Outside the Circle

Cindy Milstein

Because Capitalism


Recently, I randomly got into a 15-minute conversation with a talkative building maintenance guy in San Francisco’s Mission. He lives deep in the East Bay.

“Who can be here when houses go for $1.5 million and up, and small 1-bedroom apartments are $4,000. My garage is bigger.”

He talked about how all the rich people live in boxes. “They shut themselves in at night, alone. They don’t even recognize their neighbor’s dog, because they don’t know their neighbor.”

My new acquaintance explained how he’s worked for lots of wealthy developers who only care for how they can maximize profit, and mentioned how several times he’d tried to get them to delay construction, “to let the 75-year-old stay in their house. But they kick them out. They live in a bubble, and toss people out like garbage.”

He says he knows lots of firefighters and teachers, cops and health care workers. “They all had to leave SF. They live 3 hours away, in the East and South Bay, which aren’t cheap either anymore. What’s going to happen, for instance, if there’s an earthquake in San Francisco? Who’s left who could be of any help or respond fast?”

He shook his head in dismay, “This isn’t life anymore. It’s hardly existence.


*   *   *

Another man, whose face is well known, and who doesn’t think twice about being able to stay put in his exclusive enclave of an existence in the Mission (and many other places), offers a far different morality tale.

First he helps, in a not-insignificant way, to kill off health and life in San Francisco, and displace most health care workers from their homes and city, so that their commutes, if they choose to struggle on in the Bay, become a second job because they now live so far away.

Then he donates a minuscule, for him, “gift” (aka tax write-off) of millions of dollars to San Francisco General Hospital.

Now said hospital will soon bear his name, in part as lure for other multibillionaire high-tech settler-colonialists to contribute more funds so they can maybe get a wing named after themselves.

Meanwhile, the hospital struggles financially because of competition due to Obama care and fancy private care options, and lack of its longtime base of patients, mostly evicted from San Francisco, too.


*   *   *

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(Photo by Cindy Milstein, barely hanging-on remnants in SF of the art of resistance, November 2015.)



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This entry was posted on December 6, 2015 by in Dispatches from Gentrifying San Francisco.
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