Monday, March 19, 2012

Where Have All The Children Gone?

Occasionally, I begin to have a twinge of nostalgia for life in my former adoptive city of San Francisco. Then I read another article from the SF Chronicle, or see another photo like the one here, taken at the cable car turntable at Powell and Market Streets. I immediately come back to my senses.

The Chron recently suffered the shock of discovering that San Francisco has the lowest percentage of children of any major United States city. It spent two pages and an entire editorial attempting to understand how such a thing could happen. If the editors of the newspaper would ever walk outside their offices or leave their walled and guarded mansions in Pacific Heights, or travel in the city using public transportation instead of chauffeured limousines, they might be able to figure it out.

Just for your reference, in 1960, 25 percent of the population was comprised of children (low, even then). By 1970 it had slipped to 22 percent. Today the population of Babylon by the Bay includes a mere 13.4 percent of the population under the age of eighteen. The primary reason for this precipitous drop in child population is not what you might think. It's the economic condition that makes San Francisco a city of the small population of the very rich versus the large population of poor, struggling working poor, homeless people and welfare dependents. The middle class has almost entirely disappeared.

Only two demographics are showing any indication of bucking the trend. The first is the large number of Asian immigrants joined with a somewhat smaller influx of illegal aliens from Central and South America. The second are the wealthy young urban professionals (and they tend to wait to have their children until they are in their thirties and then only have one or two kids at most). The city's median income for a family of three is $92,700. For the yuppies having children, it's closer to $111,240. But that figure will get you a small apartment in a relatively safe neighborhood, but not a house in a decent neighborhood. Unlike most of the rest of America, home prices have continued to rise with few new homes or luxury condos left unpurchased.

30 percent of families with children now earn close to $140,000 per year. The comparable demographic in 1990 comprised 20 percent of the families with children. The result has been to turn the town into a city which is much whiter than it was just two or three decades earlier. And this is a city that prides itself on its diversity. Though many white couples can afford to have children (on a budget), the largest number of whites moving into the city have simply chosen to have the "good life" unhampered by costly children. No white couple with any sense at all is going to send their kids to the public schools, so one of the highest costs of having children is those private schools.

The large gay population is also a factor in the decline of families with children, though the trendiness of gay marriage and gay adoption have brought those numbers up. Gays tend to be among the most affluent of San Francisco's residents, so they also fit into the demographic of couples earning 50 percent more than the median family income.

Then there are two other factors which might not deter singles and couples without children from moving into the city, but would deter families with children. The first the Chronicle phrases as "the perceptions that it is unsafe to live in San Francisco." The crime statistics simply say it is unsafe. In fact, San Francisco has become one of the most dangerous big cities in the country to live in. The local cops would love to enforce the law, but the police administrators and the city politicians are radical leftists who think the only crime is "white collar" crime. A few dead bodies here and there, and widespread property destruction don't faze them.

The second adjunct factor is the immense number of aggressive vagrants. Tourists don't like it, but they don't live with it on a daily basis, so they often find it peculiar but quaint. Only the very wealthy can afford to live in neighborhoods where homeless people are unlikely to congregate (like Nancy Pelosi, for instance). Adults have the ability to choose to ignore them, but people who care about their children don't expose them to filthy and often dangerous bums.

I lived in what is considered a "safe" neighborhood, in a fourth floor walkup but with a wonderful view. It had two bedrooms, a moderate-sized living room, a kitchen, one bathroom, and no dining room. A new young couple with a baby on the way could live in it comfortably. But how many could afford it? I checked the rentals just before I left town, and my apartment was now listed at $3250.00 per month. It was rented within a week of my leaving town (I later found out it was by three foreign exchange students with Arabic last names). During the time I lived in my "safe" neighborhood, I saw one murder and one fatal police shooting within a half-block of my apartment house.

In addition to the above, there are those notorious San Francisco rituals of public sex, S&M booths on the streets, urine and feces on every street (except those notable enclaves mentioned above) and large homeless encampments in every city park, including the once pristine and beautiful Golden Gate Park. Even those who have no criminal intent can still be disgusting since it is perfectly legal to walk around in San Francisco buck-naked. Not many do, of course, but those who do rarely look like Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. Who in his right mind would want to expose a young child to that?

