RubyConf 2019 – Keynote: Lucky You by Sandi Metz

>>Standby while I do all this. Speak among yourselves. Actually, let’s do this while I get started. Who tell me again, who is this their first
RubyConf. Raise your hand if you have been to a RubyConf
before. This is a trick from my childhood. Look around. And find someone whose hand is not up and
reach out and shake it. And introduce yourself. Do that and I’ll be right back. The only problem with that is it’s really
hard to get you back. So, come back. So, my talk really just barely fits in my
time slot. I first want to thank the sponsors. This couldn’t happen unless we have those
sponsors. [ Applause ]
You know, how many times this week have you been told if you have a problem talk to someone
in a red shirt? All right? If you haven’t talked to someone in a red
shirt yet, before you leave today, find one of them and shake their hand and thank them. They do a lot of work to make these conferences
happen. [ Applause ]
And I’ve been sitting here all week watching that…>>CAPTIONER: Hi!>>Let’s thank Stacey. Yay. All right. So, here I am. It’s so unlikely that I would be here. I mean, I’ve been so incredibly lucky. It’s astonishing. What about you? Are you lucky? Yeah? Fortune smiling on you? Do you think as I do when I think about how
I drove when I was 16 that I am lucky to be alive? Look how well everything turned out? Or perhaps maybe not so much. Maybe you’re unlucky. Maybe you were born under an evil sign, dragging
that bad luck around you like the flu and infecting everyone with it. If you’re unlucky, I have good news for you. You can hack luck. This guy’s name is Richard Wiseman
and he did a ten year study. He solicited volunteers who thought of themselves
as lucky or unlucky and he tried to figure out what differentiated those two groups. He found there’s four components to luck. The first one is that lucky people pay attention. They’re like not caught up in their own stuff. So, they’re looking around at the world. They see opportunities for luck. The next one is that they’re open to experience. They’re listening to their intuition. The third one, this is sort of weirdly self
reverential. They assume they’re going to be lucky. There’s a way in which they practice luck
in their heads. And finally, this one is more vague. Lucky people tend to interpret the things
that happen to them as if they were lucky. All right? The first time I heard about this research
was a talk that Sarah May gave at a conference many years ago. And right after that talk, my partner and
I went to Spain and took a self guided bike tour. And it turned out that the directions were
really bad. And every day, like at the end of the day,
we would have ridden 60 or 80 kilometers, dark and raining, and we would be looking
for our hotel and we would look at each other and say well, at least we’re improving our
luck. It made the whole trip better. It was amazing how the difference in perspective
changed. Here they are. Taken together this list suggests that you
can make your own luck. Now, Wiseman after he identified these four
things, he took the unlucky people and taught them and they reported being luckier later. All right? And so I don’t know. Maybe you’re already making your own luck. Certainly it’s true that you’re lucky to be
here. Like think about that. How did you get to be in this room today? I mean, first of all, somebody paid. Like you got time off work, hotel, you’re
eating I’m assuming. Right? As a group, we programmers are amazingly lucky. I have some data this is 2017 data. All of my data, I’m really sorry. It’s mostly right. It’s hard to get good, precise data about
the things I’m about to talk about. I went in a data set from 2017 and I arbitrarily
selected some categories of programmer ish jobs. I took everything that had the word computer
and programmer in it and I threw away training jobs and operating jobs and repairing jobs. And I was left with a subset where the categories
totalled 2.3 million people. And the data set showed that the median income
in 2017 across all those jobs was $85,000. I think this is an underreporting. If you look at more recent data, you’ll see
numbers like the median income for programmers is more like $100,000, if you’re a system
dev, maybe $110,000. So, I will take some liberties with the number
and round it up to $93,000 as a median. Does anybody in here know the median income
of the average worker in the United States? You’re making or you probably will make on
average three times the salary of the average worker in the U.S. And so I picked this 2017 data set because
they broke it out by gender. Let’s do that. Don’t be alarmed. Just relax. [ Laughter ]
All right. So, that 2.3 million, about 1,700,000 men
and 600,000 women. I’m quite sure it’s reported this way because
at the bureau of labor and statistics they only have two radial buttons. If we believe that 390 out of every 100,000
humans is non binary, the number probably looks like this. I realize that you can barely see the color
on the chart, but 9,000 people is a lot of people, and they deserve their own radio button. Like fix that. [ Applause ]
So if we turn this into percents, you get that. And I have some I made up some numbers for
this conference. All right. I got data right before it was sold out. And here’s what it looked like. I’m going to go back and forth. Notice that women despite their enormous efforts
