I recently discussed how the lessons of Adam Smith are still being learned by major corporations like Disney on the 300th anniversary of his birth. One person not celebrating Smith’s birthday is San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston who has blamed capitalism for the city’s homelessness problems. It appears that the invisible hand behind the rapid decline of the city is not the policies of Preston and his colleagues but the teachings of this cursed Scottish economist.

Preston explained that the problems in the city are “absolutely the result of capitalism.” Preston continues to push to defund the police and to limit law enforcement in the area.

What is striking is that Preston, a Democratic Socialist, represents District 5 including the Tenderloin District. That area was once a major tourist draw. It is now over-run by drugs and homeless persons as stores close. The city is watching the flight of businesses from various areas. Even the famed farmer’s market has been lost to the rampant crime and drug use.

Preston represents a rapid rise of Democratic Socialists in Congress and other cities, including the new mayor of Chicago who has pushed to open city-owned grocery stores and other socialist measures.

The city-owned stores are based on the model of a store in Erie, Kansas, which opened in 2021. The Wall Street Journal looked into how that store was doing and found that it has lost money almost every month. In 2022, it posted only one month in the black and has lost $132,000. However, the value for city leaders is to preserve the myth that state or city-run businesses are superior to capitalism.

It does not matter that the invisible hand is giving your store or your city the finger as citizens go elsewhere.

These policies prove Milton Friedman’s observation that “if you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.”

Capitalism remains the greatest generator of wealth in the history of the world. Socialist and communist nations have had to turn to capitalist enterprises in nations like China because of the failure of Marxist economic theories.

That is clearly not the view of Preston, who graduated from Bowdoin College with a degree in anthropology and economics. He is also a lawyer.

Nevertheless, Preston shows how politicians responsible for the demise of our major cities will cite their own failures to double down on these policies. The loss is being felt by not just these citizens, but the nation as our great cities become urban hellscapes.

There was a time when people “left their heart in San Francisco.” Now they are just leaving.