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i literally want to vomit
I don't normally post links to articles here, because that's what Facebook is for. But this one takes the fucking cake: Scraping by on six figures? Tech workers feel poor in Silicon Valley's wealth bubble @ The Guardian.

I (foolishly) read it before work and legit felt queasy all morning. At lunch I opened up the front page to see if anything stupid happened in America and stumbled across the headline again and started ranting and raving at my team I was so sickened and appalled. I posted it on my Facebook and one tech worker acquaintance I added and immediately unfollowed years ago replied with some kind of libertarian apologism about how oh well 100k isn't all that much in the Bay Area wah wah wah fucking rich man tears. SHUT THE FUCK UP.

This is probably the number one reason why I hate working in this industry since 2010ish. Perhaps this kind of selfishness was always a part of the industry and I never noticed, perhaps I was a part of it in my 20s and I was too young and stupid to care... But something has definitely changed. I remember working with several people in Toronto who had this attitude that they were so hard-done-by, and ditto at my last job in Berlin. Even my current job where I have nurtured a team of hardcore SJWs and we are all bleeding heart liberals, there are a few folks on other teams who I know are gunning for the money. It's disgraceful, it's honestly disgraceful.

I don't even know how much I earn. That's how privileged I am. I get paid SO FUCKING MUCH that I can afford to not even care. I don't ever check my bank account. I don't think about what I am spending money on. I just buy whatever I want, whenever I want. Because I know I will never, ever spend more than I earn. (Admittedly I pretty much only spend money on good food and own next to no "stuff", but still.)

I looked it up the other day, because a colleague asked me. I realized I was at about 62k (€). Dear friends, that is a significant pay cut from what I was earning when I lived in Toronto about 4 years ago. But - come on - Berlin is insanely cheap. A pint of beer at the corner store runs about 80 cents. My apartment is about 350-400 per month (not sure exactly how much because, yes, privilege - I don't need to worry). But, you know, although I have the most experience of everyone working at my company, although my boss says I am pretty much the lynchpin and he'd do anything to get me back, I am earning less than the two other team leads who are 5 years younger than I am and 10 years less experienced. Because - unlike them - I am not chasing the almighty dollar. In fact, I told my boss, do not give me a raise or I will leave this job sooner. Every time I get a bonus I donate most of it to my friends and to various "good causes" online because I am ashamed I am getting so much money for sitting on my ass playing with a computer. I respect employers LESS who pay me more, because they are contributing to the salary inflation of tech workers and are essentially agents of inequity.

Of course, I love this privilege. I love never having to worry about money while I work. I love that I can show up to work at 11am with a hangover and ripped jeans and dick around for a few hours and still earn three times as much as my friends who are on their feet all day, breaking their backs for a penny. It's a good fucking life. But it is wrong. It is fucking WRONG. I don't care if the software I build makes a ton of money. It is wrong wrong wrong for people to do what I do and then still complain that houses and childcare and taxes and whatever is so expensive. FUCK THESE GUYS. I cannot even. I cannot. Even. It makes me sick that so many upper-middle class people are so ignorant, or so shameless. It makes me sick that these people are my colleagues and my customers. (Especially my customers, since the majority of my company's clients are tech companies in the Bay Area.) It makes me sick when I look in my bank account and see more money in there than most of my friends earn in a year. This is not right.

My colleagues would say, well that's the way it is. Invest that money. Put down a deposit on a house, or buy some property, or put it in stocks so you will still have a life when you retire. But it's not right. I am not willing to artificially make myself "poor" by sinking my cash into investments. Then I am basically The Man and contributing even more to everything that is wrong in society.

Ugh, it makes me so sick. Money makes me sick. People who chase the money make me sick. And people who have ALL THE FUCKING MONEY complaining that they don't have enough money are pretty much the worst.

Yes, you didn't get a weekend political rant from me, but apparently I'm having a case of the Mondays so bon appétit.

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This is the biggest difference between leftist and liberals, i think. Classism. We both make too much money in the tech industry and try to donate and all that. we don't need shit. because we're not classist fucks and fuck captialism and consumerism.

These clowns on the other hand..... UGH. yeah, that pisses me off too.

I do think I may buy land/house at some point. I know property is theft and all that, but i like having a home base.