And on top of it all, San Franciscans are taxed at the highest rates in a state which itself has the highest rates in the nation. When the idiot 99 percenters talk about the rich getting richer, they should turn their eyes to San Francisco. Those in skilled trades or middle management who don't work for a tech corporation down the Peninsula or a film company which has no offices in the city are also being pushed out. That's because the companies they work for can no longer afford to do business in the anti-capitalist, tax 'em to death city of Saint Francis.

During the time I lived in San Francisco, I watched the exodus of Southern Pacific Railroad, Pacific Telephone (now part of AT&T), Levi Strauss, Bank of America, Burgermeister Breweries, Union Oil, Standard Oil and even Rice-A-Roni of San Francisco (which is now located across the Bay in San Leandro). The once-thriving Pacific Stock Exchange does most of its business in Los Angeles. Some of the businesses left San Francisco for the suburbs. Others, seeing the big picture, moved out of California entirely.

So if you enjoy the sounds of the laughter of children playing safely in a public park or joining their friends at a neighborhood gathering, look anywhere but San Francisco. And don't expect the Chronicle to be able to tell you why.

37 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

a common plight in the cities. Maybe S.F. will soon be ready to abandon "Flower Drum Song" for "Law & Order," but I'm not holding my breath

Joel Farnham said...

I remember having fun in San Francisco while visiting my relatives in Marin County. That city used to be dynamic and vibrant. Now it is one note, crazy. My latest memories are from the late sixties. I remember going to Fisherman's Wharf and going to museums and seeing model boats with sides cutout to show the way they were built.

If I ever were to visit San Francisco again, I will be well armed and travel with a partner equally well armed. They might still have those museums, but I doubt they will be the same. Probably one or more of them will be dedicated to Harvey Milk. It will just be too depressing.

It doesn't surprise me about the disappearance of children in San Francisco. What is surprising is that anyone with children are willing to stay there.

T-Rav said...

Unfortunately, I suspect this trend will not stop any time soon. The fewer children there are, the less incentive SF has to change its ways whatsoever, thus a truly vicious circle. That city is going to get worse and worse.

LL said...

In a liberal culture where abortion is dejure, it's not odd to see fewer children present.

In a homosexual culture where no children are produced from relationships (unless cuckolded from 'straight' people), it does not seem odd to see fewer children present.

= The San Francisco World and all that liberal paradise represents is a Darwinian 'dead end' - and that is the sort of world that they would have in America. Sorry to get scientific on the liberals, but it's simple math.

LL said...

Joel, when in SF these days, I carry a .45 and two spare magazines of ammunition (legally).

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: Considering that the prosecutors and police on Law and Order are all lefties these days, I think SF may already be there. LOL

DCAlleyKat said...

I live a couple of hours away from S.F. and that's just barely far enough! I have nothing good to say about it, or the Chronicle.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: I remember New York City from the time I lived there in the mid-60s being a lot like San Francisco is today. As long as you know where to go, and when, the city is relatively safe. But tourists generally don't know, and the locals sometimes have no choice. I carried if I had to go out late at night, even in my own neighborhood.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: Liberals just can't reason. The declining number of children mystifies them because they just won't open their eyes. It's like their reasoning about tough enforcement of the law in violent crimes. "Why do we need to send people to prison for such long terms when the crime rates are down all over the state?" Duh.

darski said...

I must say this new system of sending me to a blank page is really, really, really annoying. I want to read the comments before I comment. What brain dead liberal designed this system???

LawHawkRFD said...

LL: The rich yuppies who comprise one of the "no kids" demographic in SF actually rarely resort to abortion. Not that they have any objection to it, but they have determined in advance that they just don't want to have kids, so they use effective birth control. On the other hand, among the working poor, the abortion rate is staggering. But as you say, either way, it's a Darwinian dead end.

tryanmax said...

