It has long been a debate as to whether social reformers should fight to end poverty, or simply rid the world of poor people.
Many elitists have dreamed of depopulating the hopeless and destitute, or found realistic ways of sending them to forgotten places. But most of these kinds of people stopped publicly saying such things many decades ago.
But with an ever-widening wealth gap, and many failed policies, the homeless and the poor are growing in size and represent the tip of the iceberg for tens of millions of people who are beyond struggling in this country.
Now, a software entrepreneur in San Francisco has made waves across the Internet after writing an open letter calling on the mayor and police chief to effectively sweep the homeless populations and “riff raff” off the streets. As CBS San Francisco:
A San Francisco tech entrepreneur’s lament over homeless and drug-addicted “riff raff” plaguing his adopted city has earned him some international notoriety as a tone-deaf tech bro.
Justin Keller, described on his LinkedIn profile as the founder of server software firm Command.io, published what he called an open letter to Mayor Ed Lee and Police Chief Greg Suhr. In it, Keller described how encounters with homeless people ruined his recent get-togethers with his parents and girlfriend.
The city needs to tackle this problem head on, it can no longer ignore it and let people do whatever they want in the city. I don’t have a magic solution… It is a very difficult and complex situation, but somehow during Super Bowl, almost all of the homeless and riff raff seem to up and vanish. I’m willing to bet that was not a coincidence. Money and political pressure can make change. So it is time to start making progress, or we as citizens will make a change in leadership and elect new officials who can.
I know people are frustrated about gentrification happening in the city, but the reality is, we live in a free market society. The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day.
San Francisco’s burgeoning tech industry has been blamed for skyrocketing rents and exacerbating an already intractable homeless problem.
Indeed, it is this Bay Area tech bubble that has increased home and rental prices so much, that some have gone so far as to rent out a tent on AirBNB for an outrageous $1,000/month in a guy’s backyard that offers bathroom access and a good commute route to work.
Tech entrepreneur Justin Keller became the latest social media target for blowback, after expressing the sensitivity of the “Affluenza” teen – a rich kids whose lawyers used his disaffected feelings for the struggles of ordinary people as a defense in the drunk driving killing of four, for which he showed no remorse.
.@johnny5sf “The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city.” And poorer people haven’t?
— Larry-bob (@larrybobsf) February 17, 2016
— noakez (@noakez) February 19, 2016
Moreover, Keller has become another sign of the times – of the great divide that is splitting America economically down the middle, and casting aside the have-nots systematically, and without regard.
As his letter mentioned, this is exactly what happened in the area during Super Bowl 50, which had game day on February 7. The Guardian reports:
“They chase us out like cattle,” the 62-year-old Stagg said, as his hangouts disappeared under metal bandstands and banners heralding Super Bowl 50. “We’re not allowed to be here when the rich people come around? I don’t believe in that.”
Angering Stagg were comments made last summer by San Francisco’s mayor, Ed Lee, when asked what he planned to do about the highly visible homeless problem come the Super Bowl.
“They are going to have to leave,” Lee said of those sleeping along the city’s Embarcadero. […] “It’s just a further example of the inequity in the city,” said supervisor Jane Kim.
It is hardly a problem of just San Francisco, or the West Coast. Gov. Andrew Cuomo came under fire in New York for ordering the homeless to be forced into shelters and picked up off the streets during freezing weather.
One gets the sense that this is just the beginning. The strong arm tactics being used to remove homeless people from the streets to clear out the blight are just the visible part of a subtle movement to “deal with” less fortunate people… mostly getting them out of the way, out of sight, and minimizing the presence of their struggle.
The rich are not only concentrating their wealth, but the rest of the country is getting shafted in the process, as a predatory brand of finance destroys opportunity, ships jobs offshore and uses currency as a weapon to undermine the many. Will the media take up their struggle, or will they do what they always have done – and read the teleprompter script as the focus shifts to other distractions, and great stagnation and malaise takes over the land.