What San Francisco says about America

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/09/20/what-san-francisco-says-about.html


As a society, we have to decide what’s important to us. I don’t really have anything else to add to that - other than to say that it becomes abundantly clear to anyone that has the ability to feel empathy what we value here.


I hear they ruined pizza.


Sadly, society has decided what is important already.

What the hell do we do now?


Make more societies, of course. Subscribe to the ones you like best.


Even in homelessness, America is #1! U! S! A! U! S! A!

It’s nothing that another round of tax cuts and prison privatization can’t handle. Heck, send an Army recruiter around, to enlist souls for all the tremendous wars our next President will get us in to!*


  • Trump 2016!

Tried that, got bricks through my window.

Being geographically close to people with similar views to your own is vital for this to work.


San Francisco is simply excelling at sending the message (to most people) the rest of California has been sending for years:

Go somewhere else.


His point that there are people inside the system and those outside in countries like the US really struck me. It’s so true - and so dangerous, because people don’t really think about it that way (the popular image of how America works is more like how things are in Thailand than the US), and once you are outside, you’re pretty much screwed.


Not that we don’t have an enormous homelessness problem in the states, but I’d like to know the source of the 1300 number–my understanding is there’s a lot of governmental skewing of that particular statistic in Thailand. In any case, Bangkok is by no means a good place to live if you’re on the very bottom rung of the poverty latter–even if you have a “shanty” to go home to. Especially if you’re a child.


i took that section of the piece to lean toward a de-regulated, libertarian viewpoint. the idea that “there’s a system in place to handle these problems so i don’t have to worry about it as long as i fulfill my role within the larger system”… it allows people to walk down a street lined with destitute people and not feel a personal sense to duty towards them.

i’m projecting, obviously, but the idea of either being IN the system or OUT is a feeling i confront in my own life and as a dynamic in the zeitgeist. movements that have been grouped under the banner ‘identity politics’ largely read to me as groups of people able to establish a critical mass to crash through the wall and be recognized by a power structure. but isn’t ‘power structure’ where the oppression started to begin with? do we need a revolution or just a couple revisions? where do we weirdos who refuse to categorize ourselves go?

honestly, any help to elucidate this argument is welcome. my idealistic youth is rapidly being eroded to a lonely, contradictory adulthood…


Seriously? So the vast population living in squalor in “makeshift homes” in Bangkok shantytowns aren’t “homeless”, but the cardboard-and-tarp-and-tent dwellers in San Francisco are?

There are only 1300 homeless people in Bangkok? Umm, [citation needed]

It would be interesting to examine that study’s methodology,

Unlike America, - particularly California - where poor people have no “countryside” to go to?

Seriously, most people who are simply poor and destitute really DO go “back to the countryside” - back home to where they came from, back to other cheaper cities, back to small towns and large. They leave San Francisco.

What SF is left with is the broken, the damaged, the dregs whose problems are a good deal more difficult to solve - mostly people suffering from addiction and/or mental illness, many of whom live on the streets where they can drink MadDog, smoke crack, snort meth or otherwise ingest whatever they can get their hands on, rather than accept shelter and housing placement that requires sobriety.

I’m not blaming those people. I know many of them have tried sobriety and prescribed meds, only to suffer debilitating side effects far worse than drunkenness, which leaves them understandably wary of such 'help."

Hell, I’ve done that myself.

Prescribed anti-psychotics and antidepressants don’t always work for everyone, and it can be a long and tortuous path to find an effective drug with acceptable side effects.

Not everyone is willing to try, try, try again when the first several times go badly.

But here in the USA, “land of the free”, we can’t force people to accept shelter and medication unless they’re demonstrably a danger to themselves or others.

That makes it a whole lot more difficult to ‘solve’ the hard-core homelessness problem (but it also makes it much harder for parents and authorities to imprison ‘deviants’ and drug them into submission against their will, so nothing’s quite as simple as it looks).

What do the authorities in Bangkok do with the deranged and the dysfunctionally addicted? Is it possible that those people are simply hidden away, imprisoned or institutionalized, where the “homeless survey” never sees them?

It’s never as simple as it appears in the Daily Outrage-a-thon. What (little) San Francisco says about America (being the singularity it presently is) is complicated and inconclusive. Comparisons to Bangkok are not particularly instructive until you dig deep into the details - and even then, they’re not the simplistic slam-dunk “obvious conclusions” that articles like this imply.


I have been struck by the lack of homeless people in many places I have traveled around the world including places like El Salvador and Guatemala. I do not think this is because those places do more for their homeless than San Fran does, it’s because they do less. San Francisco is probably the best place to be homeless on the planet, therefore they have more homeless people. Last I heard San Fran was paying it’s homeless a “salary” of 14k per year. Free food is readily available. Metal scaveging is encoraged. You can hardly shoo away somebody who is taking a dump on your front doorstep without being treated like a pariah on the TV news. I’m sure San Fran is drawing in homeless people from hundreds of miles around. Portland Oregon emits the same signals.

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So, lemme guess: you were glad when Reagan emptied out the mental hospitals so that the rich could pay lower taxes?


Why would you assume that?


I’m sure that San Francisco says a lot about … San Francisco.


You find a verifiable source for this “fact”, and I’ll donate to Trump’s campaign.


They must be in collusion with the mythical armies of welfare queens out there taking money from hard working Americans.


Having lived there, no. Not true in any way whatsoever.

The homeless there are often in very bad shape. There’s so many on the streets that resources like soup kitchens can’t keep up with demand. And they are most definitely not being paid by the city to sleep on the sidewalk.


Don’t forget the white Cadillacs (or was it Lincoln Continentals?).