and improvements they have made over the years, the number of women go down, but the number
of people that’s the people that those “they” as their pronoun. I had to make up a bunch about the data. A lot of people didn’t answer that question,
so I distributed the non answers in the proportion to male/female and I assumed that everyone
who said “they” was in the non binary category. It could be wrong, but it’s something. That’s gender. Let’s look at ethnicity. This is 2019 data. Wait for it. I’m sure you’re shocked. So, this is overall, and it makes things look
more diverse than they are. The really big companies, Google, Facebook,
Microsoft, and Twitter, they’re more like 56%white and 37% Asian. So, some of the companies that have big influence
are less diverse than the group we have here as a whole. So I have income data. The median income for men, remember? For men, it’s 87 and for women it’s 79. In computer programming, women make about
90%of the average salary of men. Which is way better. The actual median across all jobs is women
make about 80 cents on the dollar compared to men. Out in the normal world across all jobs, women
hold about half of the jobs and they only hold 25%of the programming jobs. So, we’re making more money, but there are
fewer women. So, that’s glass half full. Since I have all of the data, I couldn’t resist
putting it on a Google spreadsheet and figure out who got what piece of the pie. So, that chart looks like this. So, the men, they only represent like 75%of
the people, but they get more money because they make more money. So, if you start putting ethnicity on here,
it turns out that white people get about 50%of all the money paid to programmers. If you add Asians in, these two categories
account for 80%of all the money. That’s the key to the other colors. They have such a small part of the pie that
I didn’t have room to put the percentages on the chart. All right. So, now you have all of that data. This is just information. This is truth. And you have to ask yourself, who are the
winners and losers here? And again, don’t freak out. I’m not picking on you. But here’s the question I ask myself. If you were an alien and you moved to earth
and were gonna take a programming job, what demographic category would you choose? You’d be a white guy! Right? So we know from Wiseman’s research that you
can improve your luck, but you’re pretty much stuck with your demographic. That’s just a fact. All right. If you happen to have been born into one of
those higher paying demographics, lucky you. But speaking of born, let’s talk about where
you were born. Turns out your neighborhood matters a lot. This guy, Raj Chetty, he’s a microeconomist
at Harvard and studies a thing called social mobility, which is how likely it is you will
move up in income category relative to your parents. He founded opportunity insights, and they
have this amazing mapping tool. Here’s what they did. They took they got data for 20 million people. They got
income tax returns and census data and something called the American community survey data. This is people born in the late 70s and early
80s so mid 30s to early 40s right now. They got data about them and their parents
and they made this enormous mapping tool. And what this tool does is it maps data back
to the census track where you were born. And you can there’s a million drop downs and
check boxes here so you can look at all kinds of things that were true about places where
people were born and find out the effect that that has on how they are doing now. For example, there are places in the United
States where two neighborhoods are really close together that have similar demographics
and the outcomes for the children that were born in those neighborhoods are very different
today. This is just the main home page. Up in the right hand corner it shows current
household income for people of any race or income level sorry. Any gender or race based on all parental incomes
back 30 years ago. The colors on the map, the warm colors represent
lower incomes and the cool colors represent higher incomes. And they found what you can tell just by looking
at this map, the main front page of their website, there’s differences in the United
States across regions about how well things turn out for the kids born there later. The south, as always, takes it on the chin. This is Nashville. This is where we’re standing right now. In the center of the country as you get up
high, the colors are tend to darker blue, except there’s two spots in South Dakota where
outcomes for kids who were born there in the 70s and 80s are poor. Can you explain that? Indian reservations. Yeah. You’re doomed. All right? You’re just doomed if you grow up in those
environments. I’m going to zoom in on Los Angeles for a
minute. This is current household income. Let me back up. This is household income for children of low
income parents, current household income for children born back then to low income parents. As you zoom in, there’s a lot of granularity. The census tracts are 4,250 people on average. That’s how big the neighborhoods are. I’m going to zoom in more. This is the incarceration rate of black male
