Everyone knows that America's big cities and especially San Francisco live in their own financial bubbles.
Average rent in the City by the Bay is nearly four times greater than the US average, coming in at $3,750 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. The cost of living is 80 per cent higher than the rest of America. A typical cup of coffee costs a demented $6 – and some will charge a mind-boggling $20.
The internet surge of the past few years has only deepened the problem: tech bros earning six-figure salaries have edged out working families, and homelessness, despite a slight retreat recently, remains high.
But among all the issues that have been rudely visited upon San Francisco, the one that has rich people most riled up is also the most human: shit. As in other people's shit. Dog shit, too, but mostly human shit.
Thanks to the impossible cost of living in the city and a repeated refusal by residents to cough up enough money to deal with the jump in homeless folk, more people that ever before are living on the streets with no where to go at night and – thanks to no one wanting to dirty up wonderfully clean and luxurious shopping centers and office buildings – no where to go (as in go) during the day.
The result: shit. Tons of it.
"I will say there is more feces on the sidewalks than I've ever seen growing up here," said the city's new mayor London Breed recently. "That is a huge problem and we are not just talking about from dogs – we’re talking about from humans."
Throwing money at the solution
And so San Francisco has decided to deal with it in the only way it knows how: pay others to erase the problem from its sight.
But before you wonder who on earth would accept a job cleaning up other people's excrement in one of the most expensive cities in the world, consider this: it pays well. Really well.
Rather than invest much more in homeless shelters or free mental health services or needle exchanges or anything that would require having to deal with smelly, dirty, poor people, the city has set aside an additional $2.8m for a "Hot Spots" crew to spray down the areas where these people live, an additional $2.3m for street cleaners, another $3.1m for portable toilets and – this is the best part – nearly $1m a year for a so-called "Poop Patrol."
Just to show how keen it is to pay others to clean up their own mess, there is an additional $700,000 for a cleanup squad to deal with both defecation and used syringes, which comes on top of the existing $364,000 annual budget for a four-person team whose job it is to pick up used needles.
All of which means that if you are lucky enough to grab a coveted spot on the Poop Patrol – it's a ten-person crew with its own minivan – you will earn a base salary of $71,760 a year. Add in benefits including health insurance, pension and so on and it brings the package to a rather enticing $184,678 a year.
That's right, you can earn more than three times the average US wage and more than double the average San Franciscan wage just by clearing up the crap that rich folk would prefer not to have to see.
Here's the best thing: we have no doubt that there are already a series of incubator inmates chasing VC money for an app that would pay homeless people to clean up their own shit. Because that's what makes sense in the Bay Area in 2018. ®
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