News

Silicon Valley report shows a 'region at risk'

Annual Index of Silicon Valley shows area's economic engine is stalled

With rising competition from Bangalore to Beijing, Silicon Valley's dominance as the world's innovation hub is "at risk as never before," a local think tank has concluded.

In an exhaustive study of the region's economy and health, Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network said the rise of countries such as China and India, coupled with California's legislative gridlock, is "draining the lifeblood of funding and foreign talent from Silicon Valley."

"Silicon Valley's innovation engine has driven the region's prosperity for 60 years, but at the moment we're stalled," Joint Venture CEO Russell Hancock stated in the group's 16th annual Index of Silicon Valley.

"What's hard to say is whether we're stuck in neutral, which has happened before, or whether it's time now for a complete overhaul."

This year's index is co-sponsored by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

The 72-page index analyzes scores of barometers of the region's health, from the number of global patent collaborations and industry-by-industry venture investment to the English language proficiency of third graders in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. The report can be found online at JointVenture.com.

Key findings include:

▪ Silicon Valley lost 90,000 jobs between 2008 and 2009, leaving 11 percent of the workforce unemployed, about a point above the national unemployment average

▪ The number of "green jobs" has increased but still represents a small fraction of the Valley's overall economy

▪ Real per-capita income has fallen locally, though it remains far higher than state or national averages

▪ Silicon Valley's "economic engine has cooled" by many measures such as patents, venture-capital investment and office vacancies

▪ Driven by foreign immigration, the Valley's population continued to grow in 2009 but at a slower pace than before

▪ Housing prices are down

▪ High school graduation rates are up slightly, but the proportion of graduates meeting entrance requirements for the University of California or the California State University systems has dipped below 50 percent

▪ Silicon Valley drivers are driving less and shifting to cleaner-running vehicles

▪ Compared to other regions, Valley taxpayers still contribute a disproportionately high share of personal income tax revenue to the state, though the share has fallen

▪ Nearly half the residents of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties -- 48 percent -- do not speak English at home. Of the non-English tongues, Asian or Pacific Islander languages top the list at 43 percent, with Spanish at 39 percent.

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Foreign-born talent, particularly in science and engineering, has been a linchpin of the Valley's success in past decades, but that dynamic is at risk, Hancock believes.

Fully 60 percent of the Valley's science and engineering workforce was born outside of the United States, mostly from India, China and Korea, according to the Index.

But "some who have lived and worked here for years are beginning to 'go home,'" observes Tom Friel, retired board chair of the executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles.

"This is a troubling trend, exacerbated by our dysfunctional national immigration policy agenda, and if not addressed will have significant negative impact on our future as a region."

In addition, the percentage of foreign-born students earning science and engineering degrees in Silicon Valley has declined since 2003, dropping from 18 percent to 16.6 percent in 2007. The influx was hit first by tightened restrictions under Homeland Security after Sept. 11, Hancock said.

Friel stressed the importance of supporting education and training for the local population, "natural and immigrant alike," and doing whatever possible to keep the region attractive to talent from around the world.

At the same time, he said, "I don't think it's realistic or healthy to continue to rely on such a large inflow of engineering and science talent from abroad, particularly from Asia. This inflow has been the source of much of the Valley's historic edge in innovation, but conditions for these immigrants, support for their education, financing for their business ideas, have improved in their home countries and declined here."

Even as attracting and retaining top talent remains important to the region, California's investment in higher education is declining. While the total number of science and engineering degrees has leveled off, the percentage conferred to foreign students has been sliding in both the state and nation as a whole, the report notes.

"California state policy has become a hindrance to our innovation potential, not only because of our failure to invest but also because our government is not addressing important problems," Hancock said.

Friel added, "Many in the region, including some in our local and state leadership, somehow have come to believe that we occupy this position of leading economic region by divine right rather than hard work, prudent investment and sound policy.

"Nothing could be more wrong or more dangerous for our future in my view than this sense of entitlement and complacency.

"What we have been able to do historically, other countries and regions can also do and are beginning to show that they can and will."

---

The 90,000 Silicon Valley jobs lost between 2008 and 2009 involve nearly all sectors, from information products and services to life sciences, community infrastructure and manufacturing, according to the Index.

So-called "green" (environmental) business establishments and jobs showed a significant increase but still represent just 14,000 jobs in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties -- about the same number as in the medical-device industry.

"Silicon Valley's economic and innovation engine has cooled off," the report said, citing dips in patents and venture investment and a spike in office vacancies -- the highest since 1998.

"The level of investment continues to decline, and venture capitalists generally have not realized significant returns for the past decade.

"Investment is shifting away from software and semiconductors and into biotechnology, energy, medical devices and media."

Silicon Valley venture-capital investment in clean technology dropped to $1.2 billion last year after peaking at $1.9 billion in 2008.

The bulk of those were in energy generation (41 percent) and energy efficiency (26 percent).

But patent registrations in green technology in the Valley are growing.

From 2006 to 2008 more than 100 green-tech patents were registered from the region. The Valley accounts for an increasing percentage of green patents nationwide.

And the region "has continued to generate new companies and attract existing companies," the report said.

Between 2007 and 2008, Silicon Valley had a net gain of some 9,500 businesses of all kinds.

In terms of environmental habits, Valley residents are driving less and shifting to cleaner-running vehicles.

