Los Angeles/California is perhaps one of the most frustrating places to live when it comes to tech. Here, we have one of the largest growing and existing tech centers in the world. Yet there’s a lot of nonsensical problems mired by resistance in ancient managerial culture that plagues this state and city.
I’ve been meaning to write this blog for some time now but I’ve procrastinated for a variety of reasons. But I feel that I wanted to toss my head into this just because I think it’s about time to lay down the hammer and blast my frustration with a variety of problems that probably won’t be solved in the near future (or perhaps never).
I want to pick on Los Angeles more than the rest of California just because of its somewhat unique problem of the worst traffic around. It feels that every year, the traffic in Los Angeles becomes exponentially worse as people continue to migrate here because of the supposed job market. That scenario as a whole creates such an avalanche of issues that can be easily solved with some common sense. Unfortunately, the state and people are simply too stupid and possibly afraid of correcting them that you really don’t see any true progress in what’s described as a progressive city/state.
As a tech worker, my biggest issue by far is just dealing with the commute. Anyone living here has to make substantial sacrifices whether it’s living close and paying up the bunghole for an overpriced apartment or living further and going insane from dealing with the terribly “architected” (a term I use VERY loosely) freeway system. The sad thing is that anyone in tech will understand that we now have the capability of working remote since the advances in video conferencing, chat, etc. have opened up tons of possibilities. Unfortunately, most management, for whatever reason (which I will discuss later), continues to require onsite employment. Why? Because there’s this 1984 Orwellian/Machiavellian necessity to see people in attendance with their fingers on their keyboards? It’s utterly insane and stupid.
Because of this situation, not only do you get the bad traffic but you also deal with issues such as parking, office space, overpriced food, etc. It almost seems like a conspiracy set by the state to create these hostile work environments of oppression to sustain these leech industries. And it really makes zero business sense. Think about it. People who don’t have to commute can help save a company tons of money for equipment, electricity, building cost, parking, etc. This can even drill down into the newer perks like snacks. It abhors me when I see a company that doesn’t provide these basic necessities just because of how much trouble the typical worker has to endure just to do a basic job.
But imagine how much better the freeway system and smog issues in LA would be overall by mandating more remote work. So you can say that businesses that can allow for remote/offsite work are actually impacting the environment in a very negative sense by enforcing people to be onsite. How the state continues to allow this very obvious crime to the environment to go by without complaint mystifies me (well it doesn’t but again that will be discussed later).
The other thing that remote work will allow is reducing the overall cost for people dealing with cars. A coworker of mine the other day had car issues. If she were to work offsite, then her car problem wouldn’t exist. Instead, the CEO (ungraciously) commented about her having a hotfix in a very public chat. That was not cool at all as people all have issues. If your leaders cannot accept that people have problems, how can we trust them? But at least removing the car aspect reduces the overall unreliability. I mean, you can have all types of uncertainties like car accidents, etc. that endanger people. People are in this constant mental state of constipation as a result of the Machiavellian work environments that it turns the roads into an area of war.
On top of all this, allowing remote work would provide opportunities for people to afford housing outside of the state. Of course, that’s where I think the real conspiracy lies. The state has zero desire to let these high paid workers escape because it’ll lose on taxes. But the problem is going to pop sooner or later just because the state refuses to acknowledge nor do anything to resolve the issue of unaffordable housing.
Yet what happens when you get another large company like a Toyota seeking a far friendlier tax free state like Texas? The state would like to think of itself as being this free market serving entity but in truth the values that the state has with the perception of what it is are in absolute conflict. You need some level of control to deal with this insanity if you look at the larger picture. Once the state becomes completely unaffordable, people and companies will gradually leave in droves. Already in SF this is happening and many are migrating down south to Los Angeles. But it’ll happen here too even though it’s already oversaturated and problematic when it comes to the cost.
Now, you (and the state) might argue that California, or Los Angeles at least, is doing something with the Metro. But let’s be frank here. The Metro is a fucking joke. Los Angeles has a world last class public transportation system. In reality, this city requires a subway system along with a massive increase in trains running along the coast and in between rather than key points in the city. The current architecture of the Metro doesn’t allow for speedy commutes since it doesn’t connect with enough zones.
I think part of the issue that Los Angeles/California like to make up is the whole earthquake problem. It’s probably the same lame excuse for refusing to build more vertical structures to save on land. But if the so-called massive earthquake comes, it won’t matter. And we don’t get that many earthquakes, much less huge ones. Why not just say fuck it and just do it? Of course, the problem is that the city is scared shitless when it comes to being so fucking afraid of lawsuits. See how all these issues keep trickling down? It’s not really trickle down economics. It’s more like trickling diarrhea. The easiest solution for that problem is simply to gather up all the asshole lawyers and put them in a shooting range with assaults rifles. But you’ll never see that dream happen here.