LL, I think you would be interested in a book I recently came across called The Pink Swastika (as would all Commentaramaniacs). The book has some tonal problems that raise concerns about the authenticity of information, but it is an interesting thesis, nonetheless, and doubtless grounded in some truth. The sharply divided Amazon reviews are telling in their own right.

LawHawkRFD said...

LL; That's bold. I left town before the two big Supreme Court decisions had kicked in. I no longer qualified for a CCW permit after I closed my practice, so when I went out armed (only at night, and only in certain areas), I did so knowing it was illegal. As someone said, "better to be tried by twelve than carried by six."

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: I think they call it "menacing." It sounds so dreadful and has an appeal to the drama queens who run the city.

LawHawkRFD said...

DC AlleyKat: There's a priceless scene in All the President's Men where Woodward and Bernstein are standing in editor Ben Bradlee's office when another reporter comes in wanting to publish an unverified, somewhat bizarre news story. Bradlee looks at the reporter and says: "Give it to the San Francisco Chronicle, they'll print anything."

LawHawkRFD said...

darski: I wish we had some control over it, but we don't. We've received multiple complaints like yours, and others have complained about the lags between writing, previewing, and publishing. It's a mess, but we're at the mercy of Blogger. Be comforted, you don't hate it any more than we do. It drives me nuts that you can't easily go back to the main page anymore once you've clicked on an article or the comments link.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: The book you referenced does have some serious errors (as do all works on any controversial topic). But whether or not the Nazis truly hated homosexuals, they certainly knew how to exploit it to their advantage. Sometimes it meant isolating and eliminating them (the Night of the Long Knives) and sometimes it meant putting them into positions of power, always holding the hangman's noose over their heads if they deviated from Nazi doctrine. Nazis hated, period. Since homosexuals are and always were a minority, they simply made a useful target. And then, of course, there was the thing about them not producing future Aryan supermen.

AndrewPrice said...

Yeah, big cities tend to have few kids. The biggest factor is that cities are places where young single people live when they first get started. They tend to move out when they have kids. Saw that in DC over and over. As soon as someone had kids, they left the city.

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, some of those "reviews" remind me of Shakespeare's line: "Methinks they doth protest too much."

It's a complex subject, of course. Homosexuals of course suffered greatly under the Third Reich, and in public, as far as I know, Hitler never voiced any support of such behavior. On the other hand, as anyone who's bothered to read up on the Nazis' early history can tell you, he had very little problem with them in private, and Ernst Roehm was hardly the only gay man in his inner circle during the '20s. To the extent that the Nazis would have disliked homosexuality, I think it would have to do with its perception as an effeminate, non-productive act, which they tended to frown upon in men.

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, SF seems to be proof that a left-wing haven can only thrive when it has a moderate or conservative surrounding environment to support it. I was in Nashville over the weekend at a conference, and some of the downtown and off-university areas were about as liberal in sentiment. The only difference, though, is there are a half-million other denizens actually working for a living and keeping the metro area afloat, so the hippies don't have to face reality. In SF, on the other hand, the inmates are running the asylum.

darski said...

@lawhawk... I know and I understand. Just venting and the wind went your way ;D

The great news is that the good stuff keeps coming from y'all. Ill just go play quietly in the corner now. :D

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: It is a problem in all big cities that are business unfriendly and hesitant on law enforcement. SF just seems to have done it better than the others. New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, for instance, all have much higher percentages of children than Sodom by the Bay.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: Many of those families who left SF are now living in the East Bay suburbs. I guess I saw the handwriting on the wall early. We could have afforded to buy a home in San Francisco when we got married, but we already decided that it was no place to raise kids. So we bought a home in Livermore, which was somewhat of an exurb back then. Depending on traffic, it took me between fifty-five minutes and an hour and a half to get to work every day in San Francisco. At least they can now take BART into the city.

tryanmax said...

T-Rav, having gotten about halfway through the book, I can already tell that several of the negative reviews, and a number of the positive ones, didn't make it as far as I have.

