The City Journal is taking on some of the consequences of California’s progressive politics, and how San Francisco policies can create rewards and little to no punishment for the string of homeless kids who travel from city to city up and down the West coast. Living in Seattle, I can testify to this behavior (McDonald characterizes it as a new hippie trail and a logical consequence of its morally suspect origins, though I suspect that there are other reasons, including manifest destiny).
Attempts to impose law and order are met with strong rebuke:
‘The homelessness industry instantly mobilized against the Civil Sidewalks law. Its first tactic was to assimilate the gutter punks into the “homelessness” paradigm, so that they could be slotted into the industry’s road-tested narrative about the casualties of a heartless free-market economy. “Homelessness, at its core, is an economic issue,” intoned the Coalition on Homelessness, San Francisco’s most powerful homelessness advocacy group, in a report criticizing the proposed law.’
But this is San Francisco. There’s a huge pool of sentiment (and often votes) for anything even mildly anti-business, anti-establishment, and sometimes full-on anarchic (this would help explain the WTO protests here in Seattle).
But point taken: someone’s moral concern becomes a cause for action (often with other people’s money, and righteously), which can become a non-profit (run with other people’s money, sometimes well, sometimes terribly) which can become part of a political force seeking its own self-interest (which then seeks more of other people’s money through politics and taxation)…and eventually…becomes willfully ignorant and dismissive of the burden it places upon the businesses, residents and citizens of its client host.
Of course, McDonald has been focusing on crime, and the harm done by crime against idealists seeking to round up criminal actors and the worst parts of our nature under a certain progressive ideology and politics:
“I don’t hang out in the Tenderloin because I don’t feel like smoking crack,” Cory says primly. Such scruples suggest a keen sense of self-preservation, notes Kent Uyehara. “These kids couldn’t handle the Tenderloin,” he says. “The local drug dealers won’t tolerate hippie punks interrupting their operations; they’d get beaten up or shot.”
At least most of them usually aren’t violent, or as violent as the actual people who murder, rob and steal. McDonald focuses on the effect on civil society, which is likely her strongest argument:
‘It is also about the most basic rules of civilized society, which hold that public spaces should be shared by the public, not monopolized by the disorderly few.’
Addition: John Stossel has more here:
Related On This Site: This is the city that brought a near ban on toys in happy meals…From Strange Maps: ‘Crime Topography Of San Francisco’…Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘Radical Graffiti Chic’
California’s anti-immigration, anti-union Democrat: Full video and background on Mickey Kaus here.
More broadly: An anarchist who ended up conservative: Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’…