Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Phoning It In: SF Proposes Yet Another Ban On Commercial Activity

The new President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is David Chiu. The CW has been that his ascension, along with that of interim mayor Ed Lee, was a sign that Asian-Americans were "rising" in SF politics, which would become more moderate as a result. Makes sense now that Sup. Chiu has proposed his first major legislation: banning the distribution of the Yellow Pages within the City limits:

San Francisco would become the first city in the nation to ban the unsolicited distribution of the Yellow Pages under legislation to be formally introduced today by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu.

The thick volumes, dropped off at nearly every home and office in the city, are becoming increasingly obsolete in the Internet age, Chiu says, and often end up unopened in the recycling bin.

His office estimates that more than 1.5 million Yellow Pages phone books are distributed in San Francisco every year.

"If we're serious about the environment, it's time we recognize that phone books are a 20th century tool that doesn't meet the business or environmental needs of the 21st century," said Chiu.

The rationale, of course, that "no one" refers to the Yellow Pages anymore because everyone in San Francisco is a hip, Twitter employee who gets all of his information on-line. This unwanted deluge of contact information is destroying the environment, naturally, and interfering with similarly well intentioned bans such as the plastic bag ban at the grocery stores and the Happy Meal toy ban at McDonald's.

Moreover, the Yellow Pages ban must go into effect because its distributors are demonstrably insane. They keep producing - and distributing for free - books that "no one" uses! This insanity is shared by their employees who still manage to sell hundreds of pages worth of ads, and their attorneys who sue advertisers who don't pay their sizable invoices on time.

Now, Psota, of course, is a member of the hip, plugged in set that hasn't cracked open a phone book in years. But I also know enough to realize that there are people out there who do not do Google searches every time they need to find a plumber. Shocking, I know. If people weren't using the Yellow Pages, and businesses weren't paying thousands of dollars to advertise in it, then the phone company would stop producing it. The marketplace really is that simple. But, that's obviously not good enough for Sup. Chiu.

Ethnic stereotypes about moderate "practical" Asian-American politicians are fine, but in the last year we've seen Eric Mar obtain national prominence by pushing a ban on Happy Meal toys, State Senator and mayoral candidate Leland Yee get into a whiny beef with Rush Limbaugh over Hu Jintao (he also spent much of last year "investigating" how a state university paid Sarah Palin for a speech), and now "moderate" David Chiu proposing to ban the Yellow Pages. Moderation must be the new Progressive.

The Yellow Pages are, admittedly, a bit of a relic. But people still use it, especially in the less hip areas of town. Why ban the distribution of something that is still useful? Guess it's easier to do that, rather than ban homeless people from peeing on our doorsteps.

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