children born to the lowest income parents. This is the Watts neighborhood. That’s the census track. This is Compton. These census tracks, I’m going to zoom in
more. These tracks have similar demographics and
similar numbers of black men and 2.5 miles apart. The incarceration rate is 44%and here it’s
6.2%. These neighborhoods are alike demographically
and close together. The difference in outcomes seems like it must
be related to some feature of the neighborhoods rather than some quality of the people. So, the promise of America, the dream is that
with hard work, you can succeed even if you come from nothing. How often do you think this dream is achieved? Chetty knows. He calculated the numbers. The chance of you rising from the bottom level
of income in the United States to the top is 7.5%. And you can see, that’s an average. If you’re born in the upper Midwest, it’s
more like 14 or 15. If you’re born in the south, it’s more like
4 or 5. And there are places in the south like the
southeast where I’m from, Atlanta and Charlotte, they have been on an enormous boom over the
last 20 years. Wages have gone up. They have had economic success. And yet the outcomes for children born to
low income parents in those places are abysmal. So what is it about your neighborhood? It turns out that they can figure this out. Neighborhoods where and some of it is counter
intuitive. Neighborhoods where people are segregated
by income and race have worse outcomes for children. If you separate people, if you segregation
hurts outcomes for people who are gonna pay the taxes later that will finance your social
security. Think about that. It also turns out that two that neighborhoods
here’s this. Actually, let me read this to you. Neighborhoods where most families have two
parents do better. Now, it is not the condition of having two
parents. Let me be quick to say that. It doesn’t matter whether you individually
have one or two parents, it’s about your neighborhood. If the whole neighborhood is full of one parent
families, then outcome are worse for children. Good schools matter, and outcomes are better
in neighborhoods where they have more social capital. It’s where people know each other and they
will help you if you have trouble paying the rent or whatever. All right. So, Chetty estimates that if a low income
family could move at birth from neighborhood in the lowest area of upward mobility to a
higher one, just across town in many cases, that the average lifetime earnings of that
child would go up $206,000. Some cities are so convinced by this research,
right now in Detroit and Seattle, they’re running experiments where they’re doing just
that. They are taking people who have section 8
vouchers and overcoming the obstacles that keep those folks from moving to higher opportunity
neighborhoods. This map is radical. If you get in there, you will never leave. If you are thinking about moving in your town,
you should look at the Chetty map and find out what neighborhoods are best for children,
because it makes a difference. Neighborhoods matter, but Chetty found out
that they don’t matter for everybody in the same way. He compared black boys and white boys growing
up on the same blocks where parents earn similar incomes. The black men have a lower chance of achieving
upward mobility. Black sons of affluent black families have
a much greater chance of achieving downward mobility. Chetty describes that he says that white men,
white families are on a ladder of prosperity and black men are on a treadmill; it’s easy
to fall off. So, the neighborhood that you grow up in has
a lot to do with how you turn out and your ability it has maybe more effect on your ability
to be successful than your parents. But despite that, race and gender play a strong
role that’s hard to overcome. Here’s where I grew up. This is Randolph Drive in Parkersburg, West
Virginia. My dyslexic father got tired of sitting in
the back of class not being able to read and he quit going to school. The truant officer told him he had to. When he refused to, they didn’t want to put
him in jail or make him go to school, so they lied about his age and let him join the army. He was at boot camp where he met my mom. She grew up on a farm. He was apparently a smart ass. I don’t know what happened. They tried to protect him. The army thinks he’s older than he is, but
they knew he was underage. He got orders to ship out, so he and my mom
got engaged and he went to Korea. He was fighting in Korea when he was 15 years
old. When he got back, he and my mom got married
and they moved back to his hometown, Parkersburg. He drove a bread truck, got a GED and became
an apprentice mechanic. That was like 30 a week or $130 a month. He was paid $140 additional a month on the
GI bill. They paid for him to apprentice to learn a
skill that would get a good job. When he became a real employee, his pay only
went up $10 more a month. He joined the union and they bought this house. The interest rate was initially 8%, but after
he had worked for a couple of years in Parkersburg, they had a workplace program where they would
buy your mortgage and lend the money back to you at a lower rate. I just couldn’t believe it when he told me
this. It’s inconceivable now. That was the bargain that businesses had to
their communities and employees. So the mortgage, when that happened, his interest
