San Francisco Hustles for Business

It's difficult to maintain an attitude of arrogant superiority when entire million square—foot office buildings stand nearly vacant and are sold for half of their original construction cost, when local unemployment rates remain well above national averages, as the rest of the economy picks up speed, and when downtown sidewalks reek of urine and feces, courtesy of the homeless beneficiaries of America's most extensive support infrastructure.

 

San Francisco, 'the city which knows how' (to sneer at lesser burgs, unblessed with scenery, climate, sex and pot clubs, and far left politics), is pulling out all the stops to lure new business — make that one new business — to the city. The lucky company is Virgin USA, the planned domestic airline offshoot of Virgin Atlantic, the World's Coolest Airline. Noticing the success of low fare airlines such as Southwest and Jet Blue, the canny and stylish entrepreneur Richard Branson is willing to bet a lot of other people's money that a me—too imitator, but with more hip sex appeal, can make a go of it in the vast American domestic airline market.

 

Stuck with billions of dollars of new debt related to a massive expansion of San Francisco International Airport in the midst of a continuing slump in travel and tourism (the homeless hordes are not regarded as scenic by potential visitors), not to mention the bankruptcy of its major tenant United Airlines, Mayor Gavin Newsom and the local political power structure are performing back flips to court a crew of Virgin USA location scouts. The visiting firemen have narrowed down the intended base of operations for the new airline to Logan Airport in Boston, Dulles Airport in northern Virginia, and SFO.

 

Joan Ryan, the talented columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, finds the spectacle of locals prostrating themselves before a still—hypothetical airline amusing, and perhaps faintly disturbing. She aptly compares the attitude of the undignified dignitaries to the desperation of an actress auditioning a bit too hard for a role, as portrayed on the screen by Barbara Streisand (who else? — we're talking San Francisco here) in Funny Girl.

The seven execs from Virgin were feted at a swanky party at California legislator Jackie Speier's house early in the week. They were greeted at their hotel, at their limousines, on the street corners, everywhere they went, with a steady procession of characters —— from Santa Claus to surfers to drag queens —— wearing the company's trademark red.

At a luncheon the following day at SFO's international terminal, cheerleaders in red met the execs at the door. Mayor Gavin Newsom was there in a red tie, handing the Virgin CEO a half—case of his PlumpJack wine. There was a Judy Garland impersonator in a plaid suit, red, of course, singing "San Francisco,'' and the Stanford chorus, and a custom CD in a goodie bag featuring every song ever written about our fair city.

It was like watching the pope show a little leg.

Wow! Drag queens in the corporate colors. Judy Garland impersonators in the corporate colors. The mayor in the corporate colors. That's what San Francisco thinks a good business climate amounts to?

 

Ryan's list of obstacles San Francisco must overcome, those factors which make the business climate uninviting, is even more revealing:

The two—day marketing blitz, as creative and smart as it was, pointed up San Francisco's growing realization that its singular charm is not enough anymore to counterbalance the high cost of workers' compensation in California, the ragged men and women slumped outside department stores and cafes, the $500,000 fixer—upper homes, the uneven public schools, the 1.5 percent payroll tax.

Each and every one of these negatives is politically—manufactured, by the foolish leftist politics embraced by both the city and state. Workers Compensation lawyers, like Senator Barbara Boxer's husband, feast off of huge court settlements, while workers with legitimate injuries receive less than in other states, because the system has been designed to enrich them, forcing a far higher percentage of cases into court than in any other state. That way, you see, the lawyers can claim a third or more of the benefit for themselves.

The homeless who decorate the streets are drawn to San Francisco from all across America by a menu of benefits, including no—questions—asked monthly checks, convertible into drugs. Public schools are bad because of politics and waste, not because of any lack of funds. And taxes are high because hundreds of municipal employees make six figure incomes, because of a willingness to spend $50,000 on sex—change operations for 'domestic partners' of city employees, and countless other boondoggles dreamed—up by imaginative utopians of a distinctly bent nature.

As for real estate prices, strict limits on the development of land and the countless obstacles facing anyone trying to add to the local housing stock, insure that demand, even in a prolonged economic slump, always exceeds supply.

If San Francisco could somehow transplant the governmental policies of, say, Houston Texas, all of these self—inflicted problems would disappear. But then, of course, we wouldn't need color—themed drag queens to lure outsiders dangling jobs and tax revenues. How boring!