Personally, I think the more interesting thesis within the larger thesis is that of a divide within the homosexual community/movement. It conforms to patterns of behavior I have seen for myself with gay friends/colleagues in theater. Those I have been friends with are all decidedly of the effeminate persuasion, and they take great pains to avoid the more butch homosexuals.

I honestly never thought much of it before reading this book, though in retrospect, it was more than a simply noteworthy practice.

LawHawkRFD said...

darski: Feel free to vent. I always feel a little better after tossing a verbal bomb at Blogger. LOL

Individualist said...

Honestly Lawhawk

do we actually need to go to economics class to figure this out. If you had children would you really want them roaming the streets of San Franscisco.

rlaWTX said...

Once again I am shocked - shocked, I tell you - (but in the least surprised way possible) about this unintended, but certainly predictable, result of progressive politics upon the demographic landscape.

tryanmax said...

For whatever reason, I've been inspired to assemble a San Franciso playlist:

I Left My Heart In San Francisco Tony Bennett & Judy Garland

San Francisco (Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair) Scott McKenzie

San Franciscan Nights The Animals

Frisco Blues John Lee Hooker

Rice-a-Roni (The San Francisco Treat) The delicious break from potatoes.

San Francisco Brett Dennen

And finally, a possible explanation as to why Frisco is collapsing:

We Built This City Starship

Rock and roll is generally regarded as an inherently unstable foundation material, although this fact was less widely recognized in the 1980s and prior. But lest one should think this is all fun and jokes, consider this partial exegesis that I stumbled across today.

LawHawkRFD said...

Indi: We don't, but the Chronicle does. And as I mentioned above, when we found out my wife was pregnant, we immediately started looking for homes in the outer suburbs.

LawHawkRFD said...

rlaWTX: Until I saw the Chronicle article, I hadn't given it much thought. I just assumed it was about people not being able to afford to live in the city with kids, or their fear of raising kids in an unhealthy urban environment. The economic factor of rich people who don't want kids in the first place pushing low-wage families out of town hadn't occurred to me (though it probably should have).

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: What a lousy transition it was when the Jefferson Airplane (who practically invented the "San Francisco sound") morphed into the Starship. I clicked on your exegesis, and I'm still giggling.

This thing about San Francisco's craziness combined with all the songs dedicated to the imaginary city by the bay has been around a long time. Back when Jeanette McDonald died, a joke was going around in San Francisco itself. She had moved to Houston. One day she felt a sonic boom and thought it was an earthquake. She ran out into the street singing San Francisco, Open Your Golden Gate, and the local Houston citizens stoned her to death.

Tehachapi Tom said...

Hawk
Freedom and the exercise of it is the basis for the ills of what used to be the most cosmopolitan city in the USA.
1 Peter 2:16 explains this very clearly, "Live as free men,yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God."
Even if you choose not to live as a servant of God the rest of the passage contains the basic rule to follow in the exercise of your freedom.
Of course one persons concept of evil could be another persons concept of a life style to embrace.

tryanmax said...

for LawHawk

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, I have known only a small handful of homosexuals (or at least openly to semi-openly homosexuals), but those all tended to be rather effeminate (i.e., theater majors). I cannot say I have known very masculine homosexual men, though there are of course some out there.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tehachapi Tom: The philosophy of San Francisco used to be "we don't care what they do, as long as they don't do it in the streets and frighten the horses." Now the city regulates everything and taxes even more, and picks which lifestyles it prefers then forces everyone else to accept them. It is anti pretty much everything traditionally American. I'm sure sheep don't really understand that they're not free any more than the citizens of San Francisco. And they don't know the difference between liberty and license.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: Thanks a million. LOL

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: I gotta tell ya, if you live in a city which has a long history of gay tolerance, you'll find yourself amazed at how many guys you thought were straight aren't. Outside those places, and particularly in small conservative towns, the need to keep it a secret also keeps it under wraps with guys you would never think it about. Most gays who don't want it known get tripped up during casual "guy talk" about girlfriends, wives and skirt-chasing rather than being caught doing something stereotypically "gay." There only seem to be more gay people than in the past because the stigma is no longer nearly as strong as it was just two decades ago, so many feel freer to out themselves.

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