Social Justice, Social Darwinism, and the Curious Case of SF’s Housing Squeeze

Even as the browning of America continues, it looks like San Francisco is moving in the opposite direction (HT: Robert Stark). Though I enjoy visiting SF, the city – like the Bay Area as a whole – is rife with contradictions. Despite marketing itself as an open and tolerant city, SF’s obscenely high costs of living make it onerous for most people to actually live there. Of course, it should be mentioned that SF is hardly alone; East Bay cities such as Oakland are also undergoing gentrification, which has resulted in a lower black population.

Speaking of blacks, I’d say that race somewhat motivates white San Franciscans on a subconscious level. As Christian Lander argued in Stuff White People Like, liberal whites in places like SF enjoy a certain kind of diversity:

The City of San Francisco has a very multicultural population that ranges from white to gay to Asian. Within white culture this known as “ideal diversity” for its provision of exotic restaurants while simultaneously preserving property values. The presence of gays and Asians is imperative as it two provides two of the key resources most necessary for white success and happiness.

However, it is important to be aware of the fact that regions outside of San Francisco feature many people who are not white, gay or Asian. They are greatly appreciated during the census, but white people are generally very happy that they stay in places like Oakland and Richmond. This enables white people to feel good about living near people of diverse backgrounds without having to directly deal with troublesome issues like income gaps or schooling.

In other words, Asians, gays, and even a few Latinos are cool; chocolate cities such as Baltimore are not. Indeed, as Steve Sailer’s article points out, blacks today only comprise 6% of San Francisco, down from 13% back in the 70s.

Now, unlike Sailer, I don’t think that SF’s housing bind is necessarily part of a whitening plan. That would presume liberal whites are consciously pro-white, a belief for which there is little evidence. I think the more simple explanation is that SF has become a rather cutthroat city, especially when it comes to competition for living space. Similar to American doctors who lobby for stringent licensing requirements for foreign medical professionals – which keeps doctor supply low and their own wages high – white homeowners in SF want to preserve their property values and enjoy their living space. I don’t blame them, but this just goes to show that their liberalism has its limits.

Years ago, in an article I wrote on the Bay Area’s racial dynamics, I argued that the liberal rainbow coalition is not going to endure for much longer. As SF has shown, it’s already showing signs of collapse. Peace-and-love liberalism can only do so much when people are fighting to survive in an increasingly costly, ruthless, and rancorous city. Such toxic dynamics are pitting various different factions against one another, resulting in myriad conflicts.

Cranky baby boomer hippies want to preserve SF’s status quo; renters already established in the city face the looming threat of eviction, and are desperately fighting to hold onto what they have; and young techies, despite being the villainous face of gentrification, also have to contend with skyrocketing costs of living. Additionally, San Francisco’s tech workers, whether they’re residents or commuters, are learning the hard way that SF’s capitalists are as vicious as any Republican plutocrat. All of this is only compounded by racial friction.

Eventually, something’s gotta give. As I’m fond of saying, life is mostly a zero-sum game; nowhere is this more true than in progressive, highly unequal San Francisco. In due time, we’ll see who emerges victorious in the battle for the Bay Area’s soul.

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9 Responses to Social Justice, Social Darwinism, and the Curious Case of SF’s Housing Squeeze

  1. Gay State Girl says:

    We have a similar thing going on in Boston. Everyone knows that the Boston2024 Olympic bid was motivated by a desire to tear apart the infrastructure of depressed neighborhoods and ultimately replace it with prime real estate once the Olympics was over. The leading force behind the Boston2024 proposal John Fish CEO of Suffolk Construction and would have cost the tay payer billions and drained local resources, and compromised the infrastructure of an already congested city. Thankfully, people of all socioeconomic levels banded together and the bid was pulled.

    • Bay Area Guy says:

      That’s good to hear. I really do feel like left coast regions such as the Bay Area and Boston embody the worst of both the left and the right; you get social liberalism mixed with cannibalistic neoliberal economics.

      I think more people are wising up to this con.

      • Gay State Girl says:

        Social media no doubt played a huge role, but it was an unusual situation, with devastating results for all. The only people who would have benefited in any way were homeowners in South Boston and Dorchester (a very small percentage of residents) who could have seen.

        I’ve noticed a strange trend among Massachusetts liberals. My father and All the liberals I know support social welfare services to pacify poor and minorities but simultaneously cheer on gentrification, which would inevitably price them out of Boston and all of its surroundings within a fifty mile radius, making it impossible to enjoy many of the aforementioned benefits.

        In other words, “Back to Atlanta is good enough for me!”—- Gay State Dad.

      • Bay Area Guy says:

        I’ve noticed a strange trend among Massachusetts liberals. My father and All the liberals I know support social welfare services to pacify poor and minorities but simultaneously cheer on gentrification

        Yes, and “pacify” is the key word here. Leftist writer Mark Ames (of “Going Postal” fame) once argued that liberals support social programs and poverty relief not out of any sense of guilt; rather, it’s a rational fear of the peasantry. Better to give them food stamps now than have them revolt later.

        But I guess if they grow tired of paying for their pacification, gentrification becomes the next option.

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  3. Gay State Girl says:

    What is the deal with all those naked homeless people on Mission Street? Are they just props?

    “once argued that liberals support social programs and poverty relief not out of any sense of guilt; rather, it’s a rational fear of the peasantry.”

    The funniest part is that they all donate to urban based charities, yet gentrification and the resultant brown flight would render such services inaccessible to the masses.

    • Beatrix says:

      “What is the deal with all those naked homeless people on Mission Street? Are they just props?”

      Being A UCSF grad & resident of SF for 5 miserable years I can tell you that those naked folks are usually mental outpatients. Reagan shut down most of the resident inpatient loony bins in the 80’s. There isn’t much funding for mental outpatient clinics in California anymore. Depo injection anti psychotics are considered “unethical” so mental patients are expected to stand in line to get their MediCal coverage, show up at a D’s office for their monthly prescription, get that script filled at the pharmacy, & actually take their meds. Like that’s going to happen. You’ll be happy to know heroin & methadone are excellent anti psychotics which a much higher patient compliance rate than traditional or the newer atypical anti psychotic meds.

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