To live in San Francisco for the past 20 years has been to live with outrage that a society so innovative and compassionate can so reliably fail to meet even the most basic challenges of public life.
This city never stopped being pretty—salmon boats on the bay, coyotes in the park—and the local spirit of utopian tolerance feels very much alive. Rainbow flags outnumber Stars and Stripes, teenage runaways dance on the grass at Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park, and tech entrepreneurs promise to make the world a better place. Still, it gets hard to stomach a place where the world’s finest computer engineers design weed-delivery apps while destitute families live in cars and heroin addicts defecate on sidewalks—where a startup like AltSchool can raise nearly $200 million to reinvent education and squander it while public schoolteachers earn so little that the city has to build subsidized apartments for them. The more Black Lives Matter window posters one sees in rich-liberal neighborhoods that consistently oppose public housing, the more clear it becomes that something is wrong with San Francisco progressivism.