San Francisco tech guy decries the city’s homeless, but only because the sight of them bothers him and his rich pals

I don’t much like to engage in Internet shaming, especially when it’s based on a single careless or thoughtless remark that leads to someone’s character being permanently smeared or their career ruined. But this letter, written by one Justin Keller, a startup founder with a blog and a Twi**er site, is beyond the pale. It’s directed to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Police Chief Greg Suhr, and it’s a mystery why Keller, after being crucified on social media for what he said below, has still left the letter up on his site.

Nominally, it decries the plight of San Francisco’s many homeless people (there are about 7,000; lots of the homeless wind up in California because the weather is more conducive to living outdoors). Keller’s letter starts out seeming reasonable:

I am writing today, to voice my concern and outrage over the increasing homeless and drug problem that the city is faced with. I’ve been living in SF for over three years, and without a doubt it is the worst it has ever been. Every day, on my way to, and from work, I see people sprawled across the sidewalk, tent cities, human feces, and the faces of addiction. The city is becoming a shanty town… Worst of all, it is unsafe.

Then he recounts three incidents involving him and his family: 1) a homeless person leaned up against his parents’ car when they were visiting, and then fought with a bystander; 2) another homeless (and possibly mentally ill) person was shouting and trying to pull his own pants down as Keller and his folks left the city’s famous Tadich Grill; and 3) a drunk guy walked into a theater where Keller was watching a film with his girlfriend, making a ruckus and disturbing a lot of the patrons.

Well, yes, this is what happens in a city full of homeless people—some of them drunk, mentally ill, or on drugs. It’s a shameful issue whose solution is not easy, especially when some of those people actually want to be on the streets, or when services to the mentally ill have been drastically curtailed for lack of funds.

But that’s not what really bothered Keller. He’s not so much interested in this symptom of societal dysfunction as the fact that he and his friends and relatives have to look at it:

What are you going to do to address this problem? The residents of this amazing city no longer feel safe. 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. I want my parents when they come visit to have a great experience, and enjoy this special place.

Talk about entitlement! Read the part in bold again.  And what’s his solution? He doesn’t really have one, but he does want those homeless people out of his sight (the emphasis here is his):

I am telling you, there is going to be a revolution. People on both sides are frustrated, and you can sense the anger. 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[1] 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.

The “revolution”, of course, won’t happen, and if it does we won’t see revolts by the homeless, who are powerless. (The “footnote” after “riff raff” leads to an apology Keller added later, but that seems to be the only thing for which he’s apologized.)

Keller isn’t the first tech guy to go the Insensitive Route. As notes:

And, before you ask, Keller appears blissfully unaware of those who precede him in the pantheon of SF infamy. That would be, namely, Peter Shih — who in a similar tirade was called out for statements like “just because San Francisco has the worst Female to Male ratio in the known universe doesn’t give you the right to be a bitch all the time,” — and Greg Gopman, who described SF’s homeless people as “degenerates” and “Hyenas” before repositioning himself as their savior. (Gopman was last seen on an “Eat, Pray, Love” style vacation from which he may or may not plan to return.)

Reader gravelinspector, who sent me this link, argues that such attitudes are the result of the entitlement bred into today’s college students. The letter, he said, is “a view into the mindset of ‘special snowflakes’ who object to things that offend them in their university time, when they move on to a life in the outside world. . . Quoth the snowflake, ‘I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people.'”

Gravelinspector may be right, though perhaps Keller’s entitlement came simply from being raised as a spoiled brat. But remember, too, that some sociologists see the unfounded entitlement of college students as the product of those modern children who are raised by helicopter parents, infused with a sense of their importance and told that All Must Have Prizes. That is, Brats —>Snowflakes. After all, Keller was offended by the sight of the homeless, just as Princeton students are offended by the sight of images of Woodrow Wilson.

I’m not writing this to show that there are insensitive jerks in the world. Lord knows that Keller’s attitudes aren’t uncommon, and reactions like his could be multiplied a thousandfold. If I posted on them all, that’s all I’d have time to write about.

The point is what gravelinspector said: the entitlement of today’s young people may not stop when they leave college. In fact, I don’t think it will. Some readers say that when the “snowflakes” collide with the real world, they’ll get a rude comeuppance. But what if the snowflakes are so numerous that they become the real world? After all, college administrators, governments, and many leftist journalists are starting to adopt the viewpoint of The Snowflake. The Guardian and the U.S.’s National Public Radio are two instances.

