San Francisco

Mike Solana: Can San Francisco Be Saved?

Pirate Wires Editor in Chief Mike Solana discusses the lessons of San Francisco's politics, his vision for the future, and his critiques of libertarianism.


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Can San Francisco be saved?

San Francisco, the beautiful city on the bay, has become a national punchline. During his debate with Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom last year, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis displayed a map of citywide poop sightings, which were apparently reported to 311 more than 35,000 times in 2023, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Works. The city's population slumped starting in 2018, but has slowly crawled back. And a 2022 San Francisco Chronicle poll found 65 percent of respondents say life is worse in the city now than when they moved there.

Today's guest, Mike Solana, wants to be part of the solution. He's the chief marketing officer at Founders Fund—the Peter Thiel–founded venture capital firm—and editor in chief of Pirate Wires, a new media company covering tech from the Silicon Valley perspective.

Watch the full conversation on Reason's YouTube channel or the Just Asking Questions podcast feed on AppleSpotify, or your preferred podcatcher.

Sources referenced in this conversation:

  1. "This Map Shows San Francisco Is Covered in Human Poop"
  2. "Updated! The San Francisco Poop Map By OpenTheBooks In Real Time"
  3. San Francisco Chronicle poll: "How fed up are San Franciscans with the city's problems?"
  4. San Francisco crime rates and statistics
  5. Homelessness per 100,000 residents, 2022
  6. Violent and property crime in San Francisco, 2010–present
  7. Report: "San Franciscans Spend More and Get Less From Their Police Department Than Most Major California Cities"
  8. New York Times article about Garry Tan
  9. Report: What have been the results of Germany's drug reform policies?

Time stamps:

  • 00:00 Introduction to Just Asking Questions
  • 01:04 Introducing Mike Solana: A Voice for San Francisco
  • 03:36 San Francisco's Current State: A First-Person Perspective
  • 09:37 Homelessness and Housing Crisis
  • 18:56 Comparing San Francisco to Other Major Cities
  • 23:01 Crime and Policing in San Francisco
  • 38:27 Education and School System Challenges
  • 49:37 Funding and School Choice in San Francisco
  • 52:33 Homelessness and Nonprofit Funding
  • 54:45 Drug Decriminalization and Harm Reduction
  • 58:14 Origins of the Opioid Crisis
  • 01:04:59 Libertarianism and Policy Wins
  • 01:12:36 Immigration and Social Welfare
  • 01:35:24 Who Is Actually in Charge?