Round and round we go, the new economy transforms and becomes old economy, very old. The oligarchs of the West Coast who revolutionized the way of life for all of humanity with their devices and social networks are now investing in land. It’s no surprise: figures like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos, with their virtual products, had already anticipated a revolution in global capitalism; now they anticipate a new turn that puts a long-forgotten sector at the center, but which – it’s not difficult to predict – is destined to become crucial in the near future: agriculture. Bill Gates has become the largest individual owner of agricultural land in the United States, with 275,000 cultivable hectares spread over about 20 states. Bezos, the man behind Amazon, owns 170,000 hectares, all concentrated in Texas, while media mogul Ted Turner owns the world’s largest herd of bison, with 45,000 heads spread across 14 different ranches. These investments look to the future, especially because high-tech agriculture will be developed here, alongside smart cities like the one Gates is planning in Arizona for 80,000 lucky residents.

Smart cities and high-tech agriculture will definitely set the trend in the world, but for now, the only effect is a rise in land prices in the United States. The process closely resembles what happened a few years ago to real estate properties in California, which drove up house and rental prices and caused the explosion of homelessness camps on the sidewalks of cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. This is because when the huge capital of high-tech giants moves, prices inevitably rise, and as a result, social differences grow, society and the cities split themselves between those who remain inside and those who end up outside, in a dramatic way. All this happens without any public debate on the matter, and without anyone worrying about the consequences.

The self-referential world of West Coast billionaires has greatly increased its power with total indifference from US and global politics: these economic groups have an impact on political and social dynamics as never before. Perhaps the most striking case is that of Elon Musk. The South African entrepreneur, in addition to having amassed a gigantic fortune, dictates the line on space exploration and research, and his group is the only non-state actor involved in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, as it provides web links to Kiev, both to the population and the army. On the other hand, Bill Gates, with his charitable foundation, has determined the policies adopted by the WHO for Africa and directs investments in medical research. It could be said that the passage of these “computer wizards” and high-tech owners to landowners, favored by almost unlimited spending capacity, is making them come back… down to earth.

Cultivable land, which is constantly decreasing due to climate change, is a precious resource destined, in perspective, to assume incalculable value. When the world has to choose between video games and food, it will be the same entrepreneurs who produce and sell both goods: having abandoned the rhetoric that they would have made the world a better place through technology, they are preparing to become the saviors of hungry peoples. All privately, all for profit. Because the new and old economy of West Coast magnates is born and developed for very few but feeds on the needs of the masses, replacing politics with marketing.



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