Per-capita fuel consumption has dropped 13 percent since 2000, far greater than the 2 percent statewide decline. Last year, Valley residents consumed 50 gallons of fuel less per person than other Californians.

---

When it comes to preparing Silicon Valley's workforce of the future, the picture is mixed.

The percentage of eighth-graders enrolled in Algebra 2 is slightly higher in Silicon Valley than in the state as a whole and, of those tested, 72 percent scored at the advanced level.

On the other hand, fewer Silicon Valley students are graduating from high school with a college-prep curriculum under their belts.

The region's dropout rate is only 10 percent -- about half the statewide rate -- but only 47 percent of high school graduates in 2007-08 met entrance requirements for the University of California or the California State University systems. That's 5 percent lower than the previous year.

At the same time, state general-fund spending on higher education dropped 17 percent in 2008, and total spending per student dropped 19 percent, the report notes.

"In order for the region to flourish, its companies need to be able to attract top talent to the region," Hancock said.

"If talent inflows from abroad become less reliable, the region will depend more on the development of domestic talent, which will require the strong commitment of public leaders largely outside the region to invest in education and training."

Despite the problems, Friel and others said they are optimistic that the historic resilience of the Valley remains strong.

"The challenges we face are significant, but none of them are unsolvable," Friel said.

"No other region in the world has a better opportunity for success. We have faced big challenges in the past and met them. Our challenge is to do it again."

Talk about it: What steps do you think must be taken to ensure the Valley's future prosperity? Share your opinion below on Town Square.

Related stories:

Disturbing trends darken Silicon Valley outlook

Valley residents hurting, but better off than others

EXCLUSIVE: Video of Joint Venture CEO Russell Hancock discussing the "2010 Index" report.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by hmm
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 11, 2010 at 12:02 am

Well, it was kind of obvious about two seconds into the Bush administration that this was going to happen, that they were going to kill the brain drain from other parts of the world that benefitted this country.

Health care is a bigger part of this equation than people realize, too. I know so many hugely talented people, who even have dual citizenships, who went back to other countries mainly because of our screwed up healthcare system. (Some because they can't afford to bring elderly family members here, or their kids have simple but chronic problems like asthma and allergies. Mostly, they just get fed up with being preyed upon financially.) Health insurance companies are both a parasitic drain on our economy and a huge impediment to innovation in medicine. (We are the only advanced nation that finances healthcare through for-profit insurers; some advanced nations have more highly privatized systems than ours, but in every case, their insurers are non-profit. Providers compete to do the best job instead of insurers competing to do the best job lying about what they cover and restricting doctors decisions. )

There's also the issue that this country has not been maintaining its infrastructure or investing in its people. Our reputation internationally matters to our business success. When we go from being the country that puts men on the moon to the country whose medical research is tainted because insurance companies manipulate treatment guidelines for their bottom line, eventually people won't automatically think of us when they need high tech solutions.


Like this comment
Posted by Norman Rogers
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2010 at 6:30 am

After living in Silicon Valley for 20 years I hightailed out when confronted by the house price and school problem - that was in 1987. Later, in 2005, when I sold my company I hightailed out of California as fast as I could. An affluent retired person living on dividends pays 60% more income tax in California and is always in AMT, meaning few deductions.

Years of stupid choices are finally catching up with California. Excessive taxation. Bloated education system. No growth policies. Stinky schools. From my perch in zero income tax Miami nothing is getting better in California and the slow decline continues driven by liberal politics.

Obama has absolutely no conception of economics and is doing his best to drive entrepreneurship into the toilet with cheap populism and vote buying.


Like this comment
Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2010 at 7:53 am

Thank for this well-written apologetics for increased population density and taxpayer-funded immigration. Well, at least we know where this paper stands. They are brave enough to say "We want you... To give your money to a bunch of pacific islanders to steal your jobs."

Asian Immigrants do not fuel Silicon valley. That's as racist as saying white people create civilization. If we spent more of our tax dollars on educating our kids, as opposed to funding the welfare of immigrants, both illegal and legal, we'd be able to quickly reboot Silicon Valley with our people

This media source lies through it's teeth


Like this comment
Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2010 at 7:54 am

I meant to say Thank you


Like this comment
Posted by andrea
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 11, 2010 at 8:21 am

I knew many brilliant foreign engineers who, despite doing extremely well in the Valley, returned to their home countries, mostly because of concerns about spiraling health-care costs. Unless one is a billionaire, a serious and prolonged illness could bankrupt a family.


Like this comment
Posted by Koa
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2010 at 9:18 am

Bet this makes all those people who dropped a million bucks on a condo a little nervous at the long-term outlook.


Like this comment
Posted by An Engineer
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 11, 2010 at 9:46 am

"we spent more of our tax dollars on educating our kids, as opposed to funding the welfare of immigrants, both illegal and legal, we'd be able to quickly reboot Silicon Valley with our people."

You are contradicting the conservative dogma that no correlation exists between money spent on education and educational excellence. Kindly explain your heresy.

Actually, Silicon Valley has exhibited the same hubris that Detroit did over cars and SoCal over aerospace: it thought it would be king forever. There's no such thing, kiddies. Talent concentrates in one place to develop a new paradigm, then diffuses as the field matures. Silicon Valley technology has been mature for at least a decade now.

Start watching for the Next Big Thing, which could happen anywhere at any time, or never anywhere. After all, who predicted Silicon Valley would happen here, or at all, until it was well underway?

