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The Barbarians are at the Gate — Let's Give Them Puppies!

As Harry Stein quipped over a decade ago, one of the moments when he "Accidentally Joined the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy (and Found Inner Peace)," was when "Someone's going on about how fantastic San Francisco is, and it suddenly hits you that's one place on earth you never want to live." Of course, given that the city perennially ranks last in terms of families, that's now a bipartisan consensus.

So much of what's wrong with the city is inadvertently summed up in an article in the Sacramento Bee, titled "SF to unleash puppies-for-panhandlers program." What could possibly go wrong?

San Francisco hopes a cold nose and a warm heart will help end the problem of panhandling.

In what could be the first program of its kind in the nation, the city beginning in August will offer panhandlers up to $75 a week to stop begging and foster puppies from the city animal shelter until the pups are ready for adoption.

The pilot program, called Wonderful Opportunities for Occupants and Fidos, or WOOF, is intended to meet panhandlers' need for income while helping more animals avoid being euthanized.

"You can make it difficult for people to panhandle, but ultimately they're just going to go do it somewhere else," Bevan Dufty, the mayor's point person on homelessness, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Why not try to meet their needs for income in a way that helps the city and its animals?"

Yes, you can make it difficult for people to panhandle -- and if you do make it sufficiently difficult for them, they'll beg somewhere else -- outside of your city. And that way, you'll have less headlines such as this: "Aggressive Panhandlers Blamed for San Francisco's Slipping Tourism Ranking." (See also: Rudy Giuliani and New York's squeegee men.) It's also a classic Fox Butterfield moment, which author and Boston talk radio host Michael Graham once defined as:

It's what happens when someone on the Left makes a statement that is laughably ludicrous on its face, yet it reveals what the speaker truly believes — no matter how dumb.

"The Butterfield Effect" is named in honor of ace New York Times crime reporter Fox Butterfield, the intrepid analyst responsible for such brilliantly headlined stories as "More Inmates, Despite Drop In Crime," and "Number in Prison Grows Despite Crime Reduction," not to mention the poetic 1997 header, "Crime Keeps on Falling, but Prisons Keep on Filling."

Back in 2009, we spotted a similar Fox Butterfield moment in the San Francisco Weekly, with this quote, which neatly dovetails with the one above:

“Despite its spending more money per capita on homelessness than any comparable city, [San Francisco's] homeless problem is worse than any comparable city’s.”

Still though, at least the SF Weekly managed to pull out from that mental nosedive to admit, “It’s time to face facts: San Francisco is spectacularly mismanaged and arguably the worst-run big city in America.” And with articles such as the above, don't look for improvement in that department, until...well, ever.

Found via Kate McMillan of Small Dead Animals, as part of her ongoing "O, Sweet Saint Of San Andreas Hear my prayer" series of posts. Also at SDA is a link to this rather related article, "America's Friendliest Places for Starting a Business," in which Forbes grades all 57 American states from A to F. Two guesses as to which state received the latter grade. (San Francisco actually fared better than California in the same article -- they only received a D+ from Forbes. Maybe the puppies swayed them.