Sunday, May 26, 2019

San Francisco: The Radical Left in Charge

As the old saying has it, states are laboratories for democracy. Today, we extend the thought and say that certain cities are laboratories for rule by Democrats. In America’s largest coastal metropolises, Democrats rule. For all intents and purposes, there are no Republicans.

Today, for instance, the New York City school commissioner is hard at work trying to destroy the city’s public schools. He is firing white administrators. He is telling school principals to give special privileges to minority children. He wants to dumb down New York’s premier high schools, in the name of diversity.

And yet, New York is not quite in the league of San Francisco… now become America’s urban basket case. It is worth noting that the city is home to House Speaker Pelosi… who is hard at work slandering the president of the United States. As for her home district and the state it belongs to… they are literally going to shit. Very wealthy people like Nancy Pelosi will throw a few crumbs at the downtrodden and the disadvantaged, but, beyond that, they do not care.

New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo has laid out the case against the rich liberals who run San Francisco and America’s other great cities. If I were to quibble I would say that these people no longer deserve to be called liberal or progressive. They are leftist radicals.

To be perfectly fair, even though Manjoo is correct to show that wealthy leftist radicals tend to exercise outsized influence on these cities, the political leaders are elected by the people. And most of the people are not very wealthy. Thus, the people elect leftist radicals to run the cities, because leftist radicals often promise something for nothing. And the people who voted for them end up with crumbs for nothing. But, at least, the city’s leadership is diverse. One hopes that this affords proper consolation for citizens who are dodging hypodermic needles and human feces on their walk to work.

Manjoo explains what is going on in San Francisco, California. We have reported on it before. It is unquestionably bleak. California houses large numbers of billionaires and still ranks as the most impoverished state in the nation. It’s an oligarchy, stupid. The rich and the rest:

To live in California at this time is to experience every day the cryptic phrase that George W. Bush once used to describe the invasion of Iraq: “Catastrophic success.” The economy here is booming, but no one feels especially good about it. When the cost of living is taken into account, billionaire-brimming California ranks as the most poverty-stricken state, with a fifth of the population struggling to get by. Since 2010, migration out of California has surged.

The basic problem is the steady collapse of livability. Across my home state, traffic and transportation is a developing-world nightmare. Child care and education seem impossible for all but the wealthiest. The problems of affordable housing and homelessness have surpassed all superlatives — what was a crisis is now an emergency that feels like a dystopian showcase of American inequality.

And yet, it’s not really American inequality. It’s the kind of inequality produced by failed leftist policies. Picture today’s San Francisco:

Yet the streets there are a plague of garbage and needles and feces, and every morning brings fresh horror stories from a “Black Mirror” hellscape: Homeless veterans are surviving on an economy of trash from billionaires’ mansions. Wealthy homeowners are crowdfunding a legal effort arguing that a proposed homeless shelter is an environmental hazard. A public-school teacher suffering from cancer is forced to pay for her own substitute.

Manjoo emphasizes that San Francisco is run entirely by Democrats. It has become difficult to blame it on Republicans when there are no Republicans. Of course, there is always the fallback: blaming it on capitalists and white privilege. The latter is especially peculiar since a city like New York, under comrade de Blasio, has declared war on white privilege:

At every level of government, our representatives, nearly all of them Democrats, prove inadequate and unresponsive to the challenges at hand. Witness last week’s embarrassment, when California lawmakers used a sketchy parliamentary maneuver to knife Senate Bill 50, an ambitious effort to undo restrictive local zoning rules and increase the supply of housing.

It was another chapter in a dismal saga of Nimbyist urban mismanagement that is crushing American cities. Not-in-my-backyardism is a bipartisan sentiment, but because the largest American cities are populated and run by Democrats — many in states under complete Democratic control — this sort of nakedly exclusionary urban restrictionism is a particular shame of the left.

The shame of the left… an apt description. One thing these leftists do not want is less restrictive zoning laws and more housing. To balance that opinion, we should note that new housing, unless it is public housing, is likely to be very, very expensive housing. So, one does not see exactly why it will solve the homeless problem. Perhaps more supply will drive down cost, but that assumes that the new housing will not just attract more wealthy people.

More importantly, Manjoo indicts the rich radicals of San Francisco for being hypocrites, for being willing to do anything whatever to keep certain people out of their neighborhoods:

Then there is the refusal on the part of wealthy progressives to live by the values they profess to support at the national level. Creating dense, economically and socially diverse urban environments ought to be a paramount goal of progressivism. Cities are the standard geographical unit of the global economy. Dense urban areas are quite literally the “real America” — the cities are where two-thirds of Americans live, and they account for almost all national economic output. Urban areas are the most environmentally friendly way we know of housing lots of people. We can’t solve the climate crisis without vastly improving public transportation and increasing urban density. More than that, metropolises are good for the psyche and the soul; density fosters tolerance, diversity, creativity and progress.

And also:

Yet where progressives argue for openness and inclusion as a cudgel against President Trump, they abandon it on Nob Hill and in Beverly Hills. This explains the opposition to SB 50, which aimed to address the housing shortage in a very straightforward way: by building more housing. The bill would have erased single-family zoning in populous areas near transit locations. Areas zoned for homes housing a handful of people could have been redeveloped to include duplexes and apartment buildings that housed hundreds….

The bill had garnered support from a diverse coalition of business and advocacy groups, and its sponsor, State Senator Scott Wiener, had negotiated a series of compromises with some of its fiercest opponents. Polls showed the measure to be widely popular. For the first time, something extraordinary looked possible: California’s wealthy homeowners would abandon their restrictionist attitudes and let us build some new housing.

What happened to the new San Francisco housing bill? You guessed it: they shelved it.