I don’t know if the egress of Snowflakes into the real world will lead to a general infantilization of society. What I’m hoping for is progress along the moral arc, but that’s not necessarily what Special Snowflakes want. Many want attention and privilege for themselves despite claiming that they want it for others. (I am not claiming that this is always the case!). I’m at least a bit optimistic, for there will always be those dedicated to the real heavy lifting: the genuine physical effort it takes to raise the oppressed, marginalized, sick, and helpless.

h/t: Gravelinspector


  1. Posted February 18, 2016 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Wow! What arrogance.

  2. GBJames
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    This seems to be just another example of wealth entitlement. He could be a successful Republican candidate for some office if he didn’t live in San Francisco.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      I’m not sure it’s limited to wealth. I think a part of it is blandness entitlement, air-bag entitlement, and ear-bud entitlement – the idea that they should live in a bouncy safe world where all their sensory experiences are controlled. Perhaps a visual equivalent of the ear-bud would suffice.

      When I’m walking, I am amazed at the number of people I encounter who are hiding the sound of the world they are attempting to experience with stuff crammed into their ears. Not just talking city sounds here, out in the country too.

      • Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        • Diane G.
          Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:57 pm | Permalink


      • darrelle
        Posted February 18, 2016 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

        I agree, definitely not limited to wealth. A friend and I were just discussing the other day how entitlement is very much not correlated to social or economic standing. Though it is the norm that members of one group accuse other groups that they dislike of having an unwarranted and offensive attitude of entitlement.

  3. Randy Schenck
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    I would agree with the idea given as to where this Keller comes from in our society. How many of this kind have already been produced by bad parents and bad ideas in the Universities.

    Kind of similar to that nut job down in Texas who got very drunk, ran over and killed 4 people and then claimed his rich parents and up-bringing left him unable to know right from wrong. The judge gave him no jail time so he and mom ran off to Mexico.

  4. tsbardella
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    A close relative of mine visited hoping maybe to move there – said SF was like a third world country – saw a guy pooping – so yeah. I believe him. There is a human rights issue there – how do you “require” a certain level of human dignity and still have the freedom and democracy that makes it a world city. No you are not allowed to poop and pass out on the sidewalk – there are places for that – beds and toilets – how does SF enforce the human dignity needed? That is the political question.

    • gluonspring
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      I also agree that SF has some kind of problem. I don’t know what to do about it. There are homeless in every major city, but somehow they seem a little more out of hand in SF.

    • stuartcoyle
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      I bet SF is like most of the cities here in Australia where truly public toilets are becoming a thing of the past and the only ‘public’ toilets are in shopping centres and bars which won’t let the homeless in.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted February 18, 2016 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

        If that *is* the problem then there’s one little aspect where ‘throwing money at it’ would actually do some good. Wouldn’t cost too much money either. Build (and maintain) a lot more genuinely public toilets. I’m sure 90% of the homeless would rather have a crap in decent surroundings than make an offensive spectacle of themselves on the sidewalk.


      • Diane G.
        Posted February 19, 2016 at 12:00 am | Permalink

        Oh, we’ve (the US) always been infamous for our lack of public toilets! Which is often very, very frustrating!

  5. Posted February 18, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Nouveau Douche.

  6. BobTerrace
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    This is an aside on the term “snowflake”.

    In Florida, a “snowbird” is someone who winters in Florida and summers up north.

    A “snowflake” is someone who occasionally spends time in Florida because they either still work full or part time or needs to spend significant time with family up north due to health or other problems.

    The usage here by gravelinspector is completely different.

    This is what I found nuts about today’s college students:

    Politically ignorant???

    • BobTerrace
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      Link got messed up.

    • revelator60
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      In other parts of the world, “snowbird” refers to someone who enjoys sniffing cocaine.

  7. EvolvedDutchie
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    This reminds me of the first time my parents, my brother and I visited the United States in 2008. The airplane landed in San Francisco. We took a taxi and the driver introduced himself as Lebanese and – assuming he was carrying christian passengers – immediately started talking about how the president of Lebanon had to be a Christian. He left out the part of the Lebanese constitution that requires the prime minister and speaker of parliament to be muslim. As this guy was banging on about how christian Lebanon was, we drove into San Francisco. The very first thing we saw were two homeless men. One was on the lookout, while the other shat on the pavement. That was my very first impression of San Francisco and the United States. It got better afterwards though.

  8. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    The university snowflakes that I read about are generally very privileged, but their motivations are not where they are insular and protective of their privilege like this tech guy. Rather, they are people who are hyper-politically correct, and intolerant of even slightly different views.

    • Sarah Bissen
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Exactly. Keller’s “the wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city” shows clearly he’s coming from the same sense of wealth virtue and entitlement that’s been the hallmark of right-wingers for all of recorded history. You can draw a straight line from it right back to “let them eat cake!”