rate was cut in half. So, I lived in this house for the first 17
years of my life. Here’s the chatty map of Parkersburg. I grew up right there. So, that this is the current household income
for all female children born there in the late 70s and early 80s. That light orangish color is about $40,000
a year, which means I’m doing great relative to the other women who grew up in this place. I have worked hard. It is true. But it feels like my efforts and natural good
nature just aren’t enough to explain my success. My parents, relative to their parents, were
really successful and their gradual movement up the income distribution ladder started
with buying that first house. And the history of American housing explains
why it’s super tough to get ahead today. Owning a house can be the difference between
acquiring wealth and being stuck in poverty. It’s about you and about the generations that
follow you. Property ownership is a wealth generating
thing over generations. You can buy something in an up and coming
neighborhood, you sell it for a profit, rinse and repeat, and eventually it turns into real
money. There’s a huge gap in homeownership by race,
and this has deep running historical roots. In 1865, president Lincoln divided up the
land owned by former slave owners and he granted slaves 40 acre plots. A year later, president Johnson overturned
this program and gave that land right back to the whites. Now we’re having talk about impeachment. You know that fourth guy whose name they mention
when they say presidents that have been impeached? It’s Johnson, and he got impeached over this
issue. Over the next couple of decades, few blacks
accumulated property. Most couldn’t afford to buy it outright. A mortgage required 50 or 60%down and the
balance was due in one to three years. Yeah. So a few generations or a few decades later
right before the big depression, there was a big boom and bust in housing in America. And most blacks at that time we’re not even
a generation past the end of the civil war. Most blacks at that time still did not own
property. At the height of the great depression, the
national Realtors association started arguing that the federal government should get into
housing. As a stimulus to the federal economy, that’s
what happened. They wanted to encourage private homeownership
and they did that by standardizing housing and providing mortgage insurance. So, because they were operating at scale,
they could drive down costs. And what happened was now that lenders are
insured against loss, they cut the prevailing interest rates in half and started lending
up to 90%of the values of homes. So, by 1939 with the advent of the federally
insured mortgages, it became cheaper in the United States to buy than to rent. Unfortunately these federal programs were
based on three assumptions. People could be divided by race. Only white communities could maintain property
values. And that segregation by race was necessary
to protect these values. Something called the federal homeowners loan
corporation created maps where they would grade neighborhoods. Here’s the map for where I live in Durham,
North Carolina. This is from 1937. It’s color coded. Areas in green green, of course. Graded A. They’re for whites only. If it had somebody Jewish in it, they were
going to be B or C, blue or yellow. They were considered risky. A neighborhood with anyone black in it was
graded D, no matter what economic level the inhabitants had. These were direct quotes. These neighborhoods were considered worthless
or likely to decline in value and no loans could be made for purchasing or upgrading. All right? So on our own maps, what lenders would do
is take the D graded neighborhoods and they would outline them in red ink, and this is
where the term “red lining” came from. Realtors were not permitted to sell houses
to blacks in white neighborhoods because the mortgages were federally insured and they
were afraid the property values would go down. Blacks were unable to get loans to buy houses
in the neighborhoods they wanted to live. I told you it was cheaper to buy than to rent,
but blacks are forced into only renting houses. I know that for some of you 1937 might seem
like an inconceivably distant time. My dad was born in 1932, and I talked to him
on the phone last week this is right now. Okay. I’m gonna show you a few more things. I’m just stunned by all of this. The archive contains the paperwork that was
written down by the people who did these gradings. Let’s look at A2. Gently rolling. Plenty of infrastructure. No detrimental things. This is near Duke university in Durham. They’re making the top salary is like $8,000
a year. And these questions are just astonishing. Foreign born none, negro, none. Infiltration? What is that? You get infiltrated by the enemy. Infiltration, none. No families on relief. All homes in good repair. 90%are owned. Plenty of mortgage money. Signed by Leon Powell, May 21, 1937. Let’s look at D6. Rolling. Okay. Not so bad. Yeah. There’s railroad tracks. People have good jobs. The top salaries here are really not terrible
compared to what the professors at Duke university are making. Foreign born, none. Negro, yes. Of course we need to know the percent. Infiltration. Now we know what this means. Many relief families. Many poor, but some fair housing. Only 15%of the people own. There are no mortgage funds… So the federal housing administration and
