Week One

The author

I took this gig a week ago---multiple posts a week, basically a news-based version of what I did for the SFBG in the 90's. It's already kicking my ass, as the old "PISSED" columns were once a week and based in music. This is way tougher and way more gratifying. Thanks.

But I have to admit that, as much as I love doing this gig, the last 7 days have brought back to me one of the most vexing and confounding quandaries I have ever pondered, one that's baffled me for the last 30 years or so. One that is as bizarre as any aspect of human nature or psychology is anywhere, one that makes less sense than a Soundgarden lyric: Why on God's green earth do people with barely a pot to piss in go to war with the same ferocity as the Navy Seals went after Bin Laden on behalf of their actual enemies, the wealthy?

In every blog post, be they Redmond's, mine, Steve's--whomever's--the valiant members of the 82nd Chairborne Divison swing into battle on behalf of San Francisco's--or the world's--landed gentry. And always up against (and with corresponding vitriol) people that are pretty much exactly like them. The dispossessed are generally screwed by the powerful. Their allegiance should be to Occupy or even to moderate mainstream pols, but instead goes to the folks whose machinations lead to tax breaks and bailouts and favors for "the private sector" or directly fuck them over even worse by pricing them out of SF's whopping 49 square miles and leading to exhorbitant rents or mortgages and as such, exodus to the wilds of Stockton, Modesto or Lodi.

You'd think that something as benign as rent control would have the full thumbs up from people who really don't want to have to pull up stakes when their neighborhoods become the Pacific's Manhattan. Or that the idea that the City make deals with the Facebook/Twitters of the world that means that the city's tax base is strained rather than expanded would enrage them. But a cursory scan of these pages reveal that the commenter's target for ire isn't that whose boot is aimed straight at their asses, but at the handful of people bucking a trend that began in the early 80's--people that point out (and mildly at that) that quality of living in SF is endangered when the City devolves into a playpen for rich software developers that don't want to pay for the City's perks. Actually, the inchoate rage is aimed at anyone that suggests that "all it takes is pulling oneself up by the bootstraps/poor people are lazy" is one of the most painfully naive worldviews in history.

Even more incredible is the reflexive defense of the non-renewable energy industry and their toxic twin (sorry Steve/Joe), the insurance business. As if by divine right and a Mt. Sinai-esque proclamation from Jehovah himself, these allegedly private (but completely government dependent entities) businesses may as well graze on the banks of the Ganges according to the website's keyboard commandos, because these people "create wealth" and "give people good jobs". Neither of those are true--the plutocrats of today remove wealth and as far as a job being a gift, if the gift in question tends to be a mind numbing, stress laden drag, where's the return window? Wealth creation comes from "velocity of money" and a job is a contract fulfillment by a party that agrees to do something for money that the money bearer doesn't wanna do. 

 But anything--anything that remotely resembles a rebuke aimed at today's version of Jay Gould--gets an immediate slapdown from people whose endless online activity suggest marginal employment at best and a free ride from family or government at worst. The sheer silliness of this can never be understated, much like a wage earner hating a labor union and siding with the same boss that keeps their pay low, hours long and blood pressure astronomical from fear--but as anyone with a grasp of history recognizes, the terrified serf or Tory is always easy prey from a feudal lord or aristocrat. The demon you know beats the one you don't. And so it goes.

My boss ain't my friend. He or she is my boss. Kissing up to them isn't gonna pry love, respect or (most importantly) cash out of them--me defending their avarice or skeeviness isn't gonna make them regard me as an ally, but as a sucker. Doesn't seem right that all that affection that you bestow upon them is never reciprocated, but as the great poet D Byrne said in 1980, "same as it ever was".

Love, Johnny.










You said that with such breezy, casual conviction that I can only think that you assumed we would all just nod sagely and agree.

Except that it's nonsense. If you and I sepdna ll day giving each other $20, does that make us wealthier and, if so, what wealth has been created.

So, OK, I cut your hair and you give me $20. Then I mow your lawn and you give me the $20 back. The official stats show that the national GDP has increased by $40. And the IRS would want a piece of both transactions. So we'd both actually have been wealthier if you'd cut your own hair and I'd mown my own lawn.

Moving money around quickly increases the frictional costs of taxation, which of course is why Apple quite legally leave the money where it is.

Meanwhile, if you wonder why so many here support corporations over, say, losers and activists, it's because they give us a job and you do not. And, moreover, thanks to IRA's and mutual funds, we are all capitalists now.

