Home > Google Flotilla > Grunt If By Land, VP If By Sea: Google hides from income inequality protestors behind “Google Flotilla”

Grunt If By Land, VP If By Sea: Google hides from income inequality protestors behind “Google Flotilla”

January 9, 2014

Google Flyer

In cased you missed it, there has been some pretty massive protests by Occupy Oakland against the “Google buses”.  These are the buses operated by Google to shuttle its employees from the gentrified atmosphere of San Francisco, Oakland and Emeryville to the Googleplex.  The Google bus service operates on many of the same routes as the buses operated by the municipalities involved and in fact uses some of the same bus stops as the public transportation.  Some version of this story has been going on for quite a while.  (It’s also not just Google, but they are probably the biggest offenders.)

What was in the man bites dog category was the fact that–finally–somebody noticed that there might be a problem with the Google-fication of old neighborhoods and were prepared to draw the line in the great tradition of political protest in Oakland.  This Google-fication came to be symbolized by the Google buses which remain a target.  And when Googlers are confronted by the reality that your average person in the Bay Area is not like them and earns about 10% of what Googlers do, their self image comes crashing down.  Along with the windows to the company bus.

How does Google respond when confronted by the fact that these protests were perfectly planned, tapped into the national and international zeitgeist amongst just plain folks along these lines:

Nearly 400,000 millionaires call New York home, while nearly half of our neighbors live at or near the poverty line. Our middle class isn’t just shrinking; it’s in danger of vanishing altogether.
Addressing the crisis of income inequality isn’t a small task. But if we are to thrive as a city, it must be
at the very center of our vision for the next four years.
Yes, this really does mean you, little Googlers.  Something to think about when you sit there on your remote control bidet recovering from today’s bus attack.
Just remember–Daddy’s home.
During my time in public office, I’ve taken on unscrupulous landlords [like the ones who dumped their tenants to let in Googlers]; protected children who were victims of neglect and abuse [like the ones who “have sex with you for money” as Occupy put it so succinctly]; battled the corrupting influence of corporate money in politics [starting with Eric Schmidt, Susan Molinari and Rachel Whetstone]; fought to repair broken policing policies; and championed working family issues like paid sick leave and living wage laws.
As mayor, I’ll spend every waking moment fighting to bring opportunity to every New Yorker — with a plan to create jobs in all five boroughs; a dramatic expansion of affordable housing and accessible health care; increasing taxes on the wealthy to fund early childhood and after-school programs; and building police-community relations that keep everyone safer.
How much longer before the Mayor of San Francisco starts talking like DiBlasio?
So how does Google deal with this mirror that is being held up to them by the street protestors in Oakland?  They buy a flotilla to sail their way around the problem.
Yes, in one of the classic PR stunts of recent memory, Google’s smooth move is to hire a tourist catamaran called “The Triumphant” (I’m not making this up, I swear, I swear, I swear) to ferry a couple hundred executives–many fewer than the number handled by the buses which continue to operate.  The Google Flotilla runs the barricades by sailing from a pier in the City to the Port of Redwood City (near the infamous Google Barges?).  My bet is that “The Triumphant” and the piers it uses are run by union workers–but we’ll see where that goes.

Amid the din of blockades, vandalism and newly introduced $100k shuttle permit fees, Google has taken steps to expand its employee transportation service by way of sea.

Google has contracted a catamaran ferry to transport its workers from San Francisco to Redwood City, which is approximately 11 miles north of the Google headquarters in Mountain View, CBS’s KPIX 5 reports.

“We certainly don’t want to cause any inconvenience to SF residents and we’re trying alternative ways to get Googlers to work,” said Google in a statement provided to Re/code.

Yet it seems the people protesting the buses have more than clogged traffic lanes on their mind. Some residents upset with the recent increase in both housing prices and Ellis Act evictions have blamed tech companies for the new wave of gentrification.

So ask yourself this–who do you suppose gets the perk of sailing in the Google Flotilla and avoiding the little people protesting the buses?  My bet is that it’s Vice Presidents and above.  Because just ask Mayor Di Blasio–the rich take care of their own.

Yes, dare I say it–it’s Grunts if by Land, VPs if by Sea.  Oh yes, very transformative.

Of course, if I know my media savvy community organizers, this will just give them an even more inviting metaphor for the corporate elite not wanting to soil themselves with talking to real people.  Face it, Googlers, you make a target rich environment for social justice–once you admit to yourselves that you are not bringing the change the way you think you are.

Because even though the Google Flotilla sounds like a joke, it’s no joke to real people.

  1. January 10, 2014 at 11:04

    Reblogged this on MUSIC • TECHNOLOGY • POLICY and commented:

    UPDATE: Valleywag catches Google’s attitude toward income inequality protestors: “Ugh” http://valleywag.gawker.com/google-pr-accidentally-replies-to-private-shuttle-prote-1498159019/@sambiddle


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