      To blame such a canonical example of conservative thought on the left is confirmation bias writ large.

  9. TJR
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Reminds me of meeting up in That London with an Aussie friend who was living in San Francisco at the time.

    We walked past the side of a building where hot air was blowing out and she commented on how odd it looked that there weren’t a load of homeless guys hanging round it to keep warm. She reckoned that in SF there would have been at least a dozen there.

    It also reminds me of being in Seattle in the famous market bit right by the sea, and there was a park that was literally full of homeless guys. Quite a culture shock for me.

    I’m not sure Keller’s attitude is anything new. As far as I can make out rich people have *always* thought like this, throughout the world and throughout history.

    Never underestimate the sense of entitlement of rich people.

  10. Charlie Jones
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    I’d trace this attitude of entitlement not to college, but to the widening gap between rich and poor. I live in a relatively affluent suburb south of Pittsburgh. I don’t have statistics to back this up, but my sense is that both parents and offspring who are at the wealthy end of the spectrum are much more likely to feel that the world owes them everything. Instead of feeling like they’ve already got more than most people, they are so used to everything going their way that they expect the rest of us to give them whatever they want. They are simply not used to having things arranged as they see fit.

    I teach at the University of Pittsburgh, which doesn’t have large numbers of wealthy students, and my students at least don’t seem to display the snowflake syndrome. Maybe it is more of a problem in humanities majors, where they are always thinking about issues of race, etc?

    Of course, these observations may all just be confirmation bias on my part. I am not systematically collecting data!

    • chris moffatt
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      Humanities majors? For certain. Where is there time set aside in Engineering and Science curricula for SJW activities such as protesting and demonstrating? Like every other “STEM” undergrad/grad I knew, there was always another lab report to finish, another program to write, another paper to research…In my final year the humanities students (who already had guaranteed passes by virtue of signing up for their courses) burned the data center. At least it hasn’t got that bad yet this time around.

  11. Jack
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    People need to be taught how to deal with their expectations being violated and the psychology of why this is a prime vector for adopting poor strategies and self-serving biases. Haidt gets right to the point, this is emotional reasoning, “I feel it, and I’m a good smart person, therefore it is true, and everyone must accept this as fact.” It is extremely basic, well-understood psychology that should be taught in school beside P.E. from day one. This would definitely appear as brainwashing to the “I feel therefore it’s true” crowd.

    • DiscoveredJoys
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      Apparently people who successfully compete with others are more likely to cheat to maintain their success.

      “Why people cheat” ~ Washington Post

      Which *could be* reinterpreted as gaining success by being an arsehole reinforces the lesson that being an arsehole maintains your success. Perhaps Justin Keller has no free will and is just acting out the effects of his prior causes?

  12. Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I think the now several year old First World Problem meme sums up this mindset perfectly. Weird Al Yankovic even did a song about it.

    While the meme and the song is clearly taking a jab at the ridiculous things overly entitled people complain about, I have seen absolute rage on the Internet complaining about diminishing problems just because we’re privileged in the western world (i.e., our problems are just as real to us as the problem of starving is to a homeless person).

    Complaining about not wanting to see the despair of homeless people (many of whom have mental illnesses that need to be addressed) sums up this mentality beautifully. While Justin Keller offers no solutions, I’m sure if pressed, he’d wax on about personal responsibility and how the mentally ill homeless should simply work harder. It’s an absolute lack of awareness that while personal responsibility is important, it doesn’t operate in a bubble. Genetics and environment are absolutely enormous factors. The current environment doesn’t provide a way, even in principle, for a homeless person to simply pull himself up by the bootstraps and fix the situation.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      “Weird Al Yankovic even did a song about it.”

      Weird Al is a frickin’ *genius*. “Tried to fast forward commercials – can’t, I’m watching live TV”

      Been there, done that.


      • Posted February 18, 2016 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        My kids so rarely watch live TV that they are stunned when I tell them something cannot be fast-forwarded. In fact, the younger one, age 4, may never have seen any form of media that doesn’t have random access to desired point. It’s amazing to think that I recall having 1 TV in the house when I was a kid and sometimes having to sit in the right position to get the antenna to give us decent reception. Other than that, there was the radio and the internet was something rich people had that you could connect to at 1200 baud and play games featuring cool ASCII art.

  13. DrBrydon
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    I’ve been living in SF for over three years, and without a doubt it is the worst it has ever been.

    Wow. The worst in three years! Get some perspective, kid. I lose interest in arguments where people make groundless claims of extremity. What he is really claiming is that it has impacted him recently in a way that it hadn’t before. He’s a real mensch (/sarcasm).

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      *over* three years.

