Dec 28, 2021·edited Dec 28, 2021

I live in a small and very conservative town. We don't wear and never wore masks. Vaccine rate hovers around 20%. This community went over 90% for Trump. People here are pretty religious. Everybody owns a lot of guns. We have next to no crime. Everyone drives trucks. We have almost zero hunger. We don't have a police force though we do have a county sheriff, but we never see them. Drive as fast as you want, nobody is writing tickets. We don't have any homeless people. When people need help, as often people do, we call on our neighbors and family. We even mostly plow the snow off our own roads, since waiting on the county would take too long. We don't run out of food, because we grow it, and likely we grow some of yours too. Everything here is green, and open, and big. You can see the stars at night and you wave to your neighbors - who know way too much about your business. We aren't a utopia. A lot of heroin ODs for a community our size, these last few years. Farm and agricultural business has suffered. We have challenges. But I wouldn't trade your town's problems for mine. No f'ing way. To me SF looks like a hellscape. People in SF probably sneer at where I'm from. That's fine. I'm never going to SF. Our way works for us. My only fear is having the policies of SF forced on us here. We want to be left alone. If "Progress" means cities like SF and NYC - thanks but no thanks. Bad things happen, and when they do I'll trust my family and neighbors over an anonymous government that treats me like a number... a statistic.... anyone looking to shoe horn me into a "Demographic" isn't a friend. Keep the money and the laws and the "help." My family and neighbors will see us through.

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Feb 10, 2022·edited Feb 10, 2022

I'm from a small, very conservative town in Sutter County where Red Robin is considered dining out. Let's stop the romantic narrative: Your town and my hometown are just land locked crap holes with drug problems.

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Dec 28, 2021Liked by Michelle Tandler

I’ve read the entire thread, I think you are asking remarkably great questions. Something has stirred you to think and act.I love visiting your hometown it is a beautiful city but am dissuaded to visit in its current state and Covid of course. SF today Reminds me of where i grew up NYC in the 70s/80s. In short it was not safe.

Things changed in NyC when leadership changed in those days. I know to some this may seem a political statement but I trust your objectivity to understand that its my own observed experience when NYC got cleaned up in late 80/90s. Its a fact that cleanup happened and Nyc thrived.

So Im not making a political statement, Im sharing my Personal experience. In those days I was a proud NYer and still am. Ny is suffering currently of similar things you currently mention too. Things will change when concerned citizens come together to aim at improvement and call bs when u see it.

I hope your city makes a comeback! Your hope gives me hope that there is a bridge to the country wide division that we see.

God Bless you!

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Jan 8, 2022·edited Jan 8, 2022

Chris, you're exactly right. I'm a Bay Area native, born at Stanford, graduated from Cal Berkeley. I also lived in NYC for 6 months back in the 1980s. The similarities now are eerie: The contrast of wealth and poverty reminiscent of a 3rd World city, the astronomical crime, endless car break-ins, streets surrendered to the living dead after dark. I've said since the 1990s that "SF needs a Giuliani." The difference may be that NYC never had the extreme investment in Leftist ideology that pervades the Bay Area as its unofficial community religion. Remember, the Bay Area gave the world the SLA, the People's Temple, the Black Panthers, the Zebra killers, etc. Whatever you might think of these respective organizations, the ideas that spawned them are still very embedded in Bay Area culture.

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SF is perfectly safe like most cities on the west coast (not redding, fresno, or other trump country areas) and like most cities, it depends where you go. The marina green is gorgeous, hayes valley is awesome, and dolores park is sweet. Is there an unhoused crisis in SF, like everywhere else in the country? Absolutely. But the drug problem is no different than Redding. Actually, i'd argue that everybody in Redding is on meth. So if SF has a drug problem, what does that say about an entire community under the influence? Drug addicts are low hanging fruit for noobs I guess.

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You see the problems but still refuse to see the cause of them. You think it is political tribalism. You don't understand that the problem is the core tenants of progressivism.

Big government is always oppressive. You don't understand that this country was founded on anti-big government values. That is what made America unique in the world.

You still call the right NAZIS . But the American right has nothing to do with big totalitarian government. You don't even understand what the NAZIS were. Hitler didn't use the term NAZI. He always said "National Socialism" . His policies were the same as yours. Hitler's policies were very similar to Gavin Newsom's policies. Do some research.