the VA adopt the HOLC’s rules and they grant loans only to buyers whose homes are located
in stable and desirable areas. And a single black person living on your block
could get your neighborhood red lined, which meant all the whites were super interested
in keeping their neighborhoods segregated because they wanted people to get mortgages
to buy houses in that neighborhood. Neighborhoods are strictly segregated and
it starts at this time and we did it. Us. The government. What happens is that whites get on the path
of homeownership and prosperity, but you cannot buy a house if you’re black. Here’s that map super imposed over today’s
Google map of Durham. And those grades? They echo down the decades till today. Here’s the Chetty map. This is current household income for children
of parents with low incomes. Here there are two other factors that happened
in Durham. In the ’60s, a big project put a highway through
a thriving black downtown and destroyed it. I drive on that highway all the time and I
never thought about it. There’s another rant about urban renewal that
I will not get into right now. Schools in the south were desegregated and
the way that the whites in Durham dealt with that is they made separate schooling systems
for the city and the county. So, the whites could move to the county. There was white flight which changed the demographics
some. So, in places where it doesn’t map up to the
1937 stuff, neighborhoods were destroyed and whites moved out. Despite those changes, here’s today’s income
levels in the neighborhoods based on those 1937 maps. All right? 85%of the people who live in neighborhoods
that were graded A are in the middle to upper level income brackets. And as we go down, all right. Here’s race. The areas that were graded A in 1937 are 15%minority. It was unbelievable to me. That section of the Chetty map is Durham. That’s Chapel Hill. Here’s Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina. Here’s a suburb called Cary. You can probably guess who lives where. Of course I live right there. Where the aliens would choose. So, outside of my college years, I have almost
never rented. In 1980, I bought this house. And then I bought this house. I loved this house. And then this was I moved to Durham. That was in Tallahassee where I went to college. This is Durham. My house was behind that tree. You can’t make the Google maps driver get
a good shot of your house. I lived in that house, and then I moved to
western Colorado. Then when I moved back east, this was my house
on Welkin court. Finally I wanted my own real house, so I had
one custom built. I got a lot and got a construction loan. My house is not the monstrous house on the
right, but it’s at the end of that driveway. My house is way back there. This picture was actually taken in 2007, a
month after we moved in. So, you can a little bit see, but probably
can’t tell in the picture. You can see there’s a solar collector on the
roof, because I have solar hot water. I was told that I was not allowed to show
you those pictures because my house proud partner wanted it to look better. So, here are modern photos. You can see the plantings have grown up. If you walk up my driveway, there’s the garden. I’m responsible for none of this. There’s the garden. And if you walk up, you can see the beehive
and the obligatory Subaru. And if you go closer, this is a close up shot
of my house. It is awesome and beautiful. I’m actually getting more panels put on the
roof now so my utilities are about to go to zero. The south walls are full of windows. It’s the perfect house. It’s in a co housing community, so it’s an
absolutely great neighborhood. I am lucky to have it. And part of the reason I have it was because
of the equity I earned over the years in the other houses. So, if neighborhoods have a lot to do with
outcomes but you can’t pick your neighborhood and owning property is a path to wealth but
you can’t buy a house, well you don’t get to have this. And that sucks. And have to admit, I kinda hate knowing all
this. I have been enormously successful. I was happy when I could think of myself as
hard working and a bit lucky. But once I started examining the source of
my good fortune, I found that a scary proportion of it might originate from biases in the system
rather than justly earned by my efforts. Everything I told you about has been baked
in before I was born so I could kind of let myself off the hook. But research? Dang it! So now I have some context to understand a
few things that have happened in my lifetime. I’m going to talk to you just about four of
them. Like this. How is it that now .1% of the people in the
United States own more than the bottom 80%? What about this? It’s inconceivable to me that 400 people owe
more than $150 million. When did we become more like China and Russia
than France and great Britain. I feel like the question we need to ask is
what happened in 1980? This is an idea, a political idea that the
market is better at fixing things than the government. Now this idea is non partisan. I want to emphasize that. Right? It’s been held as a truth under a number of
presidents of multiple political parties. But I can say now after 40 years of the neoliberalism
