The New York Times [registration required] reports eloquently on the Silicon Valley rat race where a net worth of $3 million to $5 million makes engineers and entrepreneurs feel the need to work 70 hours a week to keep up. Granted, real estate in Silicon Valley is among the country's most expensive. And this competitive drive makes Silicon Valley home to our most innovative companies.
But the essence of Silicon Valley is the sense of eternal dissatisfaction that can only be filled with more money. As one of the Silicon Valley rats says in the article: "Here, the top 1 percent chases the top one-tenth of 1 percent, and the top one-tenth of 1 percent chases the top one-one-hundredth of 1 percent. You try not to get caught up in it, but it's hard not to."
Why can't the Silicon Valley rat racers just kick back and enjoy their lives? As the article points out, many have contemplated moving "to a small town like Elko, NV and being a ski bum or to the middle of the country and living like a prince in a spacious McMansion in the nicest neighborhood in town." But the need to reach the top of the wealth pyramid drives them to stay in their small houses, commute long hours to and from work, and put in 70 hour work weeks.
Is the Silicon Valley rat race good for America? Are these people a little nuts? Would you stay in the Silicon Valley rat race if you had "only" $3 million to $5 million in net worth?