Nope. Instead, Anthony Portantino, a Democratic state senator whose district includes the posh city of La CaƱada Flintridge and who heads the appropriations committee, announced that he’d be shelving the bill until next year. In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, he worried that the law would spur lots of people to move near residential bus routes, which he suggested would alter the character of enclaves like his.

Of course, a housing bill is not going to right the good ship San Francisco. Perhaps, some homeless encampments in Nancy Pelosi’s front yard would get her attention.

And yet, San Francisco is a sanctuary city in a sanctuary state. Manjoo compares the situation to the Republican policy of building walls:

What Republicans want to do with I.C.E. and border walls, wealthy progressive Democrats are doing with zoning and Nimbyism. Preserving “local character,” maintaining “local control,” keeping housing scarce and inaccessible — the goals of both sides are really the same: to keep people out.

“We’re saying we welcome immigration, we welcome refugees, we welcome outsiders — but you’ve got to have a $2 million entrance fee to live here, otherwise you can use this part of a sidewalk for a tent,” said Brian Hanlon, president of the pro-density group California Yimby. “That to me is not being very welcoming. It’s not being very neighborly.”

As I said, wealthy radical leftists do not care about other people. They care mostly about themselves. Whereas the Republican policies are designed to control borders in order to defend the nation, radical leftist hypocrites want merely to maintain their own level of creature comfort.


trigger warning said...

Speaker Pelosi summarized the Democrat Party's platform quite nicely when, on 11/5/2018, she said to her campaign toadies...

"San Francisco values, that’s what we’re about.”

The curious need only stroll down a San Francisco street, carefully avoiding piles of excrement and dodging the human jetsam, to discern what those values are.

JPL17 said...

"More than that, metropolises are good for the psyche and the soul; density fosters tolerance, diversity ....

Manjoo makes some good points in his column, but the statement above exposes a parochialism so profound I have a hard time taking seriously anything else he has to say. He appears to have only 2 points of comparison, i.e., "city", vs. "rich white suburbs". He should get out more. In my experience, small-town America beats city and rich white suburb hands down in terms of what's good for the psyche, soul and tolerance.

I also with take strong issue with his blithe lumping of urban "diversity" with urban "tolerance", as if they're consistent. Given how Democrat-run American cities are now roiling in identity politics, the 2 characteristics now appear to be more often negatively correlated.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

In an essay called "E Pluribus, Unum" famed Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam showed that in more diverse neighborhoods people are more likely to hunker down... thus, to avoid each other. Proves your point.

JPL17 said...

Thanks for citation, Stuart. The essay sounded so interesting I found it online and downloaded it. Particularly intriguing to me is this statement from the abstract: "[S]uccessful immigrant societies have overcome [ethnic] fragmentation by creating new, cross-cutting forms of social solidarity and more encompassing identities. Illustrations of becoming comfortable with diversity are drawn from the US military, religious institutions, and earlier waves of American immigration." I say "intriguing" to me, because all 3 of those traits are still very much alive in small-town America. I.e., that's where you typically find a relatively high percentage of residents who are veterans, a deep respect for the military among the non-veteran population, high church attendance, a high degree of respect and affection (or at least tolerance) for religious people among the non-religious residents; and families going back generations that literally embody the earlier waves of American immigration, thanks to intermarriage and association in local civic organizations. I look forward to reading the full essay.

For anyone else interested, a PDF of it can be downloaded here:

UbuMaccabee said...

There is twin fix for San Francisco: typhus and bubonic plague. That will be instructional.

I will sit watch for 10 days from the comfortable heights of Fiesole and drink wine.

Sam L. said...

"As the old saying has it, states are laboratories for democracy. Today, we extend the thought and say that certain cities are laboratories for rule by Democrats." Quite so, and now the are laboratories for socialism and totalitarianism.

Anonymous said...

Outstanding analysis and observation of the San Francisco politics:

I came to the Bay Area from Italy and have witnessed the deterioration of a once lovely city. It is a shameful act by the leftist politicians as they decide who can and can't live in their neighborhoods. It began with the black citizens that once lived in SF.
The Pelosi gang lives by the slogan "do as I say but not as I do" ergo the city did indeed turned into shit. You are greeted in the morning with the stench of urine, feces and unwashed people - the homeless.

The left stays in power only due to their sanctuary policies and illegal voting - voter fraud ergo no republicans apply.

Like Pelosi who employs countless illegals in her vineyards other oligarchs hire them as their personal help in their mansions.

Yet - observing the homeless citizens are overwhelmingly black citizens while the rest are white citizens. You rarely if ever see any illegals homeless.
What California welfare system does is house illegals in the apartment buildings once rented by those now homeless.
Pelosi for example hired illegals to work on her vineyards paying minimum wages but then sends them to collect needed benefits like free healthcare, housing, WIC and other available benefits designed for American citizen. That's the con game in California.

Dr. Ben Carson currently serving as HUD leader recognizes this problem and is in the process to evict illegals from the government housing program that is designed strictly for Americans and their families in need.

Of course the uproar about his plans to reverse that injustice is met with disdain and all types of slanderous charges.

It is my hope that voter fraud is the first subject to be addressed to stop this insanity from keeping these politicians in power. The second reversal must be the sanctuary protection/policies that often also protects murderers, sexual predators and more that invaders/illegals commit on daily basis.

I suppose I could go on but there is nothing I can say that's not already been said. The city of SF is a lovely city and could be that again if they remove the trash and the politicians who have run it into destruction.

Most conservatives and independents live outside SF and LA - far away in the valley where life is still 'normal' compared to SF and LA. Of course they voices and votes are cancelled out as millions of illegals vote. That too must change!