And don't discount immigrants. The Manhattan Project, for example, could never have happened without immigrants, particularly Hungarian immigrants. Thank Hitler's anti-semitism for both the necessity and the means.


Like this comment
Posted by Capbreton
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2010 at 10:43 am

This article is -- almost -- achingly funny. The single biggest reason for the decline we are seeing is that the "venture" part of "venture capital" vanished years ago when Google showed Sand Hill Road that they could make a huge return by monetizing things that were already out there (on the Internet). At that point the Sand Hill crew realized they no longer had to dip into their money pool to create anything new -- that costs more and is, well, "risky" -- and innovation went right out the window.

Until this myopic and completely self-destructive mindset changes the Valley's engine will never restart as there are only a small, finite number of ways to monetize things that already exist.

So the problem really has nothing at all to do with AP course pass rates and H1 visa allocations. It's much closer to home.


Like this comment
Posted by 3rd generation
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Feb 11, 2010 at 11:07 am

all this grim news... yeegads...
sometimes lifted for a moment by fantasy...

pre-Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County was truly green
rolling green hills, fields populated by horses and cows
full of orchards, cots, cherries, peaches, pears

simple life, affordable by all, moms home, school buses, streets
full of ball games... baby buggies, Leave it to Beaver &
Father Knows Best

Sweet Memories


Like this comment
Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2010 at 11:27 am

I love immigrants. Just don't want to pay their welfare. If they want to come and make their own way, great. But don't say we're not doing enough to pay for them when the moneys short for us and when other things are going to pot, such as our infrastructure


Like this comment
Posted by Proud south PA Resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 11, 2010 at 11:55 am

So...I'd just like to say that innovation is still happening here in Silicon Valley. While we are at the very front end(internationally and regionally) of biotech and energy industry revolution. SV has as good a chance as anyone if we are optimistic, strategic, and work hard.

A biotech company I'm associated with is hammering out patents and making excellent international inroads. We'll all be hearing more soon. Good people are working quietly and diligently to start new businesses that are small now...(Haven't we seen this before? Negativism is not the mother of invention. It's true. These achievements are happening in spite of, rather the with, the help of our state and regional governments, but that is not new.

Yes. Health insurance is a problem that must be fixed. I couldn't agree more...but let's not admit defeat before the battle has been fought.

Every single one of us has a role to play in moving the Valley forward. Let's each do our bit...Stop the blame game. It gets us nowhere.

As for government...We need the federal govt. to fix health care AND immigration laws to encourage skilled, productive immigrants and their immediate families to stay (including aging parents).

We need our state government to get rid of Prop 13, to restructure tax laws so they work. (Seniors complain about their high income taxes, but they forget that as the longest term residents, they pay far less in property taxes.) Further, the tax burden has shifted from businesses to residents with Prop 13. We need to even that out so everyone is paying their fair share. Prop 13 has become so regressive it is killing our state, making it impossible for real estate markets to function. Who would want to move here now? The property tax burden for new residents is oppressive. It's ironic that big corporations who supported Prop 13 because they are the prime beneficiaries now complain that we aren't developing housing fast enough to accomodate regional growth. Can we please work together to find solutions that don't punish new residents for coming here?

WHAT are YOU personally, as an active participant in a democracy, doing to make things better? Every generation and region faces its challenges. Step up. Read legislation, write your legislators. Be a deeply informed and active participant in the decisions that are shaping our state and region.

Stop whining. Let's get off our duffs and get to work!


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 11, 2010 at 12:51 pm

The US is the only country in the world that thinks it can spend thousands of dollars per person to subsidize middleman insurance companies. The only way the US will be able to maintain its standard of living is by figuring out how to control health care costs and still provide better care than we do now. There are a lot of options out there -- just look at every other industrialized country but us. The cost of healthcare is what is dragging the US economy down and making it hard to compete in the world marketplace.


Like this comment
Posted by litebug
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2010 at 1:13 pm

(former resident 1970-2008, now an economic exile in Oregon)

It's sad and infuriating to read all this scapegoating of immigrants for the myriad problems in Silicon Valley and in this country. It's a dangerous and despicable form of denial, largely based on a steady diet of manipulative misinformation from the likes of Lou Dobbs and the other right-wing blowhards. Whenever times are hard, people who have a mean, selfish, nasty streak immediately seize on someone less fortunate to use as a scapegoat rather than looking in the mirror, obtaining factual information rather than propaganda, or reading history.

California's fate was sealed with the passage of Prop 13. I said so then and I stand by it now. What's worse, it started a national trend that has led to a complete deterioration of "the commons", the very idea of which has been vilified by those seeking to privatize every single thing. Now the SCOTUS has codified corporate fascism.

Government, which is supposed to be "we the people", has been treated as an evil entity, a most unpatriotic attitude. For if the people, in a Democracy, are against their own government, it is pretty much all over. STUPID PEOPLE!

People think they can get something for nothing. They want highways, schools, sewers, bridges, police, fire, parks, and all the other things without paying any taxes. I guess they think the tooth fairy is going to pay for it. Such an attitude, so prevalent in this county of increasingly stupid, childish, uneducated and deliberately misinformed people, will be the death of this noble experiment in Democracy.

See what's happening in Colorado Springs where the "no taxes, government is bad" right-wing mantra is playing out to its extreme.


