by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It’s not what celebrants want to hear when the champagne is exploding out of shaken bottles of Dom, the confetti is falling, and their stock is up 8.7 percent at the market’s close, but I have an announcement to make: San Francisco is past its prime and the fires of creation have abated.
With all the millionaires newly minted by Lyft’s IPO, and with those set to be minted by Uber’s and Palantir’s and AirBnB’s, you might expect this enclave to become the next Babylon of American capitalism. While our moralists in the media — Nellie Bowles, Emily Chang, et al. — busily tsk-tsk the greed and the lust and the hypocrisy and the hubris, there is a story here they miss: The city’s current concentration of wealth likely doesn’t represent the beginning of a golden-if-sinful era, but the end.
Magnificent in the distance, San Francisco is now shockingly ugly up close. In the decade I have lived here, the city has achieved the seemingly impossible: It has combined the expensive and the bland and the appalling into a new form of decadence. To the untrained eye, it looks magical: a city of the future, a city of gasps. Then, slowly, it reveals itself to be a city of lies, one that dismisses the idea of city living.