The American right want political power to be at the lowest level possible. That is why they talk about individuals and liberty. While the left talks about groups (tribes) and group rights. The right wants equality of opportunity the left demands equity of results.

Everywhere that democrats have control in this country there are the problems you are seeing in San Francisco. But those same problems are not as prevalent in areas run by the right. It is not a problem of one party rule. It is a problem of political policy.

You call for a middle path. But fence sitting between liberty and tyrannical government does nothing but empower the left.

You still don't understand that what you are seeing is a direct result of the policies you have supported your whole life. Not just the party. Tyranny never improves the human condition. Big government is always tyrannical.

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Roger, I can feel your anger - it gives you focus, but at the expense of compassion. Michelle is just beginning to awaken out of the Matrix into the real world. I applaud her for having the courage to do so, and as such I would rather help her out of the pod, rather than shove her back into it so that she reconnects the umbilicals and falls back into slumber . . .

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I have no anger. I just see that she is still not seeing the real problem. She doesn't understand this is a result of statism not just one party rule.

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One day a blind person wakes up with partial vision, and your response is to gouge their eyes out and screech into their ears? She lived for eighteen years as a Democrat, not a Communist. Democrat is just a machine to get people into office; communist is a literal criminal mafia under the guise of an economic theory--similar but still different. Nobody truly accepts either; we pay lip service under expectation of better treatment (bribery).

When this treatment doesn't visibly apply to all, we either protest or doubt said arrangement. Her entrepreneur friends lack perspective and initiative; she just regained hers! Nobody is ever the sum of whatever institution they (think they) serve, including convervatism. She asks, "Where have I been?" You order her to pack her bags immediately while insulting her for not packing them fast enough. One thing at a time!

You want to recommend heading out and finding mass graves in other people's countries so someone in the comments section blurts, "OKAY NEO CON"? You don't deprogram someone by punching through their skull and yanking out the cerebellum. You can't advise people to just "Google" around for the great discovery that they have associated with zombies and are therefore zombies (and then John was a zombie) the whole time.

You know why? People double down into denial--sometimes justifiably so. Then they get angry, bargain, get depressed, and just go along because they hate feeling angry over what seems like nothing special. They don't gain any valuable insights or contribute any good vibes, let alone actual support, because they ask, like she is, "where do I start?" and must then change the bandages on those eyes you just gouged.

You have to realize you're being bullied before you bail out, fight back, or find someone who cares enough to cover your back. You also need to realize that you've become a bully before you consider dropping the act. Big government is not always tyrannical--bullies are always tyrannical. A government is just their cover point, not the source. If even limited government is unfashionable, anarcho-tyranny will prove how bullies ruin everything.

Bailing out of the wrong crowd and reevaluating everything you've come to understand is a personal process. Don't get uppity just because she woke up about it. Give her a chance to learn things on her own. If she doesn't gain this knowledge for herself, she won't feel responsible with how she uses such knowledge. Wouldn't that be a shame, when they begin to agree with you, only you condemn them for not doing so in advance?

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Dec 29, 2021·edited Dec 29, 2021

Christopher - That's a well meaning and well minded, thoughtful post. Thank you for it. That being said, I understand why someone like Roger would post what he did.

When you've been bullied for years and been called a NAZI every time you dare preach personal responsibility or point out the flaws in relying on government as the one size fit's all solution and nearly completely abandon the notion of personal citizen responsibility save writing your tax check (and expecting others to do the same so that your 'team' will provide what they've promised.) This is what you get. We HAVE been polarized and made tribal - it happens every night when you turn on the news regardless of what channel you watch. Working as intended.

Frankly, as well, if this person in her awakening is so utterly fragile that any online criticism will be seen as having one's eye's gouged out, then she's clearly NOT the person to carry the water of reason to her side. She'll just fold like a cheap tent when challenged. I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt that she's tougher than that - we can only hope so. If she's just Sarah Silverman, then her entire post will be meaningless and she'll retreat back into the obedience demanded by the tribe.

Should Roger, myself or any of us be less than our best at all times when posting and never, ever let our feelings get into our posts? Probably.

I'd like to introduce you to 2 things, however: Humanity and the Internet.