Like this comment
Posted by An Engineer
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 11, 2010 at 1:22 pm

"See what's happening in Colorado Springs where the "no taxes, government is bad" right-wing mantra is playing out to its extreme."

Ironic, ain't it, that COS is basically a government company town: Fort Carson, Air Force Academy, Shriever AFB, and scads of retirees on DoD pensions. No government, no COS.


Like this comment
Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Hey Litebug, you think I'm brainwashed by Lou Dobbs and I think you're brainswashed by the libs. And I have endured your leftwing mantra my whole life. I'm not a rightwinger, but you blame the taxpayers for not wanting to fund immigration, especially illegals, then don't want us to blame the immigrants and people like you. Hypocrite


Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Ventura
on Feb 11, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Gunslinger, why aren't you happy? The country is so far to the Right of where it was in the LBJ era we're off the scale.


Like this comment
Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 11, 2010 at 2:26 pm

The party is over in California. Deteriorating bond ratings will determine the future direction of CA, no matter who is in power.

California companies want to hire foreign nationals, especially from India and China, because they are the elites in their own countries, and they are not whiners. In California, we do not favor the indigenous elites, in fact we punish them.

When I hear talk about blaming Prop. 13 and health care insurance issues, I can only sigh...here we go again. This is all just rehashed rhetoric to tax the rich, thus chasing even more of them out of the state.

The game is over. California will go into a major economic decline, and there is no way to stop it.


Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 11, 2010 at 2:29 pm

an interesting question w/regards to "immigrants" - how much money do they spend in CA vs. how much is sent "back home?" I am speaking both of low-wage illegals and the much-touted top classes from China and India.


Like this comment
Posted by An Engineer
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 11, 2010 at 2:35 pm

"you blame the taxpayers for not wanting to fund immigration, especially illegals, then don't want us to blame the immigrants"

Seems to me immigrants come here responding to free market opportunitiies, like all those jobs our effete Facebooking kids can't do. Drive the Salinas Valley and tell me how many blondes you see working in the fields. Anybody who thinks the government is funding illegal immigratiom (other than porkbarreling those silly boondoggles along the Mexico border), is hereby challenged to prove it.


Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Ventura
on Feb 11, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Funny thing about this report. The quote says "but only 47 percent of high school graduates in 2007-08 met entrance requirements for the University of California or the California State University systems. That's 5 percent lower than the previous year."

But, UC has long set its requirements so that about 12.5% of California High School graduates qualify, and the actual number has varied over the years between 10-15%, I recall. So, if 47%, or 53%, qualify in a given year, that seems pretty good compared to the average for the state overall?


Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 11, 2010 at 2:41 pm

> “WHAT are YOU personally, as an active participant in a democracy, doing to make things better? Every generation and region faces its challenges. Step up. Read legislation, write your legislators. Be a deeply informed and active participant in the decisions that are shaping our state and region.”

Does anyone believe that individual citizens have a voice with legislators? The voices that are heard are those with big money behind them. After the Citizens United Supreme Court decisions – it will only get worse.


Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Ventura
on Feb 11, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Simple. We need a Constitutional Amendment declaring that Corporations, Unions, non-profits, partnerships, and other associations and entities, are not People. At the same time, Corporations need to be registered and regulated at the Federal level. Enough of this nonsense where California interest rates are regulated by South Dakota (or is it North Dakota?).



Like this comment
Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 11, 2010 at 2:59 pm

"Drive the Salinas Valley and tell me how many blondes you see working in the fields"

If you drove through that valley in the 1930s you would have seen many blondes. They (Oakies) eventually moved into the packing sheds, then into tractor driving, and so on up the mechanization chain. Much current field labor could be done by automation, except that Cesaer Chavez put an end to research in that area, at UC Davis. His is but one example of how California has decided to commit economic suicide. Opposition to high tech seeds (GM) is another example of how head-in-the-sand our policies have been. Throw nuclear power on top of that.

We are toast. And the bond rating agencies understand this.


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 11, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Just looking at the Silicon Valley "stats" is misleading. We have to look also at India and China to understand what is going on here. A much bigger picture is needed to understand our situation. Both India and China are clawing their way into the 21st Century. They both have a lot of motivation to sacrifice and work harder than Americans do.

Without including wages and total costs associated with employing people and operating businesses here .. this sort of report does not do justice to the discussion, or to planning for the future.

For instance, what future costs (taxes, for example) will the Silicon Valley have to pay for infrastructure that will be needed to replace aging infrastructure? or the so-called High-Speed Rail. Is not having it causing companies to suffer in any way? Will the additional taxes that will be required to pay for it be significant in any way to cause companies to leave? These questions need answers.

And the issue of education is very interesting. It doesn't seem to matter how much we spend on education, the quality of the output does not seem to match the value of the dollars input. There is every reason to think that the talent pool for a world-class R&D center the size of the Silicon Valley (and the Bay Area in general) might need to be world-wide, so that spending more money on education will never produce enough workers from the regional pool to satisfy the Valley's needs.


Like this comment
Posted by Somewhere in Palo Alto
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Proud south PA Resident said:

"(Seniors complain about their high income taxes, but they forget that as the longest term residents, they pay far less in property taxes.)"

And you don't seem to understand that your income is much higher than that of many of the senior citizens who live here. I am not a senior yet, still have a child in the schools and I can barely afford my property taxes on my house bought years ago.

Either your income is much higher to afford your really expensive home, or you made a very large down payment... either way you are richer than many local seniors.

