Berkeley, California: Not Quite Paradise

I’m publishing this series of articles to share and discuss my ruminations on coping with a troubled and messy world. You can “follow” me to never miss an article.

While my wife and I enjoy living in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are not oblivious to its many problems and shortcomings. First of all, Homelessness is a constant ongoing issue. I empathize with those who have no choice but to live in cars and on the streets. But it’s led to serious Public Health crises and even to multiple fires due to the waste surrounding Homeless camps that is not disposed of properly.

In the few months before I entered UC Berkeley as a Freshman, for a short while my mother and I slept in my car so that I know what it’s like to be Homeless. Having attended UCB from my Undergraduate days to getting a PhD, I’ve always had a fondness for Berkeley. Nonetheless, as a Liberal, I’m the first to admit that it’s far from perfect. Let me cite a few examples.

First and foremost, because Berkeley is a self-proclaimed Nuclear-Free-Zone, women who need radiation for Medical reasons have to travel to adjoining cities, which are not that far, to get necessary treatment. The fact that a city which is known for its Liberal Thought can’t differentiate between the legitimate needs and uses of radiation versus those that are illegitimate is not only shameful, but a contradiction in terms. It goes directly against the grain of Critical Thinking, which is the bedrock of Liberalism.

Some things are just an annoyance and an inconvenience, like having to go the City to pick up special bags into which one can deposit debris. Why are bags from hardware stores not sufficient?

The third issue is more significant. The University wants to build desperately needed student housing on what is known as The People’s Park. The prime issue is that it was a landmark in the protests against the Vietnam War, and other struggles. It’s also become a haven for the Homeless.

In so many ways, Berkeley is living in the past. It’s Hippie mentality lives on, if not refuses to grow up. This is despite the fact that the University will preserve a part of the Park as a Monument. Sadly, this does not satisfy its supporters. It’s but yet another case of Compromise is an Evil Word.

I cite this not just to raise petty grips, but to acknowledge that in my constant criticisms of Conservatives, we Liberals need to own up to our own shortcomings. This does not mean that the two are equal in any way. As those of you who’ve read my blogs know, I’m far less tolerant of the Right. Their constant unprincipled defense of indefensible is a blight that hurts us all. The Left doesn’t come close at all.

Ian I. Mitroff is credited as being one of the principal founders of the modern field of Crisis Management. He has a BS, MS, and a PhD in Engineering and the Philosophy of Social Systems Science from UC Berkeley. He Is Professor Emeritus from the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. Currently, he is a Senior Research Affiliate in the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, UC Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Management. He has published 41 books. His latest is: The Socially Responsible Organization: Lessons from Covid, Springer, New York, 2022.

Photo by Jeremy Huang on Unsplash

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