For a long time now, the modus operandi of the progressive left has been, “If it’s a problem, just throw money at it until it goes away.”
This strategy was responsible for nearly every significant government expansion of the 20th — and 21st — century, and despite policy failure after policy failure, the army of bureaucrats and so-called experts marches on with endless spending.
But San Francisco, always a bedrock of insanity, is taking this attitude to a new level.
The New York Post reported on June 26 that the city is operating six “safe sleeping villages” for the homeless. These villages provide tents, security, three meals a day and sanitation facilities.
Seems relatively straightforward, right?
The Post, citing a report by the San Francisco Chronicle, said each tent comes with a massive price tag of $60,000 — a sum funded almost entirely by business taxes first implemented in 2018. Furthermore, the city wants to renew the program at a cost of $57,000 per tent.
For reference, the Chronicle found that the cost of one tent is roughly equivalent to the cost of renting two regular one-bedroom apartments in the city.
If you take a deeper dive, the cost of this program is even more mind-boggling.
In 2014, San Francisco voters passed a new minimum-wage ordinance that ordered the city to raise that wage to $15 per hour in 2018, and adjust it based on the Consumer Price Index ever year thereafter.
Currently, San Francisco’s minimum wage is $16.32, according to the city’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement.
So … let’s engage in a little thought experiment.
Say that instead of renewing its current program, San Francisco hired a personal attendant for each of the roughly 260 homeless people currently living in city-provided tents.
For the sake of argument, assume that each attendant would earn the city’s minimum wage and work full time at 40 hours per week. What would be the cost to the city for hiring all these attendants?
The answer is $33,945.60 — far less than what the city currently pays. At that rate, San Francisco would have more than enough money to hire Ibram Kendi or Robin DiAngelo to lecture the camp’s inhabitants about critical race theory while still having cash left in the bank.
Obviously, this thought experiment isn’t perfect, and more goes into any public program than what meets the eye, but it does highlight the enormity of San Francisco’s wastefulness.
We are dealing with a city that fundamentally does not understand how to deal with money or solve problems, and there is no sign that this will change soon.
Homelessness is like almost every other public policy problem, in that simply throwing more money at it won’t change anything. The core problems that cause homelessness are institutional, not monetary.
Unfortunately, it will take decades for San Francisco and cities that seek to emulate it — such as Portland, Austin, Denver and Seattle — to come to terms with reality, and by then, the damage will have been done.
If those cities ever come to that reality.
With all of this in mind, it isn’t difficult to see why residents and visitors alike are so frustrated.
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