It's difficult to maintain an attitude of arrogant superiority when entire million square—foot office buildings stand nearly vacant and are sold for half of their original construction cost, when local unemployment rates remain well above national averages, as the rest of the economy picks up speed, and when downtown sidewalks reek of urine and feces, courtesy of the homeless beneficiaries of America's most extensive support infrastructure.

 

San Francisco, 'the city which knows how' (to sneer at lesser burgs, unblessed with scenery, climate, sex and pot clubs, and far left politics), is pulling out all the stops to lure new business — make that one new business — to the city. The lucky company is Virgin USA, the planned domestic airline offshoot of Virgin Atlantic, the World's Coolest Airline. Noticing the success of low fare airlines such as Southwest and Jet Blue, the canny and stylish entrepreneur Richard Branson is willing to bet a lot of other people's money that a me—too imitator, but with more hip sex appeal, can make a go of it in the vast American domestic airline market.

 

Stuck with billions of dollars of new debt related to a massive expansion of San Francisco International Airport in the midst of a continuing slump in travel and tourism (the homeless hordes are not regarded as scenic by potential visitors), not to mention the bankruptcy of its major tenant United Airlines, Mayor Gavin Newsom and the local political power structure are performing back flips to court a crew of Virgin USA location scouts. The visiting firemen have narrowed down the intended base of operations for the new airline to Logan Airport in Boston, Dulles Airport in northern Virginia, and SFO.

 

Joan Ryan, the talented columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, finds the spectacle of locals prostrating themselves before a still—hypothetical airline amusing, and perhaps faintly disturbing. She aptly compares the attitude of the undignified dignitaries to the desperation of an actress auditioning a bit too hard for a role, as portrayed on the screen by Barbara Streisand (who else? — we're talking San Francisco here) in Funny Girl.

The seven execs from Virgin were feted at a swanky party at California legislator Jackie Speier's house early in the week. They were greeted at their hotel, at their limousines, on the street corners, everywhere they went, with a steady procession of characters —— from Santa Claus to surfers to drag queens —— wearing the company's trademark red.

At a luncheon the following day at SFO's international terminal, cheerleaders in red met the execs at the door. Mayor Gavin Newsom was there in a red tie, handing the Virgin CEO a half—case of his PlumpJack wine. There was a Judy Garland impersonator in a plaid suit, red, of course, singing "San Francisco,'' and the Stanford chorus, and a custom CD in a goodie bag featuring every song ever written about our fair city.

It was like watching the pope show a little leg.

Wow! Drag queens in the corporate colors. Judy Garland impersonators in the corporate colors. The mayor in the corporate colors. That's what San Francisco thinks a good business climate amounts to?

 

Ryan's list of obstacles San Francisco must overcome, those factors which make the business climate uninviting, is even more revealing:

The two—day marketing blitz, as creative and smart as it was, pointed up San Francisco's growing realization that its singular charm is not enough anymore to counterbalance the high cost of workers' compensation in California, the ragged men and women slumped outside department stores and cafes, the $500,000 fixer—upper homes, the uneven public schools, the 1.5 percent payroll tax.

Each and every one of these negatives is politically—manufactured, by the foolish leftist politics embraced by both the city and state. Workers Compensation lawyers, like Senator Barbara Boxer's husband, feast off of huge court settlements, while workers with legitimate injuries receive less than in other states, because the system has been designed to enrich them, forcing a far higher percentage of cases into court than in any other state. That way, you see, the lawyers can claim a third or more of the benefit for themselves.

The homeless who decorate the streets are drawn to San Francisco from all across America by a menu of benefits, including no—questions—asked monthly checks, convertible into drugs. Public schools are bad because of politics and waste, not because of any lack of funds. And taxes are high because hundreds of municipal employees make six figure incomes, because of a willingness to spend $50,000 on sex—change operations for 'domestic partners' of city employees, and countless other boondoggles dreamed—up by imaginative utopians of a distinctly bent nature.

As for real estate prices, strict limits on the development of land and the countless obstacles facing anyone trying to add to the local housing stock, insure that demand, even in a prolonged economic slump, always exceeds supply.

If San Francisco could somehow transplant the governmental policies of, say, Houston Texas, all of these self—inflicted problems would disappear. But then, of course, we wouldn't need color—themed drag queens to lure outsiders dangling jobs and tax revenues. How boring!