The world has changed since the 1990's that you cited, yet it appears that you have not.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 11:52 am

Because they laid off writers last year claiming that they couldn't afford to keep them.

And since then the paper has become even skinnier as the last hooker in town migrated her ad to the internet.

Or are you working just for beers in which case you have displaced people who had real jobs there (insofar as writing for SFBG is a "real job").

Posted by anon on May. 22, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

baseball cap worn backwards in that achingly hip way?

You'll fit right in there, I feel sure.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

Not a single response to the query.

Why do you suck up to your adversaries?


Posted by JohnnyW on May. 22, 2013 @ 12:37 pm


I just thought it was a whiney rant.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

I work with all kinds of people and I'LL tell you the rank and file know they're getting rippied off. This thing about how the working class supports the status quo is fabrication, propaganda.

Working people keep their feelings to themselves for many reasons: fear, apathy, cynicism are big ones.

Posted by pete moss on May. 24, 2013 @ 9:54 am

Who cares how much this guy gets paid or what he looks like--why do you ass-kissers think the yuppies appreciate you? He looks good to me!

Posted by Scott on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

last year. So if this guy is just doing it to get his jollies off then he has deprived someone of their job.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

Who cares how much this guy gets paid or what he looks like--why do you ass-kissers think the yuppies appreciate you? I think he looks good!

Posted by Scott on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

I sure wish I knew why people suck up to their adversaries. Good question, indeed. I know one thing, some folks don't like the truth laid out like that. lol.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

you realize that 'rich' people pay taxes that help maintain the city's infrastructure, right?

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

Every year, wealthy taxpayers in this state pay tens of billions less in income
taxes than they legally owe. Nationally, the tax gap is estimated to be $450 billion. God knows how much of a loss the city of SF takes each year due to tax evasion, but you can bet it's substantial. Does Twitter ring a bell?

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

have the most opportunities to save taxes?

That's a truly stunning observation.

Posted by anon on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:04 pm

You mean save ON taxes, don't you? Yeah, and they're taking it to the bank, or possibly Bermuda, while the city drowns in debts unpaid.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

pays a million a year in taxes can save more thru legal avoidance than someone who pays $100 a year in taxes.

Gee, who'd have thought it?

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

No, my argument is that they're tax absconders who are cheating the public -- that is, those of us who do pay taxes -- who must make up the shortfall in revenue in order to keep the city running. These wealthy tax cheats are the biggest freeloaders and lowlifes who belong behind bars. Got it now, genius?

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2013 @ 11:56 am

I'm not sure exactly which "absconders" you are talking about but tax avoidance is perfectly legal. Tax evasion is not.

I agree with you but only insofar as "absconding". means illegal tax evasion. As long as the rules made by Congress are followed, then that's fine with me.

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

like the Twitter tax break. Yes, a reasonable argument can be made that a City should not give a wealthy corporation a tax break in order to move into a blighted part of the City. But another opposite, reasonable argument can be made that the net benefit to the City of giving the tax break outweighs the negatives that come along with it.

reasonable minds can differ as to whether rent control hurts rental prices in a City or not.

do some people on these thread's just automatically out there to disagree with SFBG, no matter what? sure seems that way. But to just ignore out of hand the arguments of people you disagree with is weak sauce. heaven forbid you learn something or see something in a way you hadn't thought of before.

p.s. not every body who is wealthy is an "enemy"

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

rather than actually thinking about issues.

But then who else would SFBG hire? And equally, who else would agree to write for such a partisan organ?

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:46 pm

Pro neo-liberal, laissez fair apologist for your wealthy corporate masters. You're quite the ass-kisser.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:33 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

get rid of rent control, rents come down

Posted by basta on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

after the voters finalized realized the truth of what you said.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

eliminated rent control in Boston. Rents rose, evictions rose, homelessness increased, your bullshit Cato Institute study notwithstanding.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

Not all rents went up. controlled rents went up - market rents went DOWN.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

It can't be denied San Francisco started to become expensive right when rent control was instituted. If SF did not have rent control it would still be an affordable city today.

Note that Boston retains more of its people than the big California cities do, those with lower incomes don't get pushed out due to rent control.

Posted by basta on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:55 pm

about ten times the level that they were then.