      Important to get these details right. Otherwise we might think he’s only been there for, like, 2 years and 11 months.


  14. ploubere
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    There is a class system among universities as well, from the wealthy private ones down to poorly funded public schools. I teach in one of the latter, where I don’t see any sense of privilege or entitlement among my students, many of whom have to work full-time while trying to go to classes, all while accumulating massive student debt.

    The problem comes from class and privilege, not college.

  15. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    The juxtaposition of these two sentences one right after the other is quite staggering.

    “I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. [Kinda true-JLH] I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day [Cheeses Cry-assed-JLH]”

    (The latter experience is said to be the core of the Buddha’s conversion/awakening.)

  16. Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    “The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city.”

    He had to qualify it with “wealthy” working people. So, even the working poor don’t have a right to live in his city, apparently.

    “we live in a free market society” – that facilitates the problem of homelessness for those who either opt-out of that philosophy or are incapable of opting-in.

    Spoken like someone who’s never looked at a curb and thought, “tomorrow, that might be home.”

  17. Randy Schenck
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    San Fran & infact California is a place of great extremes in this country. Housing cost and living is the highest in the land. As more high paid tech people move into the Bay area, the less fortunate get kicked out or moved out. Buying in some places is almost out of the question and the rent is something else. Way back in 2000 I paid $1800 a month for 2 bedrooms in Alameda. A bit further back in 1980 it was $500 a mo. People will commute 60 miles out into the desert to pay nearly half a million – just to own something. Half their day is spent in traffic.

    • merilee
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      I rented a whole little detached two bedroom house with yard in a nice part of Palo Alto for $130/month in the mid 70s. (I still vote from that address). Hate to think what is would go for now.

      This guy’s attitude is just sickening!

  18. Dermot C
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Re: Jerry’s drive-by comment on The Guardian’s snowflakeositude, Der Spiegel has similarly banned comments on Islam and immigration, I read today. x

    • dargndorp
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      Der Spiegel opted to close some articles to commenting due to the liablility of the hoster for defamatory and justiciable comments. They can’t guarantee the they’ll clean up the dreck quick enough.

  19. Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    So I hope this guy is willing to champion mental health services! (as if … :()

    • Randy Schenck
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      Heard very shocking stats just the other day on mental health in this country. Said that 1 in 4 have a mental disorder of some type. Also said that 75% never get any help for it.

      This is just the place you want to see unlimited supply of guns.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted February 18, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

        Although (cynically) one has to wonder whether the high prevalence of mental disorders reflects the high availability of psychiatrists/psychologists/TV shrinks available to diagnose such disorders?

        ‘Oh noes, I’ve got Attention Deficit Disorder!’


        • Diane G.
          Posted February 19, 2016 at 12:07 am | Permalink

          And all the pharmaceuticals we have to push.

  20. gluonspring
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    This doesn’t seem to me to have any connection with the current generation of students/parents/snowflakes.

    This guy seems like he has MUCH more in common with Ayn Rand wealth=virtue crowd than with any other strand of entitled snowflakes. There is nothing here that isn’t classic GOP/libertarian outlook. The only thing he shares in common with campus snowflakes is being obnoxious.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      I mostly agree. I suspect the snowflakes are adding to the numbers, but this is a libertarian attitude from way back. I have noticed that libertarians get a lot of support from young men, especially in universities, and stats back this up.

      Obama has invested more than any previous president in mental health assistance for vets, but the numbers of vets who need help are swamping the system. The GOP in particular lauds ex-military, but that doesn’t stop huge numbers ending up living on the streets.

      (It’s a bit like the way they force women to give birth, but after that you’re on your own.)

    • Posted February 18, 2016 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, this was my thought, too. Especially when he mentioned the “we live in a free market society”, and followed that up with: “The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it.” As you said, classic GOP/libertarian outlook.

      What’s gets me is that he mentions gentrification, but then continues on with his rant without even stopping to consider how it might have contributed to the homeless problem in San Francisco.

      And regarding his “entitlement”, I’d argue that he probably should have spent *more* time studying the humanities in college… It might have helped him to understand the plight of people that aren’t wealthy technologists (but that have probably been in San Francisco much longer than 3 years).

      • Posted February 18, 2016 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

        Yet it’s an extraordinarily rare occurrence for these people to bash someone like Donald Trump, who started his life standing on a stack of cash 9 figures high. It’s quite the double standard to insist that poverty-stricken people with no connections to the upper echelons of our free market society should work hard and earn it but the people born into the upper echelons are granted it de facto. One would think that if hard work is the true test of character, the libertarians would recommend estate taxes approaching 100%.