Signed: A former Californian who lives now in flyover country where I spend no time in traffic, 5 minutes at the DMV, next to no homeless, limited crime, next to zero violent crime, no mask wearing, shutdown, or large increase in covid or overrun hospitals. People go to church and help each other and that's in a state with some of the highest minority population in the country. And, yeah, they vote largely for the 'red' team.

Maybe all these 'rednecks' aren't right, but since I get to choose someplace to live - the choice isn't even close. Those 'blue' folks can keep the hell they've created and it's THEIR responsibility to make what they broke better. I wish her luck in her endeavor. Truly. That, however, is where MY responsibility ends. I voted long enough against what they now have and lost. Be careful what you wish for.

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It boils down to this: democrat cities have more public services, republican cities have less. A lot of homeless people in Portland are from rural areas that are conservative but don't have access to medical, housing, or other types of care. They go to Portland because the city actually provides those services. Unfortunately, Portland is one of the few cities in the area that actually cares about homelessness and drug addiction and they basically service the entire state and parts of washington. Try getting drug treatment services in Spokane as a poor person, good luck with that.

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Remember when two gents sought Scrooge's help for "the poor and destitute"? "Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundred's of thousands are in want of common comforts."

Scrooge asks whether all the bureaucratic safety nets are still in operation, and declines to help on the grounds that his taxes already support these ostensibly charitable establishments. His logic is that he's already paying his "fair share" -- that's what's expected of him and he'll deliver nothing more.

Progressives seem to believe that virtue should be outsourced to the State, with bureaucracies supplying checks and EBT cards in lieu of a human touch. If the agencies can't keep up, Malthusian inevitabilities are shrugged off as ultimately helpful: when the needy die "and decrease the surplus population," the agencies will then more likely succeed. Lower caseload.

The ghosts had other ideas.

Scrooge's redemption didn't consist of getting involved in social justice activism - which seems always a call for bureaucracies to take on social obligations which would otherwise fall to virtuous citizens (and their associates in mediating institutions). His redemption consisted in becoming personally involved with the particular needy persons closest at hand, under his nose. He didn't "draw the blinds", as your acquaintance did. Indeed, his first act was to throw the window open and reward a youth for participating in his first act of real generosity -- a minute of mentoring virtue.

If we don't depend on individual virtue in a society, bureaucracies will not save us. We may smugly imagine we've discharged our responsibilities because we're paying our "fair share" to support the "establishments" -- that's fine. We should just accept that we're settling for being -- and incentivizing all to be -- the unredeemed Scrooge.

Is it any wonder that the easy way out -- letting the State be our brother's keeper -- is so unsuccessful? And is it any wonder that years of acclimation to expecting government to help the unfortunate has yielded a population that resists anything like personal involvement?

Just think of the difference between what it takes to move a dollar from a tax bill to a soup bowl, compared with opening the door and handing that soup to the person who happens to be right in front of you.

This would be oversimplifying were I characterizing a perfect solution. I'm not. I'm just roundly condemning the status quo. Statist delusions have had their day to usher in the utopia. We can see it for what it is. The real challenge is for each of us to accept personal responsibility.

Anyone haunted by ghosts? Anyone find bootstraps for this on their shoes? What'll it take?

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Well posted. ALL must accept personal responsibility. The Cratchit's as well weren't sitting at home waiting for their EBT card but doing all they could to do the best for themselves.

Today's dialogue is that it's all about Scrooge and that's where the burden of responsibility ends. Not so.

Those who have been successful DO shoulder some responsibility to give back to society but only if those who have NOT been successful also have a responsibility to not make their situation worse. You can't have one without the other.

Yes, people who are truly in need like Tiny Tim need and deserve help. There are an awful lot of people, however, getting 'help' merely in exchange for votes to keep one party in power. And here we divert from the message in Dickens story.

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There is a not so well kept secret among government employees, I being one of them, just not in CA, understand this well. If you solve the problem or make it significantly better your job is at risk but, a problem that isn't or cannot be solved is job security. Politicians flow with those whom make the most noise and what they believe will get them the most votes and the most power. The thing is government can't fix these problems because it cannot micro manage at the level needed. You see the more people the more corruption the more corruption the less efficient and less effective. That is why small private charities like a church food pantry are far more effective and efficient than a huge government policy. People on the ground working directly with those who need help. When it comes right down to it. The government can't fix these issues and will generally make it worse. The best solution is almost always going to be get the government out of the way and let the community heal itself.

