Silicon Valley families making $117,000 are considered low income

With single-family home in the Bay Area averaging $935,000, families there making $117,000 are considered low income. The run-up on house prices is blamed on tech workers who can pay top dollar for houses. From CBS News:

That norm is fueled by thousands of well-paid tech workers who have driven up the median price of a San Francisco house to $1.6 million dollars, the highest in the country. While housing prices are rising faster than incomes nationwide, nowhere is it more evident than in the Bay Area, where home values have soared a staggering 64 percent over the last five years.

Image: CBS News Read the rest

It's a Line-Cutting World After All

Walt Disney World is apparently planning to allow guests who stay at their most expensive resorts with "club level" service to buy cut-the-line ride Fastpasses for $50/day, according to WFTV's Chip Skambis.

This privilege would be only for those who stay three nights in club-level rooms, which seem to go for about $800/night and up (way up).

Disney has long tried to seem egalitarian in the way it treats ride lines. The Universal Orlando theme parks down the road have no such compunctions -- they allow anyone willing and able to pay $170 - $190 per day to cut past every poor slob who could only afford the $110/day admission price.

But Disney has avoided this overt wealth-pandering, basically having everyone play by the same line-waiting rules. Sure, Disney has had its “VIP tour service,” in which, for $425-$600 per hour (that’s not a typo: per HOUR) you can hire your very own line-cutting top-flight Disney “cast member,” but that's clearly for the super-rich, and who wouldn't cater to that group? Not even the most militant Marxist would want to see Mark Zuckerberg and family among the crowd waiting in line for Peter Pan’s Flight.

But I just came from Disney World, and I could see the writing on the wall.

First of all, the nature of these Fastpasses has changed. When they got their start, they were a way for people to show up at a ride, and then, instead of waiting on the line, get a slip of paper to show up at a later time and get right onto the ride -- essentially allowing them to do other things during the time they would have otherwise been waiting on the line. Read the rest

The richest person in every state, by industry

You might think every American state is overrun with tech billionaires, given the amount of press they get, but Forbes shows that the richest person in each state is more likely to have made their fortune in fashion, retail, finance, or investing: Read the rest

Extreme wealth inequality will always devour the societies that produce it

My new novel Walkaway (US tour/UK tour) is set in a world that is being torn apart by out-of-control wealth inequality, but not everyone thinks that inequality is what destabilizes the world -- there's a kind of free-market belief that says the problem is really poverty, not inequality, and that the same forces that make the rich richer also lift poor people out of misery, delivering the sanitation, mass food production, communications tools and other innovations that rescues poor people from privation. Read the rest