Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How to Eliminate Alcoholics in San Francisco

Well, maybe not eliminate alcoholics - that would empty San Francisco - but reduce the number of Tenderloin alcoholics, primarily the homeless ones. They're the ones that hit San Francisco's city budget hard. The more affluent ones are budget positives - we don't want to mess with them.

In fact we encourage them to drink more, live it up - at least up to the point their livers can take.

One of my favorite columnists is C. W. Nevius of the San Francisco Chronicle. A few months ago he had some great columns about homelessness in San Francisco which placed most of the blame for homelessness on the homeless. And their wild-eyed enablers of every liberal stripe except a practical one.

That’s earth shattering (a description not in favor in San Francisco) for a San Francisco columnist to see what is real, instead of what political correctness dictates.

However, CW blew it on the proliferation of liquor stores where alcoholics live. The question that immediately sprung forth in my head was: Do alcoholics live by liquor stores, or do liquor stores locate where people want to buy alcohol.?

If San Francisco liquor stores were located at least 500 feet apart, would there be fewer alcoholics in San Francisco? 1,000 feet?

No, although the extra walking would make them healthier alcoholics.

If San Francisco reduced its number of liquor stores by 26 percent, as Oakland has, would there be fewer alcoholics in San Francisco?

Hint: There aren’t fewer in Oakland.

As Jimmy Shamiel, vice-president of the Arab American Grocers noted, “…crime hasn’t gone down in Oakland (Strong Ox Note: it’s gone up). So maybe we need to address the issues rather than scapegoat small businessmen.”

One thing that would happen is that while a bunch of liquor store owners would lose their businesses, the ones left would be much more profitable.

None of the “creative approaches” taken by other cities mentioned in CW’s article seemed to have the slightest chance of reducing alcoholism in San Francisco, or in the other cities either. They might reduce the number of stores, increase fees per store while decreasing total fee revenue by reducing the number of stores, create more vacant store space in already economically depressed areas, and drive some businesses and jobs away.

But reduce alcoholism in San Francisco?

Cutting the number of liquor stores would be like Prohibition without any prohibitions.

Other thoughts:

Combating alcoholism by reducing the number of liquor stores reminds me of the idiocy of rent control. Rent control laws result in fewer rental units being built, in existing units being converted to condominiums, and rental rates going sky high because an ever increasing demand is facing an ever shrinking supply.

One of Alice’s old boyfriends, who owns several rental units in San Francisco, loves rent control, because it restricts and even eliminates competition. It’s easy for him to get very high rents for his units, and to keep raising his rents, as long as he makes sure to rent only to younger, mobile tenants. And to be very vigilant to prevent them from illegally sub-leasing to others.

Rent control is the primary reason that there are no affordable rental units in San Francisco for low-income families.

It’s a landlord’s best friend.

As with most loopy liberal ideas, rent control hurts the ones it was supposed to help, and helps the ones it was supposed to control.

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