1%er Writes Open Letter To Mayor About How He Has To See Poor People

Yes, this is for real

so happy to be so self-involved

Remember Spike Jonze’s soft-focus, near-future, techno-romance Her, wherein a hipster with a low-level writing job can somehow afford a huge, gorgeous loft full of gadgets and games in a blandly affluent and homogenous Los Angeles? It’s basically the opposite of Blade Runner. Some of us saw it and thought, “Man, where are the minorities in this city? Why is everyone left white and rich?”

The look of the film was as intentional, in its way, as Blade Runner’s. Her’s production designer was quoted as saying, “‘The future LA is convenient, comfortable, and bespoke. We cleaned up the city — we took away things that weren’t of interest.’” The actual, no-fooling inspiration for this utopia? Jamba Juice. “‘It’s convenient, comfortable, healthy, and available. That’s the world we wanted to make,’ says Barrett.”

One person who seems to think this is dreamy, and who would like to order a West Coast city of his own to the same Jamba Juice-type specifications, please, is San Francisco resident Justin Keller. Keller has written an open letter to his city’s mayor, begging him to do something about SF’s rampant poverty and homelessness — because it inconveniences him.

I am writing today, to voice my concern and outrage over the increasing homeless and drug problem that the city is faced with. I’ve been living in SF for over three years, and without a doubt it is the worst it has ever been. Every day, on my way to, and from work, I see people sprawled across the sidewalk, tent cities, human feces, and the faces of addiction. …
I know people are frustrated about gentrification happening in the city, but the reality is, we live in a free market society. The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day.


Not “they shouldn’t have to experience pain, struggle, and despair.” He just shouldn’t have to SEE it. Not “shouldn’t a rich city be able to do more to help its most vulnerable?” Just get them out of his sight.

Hannah Brooks Olsen went on a lovely long Twitter rant about this bit of tone-deaf cruelty that I encourage you to read. One excerpt:

She also linked to another kinder, gentler Justin Keller who has now written an open letter of his own to the SF resident who shares his name.

It’s not just about you. When I first moved here I had a difficult time with the homeless situation too. Your perspective seems to be, “I don’t deserve to deal with this.” A more compassionate and broadened perspective would be, “no one deserves to deal with this.” Especially the poor souls that sleep in the dirt and cold every night– I promise you they don’t want to be there even more than you don’t want them to be there.

Here’s Jim Gavin, too, who is fluorescent with rage:

Even though the transformation of San Francisco into a soulless tech bedroom community is basically complete, and the city government has done everything in their power to make things comfortable for people like you, while bleeding the city of its working class and exiling them further and further away into exurban shanty towns, and even though the mysterious workings of history have allowed vast legions of mediocre white dudes to make a cushy living by pushing buttons and using words like ‘functionality’….even though all these things are working in your favor, it is still not enough, because occasionally you are forced to gaze upon a drug addled bum, a loser who has failed to achieve, whereupon, through an astounding combination of narcissism and self-pity, you somehow come to the conclusion that YOU ARE THE VICTIM in all of this, and you are the one who requires help and protection.

Readable in full here:

Take some time to read the comments, too. There are real stories there from people who were lucky once and who now, in the absence of luck, must rely on empathy.

Like Gavin, what bothers me most, perhaps, is that Keller thinks wealth entitles him to more than the privilege of living richly and well in one of the most beautiful cities on earth. He thinks the city itself should be reshaped in his image. Because he’s been there for three whole years and is making good money, he shouldn’t have to share San Francisco — a CITY, mind you, not a gated community or a country club, but what is, or at least once was, a diverse and densely populated urban center — with the less fortunate.

For that, my friend, you don’t write the mayor. You make a movie.