Libertarians are forever sounding alarms about the consequences of legislative decisions. Besides challenges to individual self determination, property rights, and voters’ ability to hold accountable via the ballot box individuals who make decisions on our behalf, Plan Bay Area is predictably contributing to the housing crunch.
As we noted in our article Priority Development Areas and Your Neighborhood, Plan Bay Area was designed to confine population, housing, and commercial growth to transit corridors, ostensibly in order to reduce travel distances to and from work and shopping (not much mention of schools, places of worship, or getting together with friends living outside of PDA’s). Therefore, San Francisco is doing a lot of construction in the eastern corridors. The Plan Bay Area map seen here shows the principal transit corridors highlighted in red, pink, and purple.
Apparently, the fallout has already begun. As Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez says in his article Why Not Look to Westside to Build Homes?, the adage “Go West!” does not apply past the Panhandle; past the Panhandle it is more like, “Fat Chance!"
And the eastside residents are crying “Not Fair!” So, our legislators are retooling. Supervisor Eric Mar says that growth can’t just be on the east side. Supervisor David Campos may propose a moratorium on market rate housing development in parts of the Mission; which means no development at all unless taxpayers come up with boatloads of money to build even more subsidized housing than is already planned.
We Libertarians would like to remind our readers that Supervisors Mar and Campos were enthusiastic supporters of Plan Bay Area – and therefore its Priority Development Areas. Perhaps look under the cushions for more taxpayer money to develop transit corridors in the western parts of The City ASAP?
We recommend Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez’ article in the San Francisco Examiner of February 17, 2014: On Guard: Why Not Look To Westside to Build Homes?
When 32 people crowd into an average-sized living room, you know the event is going to be a good one. It was. David Friedman’s talk at Jim Elwood’s Free Exchange on February 7th was a winner. Professor Friedman spoke from his book The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism.
A little synopsis of the book from Google Books:
Some highlights of Professor Friedman’s talk at Free Exchange:
Market failure occurs when decisions individuals in any group make that benefit them do not necessarily translate into benefits to the group. “Individual rationality does not lead to group rationality.”
The forthcoming closure of Borderlands Books on San Francisco’s Valencia Street has been front page news in several publications. When any small business cannot make ends meet, we Libertarians lament, since we see the success of independent small businesses as a prerequisite to a free and open market. When a small business receives its final blow from government, we view that as doubly sad. Please read the heartfelt comment on the closure on the Borderlands website. The comment presents a picture that no book-learned economist or opinion-issuing political party can match. Here is an excerpt:
"In November, San Francisco voters overwhelmingly passed a measure that will increase the minimum wage within the city to $15 per hour by 2018. Although all of us at Borderlands support the concept of a living wage in principle and we believe that it's possible that the new law will be good for San Francisco -- Borderlands Books as it exists is not a financially viable business if subject to that minimum wage. Consequently we will be closing our doors no later than March 31st.
Many businesses can make adjustments to allow for increased wages. The cafe side of Borderlands, for example, should have no difficulty at all. Viability is simply a matter of increasing prices. And, since all the other cafes in the city will be under the same pressure, all the prices will float upwards. But books are a special case because the price is set by the publisher and printed on the book."
Indeed, perhaps minimum wage increases can benefit certain segments of the workforce. For example, workers of large corporations might benefit, since those corporations, especially those that are diversified and/or enjoy monopolies, can raise prices to cover increased wage costs without affecting their sales. The workers might benefit, that is, if they do not need to purchase the higher-priced products of their employer.
So, the San Francisco leadership talks the talk about supporting diverse neighborhood small businesses in preference to big box stores. But does the leadership walk the walk? Apparently not, in our view.
Please visit the Borderlands Books website. Or better still, visit the store and buy some books.
Update Note: An interesting development has occurred at Borderlands Books. Owner Alan Beatts and his staff have come up with a novel idea that might keep the bookstore open: Sponsorships of $100 annually. A preliminary list of benefits sponsors would enjoy includes reserved seating at author events, rental of the café and/or the bookstore for after-hours events, access to preview sales of rare books, and sponsor-only gatherings. The San Francisco Examiner reported on February 22 that 150 sponsors emerged by the end of the day after the sponsorship program announcement. This is a good example of the entrepreneurial spirit at work!
