San Francisco Values

As someone who actually lived in San Francisco for a little while, I have found the outcry from some over “San Francisco Values” to be somewhat comical.

Of course, I understand that from the Fundamentalist Christian perspective, gay rights is a threat to the fabric of our society – and San Francisco is certainly on the forefront of promoting gay rights. But besides that point, I’ve always scratched my head at what in the world these people are talking about.

I think Mary Kerosky of San Francisco says it very well in today’s Washington Post editorial page:

“President Bush and the Republican Party railed against “San Francisco values” during the recent election campaign. As House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi noted, never before has a president and his party so openly attacked one of the country’s own cities. Now, Congress is going to consider legislation that reflects those San Fracisco values – such reprehensible things as a living wage for everyone, health insurance for all children, and strong environmental conservation programs. These are the kinds of things we suffer with every day here.”

From my personal experience, San Francisco is one of those remarkable places that espouses that liberal sentiment found in our Declaration of Indpendence: equality for all, regardless of sex, income level, race or sexual orientation. Its spirit of tolerance for others is something that should be extolled as an example to the rest of our nation.

I have yet to understand how tolerance can be mocked and ridiculed, but I guess I have a lot to learn about how wedge-issue politics is really good for our country in the long-run. A friend of mine told me recently (before the election) that the problem with “Coastal Elites” is that they mock the sensibilities of “Joe Sixpack” in Middle America. I wonder if it’s just the opposite.

The efforts of some politicians to scare Joe into voting for them with the scarecrow of San Francisco apparently doesn’t work anymore . . .

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14 Responses to “San Francisco Values”

  1. Logipundit Says:

    You may be right about the scare tactics. I just don’t know because I’m not that dumb. But when I think of Nancy Pelosi’s “San Francisco values”, the first things that come to mind are:

    * a living wage for everyone–dictated by the Federal government.
    * health insurance for all children–dictated by the Federal Govenment
    * and strong environmental conservation programs–dictated by the Federal Government (and possibly a bunch of other Governments).

    I don’t think that the Federal Government has the task of dictating , paying for, and administering all of these things.

    That doesn’t mean that the Fed doesn’t play a role, and it certainly doesn’t mean that these things aren’t important, but the role of the Fed is the issue at question, and on that Nancy’s “values” are different than say…I don’t know…mine.

    But Mary’s right about attacking a city. Sort of ridiculous when you think about it.

    Keep scratching your head though. You’ll get through eventually.

  2. Em Says:

    I’m glad I’m Catholic and not a Fundamentalist Christian!

  3. scottie Says:

    Hemati is right in saying that tolerance should be the goal, not the point of divergence.

    Hemati, if you are trying to convince Christian fundamentalists on the need for tolerance, then quote the teachings of Jesus, the architect of tolerance and love.

    The discussion will abrubtly end.

  4. Rip Says:

    I will agree with DC Offline that San Francisco’s spirit of tolerance for all is an exemplary thing…and with Logipundit that their promotion of an activist, over-reaching Federal Govt is an abomination to the spirit of liberty.

    However, thinking of it another way, San Francisco is pretty clear-headed. They desire to spend more taxpayer money and then (by virtue of gay marriage) ensure that their citizens pay less of the taxes required to foot the bill.

  5. JohnnyB Says:

    Ok, a couple of points. First is that there is little about the environmental conservation programs of San Francisco that is compassionate in any true sense of the word. Like most of California they enforce arbitrary zoning laws to prevent the construction of new housing. This artificial scarcity results in higher rent and higher prices for houses. This is great for collecting property taxes as well. California as a state doesn’t want to build any power plants “in their backyard” and prevents their construction. It doesn’t mean they don’t use power, it just means the power comes from Nevada or Arizona. As any electrician can tell you, the longer the extension cord the more energy is expended to get energy to where you need it. Instead of being efficient CA doesn’t want power plants in their backyard or oil wells off their beautiful beaches. This contributes to 1. Higher gasoline prices for us all and 2. Local Brownouts. Real compassionate.

    #2 I don’t think the Democrats ran on a referendum on SF Values. More states passed amendments banning same-sex marriage. The Dems were smart to run centrist candidates, they had a good game plan. They ran pro-gun and a few pro-life candidates. The price was Pelosi has to work with Hoyer instead of Murtha, as LP pointed out. For the Dems Hoyer is great news because it takes away the heat Murtha would bring.

    #3. The Foley scandal doesn’t advance the gay rights agenda one iota. The dems were happy to play that up, but if you listen to some of the more libertine voices on this issue they are perfectly fine with what Foley did, whereas I would be perfectly happy throwing the book at him, if what Scottie’s golfing buddy says is true.