        • Diane G.
          Posted February 19, 2016 at 12:08 am | Permalink

          Unfettered capitalism is pretty much like a Ponzi scheme.

  21. Scott Draper
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Do we really know that the young have an entitlement attitude? Yes, we see some high profile cases, but that doesn’t tell us about the entire population.

    • Randy Schenck
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      Yet another extreme person such as this one comes to mind. Just a short time ago the news about the guy who owned the pharma company and jacked the price of a pill from a few bucks to $750. He was the typical 30 year old rich guy, smart-ass. They even wasted time dragging this idiot in front of congress to answer some questions. He took the 5th and just went back to twitter.

      • Mark R.
        Posted February 18, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        While reading this guy’s letter, I was picturing Martin Shkreli’s smug, predatory smile.

        • chris moffatt
          Posted February 18, 2016 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

          Mitt Romney was the first face in my mind’s eye.

    • Posted February 18, 2016 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      I’m wondering the same. I feel like the general entitlement conversation is an overblown non-issue. Hard to say.

      • Scott Draper
        Posted February 18, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        I think it’s unlikely to be true. It’s a useful media fiction because it tells a story, and older people are already inclined to be overly judgmental about the young.

      • Diane G.
        Posted February 19, 2016 at 12:10 am | Permalink

        I have a couple of young adult children, and I don’t see this attitude in them or their friends.

        Wonder what PCC was seeing in his classrooms most recently?

    • Posted February 18, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      What’s the NPR example?

  22. Posted February 18, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to have to disagree here… The term “entitlement culture” is being stretched in this case, to actually mean the opposite. While the guy is clearly a callous jerk, the fact that he worked hard and has been successful because of that hard work, and doesn’t think that his “property” (movie price, vehicle, etc…) should be devalued because of the city not enforcing rules (drunk in public, indecent exposure, loitering, etc…) doesn’t make him “entitled”. I means he’s earned what he has. That’s the opposite of entitlement. He secured the American Dream, which last time I checked, wasn’t just handed out willy nilly to whoever wanted it, but was earned. So regardless of what you think of his character, he isn’t acting “entitled”. The conservatives are typically the ones to throw around that term at the drop of the hat, don’t fall into the same trap.

    • denise
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      He “earned” not being mentally ill? He “earned” not being a gay teenager thrown out on the streets by his parents?

      Yeah, he is acting entitled. Sometimes success in life involves hard work and sometimes it doesn’t, but it always involves some degree of blind luck. Without knowing anything about him, it seems obvious that in his case it involved a great deal of luck. No one can be that oblivious to all the misfortunes that other people can suffer unless they’ve lived in a sheltered bubble all their lives.

      • Randy Schenck
        Posted February 18, 2016 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        Agree. Unless you know his whole story how do you know he earned anything. Just the fact that he says out loud that he should not have to see or be subjected to the low life on the streets of Frisco tells plenty about him anyway.

        San Francisco has had this problem for many, many years. They sometimes try to keep them in the Tenderloin but I think this guy wants fences to keep them out of his sight. Panhandling is always attracted to the tourist areas.

  23. Posted February 18, 2016 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    What’s the NPR example?

  24. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Their moral decrepitude in college can be explained, if not understood, by inexperience.

    At least now we can demand some moral backbone.

  25. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    The separation anxiety of snowflakes (i.e. that they may *not* be separated from people that makes them twitch) reminds me of H.G. Wells “Time Machine” and its Eloi vs Morlocks.

  26. anarlib
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 2:17 pm | Permalink


    Got a spare bedroom? Got a hallway in your apartment where a few homeless folks could stay warm and dry? I’m sure there’s someone in Chicago who could use a hot shower.

    • steve
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      OOOOh! Good comment (not).

      I think homelessness is solved by people with homes, pooling their resources to create social structures and actual things (like shelters, hospitals, and public toilets) that help other people who can’t at the moment help themselves.

      It is not solved by individual acts of charity however nice these individual acts are in and of themselves.

      People pooling resources is also called GOVERNMENT. The collection of MONEY to pay for these resources is called TAXATION. I know there is a certain large element in the U.S. who either refuse to acknowledge this or who do acknowledge it, but choose to say “It’s my money – and the government has no right to take it.” — As if “the government” is some entity unconnected from the people.

      The people with this sort of attitude are usually called libertarians. Currently they are called the GOP clown car contestants. Sometimes they are called A-holes.

      • Posted February 18, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

        It’s ALL MY MONEY! (Backed by the full faith and credit of the Government of the United States of America, but why let such details get in the way of a good scheme to hoard all the resources possible?)

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      Oooh also. I don’t think Jerry’s seen that comment (yet).