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Well, at least we can count on the conservative politicians to fight against universal health care. There's also the bailout money that went to corporations during the pandemic. Thanks Republicans.

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Terrific piece and dialog. I live in Seattle and wake up in a state of mild to extreme background grief daily due to what I see happening here. We are just a few minutes behind you in destroying everything I used to love about my city. The worst part of it to me is the hypocrisy and utter lack of self-reflection on the part of the left. While parroting dogma about "density" and "green cities" they have wiped every old and affordable building off the streets via up zoning, replacing the existing housing stock with colonies of luxury town houses and the smallest (in square footage) apartments built in the USA. Under the mantle of virtuous environmentalism they have also erased the character of the city's architecture. Every day we look more like a cartoon third world city that Seattle tourists used to visit, to write home about the shocking juxtaposition of luxury towers and slums.

The key missing piece in the policies and belief systems running Seattle and the other cities in this predicament is accountability. The homeless industrial complex is never required to show what it is doing with its dollars. "Harm reduction??" We have people running around the city in vans giving addicts everything they need to keep their habit going, and housing where they can use whatever drugs they want. The stores frequently have empty shelves, if the shelves aren't locked, and the goods stolen to feed drug habits are being sold across the street from stores in sidewalk markets. It's complete insanity.

We need tough love when it comes to addiction. Incarceration is good if it gets you sober. And we need to invest in the intermediate steps to keep addicts in halfway houses and counseling when they get out. We have become a magnet for every addict who wants free food, clean needles and a tent in a mild climate in the middle of our best parks.

The anti jail people say continually that jail "doesn't solve the emotional and economic and addiction problems of the homeless and those committing crime. We need to solve the root problems of capitalism....." What they forget is that tough love and incarceration make it possible for the rest of us to function, to make the money to pay the taxes for the remediation programs--and they make it possible for the rest of us to not become victims of crime. The victim story is completely backwards: not once has a city council member spoken publicly about the homicide wave that has taken us since the George Floyd riots and subsequent move to defund the police. Not once have they sent condolences to the victims of the weekly shootings (who are 80% people of color). Thank you for writing and keep it up. I lost about 20 friends due to speaking out against the current policies, and have been called a racist, a Trump supporter and everything else. After enough abuse the effect is that I am now thoroughly vaccinated! immune! and happy to call myself "post woke." Join me in embracing freedom of thought.

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Great post. It's amazing that in 2022 people still say that "Capitalism" causes drug addiction and homelessness. Historically there have been plenty of addicts in non-"Capitalist" countries, eg Soviet soldiers who picked up their habits in Afghanistan.

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Democrat and Progressive policies.

It really is that simple. Even Republicans agree with many of the things you want to solve. We don't agree in how you are doing it. Unfortunately, California is proof positive that what "you" are doing, doesn't work. Violently (figuratively and literally) doesn't work. Instead it takes the most beautiful, abundant state in the entire union and is turning it into a disaster area.

I grew up in California, I was born at Seton Medical Center in Daly City, my father and my mother grew up in the bay area. San Francisco was my most favorite city in the entire country for most of my lifetime. That changed in these last few years. The more progressive the policies, the most destroyed that beautiful city gets. Democrats need to stop voting with their heart and begin to vote with their brain. Think about how this is going to actually affect the State. Everyone wants to fix homelessness, everyone wants to lift up the poor so that they can have good, safe lives. The problem is the way most blue states are going about it is provably, objectively worse. All you need to do is look around.

We all need each other. Democrats, Republicans, Independents and everyone else. We need to work together. Democrats refusing to talk, or going further as to DEMONIZE Republicans will never fix anything. Democrats aren't working to make peoples lives better, they are working to make THEIR lives better. Same with Republicans. Politicians are still politicians. You need to have long, in depth conversations with people you don't believe with. Not yell at them to shut them down, not call them stupid, listen. Only together can we fix things. No one party, no one set of beliefs can fix this country and my beautiful home state.

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Agreed.... Except that, rather bizarrely in SF, Democrats are working to make their own lives worse. It's the power of ideology, I guess. If you can convince them it's "Progressive" to drive their car off a cliff, they'll do it.