So, please let us know how long time residents are supposed to be higher property taxes they can't afford? And, if you say they ought to borrow money (such as in a reverse mortgage scheme), I'll respond: we'll be ready to do that the day YOU will be willing to pay your property taxes with debt, including to pay taxes that have become much higher through no fault of your own.

Other than that I agree with many of the posts above about health care, and the lack of taxes levied on commercial properties. Also I don't think immigrants, legal or not, should be able to bring their aging parents to this state and then go on to claim all kinds of welfare and medicare, medicaid, and other government help for the aging parents who spent their working years overseas and come here to be taken care of by California taxpayers,


Like this comment
Posted by Somewhere in Palo Alto
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2010 at 5:06 pm

I meant to say...

"So, please let us know HOW time residents are supposed to be higher property taxes they can't afford?"...


Like this comment
Posted by Somewhere in Palo Alto
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2010 at 5:08 pm

One more try, sorry:

"So, please let us know how long-time residents would be supposed to pay higher property taxes they can't afford?


Like this comment
Posted by litebug
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Engineer and John, I totally agree with you.

We must end corporate personhood and reinstate sensible regulations on corporate behavior. But good luck with that, given the latest SCOTUS ruling.

And, while we're at it, why not put the tax rate back where it was during the Eisenhower era, when the rich paid their fair share and the country prospered? And eliminating the cap on Social Security taxes would more than solve that problem.

The cause and cure of the immigration problem is with EMPLOYERS. Start seriously and consistenting enforcing existing laws against employing illegals, send some employers to jail, impose some hefty fines, and solve the immigration problem. Wages will then rise. It is the employers who keep this going, with a wink and a nod from the authorities, because they don't want to pay decent, living wages. So they exploit undocumented workers.

To blame those at the bottom of society, the poorest and least powerful, rather than those at the top, in business and government, who are making the decisions and determining the direction of things, it just ludicrous and totally misguided.

Gunslinger, I think you shot yourself in the foot with your barely literate rant that mischaracterized what I said. I have been a taxpayer my entire life, as have many people, so get off your self-righteous pedestal. Some of us think that paying our taxes is our patriotic duty. If we were allowed to designate what our money should go for (an idea I would welcome), mine would not go for wars and propping up Wall Street. Those are the things consuming all the resources, not the poor immigrants. The powerful want you to focus your anger and frustration at the powerless rather than where it belongs, at them. "There are none so blind as those who will not see."

Besides, haven't you heard? Things are now so bad in the USA that some immigrants are going back home or deciding not to come here. In fact, Americans are moving to other countries where the cost of living is cheaper and there is medical care. This is happening so much that it is alarming some countries where Americans are flooding in, driving prices through the roof and taxing infrastructure. Retirees are flooding into Mexico, for example. I heard today that Canada is processing many times the usual number of requests for Canadian citizenship from fleeing Americans.

We on the left have heard all our lives, "if you don't like it here, then leave" or "love it or leave it". So I'm throwing it back at ya! Leave, and take your gun with you. Become an immigrant yourself if you're so unhappy with things here.


Like this comment
Posted by Fred
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 11, 2010 at 5:38 pm

> And you don't seem to understand that your income is much
> higher than that of many of the senior citizens who live here

Most seniors (at least people who have been living here since before 1976) pay less than $1,500 a year in property taxes. Between social security, and other investments (yes, everyone is supposed to be planning for their retirement), $1,500 is not very much to contribute to the roughly $275M a year it costs to run the City of Palo Alto and the schools.

Seniors who moved here after 1990 would have significantly higher taxes, if they own their own homes. Seniors who live in places like Channing House don't pay property taxes--since Channing House is exempt, as are most of the senior/affordable housing projects.


Like this comment
Posted by ES
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 11, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Actually the reason I've heard most for why foreign born engineers return to their native country after being educated here and established here, is that they can live like kings because the cost of living is so low. Almost all take the money and run. And with countries like China and Israel offering distinct tax and income benefits, it's hard to say no. Healthcare may be a issue, but it's lifestyle first.


Like this comment
Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2010 at 9:02 pm

I hate Wall Street and all these wars for Israel as much as anyone. That doesn't mean illegal immigration and wage decreases due to foreign workers isn't a problem


Like this comment
Posted by think about it...
a resident of Meadow Park
on Feb 12, 2010 at 6:06 am

Jim, I agree with you...all I can do is sigh. Same old, same old..tax more, regulate more, punish workers/producers more, remove representation rights from "corporations" ( you know, because nobody owns them..they are soulless monsters), get rid of Prop 13, fund everybody's wishes on the backs of those of us funding ourselves AND everyone else..

and keep driving taxpayers, soulless monsters and individuals alike, out of California...and keep attracting people who take....

5 times the welfare population of NY...only twice the population. Think about it. We are the biggest welfare State in the nation. We ARE the left wing dream ..these are the end results of far left policies.

Does anyone wonder why our State economy is spinning down the drain? Why our national economy is following the California lead?


Like this comment
Posted by rebirth
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 12, 2010 at 10:41 am

Proud South PA said: "Stop whining. Let's get off our duffs and get to work!"

Absolutely the most enlightened post on this thread!

There are so many good studies showing that the "blame game" is *literally* contagious. Google it up, folks, and then get off your duffs and *get something done*. Nobody is to blame but every of *us*.