      There is an obvious problem with letting homeless people (who you don’t know) into your home.

      However, there is no problem* with paying taxes or making donations to support low-cost or even rent-free accommodation for such people (and I’m sure most of them would be happier in their own flat than camped out in someone’s hallway). All it needs is the political will.

      (*Unless you think “it’s *my* money and I’m keeping it all”)


      • Posted February 18, 2016 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

        My last reply was supposed to go here, in case anyone is confused.

    • Posted February 19, 2016 at 4:47 am | Permalink

      I have worked for the homeless, cooking and feeding them hot meals on the South Side.I also helped build the storefront where that was done, and bought the stove out of my own pocket. Now, anarlib, you will shut your snarky pie hole and go away, please.

  27. Posted February 18, 2016 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    I hate when a homeless person gets on the bus or whatever public transportation vehicle I am riding. Air becomes almost unbreathable; and in these cases, there is never a traffic controller to force the homeless person out. I know that the homeless cannot “pull themselves up” because of mental or addiction problems, but I do not think that one person with a problem must be allowed to ruin the journey of 30 other people, none of whom has any relation to his problem.

    I also hate being accosted. The reflex is to give something to the beggar so that he leaves me alone. However, this only encourages such harassment (and there are reports that whole criminal rings thrive this way). I give nothing and try to walk faster instead. A friend of mine gives money to beggars when she is with her child, to give a positive example. However, I don’t find this a positive example. Recently, when I had brought my son to the city center to show him a museum, some beggars tried their luck. I pointed out to the child that we have nothing of this sort in our district. It is a working-class, mixed-race district where you cannot make a penny by begging.

    As you see, I have the attitude of Justin Keller without being young or particularly rich. It is human nature to wish to live your life without being burdened with other people’s problems. Of course, in the homeless’ position, it is also human nature to survive as you can without caring for the comfort of the lucky majority.

    • steve
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      The 30 people on the bus I imagine live in the same society as the homeless person — right? You all live in a democracy — right? Then you and they DO have a relation to his problem.

      You are not displaying nice characteristics, including empathy, charity and “human”. I would say I hate it when people do not display nice characteristics. But hate is a very strong word.

      Get over yourself.

      • Posted February 18, 2016 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        My relation to his problem is in the taxes I am paying. Individual citizens cannot be expected to give up their work and families and become a sort of a Salvation Army for their fellow citizens who are overwhelmed by problems.
        I guess that “get over yourself” is a suggestion to me not to express opinions like the one above. To me, it is intellectually dishonest not to express an opinion because it is unpopular.

        • Pali
          Posted February 18, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

          It is less of a taxpayer burden to simply provide housing than to pay the costs created by people living on the streets.

    • Pali
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      Yes, dealing with beggars is not fun. I’m sure being one is much less of an irritation. I feel so, so bad for you.

      I don’t give change to the homeless I pass on the streets where I live either – but I do fully support Housing First and similar programs aimed at helping the homeless get back on their feet. It turns out that the solution to homelessness is actually pretty simple: give them homes without making them jump through hoops first. It not only gets them off the streets, it is cheaper to pay rent for them than to pay for the use of police and hospitals incurred by homelessness.

      • Posted February 19, 2016 at 5:52 am | Permalink

        About how much of an irritation is being a beggar – it depends on how one is conditioned. We have a whole subculture where begging is a normal way of subsistence. The worst are mothers (or women posing as mothers) with babies who always sleep, or are very irritated, or even have deformities that do not seem to have occurred naturally. The “mothers” of these unfortunate children seem perfectly able to work.

        I am also for shelters for the homeless, and for free public toilets.

        • GBJames
          Posted February 19, 2016 at 7:09 am | Permalink

          “The “mothers” of these unfortunate children seem perfectly able to work.”

          And no doubt good paying jobs are plentiful. Don’t you hate it when lazy people don’t go off an die in some out of the way cave?

          • Posted February 19, 2016 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

            I am living in a country with low GDP. I am one of the lucky few to have a decent pay (for the moment), but you will be surprised how few good-paying jobs per capita we have. And not only the pay, the conditions are poor. I know a woman whose husband died at his workplace only months before retiring because the machine was out of order. They said it was his fault because “he went to the machine, rather than the machine to him”, and paid no compensation.
            We are trying to create a culture of hard work and no excuses. Otherwise, we’ll have just more of the same, and worse.

            • Posted February 20, 2016 at 7:07 am | Permalink

              Maya, have you read Steven Pinker’s outstanding book, “The Better Angels of Our Nature”? If not, I’d highly recommend it. We really are all in this together.