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Excellent article - these are the words that people need to read. And it's not just the homeless problem, and not just SF, it's LA as well, and California as a whole.

In my lifetime I have seen CA schools go from #1 in the nation to below Mississippi, poverty rates grow, racial tensions rise, inequality become the largest in the nation. Housing prices and traffic congestion have made LA and the other larger cities practically unlivable for lower income people. For years we were told we could fix these problems if not for the troublesome Republican minority in the State legislatures.

For years the Republicans warned that our high taxes would cause business, innovation, and our best and brightest to leave the state, and Democrats only scoffed.

For years Democrats, supposedly the protectors of the working class, ignored the broken immigration system, as if cheaper labor wouldn't undercut the working classes, as if our state could double, triple our population in a few decades with no planning or consequences. Nowadays Progressives paint you as some kind of racist if you even broach the subject.

For that matter. they paint you as a Trump supporter if you even broach any of these subjects.

But we need to get sensible about these things. Articles like yours are a good step. It's obvious many people agree or they wouldn't be leaving the state, or at least leaving the cities for outlying areas. I hope you continue with more threads such as these.

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Keeping thinking and sharing! Give Thomas Sowell a read!

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Already doing that, thank you.

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Sowell's Vision of the Annointed is a must. As is Myron Magnet's The Dream and the Nightmare...

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Michelle, you were brave to ask these questions. I believe that the backlash you are about to receive from your fellow progressives just for asking them is going to provide you with many answers. For many of us on the other side of the political aisle, the answers are obvious. You are clearly an intelligent person and a high achiever and so I hope I can suggest a few books that might hold some answers. About the politics: Paul Johnson's Modern Times. About the culture: Clive James's Cultural Amnesia. About cities: Vincent Cannato's The Ungovernable City (about John Lindsay and NYC -Thomas Peele's Killing the Messenger is about the Bay Area, and you may find it relevant). About mass movements: Norman Cohn's The Pursuit of the Millennium. And the Old Testament. I hope I don't sound patronizing, but everything you are asking about has all gone wrong in the past in the exact same ways things are going wrong in the present. I was once a right of center Democrat and now consider myself a left of center Republican - and what Ronald Reagan said about him not leaving the Democrat Party, but rather the Democrat Party leaving him could not be truer.

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Gosh, I wish I could write like you.....I too have been searching for answers to many of the same questions you have. I think perhaps there is merit in meeting people in the middle. The fear of being ostracized for trying to understand other views is a terribly limiting thing, we can do better. I look forward to reading more of your work, thank you for sharing your thoughts, they felt like my own...

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Dec 29, 2021·edited Dec 29, 2021

The only thing I can say as a libertarian who has lived in SF since 1990 is the voters who continue voting Democrat are to blame for this. They believed the lies. Any ideas outside the progressive viewpoint is a right wing evil Republican talking point.

Look no further than the Newsom recall. A black candidate was attacked by a white liberal woman in a pink gorilla mask and it was fine because the LA Times called him the black face of white supremacy. And what did this supposed Trump surrogate propose? No vaccine mandates so people have a choice and not lose their jobs over a medical procedure. Fund schools using a voucher system so parents in the Los Angeles School district can get their kids out of a failing system.

Chesa Boudin call his recall a Trumpism GOP campaign against him and deflected his inability to prosecute crimes to prioritizing police shootings and wage theft. Police and corporations are not shooting up and robbing our streets. There are 30k registered Republicans in SF. There were 83k confirmed signatures to recall him.

And Democrat voters in SF will continue voting for the progressives. If you want to know who is to blame for this mess, have your progressive friends look in the mirror.

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I am very conservative, by my own definition. Specifically, I believe we should address problems in ways that work. How do we know what works? In the US, we have 50 experimental laboratories, the states, with myriad local governments, all working to solve problems. San Francisco is indeed a failure in many respects, but in the bigger picture, San Francisco is providing a great service to the country by illustrating the consequences of their poor solutions. True, it's an unfortunate situation for the citizens of San Francisco, to which I can only reply "thank you for your service". But you can always move to another city in another state and escape those problems, at least until San Francisco's leftist solutions are implemented on the national level.