experiment, there’s a lot of data showing it has been a disaster for the United States. This woman has a new book called “Unbound”
which goes through the data in terrifyingly readable detail. The contention is that markets will self regulate
if left to themselves. That unmanaged markets are both fair and more
efficient than managed ones. And Boushey argues and has data to show that
some inefficient unmanaged markets are bad for everyone at every level of wealth. It’s easy to turn managed markets into unmanaged
ones. You just have to privatize stuff and let people
buy it. The problem with that is, it should surprise
no one, though it’s easy to do, it’s very hard to take back. What happens is those unmanaged markets created
super rich elites and those super rich elites are quite happy with the current system just
as it is. They now have the power to keep it this way. Over the last 40 years, a number of things
that matter to the majority of us have gone significantly downhill. There are far too many examples of this, and
I’m going mention just four. I’m a class of 75, the product of an excellent
K 12 education. My success today started there. I went to this high school. It’s on the national register of historic
places. You could take French, Latin, German, or Spanish. They had a world class suite of AP courses. I took advance calculus and sang in the best
A Capella choir in the United States. Those days are gone. This is a map where places fall relative to
the median of funding for schools. You may or may not know that schools are primarily
funded through property taxes. And we already went through the whole property
thing. You can imagine that it is inevitable that
places where people have not been allowed to accumulate wealth have poor schools. In Durham, like I said earlier, the city county
divide, when schools are desegregated, it concentrated poor people in the city and everybody
who could afford to buy a house moved to the county, so the schools were terrible. I think I have time. My partner does educational evaluation. And she was recently in southern Louisiana
interviewing teachers about a funding program. So, she was like evaluating a grant. It was raining. And they were in a room where the number of
drips were causing the buckets to fill up so fast that they had to be emptied during
the interview. The principal was so embarrassed that they
moved them to another room. The feature of the other room wasn’t that
it was dry, it was just that the leaks were slower. They didn’t have to empty the buckets. Those kids don’t have a chance. All right. Wages. If you break the unions, workers don’t have
a power workers no longer have the power to bargain for fair wages. This is reflected in minimum wage. On this graph, the dark purple is the actual
dollar amount of the minimum wage. The light purple is its value in today’s dollars. Lucky me. That’s the last time I made minimum wage. That’s about $10.80 in today’s dollars. The living wage in Durham is $12.15. Two adults making minimum wage would be getting
by. This is not enough. How about health care? Canada, which has regulated health care, spends
half as much per capita as we do. Almost one in ten people in the United States
don’t even have health insurance. Two years ago, my aforementioned partner was
diagnosed with breast cancer. In that year, we spent, the two of us on premiums,
deductibles and co pays spent $30,000 out of pocket for treatment that cost about $100,000. Remember that the average the median income
in the United States is $31,000. Two thirds of all bankruptcies today in the
United States are related to medical problems either because of outright costs or because
of lost wages. Next, yeah. I bet this affects some of you still. It’s hard to get a good job without an education. When you start when you quit funding public
colleges, what happens is costs go up and seats there are fewer seats. And so getting into those colleges is harder. At that point, you get privatization of schools,
which means you get for profit colleges and students borrowing enormous amounts of money. That money is, by the way, insured by your
tax dollars against default. A well educated population improves life for
everyone, but getting a degree today often means taking on crippling debt. I borrowed money when I was in school back
in 1978. It was a real amount. It mattered. It was so small that I don’t even remember
it now. I paid it off over a time period that I can’t
even recall. All I can tell you is I bought a house in
1980 when I was paying on that student loan, so it couldn’t have been that bad. Today, almost a quarter of the people a quarter
of the adults under 60 in the United States have some form of student loan debt and they’re
paying that debt rather than buying property and accumulating wealth. So the history of housing in America makes
it clear that the dream was never available to everyone. But over the last 40 years, it has moved out
of reach for almost anyone. We have increasingly become a society of winners
and losers, and the winners I practiced this name so many times and I knew I would screw
it up. Anand writes, “winner take all.” The elite, many of them are in tech. The super rich have piles of money, and with
piles of something, you begin to believe that you deserve it, that you earned it. If you’re super rich, you must also be super