              • Posted February 20, 2016 at 7:14 am | Permalink

                I have not, had not even heard of it. Thank you! I intend to read it when i can.

        • Pali
          Posted February 19, 2016 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

          For the sake of clarity, I feel I should elaborate – I was not talking about shelters. I was talking about Housing First programs, where actual apartments are given to homeless people with the rent paid for by the govt. It’s still a fairly new approach, but thus far it has had great success at getting people off the streets long-term, and giving people a home turns out to be cheaper for the cities than leaving them on the streets.

    • Posted February 19, 2016 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      Which country is this subculture of beggars in?

      • Posted February 19, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        Bulgaria, and some other European countries. But it is slowly dying out. Those not belonging to it are boycotting it, and more and more people born in it are seeking education and employment for themselves and their children.

  28. revelator60
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    I’ve lived in San Francisco for over a decade, and the homeless problem has definitely become worse. I walk to work on Market Street every day and have seen the numbers of homeless rise each year. But if Keller wants to be useful instead of stupid, he should realize that the problem lies in a failure of city government and funding. Our current mayor is widely seen as a tool of the tech lobby and has been particularly lax in dealing with the homeless issue. Other communities have successfully dealt with the problem by building genuine housing for the homeless, which has turned out to be less expensive than conventional methods.

    Keller is not a snowflake–he’s an example of the libertarian/capitalist mindset held by certain folks in the tech industry, especially those who’ve previously complained about the homeless. That mindset has helped make tech folk increasingly unpopular in SF, especially since they’ve pushed up the rents and pushed out lots of longtime residents. All of tech-complainers make the same argument: “Why should a successful, hard-working, self-made man like me have to endure the sight of these smelly, dirty, good-for-nothings?” They never seem to realize that if they want to solve the problem, they should apply some of their industry’s energy and power to it and try working with city government to devise an efficient housing solution. I don’t blame the tech moguls for wanting to live in SF, but business interests–of whatever kind–need to contribute to cities if they want them to stay beautiful and prosperous. Otherwise San Francisco will become a town of Marie Antoinettes who think the homeless should eat cake.

    • Merilee
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 5:03 pm | Permalink


    • Diane G.
      Posted February 19, 2016 at 12:16 am | Permalink

      Well said!

  29. Posted February 18, 2016 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    So many reactions!

    1. Since the reduction or closure of mental health facilities as far back as Reagan, and ever since, there have been more and more mentally ill people on the street as they have nowhere else to go. And, if anything, we seem to have ever more people with mental health issues that are more than they or their families can handle.

    2. The emphasis by people like Bush Sr., and many since him, that care of the mentally ill, indigent, homeless, etc. should not be the responsibility of the government, but of “the thousand points of light”: religions, charities and individuals, is partially responsible for this situation. Somehow, some of these people seem to think that we should go back to “the good ol’ days” when families took care of their own. Some families did. Many more did not. (People were put in mental institutions, when they still existed, and work houses). The same is true now except that there aren’t enough mental institutions and no work houses.

    3. With many people unable to find employment at all and others working one or more minimum wage jobs, we are fortunate not to have even more people living on the streets.

    4. I have lived in the Bay Area and am well acquainted with San Francisco. My husband used to work there. I now live in Oregon and am more familiar with Portland than other major cities on the west coast. Homelessness is a problem in Portland. In Oregon, however,an effort is made to see that as many homeless as possible have blankets, sleeping bags and/or tents because Oregon weather is not as clement as that in California. But, wonderfully clement Hawaii has a huge homeless problem with camps of homeless people living on certain of the beaches. It’s not just San Francisco or Portland.

    I would hazard a guess that all major cities in the U.S. have this problem. A populous location is more likely to have some few facilities to aid the homeless and more charitable people who can be panhandled. Some cities might even have restrooms and water fountains. Depends on the city government, which depends on who the populace votes for and how much in the way of taxes they are willing to pay to take care of the homeless problem. doesn’t it?

  30. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    “The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it.”
    As a generalisation, that’s nonsense.

    I’m always suspicious of people who claim they ‘worked hard’ to get where they are. Did they really? Or were they just lucky? Or were they just sharks?

    I’m aware that some people do work hard – some of the hardest working are at the bottom of the heap and never manage to climb up the ladder. But whether a ‘startup founder’ ever actually worked hard is – random. Depends entirely on the nature of his startup. A few people can write entire operating systems from scratch – that’s hard! Some may just have had a cute idea, hired a programmer to do the real work, and cashed in on Internet trendiness.


