June 21, 2011, 5:41 pm
Filed under: fear, Ghettos, Suburbs | Tags: ,

I watched on Youtube consumate tech pitchman Jobs making his case for the new spaceship Apple headquarters at the Cupertino city council chamber.  He was in jeans, in charge, self effacing.  The city council was deferential, pandering, placating and more than a bit pathetic.

The clear take away was Apple pays taxes and you, Cupertino need to like that or we have the option to take our sexy building and our taxes somewhere else.  To Jobs it was a  formality.  The starstruck council members lobbed a few softballs to the superstar but mostly cleared their agendas of any real substantive public minded questions.

He clicked through his slides of the hermetically sealed gleaming donut building encircled by forest; ostensibly it shoots taxes out like laser beams.  That’s not enough I thought as I watched Jobs seduce the council.  There was a time in America when businesses owed – and more significantly, were committed to – more than just taxes.  In a sense they had a multiple bottom line.  Is there a public lecture series, symposia and other cultural events planned, for instance? Can I go and use the library?  What about an educational element like master classes?  A retail element, can I go shopping there?  Can I ride my skateboard and have a picnic in the park?  Why aren’t the council members asking these questions?

Perhaps the most galling idea is that an institution that is not urban and requires virtually everyone to drive their cars every day to get to it is somehow sustainable.  It is not.  Double their taxes and it wouldn’t come close to paying for the advantages that the city and other levels of government gives them in road and utility and energy infrastructure.

But the days of companies giving more is clearly over.  Now all the company needs do is file on time, and issue enough threat to keep city councils worried that even that minimum may be asking too much.  This council is no exception.  Right on cue they say, no, Apple, unlike businesses that built America in times gone by who contributed in innumerable ways to the welfare and development of communities all over the country, all you owe us Mr Jobs, is your taxes.

Here are a few other reactions to Apple’s new anti urban, anti social headquarters proposal:

Cupertino leaders fell all over themselves in their desire to keep Apple’s taxes in town, but wouldn’t it be better to benefit from some of its knowledge and physical assets?

Alexandra Lange, New Apple HQ 1957, Design Observer

Is Apple going to make the grounds open to the public so they can enjoy the fifty billion trees that he’ll be planting? Will there be any kind of programming in the new auditorium that can expose the next generation to careers in technology and science? Could you share your awesome private transit system with the public? Would you be willing to help us with our own energy issues by teaching us how you’re making your own renewable power plant?

Alissa Walker, Gelatobaby


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