How convenient for local governments to continue playing the "appointed mayor" game, where politics is largely a ribbon cutting and debate team exercise. Let's *us* make government structures that are *responsive*. ELECT mayors, with just enough separation of power to hire and fire City Managers. END proposition 13, one of the most selfish ideas to ever come along. Seriously, instead of demanding that legislators stop taxing us out of our homes, and throwing the bums out, WE voted in a free rise for ourselves at the cost of infrastructure renewal. WE took for granted that the good times would continue to roll, and WE call ourselves "educated". How about WE read some history, folks. WE came from immigrants; why all the immigrant bashing.

The dude who is praising taxless Miami is living in a City that was literally *reformed* and *saved* by Cuban immigrants. So get a life, fella - and enjoy the rising oceans on the Miami waterfront that WE all helped cause due to our outsized appetite for carbon-based-and-fueled toys.

WE have nobody to blame - collectively - but OURSELVES! Unhappy with the way things are on the Peninsula? Get your butt out there and change something! Stop whining!

If you live in Palo Alto, go to a City Council meeting and see government in inaction; it will shock you, with the same old whiny citizens appearing week after week (almost literally the same people) as major influencing policy in a disproportionate way.

Palo Alto thinks it's a special place. Ha! Go read "Guns, Germs and Steel"(Jarad Diamond), or any one of a number of ethnographic analysis of regional wealth, and how things got that way. We are riding on past memories of *wins* - that's how our brains work. That's why most populations only respond to crisis, and fail to seriously look forward to PLAN CHANGE.

WE need to ADAPT, and WE are going to face a lot of INCONVENIENT TRUTHS before this is over. Our halcion days are behind us; we're *going to become more urban* - how are we going to adapt to THAT? Whine about it? Sue people? Lame.

Venture Capital? PULLEESEE! VC's are FOLLOWERS; they don't lead; they never have. They make measured - very measured - bets with mostly other people's money. Their win ratio is low, and they are on the front pages of fortune only because the business press wants to perpetuate the idea that groups with cash to spend know something that we don't - yeah, RIGHT! And I've got a bridge to sell you. By and large, VC's are no more incisive than real estate inventors, with the large majority of them unsuccessful as VC's.

So, like "Proud" said - above - STOP WHINING! Stop blaming everyone but your selfish selves. Start getting used to the idea that your over-inflated housing values had nothing to do with how bright you are, because it was mostly dumb luck on your part. Stop sticking your nose up in the air as if the world owes you a special life, just because you live in the 94301, 94303, 04306, etc. area codes.

If only we'd stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time. ~Edith Wharton

Get a life! (meant in a good way)


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Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2010 at 12:10 pm

rebirth,

You say, "get to work". OK, that's nice. Let's see, should we:

1. Instutute educational vouchers for all students in California?

2. Eliminate taxes on capital gains?

3. Build a bunch of new nuclear power plants?

4. Prohibit union strikes of public service (monopoly) workers?

5. Drill for oil off our coast?

6. Have our police cooperate with federal immigration authorities?

7. Demand that all welfare payments require actual work for dollars?

8. Demand that all high school diplomas be earned, through a vigorous exit exam?

9. Demand that all exmployers, who hire illegal aliens, be charged with a crime...and do some time? This would, of course, include all homeowners who do not verify the immigration status of their nannies and maids and gardeners.

...there are many more low-cost, and highly effective, remedies. But they all require some hard work. Are you willing to roll up your sleeves?

I want to warn you, though, that it is already too late for a quick recovery. This will be a generational recovery, if at all.


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Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of another community
on Feb 12, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Rebirth, the idea that prop13 caused our infrastructure to collapse is such a joke. Our infrastructure's collapsing because we are a welfare state which spends all it's money on illegal immigrants, foolish ghetto parents who have endless kids they can't support, and the traitorous, usurper, bloated public education system

Everything you said in your last paragraph I can throw right back at you libs, teachers unions and minorities


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2010 at 1:41 pm

To: Rebirth and Gunslinger ..

Well said .. and Ditto!


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Posted by rebirth
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 12, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Gunslinger: "Rebirth, the idea that prop13 caused our infrastructure to collapse is such a joke."

The joke is on us. Education? Some bloat, true. Too much administrative bureaucracy with little emphasis on outcomes. THIN OUT administrative ranks; bring *coordinated, intelligent* IT into teaching and administrative systems; deploy *rigorous* assessment tools; pay teachers what they're worth; get rid of dead wood teachers; encourage blended learning to help kids who need alternatives to keep from dropping out. You misunderstand the scope of the problem.

Welfare state? Prop 13 is welfare for the "haves", old buddy. Sorry, but libertarian and blame-game arguments are soooooooo weak!

Foolish ghetto parents? You mean like the Irish, Italian, Polish, German and other immigrants who had large families and worked hard to give their kids a better life that helped make us a rich nation? Sorry, but you're whining, and blaming. Point the finger at yourself, and as far as education goes, I suggest reading up on arguments that you don't support, so you can add depth to your perspective.You might even alter your opinion more in the direction of moderate politics, instead of ignorant posturing, because that's what the core of your position encompasses, without any support but the *opinion* spewed by Limbaugh and other gasbags.


