the San Joaquin River and Tuolumne River to recover their salmon populations.

In addition, the transfers of fresh Hetch Hetchy water into the delta and beyond to the Pacific Ocean would preserve delta smelt populations.  To make up the losses, the law Read more →

The Rural Way

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media 

Hard physical work is still a requisite for a sound outlook on an ever more crazy world. I ride a bike; but such exercise is not quite the same, given that the achievement of

Richard Croft

Richard Croft

doing 35 miles is therapeutic for the body and mind, but does not lead to a sense of accomplishment in the material sense — a 30-foot dead tree cut up, a shed rebuilt, a barn repainted. I never quite understood why all these joggers in Silicon Valley have immigrants from Latin America doing their landscaping. Would not seven hours a week spent raking and pruning be as healthy as jogging in spandex — aside from the idea of autonomy that one receives by taking care of one’s own spread?

On the topic of keeping attuned with the physical world: if it does not rain (and the “rainy” season is about half over with nothing yet to show for it), the Bay Area and Los Angeles will see some strange things that even Apple, Google, and the new Read more →

The World of the Coliseum

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media 

I woke up one morning not long ago, and noticed that the world that I was born into no longer exists. It was as if I had once lived in Republican Italy, took a nap, and awoke to the Roman 472px-Carl_Gustav_Carus_-_Das_Kolosseum_in_einer_MondnachtEmpire, AD 200.

Latifundia

Let me explain. All the farms in these environs that I grew up with — 40-80 acres with a farmhouse and family — have simply vanished.

Where did they go?

I suppose when I meet someone with 5,000 acres that I am supposed to think that spread represents the old, and now recombined, 100 50-acre farms under new management. Yet where did the 100 farm households go — and what replaced them?

When I ride around the rural landscape, I see the old skeletons of farmhouses; but they are mostly rented to farm workers.  Are the social circumstances of renting a house and working on a 5,000-acre farm different from 100 agrarian households doing it — in terms of local PTA, Little League, the regional hospital board, or city council?

I leave it to you to decide. I can attest only that in terms of agricultural productivity, today’s 8,000-acre almond operations look far more efficient, up to date, and savvy than what 100 80-acre almond orchards used to seem like: old barn, clunky tractors in the yard, kids out in the orchard not up on the latest scientific approaches to fertilization, mom doing the books in a way the computerized corporate whiz kid would laugh at, tight-fisted gramps hobbling about looking for loose tire-popping nails in the alleyway while giving sermons about avoiding a mortgage. Read more →

Obamacare Is Dead. Long Live Obamacare!

by Victor Davis Hanson // NRO’s The Corner 

In the next 90 days, the Obama administration will have to declare victory and then abandon most Photo Credit: Tabitha Kaylee Hawk via Flickrof Obamacare.

The legislation defies the laws of physics—more and broader coverage for more people at less cost—as well as logic: Young people, on average as a cohort with higher debt and less employment, will pay more for coverage they do not use much to subsidize others, often better off, to pay less for coverage they use a lot. It will be interesting how the administration pulls it off, given its past record of often being successful at this sort of dissimulation.

The “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”—despite the euphemistic name, the legislation has caused millions to lose their coverage and upped the costs for millions more—is a stone around the necks of Democratic congressional candidates, and something political will have to be done within the next year to address it. Read more →

The Bay Area’s 1 Percenters

If you’re hip and liberal, your kids don’t have to go to school with the gardener’s kids.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online 

Strip away the veneer of Silicon Valley, and it is mostly a paradox. Almost nothing is what it is professed to be. Ostensibly, communities like Menlo Park and Palo Alto are elite enclaves, where power couples can easily make $300,000 to $700,000 a year as mid-level Photo Credit: Chris Smart via Flickrdot.com managers.

But often these 1 percenter communities are façades of sorts. Beneath veneers of high-end living, there are lives of quiet 1-percent desperation. With new federal and California tax hikes, aggregate income-tax rates on dot.commers can easily exceed 50 percent of their gross income. And hip California 1 percenters do not enjoy superb roads and schools or a low-crime state in exchange for forking over half their income.

Housing gobbles much of the rest of their pay. A 1,300-square-foot cottage in Mountain View or Atherton can easily sell for $1.5 million, leaving the owners paying $5,000 to $6,000 on their mortgage and another $1,500 to $2,000 in property taxes each month. Add in the de rigueur Mercedes, BMW, or Lexus and the private-school tuition, and the apparently affluent turn out to have not all that much disposable income. Read more →

The Great California Land Rush

by Victor Davis Hanson

PJ Media

Boom or Bust?

I have lived on the same farm for 59 years and seen at least three boom-and-bust farm cycles — one in the late 1960s, another in the early 1980s, and a third right now. Read more →

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