We, as a people, determine what is and is not of value mostly through what we believe to be legitimate and worthy of significance. And in late capitalism, we have all basically agreed to allow the market to dictate what is and is not of legitimate value. (This is what social critics recognize as Neoliberalism.)
But what the market deems valuable is not necessarily aligned with what is ultimately good for us as a society or even what we want. Because under conditions of extreme inequality, the market is biased towards people who have lots of money, at the expense of virtually everyone else.
And no where has this axiom been proven true to such a comical degree as in Silicon Valley.
Most of us outside of Palo Alto have no idea how a product as fucking stupid as Peeple gets valued at $7.6 million while a 4th grade teacher can’t pay off her student loans and pay rent at the same time. But according to Paul Graham, those creepy Peeple women created value where that school teacher is just a stupid loser.
Ask a nurse who saved, like, three lives today what her salary is and then go ask what the guy who made Candy Crush Saga what he got paid for it.
Wealth creation is legitimately contested in America. We don’t all agree that Candy Crush Saga has added anything of value to our society. Some of us might even argue that Candy Crush Saga took value away from America.
Candy Crush Saga was valorized at over $7 billion. According to that same market, a human life is only valorized at $129,000.
Meaning Candy Crush Saga is worth more to society than the combined value of 54,264 human lives.
Yeah, this logic is fine. Legitimate wealth creation.
Because that’s where this stupid game gets you. You end up going to absurd lengths to rationalize mediocre ideas because they happen to make tons of money instead of questioning the legitimacy of a system that confers so much value on to stupid things.
People don’t all agree that people like Paul Graham actually add any value to our society. Market-based legitimacy is contested by those of us who think it absurd that Candy Crush Saga is thought more valuable a contribution to the world than the combined value of eight African nations.