"They Don't Make Wolves Like They Used To "
Rev. Peter E. Bauer
Conspicuously absent during this election cycle has been any real discussion let alone debate regarding poverty and the status of the poor in America. Instead, as usual, the poor have remained invisible. Yes, you will see the homeless person panhandling for change on a street or highway median. You may see a person begging for money outside a fine restaurant. But by and large the homeless can find themselves keeping a low profile.
What has happened this year, however, is that there have been several Silicon Valley entrepreneurs that have gone out of their way to denigrate those who are less fortunate. ( See previous blog So You Want To Avoid The Pain Of The Homeless ) First, it was tech bro railing against the presence of the homeless to the Mayor of San Francisco. Now we have the latest Tech CEO who wants to keep the world safe for the one percent.
A Silicon Valley tech CEO has sparked backlash for comments slamming local fruit vendors, saying he would "make their life miserable" and "destroy" their produce if they were stationed near his house - making him the latest wealthy Californian entrepreneur to publicly rail against low-income people.
Mark Woodward, CEO of software company Invoca, published - and later deleted - a Facebook post saying that he would have no qualms about aggressively harassing unauthorized fruit sellers in his neighborhood if they got near his home.
"I would go out there and make their life miserable. I would do whatever it took to make them leave. If that meant destroying some of their produce, or standing out there with signs to chase everyone away, Or just making them very uncomfortable, I would do that in a heartbeat."
The comments were published on a public San Jose real estate page called Willow Glen Charm in response to an anonymous post complaining about fruit sellers. They mark only the latest example of a male tech CEO making aggressive, insensitive and tone-deaf remarks about people less fortunate than them.
Asked for comment on Monday, Woodward declined to apologize. "There were some other incidents leading up to this that led to my emotional reaction," he said in a statement sent by a spokeswoman.
"I removed the statements because I realized bringing a nuanced conversation to a social forum where it could be taken out of context was not the best way to bring resolution to a serious, multi-faceted issue."
Woodward's comments come at a time when experts have increasingly raised concerns about the way tech firms have exacerbated income inequality, with low-income workers and people of color increasingly struggling to make ends meet in the northern California communities that are home to some of the wealthiest companies in the world. I'll 'make their life miserable': tech CEO bullies low-income vendors by his home The Guardian - 21 hours ago
One wonders how a wealthy digital corporate CEO has the time to declare a war on poor people. One also wonders about the condition of the individual's soul whose behavior makes Ebenezer Scrooge look like the Good Witch Of The North from The Wizard Of Oz.
Instead of maximizing greed and avarice, what would it be like if Google, Apple ,Oracle and others invested money and assistance in helping to reduce the numbers of homeless and to assist poor people, especially people of color in Northern California ? This humanitarian effort would be greatly welcomed and would resonate with the mission of these companies in their attempt to improve the quality of life and commerce through the use of technology.
Unfortunately, the explosion of technology has produced, as a byproduct, not only a continuing digital divide between those who have access to the technology versus those who don't, but also contributes to further income inequality.
There is nothing wrong with making lots of money; the challenge becomes what can you do with your resources that will improve the lives of others and of the world ?
It used to be that the wolf would try to blow down the door of the home of "the three little pigs "; now it's a tech CEO who bullies and threatens to destroy a fruit stand in his neighborhood.
As the saying goes "They don't make wolves like they used to. "
Hopefully love and compassion can win out again over i8gnorance.
May it be so.