An emerging Silicon Valley-Homeless Industrial Complex power struggle in San Francisco?
Something about the apparently random street murder of Silicon Valley tech executive Bob Lee seems to have overturned a crawly rock in San Francisco's political scene, suggesting a brewing power struggle on the horizon.
On the one hand, we have a very vocally angry Silicon Valley tech community speaking out about the out-of-control crime situation in the city, with the valued and talented Lee's untimely death from some night creature who crawled out from some sewer or encampment and stabbed him to death, quite possibly in a drug-addled haze. That's expected if you live in a place full of bums and criminals, but Lee didn't live in a place full of bums and criminals. He had actually fled the city for Florida based on its engulfing crime and come back only for a brief business trip.
On the other hand, we have a soggy, entrenched political establishment seeking to assure that there's really no crime problem at all. This is evident enough in the "crime is down" coverage seen in the political establishment's house organ, the San Francisco Chronicle, and in the surreal statements of the city hall power establishment, which is rooted in special interests, particularly the most powerful one, the homeless industrial complex. I wrote about that here. San Francisco currently spends about as much on homeless "services" as it does on police, and by some studies such as the one cited below, actually more.
Not surprisingly, as per Thomas Sowell's observation, you can have all the poverty you want to pay for, and San Francisco pays a lot.
The Hoover Institution's Lee Ohanian has noted:
Spending $1.1 billion on homelessness is just the latest installment in San Francisco's constant failure to sensibly and humanely deal with an issue that it chronically misdiagnoses and mismanages about as much as is humanly possible. Since fiscal year 2016–17, San Francisco has spent over $2.8 billion on homelessness, and the city's politicians remain seemingly baffled, year after year, as the number of homeless in the city skyrocket, as opioid overdoses kill more than COVID-19, and as the city has become nearly the most dangerous in the country. https://www.hoover.org/research/why-san-francisco-nearly-most-crime-ridden-city-us.
Since 2016, the number of homeless in San Francisco has increased from 12,249 to 19,086, which comes out to about $57,000 in spending per homeless person per year. With a total population of about 860,000, roughly 2.2 percent of San Francisco residents are homeless, which is over 12 times the national average. There is little doubt that as San Francisco spends more, homelessness and its impact on the city worsens.
Do the homeless get that $57,000 being spent on them? Of course not. The princelings of the NGO establishments got that money — for themselves. That's what's made them politically powerful, enough to call the shots at city hall.
Meanwhile, the tech barons keep the city afloat through their taxes paid, which in turn pay for the city's homeless services — which fuels the homelessness. The taxes they pay are the highest in the nation (which, naturally, the Chronicle claims doesn't matter to the tech companies, but that is unlikely to be true). We also know that they're not happy now that the crime that coincides with the growth of the homeless-industrial complex has spiraled into their tech talent base. It's not just Lee's murder, though that's not small. It's that ordinary tech workers don't want to return to the offices. The tech firms have leases in those buildings and need to utilize that paid-for space. The workers don't want to return and many have fled to friendlier, less crime-infested climes in Texas, Washington State, and Florida. That's leaving San Francisco with a lot of empty office space — about a 30% vacancy rate, which is one of the country's highest — and a 30% drop in tax revenues, given that the city finances itself by a huge margin through property taxes.
The collision of political interests happened when one of the city's criminals preyed on tech royalty Bob Lee. Then we started seeing posts like this, from tech-baron-of-tech-barons Elon Musk:
If you become mayor, my companies will double their investment in San Francisco.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 7, 2023
Such an incredible city has been used & abused by management for too long!
And this not-so-disguised shot at the San Francisco Chronicle with all its bogus claims about crime being down based on misread statistics:
Only people who have never solved problems with data say things like “believe the data.”— Lee Edwards (@terronk) April 7, 2023
No. Do not “believe” the data. Interrogate the data. Explore it. Ask how it was collected. Dig into methodologies.
The more surprising the data, the greater the need. https://t.co/w7q6KiP8Lf
And this simple, brutal one:
Also, believe your eyes as you walk around downtown SF. It’s insane.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 8, 2023
Those sound like shots across the bow.
And of course, Musk is a bugbear to the left, but he's the biggest bear in the tech establishment
Over at city hall, the political establishment is knee-deep in the NGOs and depends on them to mainstain their political power. But they also depend on the tech barons for money to pay the NGOs.
The tech barons are mad and, based on Musk's tweets, now seem to be looking to get rid of them. They're on the warpath. They were the moneybags behind the ouster of far-left district attorney Chesa Boudin last year. Now based on this string of events, they may be getting ready to storm the deep blue fortress. Lee's death may have been the starting point, and Musk's recent tweets may be the accelerator.
Image: Wikipedia, public domain.