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Posted by rebirth
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 12, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Jim asks:

You say, "get to work". OK, that's nice. Let's see, should we:

1. Institute educational vouchers for all students in California?
No, but we should CLEAN OUT dead weight administrators, Why do we have 1000 school districts in California that mostly don't share efficiencies? Add to that County Depts of Education. Why the overlap. WASTE! Get RID of 80% of this dead wood! Then, cull out the 10% of the dead wood teachers who care nothing about teaching, or real outcomes. Public education is a democratic good, if it's well run. We need more talent in public education. We need to pay teachers better. Society wins in this scenario.

2. Eliminate taxes on capital gains?
Only to some degree. If you profit from the system to a degree that wildly exceeds the mean, then you should contribute back part of that profit to help keep the system going. Share, for the public good. Perhaps reduce capital gains.

3. Build a bunch of new nuclear power plants?
Maybe.

4. Prohibit union strikes of public service (monopoly) workers?
As long as we preserve their wages and benefits.

5. Drill for oil off our coast?
Nope, why reinforce the bad oil habit?

6. Have our police cooperate with federal immigration authorities?
Sure, but first find ways to help stop corruption right across the border, and accept the fact that if we take your road, the price of products, food, and services will climb, because cheap labor will go elsewhere. Are you ready to pony up? Also, stop demonizing immigrants - your lifestyle depends on them, and I'm not kidding

7. Demand that all welfare payments require actual work for dollars?
A good idea, as long as it doesn't put people in horrible working conditions, and/or make their kids suffer. Add something else. LICENSE parents. That's right. Require a license that requires a test showing knowledge of common pre- and post-natal health facts. Online test - about 3 hours preparation. No license, no benefits, no insurance payments to hospital. License can be procured post-birth, within 2 weeks, health permitting (exceptions made in dire cases)

8. Demand that all high school diplomas be earned, through a vigorous exit exam?
Why not?

9. Demand that all exmployers, who hire illegal aliens, be charged with a crime...and do some time? This would, of course, include all homeowners who do not verify the immigration status of their nannies and maids and gardeners.
And what tat cost to monitor. Get real. Are you ready to see your lifestyle in California collapse if we start to do stuff like this?

...there are many more low-cost, and highly effective, remedies. But they all require some hard work. Are you willing to roll up your sleeves?
My sleeves are rolled up, and I walk the talk. Are you ready to start paying out and adjusting your lifestyle. Also, are you ready to stop blaming immigrants for our problems?

Add: A Constitutional Convention to reform our state's fiscal nightmare. End gerrymandering. End "add-on" public referenda/initiatives at the ballot that can't be read and EASILY understood by a 10th grader. If it doesn't pass that test, it can't go on the ballot, and NO revenue initiatives permitted on the ballot. Last, bring new revenue votes down from 66%, to 55%, and fine Assembly members $1000 per day for failing to negotiate budgets on time. Put ROCK SOLID public finance laws into place, GET BIG MONEY OUT OF POLITICS, and levy HUGE fines, including jail time, for those that try to break those laws. Legislate ironclad laws that impose fair dealing by financial institutions and insurance companies. Put executives in jail who violate these laws.

I want to warn you, though, that it is already too late for a quick recovery. This will be a generational recovery, if at all.
Agreed. WE are going to have to change. That will take a while, because we're spoiled, rotten.


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Posted by rebirth
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 12, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Oh, and one more thing. End Prop 13. That's right, folks. the caveat is that that should be done when all the other stuff I suggested gets put in place, because otherwise we'll end up with irresponsible legislators putting us out of our homes, again.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2010 at 8:25 pm

rebirth,

I didn't think so. You like to say yes, "BUT". You are a tax (the rich) and spend type...same old thing that got us into this mess.

However, let me just take one idea that seemed to lack a "but" from you: Nuclear power to generate electricity. You gave it a "maybe". How many more decades do we go with "maybe".


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Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of another community
on Feb 12, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Rebirth, you know why I'm your worst nightmare? Cause I hate fox news and limbaugh and beck. I am not a one dimensional neocon. I believe what I believe out of well thought ideals. I'm an environmentalist, a feminist, an anti-corporatist, but also an anti-welfare statist, and also a protector of my borders. So don't pigeonhole me. You're the gasbag. And don't compare European immigrants who had no welfare in the 1800s and turn of the twentieth century to these thirdworlders who get free everything and still have the nerve to march through our streets en masse demanding more. And don't compare the problems of the modern ghetto to that of the old immigrant neighborhood. There is zero comparison. I won't say more because it's not PC


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Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of another community
on Feb 12, 2010 at 10:06 pm

And I would gladly pay more for fruit and whatever than to pay through the nose for illegal immigrant healthcare, education, food stamps, etc


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Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Feb 12, 2010 at 11:04 pm

The people who run Silicon Valley think immigration is great.
The hoi polloi here who have a problem with it should get out of town. You are fighting a losing battle.


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Posted by rebirth
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 13, 2010 at 3:50 am

Gunslinger: "Rebirth, you know why I'm your worst nightmare?"

"Worst nightmare"?? LOL! Why don't you say "make my day"? Poseur. You're not anyone's worst nightmare, unless we're talking about a productive American future with a diverse population. Nightmare? you're an anachronism - a throwback to the "wild west" - -"gunslinger"?? Puulleese. whatcha packin, a squirt gun? Or are you one of those "independent "tea party types". Identity crisis, anyone?