  6. JohnnyB Says:

    Scottie,

    You raise a good point with tolerance. The thing about tolerance is that it doesn’t necessarily equal acceptance. If I am an employer, I should have the right not to pay for a gay man’s “husbands” health insurance if I don’t accept their lifestyle.

    I don’t want to see sodomy laws enforced, I would like to see them all repealed, honestly. But I don’t want the federal gov’t, or my state gov’t, or unelected judges, to force an unwilling populace to accept something they fundamentally disagree with.

    Yes, it is well known that Jesus preached to prostitutes and tax-collectors. He didn’t do so to encourage prostitution and tax-collection, but to convert them to a new way of life.

  7. DC Offline Says:

    I think Johnnie captures the essence of the argument well when he says, “If I am an employer, I should have the right not to pay for a gay man’s “husbands” health insurance if I don’t accept their lifestyle.”

    Statements like that are exactly what make anti-discrimination laws necessary. Many employers felt (and feel) the same way about hiring blacks and women. Yet many conservatives actually will fight for the right to discriminate using statements like the one above.

    To reply to the first post:
    1. If we do not lobby for a living wage for every worker, we basically are arguing for wages that are not enought to live on.
    2. If we do not mandate health insurance for all children (and I believe all people), we are forcing those same children into our emergency rooms where they cannot be turned away.
    3. If we do not mandate environmental conservation, we will not have a planet to raise our grandchildren on.

    All three of these results end up costing our society more in the long run than the programs offerred to effect these changes. It’s a classic case of pay me now, or pay me later.

    All three of these themes are demonstrably good for society as a whole and result in greater cost management than the fragmented system we have now. I’m sure my MBA readers on this page can comment better than I on the “economies of scale” that could be achieved with concerted effort.

  8. Em Says:

    Tolerance is fine and dandy and those that embrace the “oppressed” can easily claim it. Should tolerance be a law? In the spirit of Christmas, humbug! Personally I think “tolerance is a term overused by the “oppressed”. I put that in quotes, because whose to say who is oppressed. Arguably, it’s different in different places. I would say that Christians are repressed in many parts of California. Where is the tolerance for them there?

    Scotty, don’t think I can use Jesus as an example of tolerance in SanFransisco. Any other suggestions?

  9. DC Offline Says:

    Isn’t Jesus one of those who did embrace the oppressed?

    Just take a minute and look at some of these quotes taken from this comment page:


    They desire to spend more taxpayer money and then (by virtue of gay marriage) ensure that their citizens pay less of the taxes required to foot the bill.

    The thing about tolerance is that it doesn’t necessarily equal acceptance. If I am an employer, I should have the right not to pay for a gay man’s “husbands” health insurance if I don’t accept their lifestyle.

    I don’t want the federal gov’t, or my state gov’t, or unelected judges, to force an unwilling populace to accept something they fundamentally disagree with.

    Jesus preached to prostitutes and tax-collectors. He didn’t do so to encourage prostitution and tax-collection, but to convert them to a new way of life.

    Should tolerance be a law? In the spirit of Christmas, humbug! Personally I think “tolerance is a term overused by the “oppressed”.

    I know debate can get heated and things can be said in an over the top way (witness my latest post on Penguins), but I think an interesting topic of discussion on here would be the following:

    Is equality for everyone a liberal or conservative tenet?

    The founders of this country fled their homelands because of the very thing Emily brought up in their post: religious discrimination (and even persecution!). Isn’t it ironic that we who espouse the Cross would take up arms against others in the same fashion?

    People (of all political stripes) in this country have been guilty of many of the following: discrimination against blacks, discrimination against women, discrimination against Catholics, discrimination against gays, discrimination against unwed couples, discrimination against children born out of wedlock, discrimination against Irish, discrimination against Jews, discrimination against . . . I’m getting tired here.

    You would think that each of us would do our best to purge this type of attitude from our lives and our political discourse, lest our particular subcategory fall out of favor in the future – and we find that we have perpetuated a system that would then allow the “persecution” to fall upon us.

  10. Em Says:

    All politicians believe in equality; they just disagree with the route to ge there.

  11. Rip Says:

    To reply to DCOffline’s list of replies….

