Re: [California, Uber Alles]

Subject: Re: [California, Uber Alles]
From: Elna Tymes <Etymes -at- LTS -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2002 11:15:54 -0800

Sour grapes. A lot of the criticism here and other places about California amounts simply to sour grapes. A lot more reflects both a lack of facts about real conditions in California and very real preferences for other places.

I don't object to people preferring other lifestyles or other locales or other things that matter to them. What I do object to is people using those different preferences as the springboard for criticizing California, and using misinformation and exaggeration as the justification. The last few posts on the subject have been good examples:

1. Rolling blackouts. We had four or five of those last year, if I remember correctly. Our business never got hit at all. The areas that got a blackout generally had a period of from two to five hours being without power. We didn't have ice storms that cut off power for days, and we didn't have tornadoes or hurricanes that wiped out whole communities. Part of the problem was that California hadn't built any new generators in over 10 years; since last summer three new generators have come online and another 12 are due online over the next 2.5 years. Some of the large power consumers, such as Intel's chip plants, quickly helped form policies about length of power outages, early warning, etc., so that they could use backup generators that they had anyway. We could also talk about Enron and the other power sellers forming an illegal agreement to hold California hostage to high rates, but that's another issue and one that's in the early stages of plowing through the courts.

2. Three-hour commutes. There are some examples of this, but a long commute is far from the norm. You rarely spend two hours on a 20-mile commute unless you're stuck behind a traffic accident or you choose to drive in the worst of peak times. Some people choose to live in outlying areas for a variety of reasons, but a three hour commute would be like living in Philadelphia and commuting to Washington DC, or living in Madison and commuting to Chicago, or living in Austin and commuting to Dallas, or even living in Portland and commuting to Seattle (or vice versa). But yes, there are people who make quality of life decisions that result in such a commute.

3. >...the smog covered valleys of San Francisco..."

Let's be real here. Smog is a fact of life in most metro areas around the country. Even Portland, Andrew. (I've been there, many times.) According to EPA reports, northern California had fewer than 1% of its days in 2001 as smoggy beyond EPA-acceptable levels, and has dropped this level every year for the last decade.

4. Outrageous housing prices. No question here - housing costs more here than most places. However what's going on is simply a case of demand chasing supply. Silicon Valley is still one of the major job engines of the world, even with this recession. If you want what this area offers, you have to put up with the housing prices. The same could be said of other places - not long ago New York and environs, Honolulu, Hong Kong, London, etc.

5. Levels of taxes. Sure, California has taxes. Would you prefer doing business in Massachusetts, which has one of the highest tax levels in the country? I covered this in an earlier posting.

6. > The notion that Silicon Valley is THE place to be strikes me
> as rather arrogant considering the abundance of technology
> firms elsewhere around the nation (and world).

From an outsider perspective, yes it must look that way. However, when you add up the number of technology companies, the number of jobs those technology companies create, and the interaction between town and gown that continually results in new company (and job) creation, simply stating the facts looks like arrogance. Of course there are technology firms elsewhere - I'm not denying that by any means. What I've been saying is that Silicon Valley has the greatest *concentration* of technology companies.

How is all of this relevant to technical writing? Mostly it has to do with job creation and hence opportunities to practice what we do. Right now a recession is preventing a lot of us from doing what we want to do, in the areas we prefer. My point in responding to Andrew's snide comments about California is to point out that, historically, California has created more tech writing jobs than any other US locale, and that when the recession ends, it will likely continue to do so. And my opinions are based on a lot of facts (which doesn't make my opinion any better, just more credible).

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems





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References:
Re: [California, Uber Alles]: From: Hannah
Re: [California, Uber Alles]: From: Joanne Grey

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