Summary: It is the Leftist capital of America. Seldom has such a wonderful region been so mismanaged, becoming increasingly like the dystopian future shown in Blade Runner.
California is a Leftist-run state and San Francisco is its premier city – a vision of what Leftists might bring to America. News stories describe why, such as “Diseased Streets“, the latest coverage of the long destruction of a city by the Left.
“An NBC Bay Area Investigation reveals a dangerous concoction of drug needles, garbage, and feces lining the streets of downtown San Francisco. The Investigative Unit surveyed more than 150 blocks, including some of the city’s top tourist destinations, and discovered conditions that are now being compared to some of the worst slums in the world.”
- 2016: “The disgusting streets of San Francisco: Explosion in complaints of feces and syringes across city as homeless epidemic grows” by Jennifer Smith in the Daily Mail. The Brits are often the first to report the news about America on subjects US journalists prefer not to see.
- 2017: “I live at the corner of Needles and Diarrhea” in the Broke-Ass City column of the San Francisco Examiner.
- 2018: “Poop. Needles. Rats. Homeless camp pushes SF neighborhood to the edge” by Heather Knight in the San Francisco Chronicle — “One awful experience on one unremarkable city block represent the hellscape that has infuriated many San Francisco residents.”
- 2018: “‘20 pounds of human waste’ dropped on San Francisco street corner” by Amy Graff at SFGate.
- 2018: “SF’s appalling street life repels residents – now it’s driven away a convention” by Maiter & Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle.
- 2018: “San Francisco Logs Over 16,000 Feces Complaints Since 2013” by Dan Lyman. 200 in last week.
Decades of underfunded infrastructure have left the region’s keuy systems, such as transportation, hopelessly overloaded. Open borders to illegal migrants and lavish social services (attracting poor migrants from other states and elsewhere) have exacerbated that problem. The immigrants do not generate sufficient tax revenue to pay for the services and capital expenditures needed to support them. These have made life in the Bay Area increasingly dystopian.
Combine that with the brutal taxes and high cost for almost everything, and you get middle class flight: “San Francisco Bay Area Experiences Mass Exodus Of Residents” by Len Ramirez at CBS. Lots of evidence, such Mark Perry’s research showing “a shortage of U-Haul trucks and sky-high prices for scarce outbound trucks.” Or the flood of donations to Goodwill and other charities, as people strip down to move out of State. Our local Goodwill has an industrial-scale donation intake, and often becomes overloaded and restricts what they will accept.
Poor migrants flood in to replace us. Time will tell if that is a good trade for the Bay Area.
Seldom has such a potentially great region been so politically mismanaged by its people. But don’t worry about the rich. Life remains pleasant in their enclaves!
What will sink San Francisco and California? And the eventual solution.
What will sink the San Francisco Bay Area? Two things. First, eventually people leaving will crash its mad real estate prices. Tipping points in the supply-demand balance always surprise people with their rapid and large effects. Second, it will be the big victim of the coming stock market crash. The timing of crashes cannot be predicted, but they are often inevitable.
Compare California’s public debt load to that of other States (2010, but probably roughly unchanged).
The solution: default. That means bankruptcy for cities. States can just default, as 17 States have done so in the past. And countless nations have done in the past millennia. See Prepare for the bankrupt government pension plans!
Now for the bad news
California State government has mobilized to fight “toxic masculinity.” Of less interest to its bien pensant leftist legislature, it has a toxic mixture of high government debt at all levels and grossly underfunded pensions.
- “California pensions are its $206 billion elephant in the room” by Steve Westly (former State comptroller) in a Mercury News op-ed.
- “Democrats running for California governor need to stop talking about Trump and start talking about public pensions” by George Skelton, columnist in the LAT.
- “California faces a $1 trillion unfunded pension liability and lawmakers focus on foam and plastic straws” by Patrick M. Gleason columnist in the Orange County Register.
To see how far underwater its pension systems are, read these reports. “Retirement System Sustainability Study and Findings by the League of California Cities, January 2018. See their other publications about this crisis. More broadly, “California’s Total State and Local Debt Totals $1.3 Trillion” by Bill Fletcher and Marc Joffe at the California Policy Center. Technically, the headline is wrong. They refer to liabilities, not just debt.
Several States have combinations of high debt and underfunded plans (either one by itself is survivable). For more about this see these reports.
- “Unaccountable and Unaffordable: Unfunded Public Pension Liabilities Top $6 Trillion” by the American Legislative Exchange Council.
- “The State Pension Funding Gap: 2016” by Pew Research (2018) — “Investment shortfalls, insufficient contributions reduced funded levels for public worker retirement plans.”
- “Pension Fund Problems Worsen in 43 States” by Laurie Meisler at Bloomberg.
- “Does Your State Have A Pension Problem?” — The Wall Street Journal ranks the States.
For More Information
For a broad and provocative look at California’s problems, see “California in Danger: Why the Dream is Dying and How We Can Save It” by Michael Shellenberger at Environmental Progress. Like any such big picture analysis, you will not agree with all of his observations. But he makes some telling points.
- Why the U.S. cannot inflate its way out of debt.
- Another way to look at the national debt. More comforting, less scary.
- Cacophony about Social Security shows our real political dysfunctionality.
- Fact & myth about the debt supercycle, a story of modern America.
- Harsh truths about the Federal debt, showing how Left & Right lie to us.