You'd pay more for fruit? And you say you're "informed". You think that's all immigrants contribute? Clueless. Hotel, hospital, day care, elder care, sanitation, car repair, tire mounters, gas station and roadside retail, road repair, truck driver, food packer, light manufacturing, landscaping, telecommunication hardware placement, cooks, waiters, janitors, security guards, small business retail support workers, house cleaners, tow truck operators, nannies, light and heavy construction, 10-to-a-room coders, municipal contract workers who often do MOST public works operations, side-road day workers, underground electricians and plumbers, large mammal tenders (horses, etc.), zoo workers, car washers, street food vendors, ethnic food store workers, shipping clerks, etc. etc.

Five days without *illegal* immigrants in this state and it would close down. Then you'd be whining about something else.

As far as pigeonholing, you're pigeonholing *yourself* by spoutingn ignorance. "Gunslinger"?? It's kind of an uncool, self-prepossessing adopted "outsider" identity. Where's your ten-gallon?

America doesn't need "gunslingers", or slightly read Tea Party yahoos that go around blaming people. Obama (who has been a disappointment) is one favorite target. Obama, nr any other politician is going to save America. WE have to save America by changing counterproductive destructive behaviors. Blame YOURSELF. The life you're living is a life that's been constructed on the backs of poor people all over the world. Try looking past your own front porch when you spout. Oh yeah, stop blaming people for your problems, it's catching.


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Posted by rebirth
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 13, 2010 at 3:52 am

meant to say "Obama, nor any other politician is NOT going to save America"


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Posted by Perspective
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 13, 2010 at 4:52 am

Rebirth: You started out well, but then your thinking jumped out of the logical progression and detoured way off into left field, landing in "the life you are living is a life that's been constructed on the backs of poor people all over the world".

You made a good start in your first post, keep up the "rebirthing" process based on that.

Gunslinger: You are almost there...you lose it when you pigeonhole "one dimensional neo-cons"..you haven't quite learned yet what a neo-con actually is ( start with Lech Walesa..that might give you an idea how "one-dimensional" neocons are..remember, neocons ARE the classical liberals of the nation and the world)

Jim, you are much further along the rational evolution line. You give me hope for our nation. Thanks!

However, I think California is too firmly in the grip of folks like Rebirth ..so we are out of here.






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Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of another community
on Feb 13, 2010 at 8:21 am

Again rebirth, I can throw your last sentence back at you and the minority community. Stop blaming white people, old people, the past. I know illegals don't just pick fruit numbnuts. I would gladly pay more to replace them with American workers in any occupation, and it would still cost less than what we pay for their welfare and crime.

I voted for Obama. So again don't pigeonhole me. I'm still extremely proud of my decision. You are the two dimensional brainwashed fool.

I'm not sure I understand perspective. If you're saying neocons are really reinvented liberals, I firmly agree and know that. That's why I know they are not a conservatives ally. Glenn Beck is trying to usurp this movement and turn it into something it's not: pro-corporate, pro-war, and anti-Obama. No, the tea party movement started before the 2008 election, when Bush and McCain bailed out the sheister banks and federal reserve who rule the world. The tea party movement should have nothing to do with being so anti-environmental.

The reason I'm your worst nightmare Slartibuttplug is that right now there is a seemingly impenetrable divide between liberals and conservatives, but I may have figured a way to conquer that divide, at least enough to truly rally a mob large enough to change the state. For instance, many moderates and even liberals are against illegal immigration, and low income housing and group homes which brings crime into their area, endangering their kids. However, most of the leaders standing against such things are also misogystic corporatists. Well, that's where they'll turn off liberals and moderates. A man who respects women and the environment has a good chance of leading a conservative movement against the ghettofication of our state, and actually succeeding


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Posted by YesWeCan
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 14, 2010 at 10:35 pm

People have been predicting the "end of Silicon Valley" for decades. It ain't gonna happen. An economic downturn has a way of making everyone into alarmists.

The reason why housing prices are so high is because everyone wants to live here. That's the way it is for every major metropolitan area in the world that attracts an inordinate amount of extremely highly-educated, creative, talented people--the kind of people responsible for the great innovations that this area constantly produces.

Being a place that these types of people want to live is a competitive advantage that is extremely hard to replicate. It's the same reason why cities like New York and London continue to attract tons of the most talented people in the world--who drive housing prices to nosebleed levels.

The Bay Area has two of the greatest universities in the world, a long-standing culture of entrepreneurship, cultural diversity and sophistication that is attractive to well-educated, creative types, and amazing weather and natural beauty. And Google, Facebook, Sand Hill Road, Intel, and a gazillion cutting-edge startups are just down the road. If you're an ambition person who wants to rock the technology world and wants to find like-minded people, it's not hard to figure out where you're going to want to live.

Booms and busts have been happening in Silicon Valley forever. Don't mistake a recession for the end of the world.




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Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 14, 2010 at 10:57 pm

YesWeCan,

Actually, NoWeCan't. It's not that you said anything inaccurate, but you did not tell the whole story. California is overburdened with too many structural problems. It is already too late to be saved by the elites that you mention, much as I might want it to be true.

We are all in for a very deep ride, no matter what. It will take at least a generation to get out of it, and that is only if we get back on track of promoting and encouraging the elites.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 15, 2010 at 11:19 am

> “4. Prohibit union strikes of public service (monopoly) workers?
As long as we preserve their wages and benefits.”

Union wages, benefits, pensions are leading cities and the state into bankruptcy.


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