The American Dream is on Life Support in the Bay Area

The American Dream is on Life Support in the Bay Area. By Hari Raghavan.

A year ago I was smirking at the people moving out of the Bay Area. I thought these were fairweather citizens, silly for moving to political train-wrecks like Texas or Florida.

Twelve months on, my wife and I find ourselves packing our life into boxes. Not to run towards a place where we feel greater love, but just to leave. The pendulum has swung hard in the last twelve months. …

Envious lefties always do this:

On the one hand, I think any rational individual would acknowledge that privilege has made for a rigged system. But on the other hand, in the spirit of deconstructing those imbalances, we’ve dismantled upward mobility for everyone — not just the underprivileged.

Instead of a definition of equity that raises the floor (a rising tide floats all boats), we’ve adopted a definition that institutes a ceiling on achievement: if everyone can’t have it, no one can have it. We’ve adopted the philosophy of a petulant grade school bully. This is an unfortunate trend across the country, but it really feels like California and the Bay Area specifically are at the bleeding edge of this philosophy. …

Not safe in San Francisco:

In the last seven years, my wife and I have experienced four home break-ins, one car break-in, multiple other thefts, broken up a purse snatching, been chased and lunged at by mentally ill people a few times a year. It literally happened on Bart the day I wrote the first draft of this post. Pre-pandemic, my wife used to call me every day to have someone on the phone, when walking the 5 minutes home from Bart each night. There is a large encampment two blocks from our house. Multiple times, homessless folks have slept or showered in our driveway.

I only reported one break-in incident, because… what’s the point?

Hearing about it more broadly, it weighs on you. People you know are getting punched for no reason, or getting their houses broken into. Armed gangs of 60-80 are now systematically looting malls and shopping districts. …

Government failing at the basics:

The roads suck, homelessness and crime are rampant, NIMBYism runs wild and no housing gets built, the small business permitting process becomes more labyrinthine each year, government workers keep racking up ridiculously bloated overtime and pensions… all while the area sees no apparent improvement in the available social services or social safety net. …

[Michael Sheelnberger tweet] Meanwhile, San Francisco won’t let law-abiding citizens open an ice cream store even after they invested $200,000 on rent, fees, and lawyers.

The left are killing the goose that lays the golden eggs:

“Tech” (and what a broad brush that is) is constantly accused of being the problem. Google and Facebook buses are stoned. Zuckerberg was asked to lend his name to a hospital in an effort to encourage other philanthropy… only to have the BOS censure him for it years later because they suddenly felt they didn’t like a tech billionaire’s name on a building. Gifted programs in STEM fields are being eliminated in schools. One of the greatest entrepreneurs of our generation (imperfect though he may be) being told “Fuck you, Elon Musk” by an elected official.

Privilege and success, instead of something to merely be mindful of and thoughtful about, has become something to be ashamed of. Those who had the gall to build successful companies are vilified for “exploiting the region” and “not paying enough in taxes” despite living in the highest income tax regime in the entire country. Anyone who hails from a tech background is instantly painted as an enemy of the people, even if all they care about is fixing problems.

I have thought for a long time that Atlas Shrugged is an unrealistic straw man full of contradictions. I never thought I’d live in a society that actually approximated it. ….

The lefty author even disagrees with government spending priorities — so that’s it, he’s walking:

I’m not a cut-all-taxes libertarian. I consider taxes to be a privilege and honor, a righteous duty of being a citizen. But when you disagree with the political environment and feel powerless to change it; when you see efforts every day to achieve equality through tearing down successful people instead of raising up the everyman; when you disagree with how the vast majority of your taxes are spent… I believe that triggers an equally righteous duty: vote with your feet.

Virtue-signaling rules:

When did we start caring more about making sure everyone knows “we compost,” than about our recycling now ending up in a landfill? When did we decide it was okay for science to matter for understandable indoor vaccine mandates, but not for ceasing outdoor mask mandates? When did we decide it was okay to cancel people for sarcasm and satire? The posturing and virtue signaling gets really infuriating, sometimes.

Why is this a problem? I’ll simply quote Jeff Daniels’ speech from the opening scene of The Newsroom [2018]:

We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars […] We aspired to intelligence; we didn’t belittle it; it didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t scare so easy.

When you notice this every day, life just feels neurotic. Every person is told every day, “you’re living life wrong.” A well-intentioned person can step one foot out of line and is instantly met with a “how dare you,” instead of a gentle reminder (and the benefit of the doubt).

Leaving for Florida:

People are moving out in droves. Almost every person I’ve shared my anticipated move with has quietly said “I’ve thought a lot of those same things too, and whether I should move soon.”

When there is a groundswell of some of the smartest and most ambitious in the country leaving an area, it’s clear that this is no longer the place where the American Dream is the strongest. The network effects of the universities, the corporate headquarters of tech companies, and offices of venture capital firms were keeping the torch of entrepreneurship and economic achievement going long beyond the area deserved it. …

This is such a cliché, but we’re moving to Miami.

I know there’s plenty to be apprehensive about. A shitshow political environment on the other extreme… but perhaps a blue dot in a red state will be more moderate than a blue dot in a blue state. …

Most things cost less, and taxes are lower of course. The social services seem somewhat less broken. … We get a lot more space for the same price. We feel safer walking around at night.

Christina Pushaw sets the author straight (h/t Ed Driscoll):

Incredible virtue signaling. You’re fleeing California to live in a conservative state because the policies here are better. If you truly thought Florida’s politics are bad for you and your family, you could move to Denver, Seattle, Portland, or any other Democrat-run area. …

Ryan James Girdusky:

Wait so you’re moving out of San Francisco to Miami because liberal politics destroyed that city… and the first thing you do is complain about conservative politics in Florida.

California leads the US, which leads the west, which leads the world in political trends. But what happens when there is nowhere to run to?

Both the US and then Australia were countries that people ran to, but now they are becoming increasingly like the old world. Now what?