Blue Cities: Getting It Good and Hard

Why does anyone still live in San Francisco? Why would any group hold a convention or similar event there? Why would a tourist set foot there? That city has been so badly governed for so long that the question is no longer whether it will thrive, but rather, whether it will survive.

Many San Francisco businesses have closed their doors, while others are barely hanging on. Gump’s is an upscale department store that has been in business on Post Street for 165 years. But its Chairman, John Chachas, has seen enough. He placed this full-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle:

If that is hard to read, the New York Post reports:

“Gump’s has been a San Francisco icon for more than 165 years,” John Chachas wrote in his open letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, Mayor London Breed and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

“Today, as we prepare for our 166th holiday season at 250 Post Street, we fear this may be our last because of the profound erosion of this city’s conditions.”

The letter in the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday suggested that some of the Golden City’s woes come from “advising people to abandon their offices” during the pandemic.

“Equally devastating have been a litany of destructive San Francisco strategies, including allowing the homeless to occupy our sidewalks, to openly distribute and use illegal drugs, to harass the public and to defile the city’s streets,” he said, decrying a “tyranny of the minority.”

“Such abject disregard for civilized conduct makes San Francisco unlivable for its residents, unsafe for our employees, and unwelcoming to visitors from around the world,” he wrote.

In an interview, Chachas elaborated:

“People don’t walk into stores in Salt Lake City and steal things because they know that the police will arrest them, and the district attorney will charge them, and they will be found guilty and put in prison, so people don’t do it,” he said.

“You have to return to a set of norms and standards of conduct that are enforced and stop talking about it like there’s some special pixie dust that exists in San Francisco,” he added.

“Decide you want to enforce that, so that people can have a livable city. Some think it’s complicated. I think it’s quite straightforward.”

Sounds like a right-wing extremist. How bad are things in San Francisco? So bad that that Biden administration is telling government employees to stay away from their offices in the Speaker Nancy Pelosi Federal Building:

“In light of the [disgusting and unsafe] conditions at the [Speaker Nancy Pelosi Federal Building] we recommend employees … maximize the use of telework for the foreseeable future,” wrote Cheryl Campbell, the Health and Human Services assistant secretary for administration, in an August 4 memo.
• “Dozens of dealers routinely plant themselves on, next to, or across the street from the property, operating in shifts as users smoke, snort, or shoot up their recent purchases,” the Chronicle reported. “The property’s concrete benches are an especially popular site for users to get high, socialize, or pass out.”

I suppose you could say there is some poetic justice there.

But it isn’t just San Francisco. The general breakdown of order and morality across our country has given rise to an epidemic of robbery that afflicts retailers of all kinds. I wrote earlier about Target Corporation’s earnings call, which highlighted losses due to the company’s ill-advised “Pride” celebration. But that was far from the company’s only problem:

Thefts at Target have become increasingly violent and dangerous for staffers, the retail giant’s CEO told investors on Wednesday.

Shoplifting that included “violence of threats of violence” surged 120% during the first five months of the year, said Brian Cornell, chief executive of the Minneapolis-based big-box chain.

“Our team continues to face an unacceptable amount of retail theft and organized retail crime,” Cornell said during the company’s second-quarter earnings call. “Unfortunately, safety incidents associated with theft are moving in the wrong direction.”

Cornell said that Target’s inventory shrink — which accounts for retail theft and other losses of merchandise — is “well-above the sustainable level where we expect to operate over time.”

The largest component of these robberies are carried out by organized gangs that steal for money, selling their stolen goods on the internet.

The current unacceptable level of robbery and theft, the costs of which which we all pay, is caused by a combination of the Black Lives Matter movement and spineless politicians, especially prosecutors, who have made conscious decisions not to punish crime. California, for example, has essentially legalized shoplifting, with consequences that are entirely predictable.

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