"Progressives" deny human nature, it's just too harsh for them. If you subsidize an activity, you will get more of it, that's human nature. Jobs were lost during the pandemic, so government stepped in with free money. Now we have some percentage of the population that declines to re-enter the workforce, perhaps because their sense of self-worth is no longer tied to their job. Only a progressive could be surprised when subsidizing homelessness, separate from any form of accountability, only works to increase homelessness.

Progressives despise the wealthy (and wealthy progressives despise themselves, or at least pretend to). How do you become wealthy in the US? Well, if you are self-made, and you 'earn' your wealth in a competitive free market, you get wealthy by providing value. In the US, you must provide, on average, $100 in value to make $5 in wealth. The other side of this coin is that confiscating $5 in wealth from an entrepreneur pulls $100 in value from the economy. Since government is doing the confiscating, the government needs to provide $100 in value with that $5, perhaps by building a sorely needed road. But we all know that much of government spending provides little or no economic value, and much gets redistributed very unproductively to buy votes.

Progressives despise accountability. This is basic human nature; nobody likes to be held accountable for failures. This is why progressives love unions (and vice-versa), and why progressives hate local control of decision-making. How many failed federal programs ever go away? If progressives can implement their policy preferences at the national level, they never have to be held accountable. Is there a better way? With a federal program, we never find out, and therefore no one is ever held accountable.

In sum, progressives are motivated by feelings, what they feel is fair, what they feel should work, feeling that their proposed solutions are obviously the right ones and shouldn't need to be justified or subjected to an after-the-fact grading on success or failure. I don't see much chance that San Francisco will change anytime soon, even if it's leaders magically moderate considerably. Progressives, even moderate progressives, just have no stomach for the harsh realities of life.

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could go on for hours answering your excellent questions. But instead I recommend you read Atlas Shrugged to understand why San Francisco is what it is today. The dystopian novel is a perfect prediction of what was going to happen in San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. Ayn Rand is not my favorite author, and there’s much in her writing that she gets wrong, but geez did she accurately predict what would happen when you have a culture that celebrates victimhood and demonizes survivors in the name of equity and equality of outcome.

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I suggested the same on Michelle's original tweet storm, Rebecca. One question anyone puzzled by the situation in SF ought to ask is whether progressivism in fact favors progress, and whether it tends to solve, exacerbate, or cause societal problems.

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Exactly the right question, Adam. "Progressivism" is an inaccurate marketing label for a collection of archaic and backwards ideas. (centralized economic planning, forced egalitarianism, etc.)

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People used to pitch Ayn Rand's books over the horizon, not because she's wrong or said an uncomfortable truth, but because each one takes up ten books of space for the price of one on a shelf. You would think that being raised in and fleeing Stalinist Russia, a nation mired in unprecedented bureaucracy, inspired laconic urgency over what went wrong instead of embracing it in the name of irony.

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I am the moderate Republican San Franciscan you can't find or see. Native, and daughter of a native. Although I was raised in the East Bay, I moved back decades ago. I share your despair over our city. I, too, am now ashamed to say I live here. You are the liberal I can never find or see. I applaud your courage. I hope you will search diligently with an open mind to understand alternative views on issues like abortion and homelessness. I hope you will find others who are willing to engage with less passion and more reason.

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Michelle, you give me hope! I have rental properties in Minneapolis, and I'm now selling and getting out because of the political climate. I've rented to lower income people exclusively--bought vacant and decrepit buildings after the crash and fixed them up with our own funds and labor. Worked full time jobs as well during this time. The city and state has rewarded me by allowing my tenants to stop paying their rent for 18 months. So I am getting out of this business as it has hurt my business model. They could do it again. Social justice y'all. Plus the city council is considering Rent Control and opening me up to lawsuits by denying my right to rent to whom I choose. If an applicant has a felony on his record--and I decline them for a better candidate--what is to stop them from using a free attorney and suing me? Nothing. So we are doing are best to create a housing shortage here in Minneapolis as well! Stay tuned. It is time for me to get out.

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These rental regulations have been installed in Seattle. The result: a massive 40% exodus of smaller independent landlords, fewer houses for Section 8, fewer houses to rent overall, and more luxury homes and overpriced micro apartments built in their stead. All the "liberal, kind and compassionate" policies have led to greater inequity in housing, and handed the reins to the wealthy and the investor class.

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Fonda, you should move all your tenants into the City Council chambers, so they can share space with their benefactors.

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