Diversity is Our Strength Part V: San Francisco Covered in Human Waste
Why the elites dumped on San Francisco
Of hyper-gentrification and human excrement
by Peter Franklin
OF ALL THE THINGS you might want to symbolise your city, the human turd is pretty much bottom of the list. Yet San Francisco, the hi-tech capital of world, is indelibly marked by the association.
If you Google the words “gentrification” and “excrement” (though mind how you go), news stories about the Golden City predominate. For instance, Forbes has an informative briefing on the issue by Adam Andrzejewski, CEO of OpenTheBooks.com. We learn that “since 2011 there have been at least 118,352 reported incidences of human fecal matter on [San Francisco] city streets”. A tastefully brown-coloured bar chart of “human feces incidents” shows that this is a growing problem – the bars get longer every year.
Last year, the San Francisco mayor created a “poop patrol” to literally clean up the city. Using payroll information, Open The Books estimate that each “human waste case” costs the taxpayer $32.75, not including “sunk costs” for steam cleaning equipment, etc.
The fact that this, and the associated epidemics of homelessness, drug use and crime, is happening in one the most economically advanced and politically liberal cities in the world is an irony lost on no one.
As Karen Heller puts it in the Washington Post “everyone agrees that something has rotted in San Francisco”:
“Conservatives have long loathed it as the axis of liberal politics and political correctness, but now progressives are carping, too. They mourn it for what has been lost, a city that long welcomed everyone and has been altered by an earthquake of wealth.”
. . .
Needless to say, San Francisco’s supposedly progressive politics is rotten with nimbyism. Farhad Manjoo points out the hypocrisy:
“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.”
Not that we can expect the Republicans to do much about the problem either – after all, there is a property developer in the White House. But perhaps the biggest failure is that of the tech industry. In one sense, they are the victims too – with landlords creaming off the value created by genuine entrepreneurs. One response is to join the landlord class. But those who still believe in generating wealth as opposed to extracting it should get up and leave.
Yes, there are reasons why particular industries cluster together in particular places. Proximity enables interaction and therefore creativity. But might there be a law of diminishing returns at work here? A point at which different perspectives become so bled into one another that they become indistinguishable? . . .
* * *