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Many people think of San Francisco as an ultra-liberal nanny town.

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As he knows, people stepping over dead people does happen in San Francisco. Baghdad by the Bay is living with two intractable problems — a large homeless population and bands of street people who turn parts of this shining city into a menacing and grimy environment.


To the contrary, walk down Market Street and you see men openly flashing cash and dealing drugs. You see street people defecating in public. You smell urine. You see used syringes tossed in plain sight and users passed out in public.

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City Hall is hobbled by good San francisco libertarian Elected officials have been shy to advocate for community standards lest advocates accuse them of waging a war on the poor. The result is a city that fails both the homeless and its middle class. So I phoned a libertarian-leaning think tank, the Independent Institute in Oakland. City Hall means well and does help a lot of people, but this approach often fails the chronically homeless. As Theroux noted, the progressive view is to let self-destructive people do whatever they want, and that approach helps no one.

Used syringes are a public health hazard — yet City Hall subsidizes needle access programs that do not require users to bring in used needles in exchange for clean syringes. San Francisco has a of Community Benefit Districtsfunded by local merchants, who hire cleanup crews and law enforcement.

San francisco: the ultimate libertarian city

Some districts hire regular police officers to patrol their communities. Theroux also sees a role for the Guardian Angels, a volunteer safety patrol group, and Neighborhood Watch groups. Homeless czar Dodge responded that the city has small homes — residential hotel rooms. OK, but there are other tiny homes.

Sometimes safety trumps ideology. Even if you think the federal War on Drugs is misguided, as I do, there is a role for local law enforcement when dealers brazenly sell drugs and users shoot up on Market Street.

Proposition 47the ballot measure that reduced criminal penalties for drug offenses, has made drug possession an infraction.

Use drugs, get a ticket. Nonetheless, San Francisco Police Lt. Mike Nevin told me, drug dealing remains a felony.

Arrest them. Hard-core libertarians believe that private charities can help those in need better than governments can, in part because coercive government programs often subsidize the wrong behavior.

Murphy stressed that it is wrong to equate free-market conservatism with sink-or-swim social Darwinism. Debra J. Saunders is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist.

: dsaunders sfchronicle. Mary Theroux, vice president of the Independent Institute, a libertarian think tank in Oakland, offered this in an :.

Basically, the problems stem from the philosophical mind-set of San Francisco, which has to decide what kind of a community and society it wishes. If a civil society, then it is predicated on a view of all people as equal: We respect every individual as capable and deserving honor and respect, and in turn expect the same of them.

Would I want people to extend a hand to help me get back on my own two feet, or dismiss my condition with handouts of sandwiches and life on the street, mired in increasing hopelessness? Community is created and sustained by individuals working together.

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