Ask progressives what they think is the nation’s most-progressive city, and many are likely to mention San Francisco. Not coincidentally, the progressive SF Weekly argues that San Francisco is also the nation’s worst-managed city.
Welcome to San Francisco, where per capita budgets climb halfway to the stars.
The city spends more than $8,000 per capita, compared with less than $7,200 by New York and less than $3,000 by Philadelphia and Denver. The Weekly suggests that most of the difference is waste. (In San Francisco’s defense, San Francisco is a combined city-county government and its budget includes a lot of services, such as public transit, not included in Philadelphia or Denver budgets.)
Still, “even other liberal places wouldn’t put up with the degree of dysfunction they have in San Francisco,” says faithful Antiplanner ally Joel Kotkin. “In Houston” — which both Kotkin and the Antiplanner admire — “I assume you’d get shot” if you did so poorly.
There are a lot of problems with the city, but one of the biggest is public employees unions. Unions were probably important in providing workers with a balance against large corporations. But the potential corruption of unions with the dysfunction of government is a recipe for disaster.