Nonetheless, the city really needs to stop being a bunch of scared shitheads and hunker down and build a real subway system. The city wants to make things look nice on the outside. It’ll do stupid, useless shit like create an LA Live in Downtown but it won’t front the money on the real things needed. Who cares about having a shitty nightlife when you can’t even take care of the bare necessities for a sustainable future.
I mean I can go on ranting but I want to address some of the points I mentioned from before. First, the whole Machiavellian onsite environment point I believe is this ancient ideology that stems from how things are taught in management schools. I’ve heard that many MBA programs require their students to read The Prince, which might be why companies create Orwellian nightmarish workplaces.
But I also believe or perhaps wouldn’t be surprised if venture capitalists have their hand in this as well. I think there’s this perception or obsession even of having these huge offices with all onsite workers to show the world. It’s like a bragging right by these CEOs to demonstrate what a powerhouse place they run. However, I feel that so many of these people don’t recognize the plights they put their workers through and the sycophants that they surround themselves with end up cockblocking any sense of sanity since people prefer to hear their own voice rather than an opposing voice which probably will be far more reasonable than their own.
Going back to that VC point, I remember at one of my first start ups how the VCs were so bent on having us hire. The magic number for us was 200. Why though? It’s this whole old school mentality again. My current place is the same way. I mean it’s exciting but to me you have to justify each of those numbers by quantifying what each person will do to really require having that amount.
This one guy from Monster I met in Japan told me that most companies end up overhiring then doing mass layoffs at some point. I know Goldman Sachs does this as they layoff the lowest performing 10% every year. But with that type of work culture, it’s no wonder why the US economy (and possibly world economy) is so unstable and untrustworthy. So in our case, I can see the relationship between what the guy from Monster said, what the VCs probably are pushing for (although we do actually make money which is good) and this crazy hiring spree.
Now, how this all relates to LA is that it’s just pure chaos how this situation operates. It’s not sustainable and yet it goes unchecked. The VCs, banks, corporations and government allow for this mass of chaos rather than trying to come up with a better structure for a sustainable future. Instead, what will happen is that these companies just will eventually burn through their cash, people get laid off, the housing market will go up and down, but the cost will remain high while the confidence in these companies and environment will shatter over time until the next big thing comes around. Why not just try to build a stable company with a future? Why not just try to build a stable environment for a future with sense instead of fueling these archaic means that only benefit key people?
Oh because I did mention key people. Unless you’re the top guy, VC, lawyers, state officials, etc. you’re fucked in this whole thing. I’ve sat down long enough to see the bigger picture and it all makes sense now. Your best bet is to save up enough and figure out a secondary source of income while aiming for a less populated state with an affordable housing market and tolerant people. Otherwise, staying in Los Angeles will gradually take out everything from you.
You see, as I mentioned previously, the reason why the state doesn’t do a damn thing is because the officials in charge are all a bunch of lying shits. They like to present themselves as being people for the masses here. They have these ideals like being against Trump, etc. But in truth their all tools because they’re already bought out and owned by companies like Google, the auto industry, etc. The only way they survive is through attempting to appease them while smiling at you and making you believe they’re on your side. But they aren’t. The only side they are on is their own as they’ve always have been.
That’s why you have to ignore what they say and only look at what’s being done on a whole. You have to look at your local community and ask whether or not things have improved for the better. Has the whole Obamacare thing helped you or put a new dent in your pocket book? Has the constant increase in taxes improved roads? All I see is pot holes and constant, slow construction which never fixes the potholes that seem to re-pop up all the time.
The real issues that matter are the ones that no one talks about. They aren’t fascinating nor cool but very practical ones that are small and eat into your wallets. Most people blindly accept how things are because they’re trained from day one to turn their head sideways from looking at the true problems. Instead, we get nonsense like race or Trump vs Hollywood.
But honestly, who gives a shit about Hollywood and Trump? They’re so far removed that they shouldn’t matter. Yet we’re obsessed because they’re on our screens (well, maybe yours because I do my best to ignore it all). They aren’t people I know personally nor have they done a single thing for me to improve my life (well, admittedly if Trump gets his way, my taxes ought to go down to 25% which is AWESOME so more to Trump not to mention potentially raising my salary due to the H1B Visa controversy).
At any rate, I’m so checked out of California and Los Angeles I’m just biding my time. I only stay because of the job market but it’s basically with a sharp knife slitting my wrist very slowly and watching myself bleed my remnants of blood. Yeah the food is good and mostly the weather works out. But those are material things compared to peace of mind, which I don’t really get here anymore. The life is so overrated here that it really isn’t worth it to me. Sadly, moving is expensive and tough so I can’t just get up and go. Otherwise, I’d probably be in Vegas by now.