    #1 A “living” wage is in reality a government-forced wage that is higher than the market-determined wage which pushes those whose labor is worth less (from the market’s perspective) than the “living” wage out of the labor market (read: unemployment). It also leads to employers pursuing cheaper labor elsewhere (read: outsourcing). Lastly, for items for which outsourcing is not possible (such as hotels), it leads to an increase in prices. In no cases does a “living” wage magically make everything better. For a primer on this matter, take a look at the following: http://www.lewrockwell.com/
    sennholz/sennholz11.html

    #2 The “ER” rationale for universal coverage is unsubstantiated. The following link details a recent study showing that “uninsured” does not always equal ER:
    http://www.hschange.com/CONTENT/861/

    #3 Regarding conservation, when government caps the use of energy government controls the economy. The negative effects of this on everyone’s life cannot be overstated. Through all that I have read regarding the state of the environment, nothing I’ve seen has warranted such a drastic measure. Please point me in the right direction if you believe otherwise.

    Also, your most recent post referenced an excerpt of my post and followed it with this remark:

    “You would think that each of us would do our best to purge this type of attitude from our lives and our political discourse, lest our particular subcategory fall out of favor in the future”

    My comment was meant to reflect the fact that all legislation has economic implications which are usually advantageous to the related constituency (of which gay marriage and the associated tax-related effects are no exception). To quote and comment upon it in the manner you chose is to place it in an entirely different context. Let’s not ignore that my post began as follows: “I will agree with DC Offline that San Francisco’s spirit of tolerance for all is an exemplary thing”

  12. JohnnyB Says:

    DC, if that is your real name,

    Anti-discrimination laws argument is a straw man. I didn’t say employers should have the right to not hire gays, simply that they shouldn’t get the added benefits of extra health coverage. To be honest I don’t think employers should bear the burden of health coverage, or at least they shouldn’t be mandated by law to do so. By shuffling the costs to employers you hide a lot of the cost, and this is a big source of health insurance inflation. In the end we get back to Rip’s point on not hiring people, or hiring non-citizens, outsourcing, etc. I say the solution is let employers and employees agree on a wage, and let employees seek out a health insurance plan. Employers could afford to pay higher wages without the burden of hidden health insurance costs. Then the market can provide health insurance for whomever needs it and individuals can negotiate or shop for specific health plans, which would result in a drop in the price of coverage.

    Who decides what the employers should do?

    Having the government mandate “equality” is, prima facie, impossible. If you split all the resources of the U.S. and A. equally today, they converge quite quickly to those providing services more beneficial to the market tomorrow. This would be done in the absence of Opus Dei, Pat Robertson, Bill Kristol, or any other bugaboos you guys are so afraid of. Should a doctor, after finishing 10 years of school, and perhaps a 24 hour shift, accept the same pay as his nurse, or a busboy?

    When I hear someone complain about income equality, I really think the problem is envy. I am reminded of the parable of the landowner who agreed upon a wage with workers in the morning, then put some men standing idle in the afternoon to work for the same wage. When the guys who showed up to work complained that they should get more money, the landowner said,

    “Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give this last man the same as to you.

    Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things?”

    Let employers do what they wish with their own things, I say.

  13. DC Offline Says:

    I’m the last man to argue for wage equality – so I agree with you.

    I think when equality is talked about in this country, the conversation tends to trend toward equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome – which as a capitalist, I agree with 100%.

    It is this equality of opportunity that is the problem. I doubt we will ever have a society where every child will have the same opportunity as the next – for example: obviously children from wealthier families have a “leg up” on other children.

    But to the extent we can remove such roadblocks as race, sex and sexual orientation from the mix – I think, obviously the better.

    Now, in response to your health insurance idea: without question, if people were forced to pay for 100% of their monthly health premiums, we would see an even greater number of people added to the rolls of the “uninsured”, thus reducing the number of people getting preventative care and increasing the number getting reactive care. It is precisely this ratio of preventative to reactive care that drives up the cost of health insurance, since hospitals cannot withhold treatment and are forced to recoup those expenses by billing those of us that HAVE insurance more money for the same treatments.

    Just look at your car insurance. The government mandates (legally requires) every driver to carry a minimum of liability insurance on his vehicle. Yet, we still have to pay for an “uninsured motorist” rider on our policies for those rare cases of people who flout the law. Imagine if car insurance was NOT mandatory – how high would the cost of this “uninsured motorist” rider be? Actuarially the cost would have to be higher, because a greater number of people would fall into the “uninsured motorist” category.

    This is exactly what is happening with health care in this country.

    I like what Mitt Romney has done in Massachussetts as a first step in the right direction.

  14. Em Says:

    I wonder what San Franciscans would say about the tolerance in Iran:

    http://pajamasmedia.com/2006/11/to_be_gay_under_the_mullahs.php


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