capable and super smart and super good at everything. And it becomes easy, maybe even necessary
to discount the enormous role played by luck and opportunity in your success. This, by the way, is how a guy like Howard
Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks decides that coffee thing turned out so well, I’ll just
be president. Folks in the top tier donate sums of money
to charitable organizations. But generally they don’t use the power and
influence to champion systemic change that would turn have notes into haves. It is suggested that we don’t need the rich
to fund special programs to give teachers extra pay. Instead we need them to fund programs to teach
those teachers how to organize. Public education funding is broken and the
people whose job it is to do it know how to fix it and they’re the people who should be
in charge of that. The super rich are fine with doing good but
resist the idea that they should instead do less harm. We have the powerful fighting to change the
world in ways that essentially keep it the same or possibly make it worse. There’s been a huge pour shift in America
in my lifetime. Are we ready to hand over the future to the
elite? One supposedly world changing initiative at
a time? Or is meaningful democracy in which we all
potentially have a voice worth fighting for? I’m almost done. I can’t help but wonder if you’re relieved. I promise you my original intent was to make
a cheerful talk about how lucky I am. But look what I found out. I picked up the rock. I was following this line from all of this
information that I showed you, many things I haven’t even talked to you about, I could
hear myself saying, “it’s not my fault. It wasn’t me that caused this.” The truth is that I am a woman of a certain
age, which means in real life that I am someone to whom you could legitimately say, “Okay,
boomer,” and I thought that I was just hard working and lucky. But it turns out that for my entire life,
I have been surfing what may be the final crest of the last wave of the American dream. I didn’t act to turn this into a place where
a few people make piles of money and lots of folks get thrown into jail, get evicted,
lose everything if they get sick and live in a world that is both drowning and on fire. I didn’t act to do it. But I stood by and let it happen. I feel the need to beg your most humble pardon
for the world we’re leaving you. Sorry… And it wasn’t your fault. But it’s on you to fix it. So, what should you do? First of all, pay attention to your complicity. It’s a frickin’ eye opener. Own it. Admit it. Next, give back. I have upped my charitable giving. You’ve got money, give some away. Do the best tech you can. These things are all working on the symptoms. We need to work on the cause. You got to think bigger. We need solutions that are public, Democratic,
universal, and institutional. If you were born after 1980, which many of
you were, you probably don’t remember a time when government was well thought of. You spent your whole life there was an ad
campaign, you have been listening to the neoliberals quote Ronald Reagan saying the scariest words
in the English language is I’m from the federal government and I’m here to help. There are much scarier things. In a democracy, you are the government. We need a tax code that fixes the wealth gap
and saves the middle class. We need federal housing programs that give
everyone a shot at ownership. We need to deal with our history as a slave
nation and think about reparations. We need empowered workers that can bring balance
to this low road form of capitalism, and we need to stop climate change. You are the smartest and the brightest and
the best. And the most amply rewarded. I just you more than anyone to transform the
system into something that works for us all. And this is not gonna happen by itself. So, you need to get to work. [ Applause ]

Norman Bunn


  1. i have seen many of Sandi's talks and I have always thought her ideas about programming were fantastic and this talk was a departure from that but a very welcome one. Its always so encouraging and revitalizing to see someone you know come out and say something like this. Fantastic talk as always from Sandi

  2. As non-US citizen, If I'd buy ticket to this conference, I'd be very disappointed with this keynote. It's irrelevant, and misleading.
    Really, I admire Sandi, but this talk is no-go in general, and, in addition, her bias shines through.
    For example, if aliens would come to US (Sandi said "Earth", but her data covers just US) and become programmers, they'd choose to be asians. Unless they're dumb. Less than 7% of US population are asians, but, according to Sandi's data, they constitute 24% of programmers. So, they are the "winners" she was looking for, which is a very dumb and dangerous "search" to begin with. As ex-Russian, I know what might happen when people start searching for "winner" groups: everybody lose and violence becomes "justified".
    Again, Sandi is entitled to her personal opinions, but using software conference platform to spread propaganda is no-go.

  3. Thank you for the call to action Sandi, and thank you for talking about something that is truly important. Tech is ephemeral, why we do our jobs isn't.

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