This article talks about city leaders in SF worried about black flight and San-Fran turning into an upper-middle-class city. Got news for ’em: it’s too late. MUCH too late. And the idea of “affordable housing” in San Francisco, is a relatively meaningless buzzword.
I have to admit — I’m bitter about my time in San-Fran. It’s a gorgeous if somewhat provincial city with great potential, completely squandered by Chicago-style political elites. I used to rant bloody murder about it, while my brother — who at the time was more insulated from it, and is now much more knowledgeable — used to just shake his head at me. Well, same thing happens here in Collin County, now the richest county in the country.
As the commentary upon SF’s minimum-wage notes in the artice, this isn’t really about race, just like half the debates of feminism have nothing to do with sex or gender. This is an issue of class.
San Francisco and Collin County are both wall-to-wall upper-middle class, and, to be blunt, it’s both economically irrational, and socially pointless, for middle class people to try to live in an upper-middle-class environment. The upper middle class has completely different values which are centered around an obsession with material success. Often this comes with complete bifurcation of intellectual life, from a minority living a life of deeply-absorbed cultural richness and rigor, directly to a majority living in an utter vapidity of shopping — ask any DFW native, and they’ll confirm the legitimacy of the “Plano Girl” stereotype, flush with Daddy’s money and completely lacking in any disturbing ideas or actual thoughts. The middle class tends towards middle-brow pursuits, with a little lowbrow (football) and a little highbrow (occasional museum trips) thrown in for flavoring. The Upper Mids have a sprinkle of “highbrow” combined with an unusually large swath of “Shoppingbrow.”
The Upper Mids worry about “playdates.” They also believe that it’s very important for children to have playdates with the right children. No, really, this is not a hallucination, but a regularly-repeated idea, its speakers oblivious that such a notion might come just laden with class assumptions. Sometimes it’s a pre-occupation with school districts providing a thinly-disguised veneer for racial and cultural bigotry — huge chunks of North Dallas and Plano suburb wouldn’t exist except for openly racist whites wanting to have nothing to do with either Mexicans or Blacks. But more often, it’s a simple exclusionary vision, which wishes to network for success, and wishes nothing to do with that vast stream of humanity not preoccupied with “making it” as measured in starkly financial terms… most of Plano isn’t desperate about education because they want deeply cultured children, for example. They want education so their kids will be afford to shop at the same boutique stores they do.
This, while mentally rather straitjacketed, isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. But why would anyone making minimum wage, or even a normal middle-class wage, want to live in such an environment, with house after house carefully designed to enable one to completely avoid one’s neighbors? When said neighbors make it perfectly apparent that their decisions to either interact with you, or not, has more to do with your networking prospects than your character?
Generally speaking, San Fran and Plano share a basic cultural assumption about wealth, which is only dishonored in the breach for public consumption. And that is the assumption that if you’ve got it, you’re a better person than if you don’t. This, in return, tends to encourage a pretty Marxist counter-response. More obvious in San Francisco, but still evident all over Dallas once you adjust for the greater physical distances involved. You can’t miss the disease in San Francisco, because it’s the size of a postage stamp, but Dallas is no stranger to the infection. Dallas is a city obsessed with wealth and social class conflicts: if you doubt me, crack a copy of “D” magazine, the area’s Magazine For The UpperMid, complete with all its accoutrements: bad hairstyles, pointlessly over-priced clothes, and smiles which show off rows of beautifully-sculped teeth, but which somehow never reach the eyes, to the professiona matchmakers who promise that even the most completely boring stuffed suit can find an Exciting, Socio-Economically-Compatible Partner for Romance. You don’t need to be an Upper Mid to enjoy nice things. Last night, little old me kicked back in a perfectly average back yard while drinking some of the world’s best brandy, for example. But you do need to be an Upper Mid to define “nice things” the way that those who read “D” do.
That there might be any other “D(allas)” worth knowing, is not an idea you’ll see represented in those pages. More’s the pity, because there are some Mom’n’Pops out there putting out food every bit as good as what the Beautiful People are eating. And it should come as no surprise that those living a “working class” or “middle class” lifestyle want nothing to do with it, and will not be enticed back with insulting sugar-plum visions of “affordable housing.”