It's failed.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

"82nd Chairborne Division" Ha! Too funny but spot on. The answer to your question is simple. The trolls are getting paid by downtown corporate interests to spin, spin, spin. True, they don't have a pot to piss in, but every last chairborne ass-troll on this site is so hard up for money that they're eager and willing to debase themselves. They really don't mind getting down on their knees just to kiss some rich butt. It's sad and humilating to watch, but what else can they do? They obviously have nothing going for them whcih is why they spend all their time (24/7) trolling this site.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

threat to vested, corporate interests that they would spend money on posting comments here? Even though there is no evidence that more than about 20 people read it?

That's really a hilarious speculation. I can only speak for myself but I post here simply because this is the easiest place I know to win every debate I engage.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

If SFBG doesn't pose a threat to vested interests, why do you bother posting here? Oh, and sorry to burst your bubble, Walter Mitty, but you're not winning any debates. Perhaps in your delusional fantasy world. But why is it that you can't even come up with a single, compelling argument, just your usual array of obnoxious put downs? Oh, but I'm sure you imagine that you're King around here, little ass-hat. Sad that nobody has noticed besides yourself.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:52 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

Was there some news in your tantrum? Also, you kind of look like the killer in Silence of the Lambs.

Posted by Chromefields on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

Is it me or does he look like he's never had a real job in his life?

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

it is not you. He has never held a job in his life as near as I can tell.

Posted by Guest on May. 26, 2013 @ 9:55 am

Your every post is a tantrum against the left. And you not only look like the killer in Silence of the Lambs, you've got his stutter down pat!

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 1:53 pm
Posted by anon on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

You might learn the difference if you had actually bothered to read Wendell's piece.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:29 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

No one could ever accuse you of being whiney or negative. Your ugly rants where you beat up on BG columnists are just the type of comment we all love to read.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 2:57 pm

just keeping it real here.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

I know you are, but what am I. Actually, I've been told that I look like a young Ernest Borgnine.

Posted by Chromefields on May. 23, 2013 @ 6:36 am

Two reasons I can think of:

1) America's have-nots (or don't-have-a-lots) have always been seduced by endless talk about the American dream into thinking they too might have it all. So when they hear attacks on the 1 one per cent, they don't think, "Fuckin' A, put the screws on Donald Trump." They think, "Well, if I were as rich as Donald Trump, I wouldn't want the screws put on me. And I may be as rich as Donald Trump one day, because I just read that in a fortune cookie somewhere."

2) Politicians who want to protect the status quo in this country have a long tradition of deflecting popular anger at the rich by giving them another enemy to resent instead. The classic version in the Deep South was to keep poor whites docile about economic inequality by inciting them to see uppity black people as the real threat to what little standing they had. Today, the menu has gotten more varied -- those uppity gays who want special rights, those imaginary Muslims who want to impose Sharia law in the USA, those diabolical scientists pretending global warming exists just so they can take away your gas station. But it works every time.

And PS, great that you've got this gig. Really enjoying it even if it does wipe you out.

Posted by Tom Carson on May. 22, 2013 @ 3:07 pm

Johnny worked for the SFBG in the 1990s?

That was just after Herr Bruce broke the SFBG labor union.

I guesses dat Johnny was a skab back then. He fits in now though.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

SFBG wanted a expert on local politics and so they turned to . . .

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 4:06 pm

None of the blog posts have been about local issues. National politics, drug laws, the Doors, atheism--not San Francisco based.

"Economic sycophancy" or "trying to understand the American Tory" are national/universal.

You really try to pat yourself on the back as a debate whiz?




Posted by JohnnyW on May. 22, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

That makes a lot of sense.

You maybe should not have been so quick to quit that waiting tables gig.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 4:35 pm

Guardian not a union shop nor was there any attempt to organize in my time there. Never crossed a picket line. Look up "scab".

As far as "he looks like he's never had a real job", I cannot imagine a greater compliment. When JFK was campaigning in West Virginia in 1960, he was buttonholed by a working person, perhaps a miner who said "I hear you've never worked a day in your life--well, you haven't missed anything".

Other than Tom Carson, no one else dares answer the simple query--why the boisterous defense of an economic class so far above your heads, you can't even see them anymore.

Well, back to not working in my raggedy assed satori--you people are FUN! 

Posted by JohnnyW on May. 22, 2013 @ 4:04 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

Take iron.

It works for anemia.



Posted by JohnnyW on May. 22, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

But don't look a share over 30 years older.

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

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