More Update Notes: One of our readers pointed out that San Francisco’s minimum wage was not “government’s fault” but the result of the passage of Proposition J by voters in November 2014. It is true that voters approved Proposition J. To us, however, it is important to note that Proposition J was placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors and will be enforced by government bureaucracies. This kind of minimum wage is not the result of the free market, where the output of an inexperienced fast food worker who burns the burgers and breaks a lot of dishes might be worth no more than $5 an hour, and whose output might be worth $1,000 an hour when the same individual graduates from medical school and becomes an experienced brain surgeon.
Thank you to the reader for his observation. We love to receive your thoughtful comments. Our contact information is on "Contact Us." We have a Facebook page and a Discussion List.
San Francisco is unquestionably a progressive town. All elected officials are Democrats. Compassion means rent control, subsidized housing, minimum wage, City mandated workplace healthcare and paid leave, free MUNI for students and seniors, and 17% of workers unionized vs. 11% nationwide. As for voters, they seem to revel in approving bond initiatives for all manner of spending.
Therefore, it might come as a surprise that the City and neighboring counties have lots of liberty-leaning folks who believe in the benefits to all of small government, free markets, personal liberty, and personal responsibility.
Liberty-leaning The Independent Institute thrives in nearby Oakland. This non-partisan non-profit organization sponsors in-depth studies of economic and social issues. Its website describes “The mission of The Independent Institute is to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity.” http://www.independent.org/
Mountain View based Libertarian Futurist Society honors pro-freedom fiction writers with the annual Prometheus Award. From their website: “Do you love liberty and Science Fiction? Do you dream of a free future? Are you a fan of writers like Ayn Rand, Robert Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Vernor Vinge, James Hogan, Neal Stephenson, and Ken MacLeod? If so, then join the Libertarian Futurist Society!” Now, that can only be described as cool! http://lfs.org/aboutus.shtml
Libertarian (Big and small “L”) radio also thrives in the Bay Area. We recommend that you check out the websites of Bob Zadeck http://www.bobzadek.com/ and Freedomain Radio hosted by Stefan Molyneux https://freedomainradio.com/
There are several libertarian Meetup Groups, including ours which is sponsored by Starchild, our Outreach Director:
Free Exchange http://www.meetup.com/Free-Exchange/
Freedomain Radio http://www.meetup.com/Freedomain-Radio-Bay-Area/
Golden Gate Liberty Revolution http://www.meetup.com/RonPaulSF/
Libertarian Party of Alameda County Meetup http://www.meetup.com/libertarian-438/
Libertarian Party of San Francisco Meetup http://www.meetup.com/the-LPSF/
San Francisco Bitcoin Social http://www.meetup.com/San-Francisco-Bitcoin-Social/
So, if you think that the progressive approach to personal liberty and personal responsibility is not entirely to your liking, connect with people that feel as you do – check out the websites above.
Thank you to the regulars and visitors that attended the Libertarian Party of San Francisco January 10, 2015, election of officers and planning for 2015 meeting. We had a great mix of Libertarians, libertarians, and not either. Although only members of LPSF vote on official party business, we welcome in our planning discussions viewpoints from everyone present at our meetings. No one can ever accuse us of living in an echo chamber!
Our plans for 2015 include traditional events, such as participation at San Francisco’s Annual Pride Celebration and hosting LPSF’s annual Tax Day panel discussion. We will continue to work with Bay Area civil liberties and property rights groups to achieve common goals. This year we will make a special effort to understand the issues behind San Francisco’s housing challenges, offer some of our own viewpoints, and work with housing groups on shared objectives.
As always 2015 will see our efforts in dissecting proposed local legislation, especially those that threaten our liberties and raid our pocketbooks. We hope to get lucky and win some free spots on the Department of Elections official Voters’ Handbook, but are setting aside some donations just in case we need to pay for publishing our “For or Against Arguments.”
We also hope that our work, done entirely by volunteers, will earn us votes of confidence in the form of increased membership in the LPSF and donations. Everything we do that costs money -- this website, telephone, mailbox, outreach brochures, booths at festivals, voter arguments -- comes from membership dues and donations. LPSF membership dues are $25 per year, and donations are whatever you can spare. We accept PayPal as well as checks payable to The Libertarian Party of San Francisco sent to our mailbox at 520 Frederick Street, #17, San Francisco, CA 94117.
Our next business meeting is on February 14, 2015, 3:00 – 5:00 pm, San Francisco Main Library, 4th Floor Conference Room. As always, all are welcome to the meeting and/or the after-meeting social.