SF Chronicle: San Francisco's Income Inequality Worse than Rwanda's

The San Francisco Chronicle is whining about income disparity in San Francisco, and guess what country the Chronicle likens San Francisco to?

Rwanda. Really.

The Chronicle uses a standard of measuring income inequality called the Gini Coefficient, which gives an area a score of zero if it fulfills the socialist dram of everyone sharing wealth equally, and a score of 1 of one person has all the wealth. On that scale, San Francisco rated a score of .523, when using figures derived from the American Community Survey, which is a part of the U.S. Census Bureau. Rwanda scored a .508, which meant it has a more balanced distribution of wealth than San Francisco.

The Chronicle is forced to admit that the scores “are to be taken with a grain of salt since social services and charities mean it’s different to be poor in San Francisco than in Rwanda or Guatemala…”.

The Chronicle further acknowledges: “San Francisco has been bleeding families for decades, mostly because of the high cost of living, the high cost of housing, especially with multiple bedrooms, and concerns over the public school system.”

Of course, that’s backwards; in a city where individuals and couples don’t have children and both partners work, the amount of disposable cash means housing can go sky-high and no one cares. According to Human Services Agency: “Just 13.4 percent of the city’s residents are younger than 18, the smallest percentage of any city in the country.”

No kids in San Francisco? Who knew?

But back to the Chronicle‘s moaning. The article quotes the Brookings Institution noting the income gap between San Francisco’s rich and poor is accelerating faster than any other U.S. city. Then the Chronicle starts spewing more data from The Human Services Agency:

For every 1,000 people over age 25 in San Francisco, 7.3 are worth more than $30 million, completely outstripping New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

More households are earning less than $25,000 and more earning more than $100,000. Almost triple the number of households made more than $200,000 a year in 2010 compared to 1990

The middle class has dwindled from 45 percent of the city’s population in 1990 to 34 percent in 2012.

And of course, there must be a racial tinge to all of this data; “The shrinking middle class has meant fewer families with children and fewer African Americans.”

The Chronicle notes: “Many San Francisco families are surviving by living doubled-up with another family in one unit. Among Latinos in San Francisco, 42.4 percent live this way and for Asians, 37.4 percent do. Twenty-five percent of African Americans live doubled-up, and 18 percent of whites do.”

Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of SPUR (an urban planning think tank), sounded the alarm, saying income inequality was “the greatest threat to American democracy.” He claimed income inequality in San Francisco is growing because of poor housing supply, offering the usual litany of socialist solutions, including raising the minimum wage. He confessed the obvious, saying:

I think most people in San Francisco believe in the idea of equal opportunity, believe in the idea of a public realm that’s more European and less American if you will…If we keep going down this path, San Francisco might still be beautiful, and it might still be walkable and might still be loved all over the world. But it will no longer be the cradle of progressivism in America. It will no longer be a place that is dynamic culturally.

Andrew Russo, the co-founder and director of the San Francisco Family Support Network, unwittingly cut right to the heart of the matter when he said, “A city without families is a city without vibrancy and life. A city without children seems like a weird, dystopian universe.”

Photo: file