  31. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted February 18, 2016 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Just to put the self-entitled twat into context – 6 hours before posting that to PCC(E) I was made redundant after 30 years in the oil industry.
    Strangely, it can happen to anyone.
    (It’s the oilfield – I’d seen this coming, but thought I might dodge it for the 5th time. But if you do have any friends thinking of going into the industry, discourage them. My company is doing 30% lay-offs; others are already over 70%. And if you think there will be fuel to put into your car when things pick up, think again.)

    • merilee
      Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

      I’m very sorry to hear that, Aidan. I wish you the best of luck in finding new work.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted February 18, 2016 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

        I’ll echo that. Best of luck!


    • Diane G.
      Posted February 19, 2016 at 12:25 am | Permalink

      So sorry to hear that, Aidan!

      My husband is going through the same thing–after 30 years in big Pharma. New PhD’s are so much cheaper…The fact that the new CEO is a hedge fund manager doesn’t help at all.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted February 20, 2016 at 8:37 am | Permalink

        Well, it’s a bitch, that’s for sure. Though things may be simplified by the UK Govt (note : count the letters!) starting the procedure for the Brexit referendum, which may mean it’s time to leave the country too.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted February 19, 2016 at 5:48 am | Permalink

      That’s tough, Aidan. As someone (now retired) who has changed career at least four times, I can only say that I’m sure you have the brains to make a fresh start. I wish you all the best 🙂

    • GBJames
      Posted February 19, 2016 at 7:05 am | Permalink

      That sucks, Aidan. Best of luck in some other industry. Solar maybe? 😉

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted February 20, 2016 at 8:39 am | Permalink

        Solar? In Scotland?
        OIC, it’s a joke.
        OTOH, if Britain votes to leave Europe, then moving to the Med and working solar there might be an option.

        • GBJames
          Posted February 20, 2016 at 10:32 am | Permalink

          I don’t know… It says on my computer that Scotland gets 17+ hours of sunlight around the summer solstice.

          Check this out.

          Solar ain’t that bad, although nothing near as practical as wind power.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted February 20, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink

            Scotland gets 17+ hours of sunlight around the summer solstice.

            … and unavoidably 17+ hours of darkness around the winter solstice.
            But more importantly, there’s around 30 degrees between typical roof pitch angles and the normal to the mean solar altitude, compared to the 10 degrees or less at 42 deg latitude (Corsica, Hokkaido, Oregon, New York) ; this makes for a considerable loss of efficiency, or considerably increased construction costs.
            I looked at the costs and pay-back times several years ago, and decided that it would take 10-15 years to pay back. Since then, the sell back tarriffs have worsened considerably, I’m told. My money would be better off in a pension fund.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted February 20, 2016 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

            “I don’t know… It says on my computer that Scotland gets 17+ hours of sunlight around the summer solstice.”

            That is to say, Scotland or the tops of the clouds where Scotland ought to be…

            Other problem is that summer solstice is when power is least needed. (I’m guessing Scotland is never so warm that aircon is an essential, whereas heating is). So power needs are gonna be greatest in winter, which is when solar is least effective…

            It’s a built-in drawback with solar in temperate or higher latitudes. Solar is best in hot countries, where power is needed for cooling. It became viable in the Cook Islands about 20 years ago (in the tropics, and all mains power was diesel-generated, hence quite expensive), and on the outer islands first since their diesel was shipped in in drums on small boats.


    • Posted February 19, 2016 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      Best of luck, GI-A. My children are in the same boat of the unemployed too.

    • Posted February 19, 2016 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Oh dear, I’m sorry to hear that. Will you look for a new job, or hang it up and take it easy?

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted February 20, 2016 at 8:41 am | Permalink

        Well, the pension won’t kick in until I’m 70, so not much option but to find another job and career. What career is another question.

    • Posted February 19, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      This saddens me also. Good luck with a fresh start! Please share when you find something.
      (Same for Diane’s husband and Smokedpaprika’s children.)

  32. Posted February 18, 2016 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Although I am not rich by any means, I pay a lot of tax to support the public spaces, and yes to help the homeless. I have no problem with sharing these public spaces with the homeless, but I do not think it is an “entitlement” to expect them to behave with some decorum. One time a homeless person, without provocation, hacked up a loogie on my car window after I had stopped to let him cross the street. Frankly, I think city officials are too tolerant of bad conduct by the homeless.

  33. Phil Giordana FCD
    Posted February 19, 2016 at 3:15 am | Permalink

    That’s disgusting.

    I’ve been homeless myself for a while, and anybody could become homeless through no fault of their own.

    What a scumbag!

  34. Posted February 19, 2016 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I fear that we’ve created a generation of narcissists.

  35. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 19, 2016 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Imma signal my meta-virtue by declining to engage in virtue-signaling here. 🙂

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