High Tech Companies, Inequality, and Inclusive Prosperity

Dynamic entrepreneurial companies have long been the drivers of America’s economic growth, from the first industrial revolution in New England to Andrew Carnegie and the rise of Pittsburgh’s steel industry, from Henry Ford and the automotive industry in Detroit to the startup revolution in Silicon Valley. But, in recent years, high-tech firms and the talented people who work for them have come under fire for driving up housing prices and contributing to growing inequality—especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, where mounting protests have targeted both techies and tech companies.

This is not just coming from local activist groups but from leading U.S. politians. As Senator Cory Booker, a potential 2020 presidential candidate put it this summer: “We’ve got to start having a conversation in this country: How are we going to measure the success of the tech sector?” Booker asked. “Is it by its ability to create a small handful of billionaires, or the ability for us to create pro-democracy forces — empowering individuals, improving quality of life, improving financial security, expanding opportunity — the kind of things we want largely for democracy?”

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Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons / Patrick Nouhailler