It never really occurred to me that this might be classism, perhaps because I am upper middle class born and bred, so I don't really have the experience of being a hard-scrabble kid who made it big and can now contrast the lifestyles. But definitely many of my friends were hard-scrabble kids, and plenty of them are musos and artists and other grown-up folk who are still barely eking out a living working far harder than I am. It baffles me when rich people look at poor people and just think that they aren't working hard enough, or that they don't deserve the same small pleasures.

I was going to make a longer reply to you about land/property is theft because I wanted a couple days to think about it, but now I blew my wad on replying to mermaidnihilist (see below). On a more philosophical level, I am not sure what my ideal fantasy world would be. Perhaps we have technology that makes building and maintaining apartments so cheap that there will always be more houses than people so people just move in and out as they want. Or perhaps all property should be owned by neighborhood co-ops that you just buy into when you move in and divest when you leave.

Haha. I just want to know how to get a job like yours.

Entry level tech workers in Berlin net upwards of 35k, and that's not even necessarily with university - just with a good portfolio. Most people with my experience (~15 years in the industry with several years of management) are earning a lot more than I am. Go outside of Berlin to the rest of Germany and salaries are 15-20% higher. Go to somewhere like London, NYC, Toronto, Sydney etc and it's higher again. It's sickening how much money tech workers earn.

Of course it's hyperbole that we just sit around tapping keys all day. It is stressful work, and it does require specific skills that not everyone has... but so does fixing a car or cutting hair or serving tables. What drives me insane is that tech workers have extremely inflated salaries compared to people in other jobs, which is exactly what caused the erosion of the middle class in places like the Bay Area in the first place.

And why do we get paid so much? Because a bunch of unimaginably rich venture capitalists throw millions at every half-wit with a website, gambling that 1 in 100 will become the next Facebook or Google. The whole industry is full of startups who build nothing of value and just leech off bazillionaire gamblers to fund vanity projects and a perpetual university experience.

Meanwhile all of the regular people with regular jobs don't share in any of the profligacy, but benevolent oligarchs try to convince them that the world is better off because untrained, non-union, soon-to-be-replaced-by-robots private drivers are cheaper than taxis. Or that the loss of all your privacy is a small price to pay for keeping in touch with friends or having cheap consumer goods delivered to your front door. Urghhh.

Yes, it's clearly time for a sabbatical. This job makes me feel so dirty.

Edited at 2017-02-28 09:04 pm (UTC)

Excellent answer. But what does one have to do to become a 'tech worker'?

That's a good question. I was lucky enough to be able to teach myself BASIC programming as a kid on our microcomputer and then sneak into the industry while working as an unskilled office temp stuffing envelopes. People can still teach themselves programming (usually JavaScript), but I think switching over from office temping is less common. People these days tend to build a personal brand by setting up a profile on GitHub and showing off code that takes things a little further than just regurgitating a training course or so-called "boot camp".

But it's not just developers who can get a good paycheck. Designers who can show a portfolio with good grasp of typography, color and awareness of responsive design are needed. Product managers, who are basically people who can talk to customers, prioritize their needs and communicate to anti-social engineering types are needed. Plus various other tech-specialized knowledge workers like high-quality support staff and marketing guys. I consider all of them tech workers, to some degree. The line is definitely a bit hazy these days, though.

Good for you, I'm definitely house poor. But I needed that security of owning property... not sure what I'll do when my mortgage term is up. I honestly didn't even really consider doing anything else!
I agree about people making all the money complaining.. I guess it's never enough.

The house thing is something I have gone back and forth on. One of my best friends sold her condo in Toronto and bought a place in Windsor that she could buy outright and now she is a lot more relaxed and happy, despite living in a (relatively) small town. She has not been working for the past ~6 months or so - she can't afford to retire just yet, but owning your own place outright makes it a lot easier to take long breaks from work.

Not gonna lie, a few months ago I was looking at property in SK and Southern Alberta because I could almost afford to outright buy a mobile home there. But I chickened out in the end, because I feel like it's inevitable I will want to travel again someday, and then what? Then I am just making some prairie lawyers and real estate agents rich by having a house go through three owners in however many years. I feel like the European system where many buildings are owned by rental companies and people just move in and out as tenants is less wasteful and more encouraging of freedom and diversity.

On the other hand, a lot of people I know don't see being able to travel on a whim as a fundamental right and as critical to freedom as I do... I wonder if this might have contributed to my problems in long-term relationships? I know a lot of people see buying property as security or empowerment, whereas I see it as voluntarily putting yourself into chains. Fascinating how people can differ on some really core values like this.

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