Doing It Wrong was OK

The thing that bothered me most about working in Silicon Valley, back in the Nineties, was its corrupt morality – and everyone’s acceptance of this. It never occurred to anyone to object.

Only now, 20 years later, and living in another country, have I been able to put it into words – before, it was just a vague dissatisfaction that no one wanted to talk about, when I was back in the Valley.

Looking back at it, I can see this began much earlier, right after WWII – in America as a whole. It was then the most powerful nation in history, but it went into a long decline – caused largely by its moral corruption.

Most people will object to my saying this. “What’s morality got to do with business?” They will demand. My answer is simple – it has everything to do with business. Without it, the Economy falls apart – because no one can trust anyone else.

I don’t have to look very far for an example – my home town of Ft. Madison, Iowa. And my father’s example as a small businessman. He was not above shady business practices. He grew up in the Depression, and realized the only way to get ahead – was by working the system – to his advantage.

His father did not do this, and ended up a cripple for the rest of his life. He was going to get ahead, no matter what it took. WWII made him rich, and he took this to be a sign of divine approval (he was very religious, even self-righteous).

Ft. Madison at the time was a busy Industrial city, with lots of jobs. Now, 50 years later it is part of the Rust Belt – with no jobs at all. Everyone can see this – but cannot see why. They cannot see the connection between morality and a successful economy – and don’t want to.

Self-righteous people – and a corrupt economy. This is what I experienced, in Silicon Valley in the Nineties. The self-righteousness had become neoliberalism, but the attitude remained the same. Grab the goodies, before someone else grabbed them.

A race to the bottom.


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