Billionaires Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, and Salesforce head Marc Benioff squared off over whether San Francisco tech giants should be taxed to help solve the city’s catastrophic homelessness problem.
At the midterms next month residents of the ultra-liberal city will be asked to vote on Proposition C – a new tax, amounting to approximately 0.5 percent on revenues above $ 50 million, for businesses headquartered in the city. The tax, which will affect Twitter, Uber, Wells Fargo, Gap and dozens of other major multinationals, could bring in $ 300 million per year, doubling the city’s homelessness budget.
But Jack Dorsey, a self-confessed liberal, spoke out against the idea.
“I want to help fix the homeless problem in SF and California. I don’t believe this (Prop C) is the best way to do it,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
Instead, Dorsey asked residents to support the newly-elected Democrat mayor of the city, London Breed, who has not endorsed the proposal. Breed has initially promised to audit the money that is already being spent, to calculate whether it is actually tackling or encouraging the problem, which has worsened in lockstep with the city’s wealth.
But the tweet caught the attention of Benioff, one of the main ideologues of Proposition C, who is spending over $ 1 million of his own money to lobby and advertise it.
And straight away, he made it personal.
Hi Jack. Thanks for the feedback. Which homeless programs in our city are you supporting? Can you tell me what Twitter and Square & you are in for & at what financial levels? How much have you given to heading home our $ 37M initiative to get every homeless child off the streets?
— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) October 12, 2018
Dorsey argued that he was merely being reasonable.
Scroll up, B: I’m supporting the Mayor’s plan. The one you’ve decided to ignore. She’s simply asking for accountability and control. Let’s listen to her and let her lead. If I’m wrong, I’ll admit it, and work with you to fix. I trust her. Thank you!
— jack (@jack) October 12, 2018
But Benioff, himself a solid liberal, countered that the benefits from the tax would be specific and tangible.
San Francisco Office of Economic Analysis concluded that the Prop C funding would reduce the homeless population, providing housing for 5,000 people, creating 1,000 new shelter beds, & pouring as much as $ 75 million into the city’s mental-health programs. https://t.co/TsZ4VFXVWm
— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) October 13, 2018
In the end, rather than continuing the fight online, the two men, whose combined wealth exceeds $ 10 billion, decided to take it offline, though Jack did not make it through initially.
Marc and I talked on the phone. Also talked with Mayor London this afternoon. We’re all talking now and aligned to fix this issue as fast as we can. Will keep everyone updated. pic.twitter.com/3dg5dkkQP6
— jack (@jack) October 13, 2018
The internecine warfare split those online.
History will not be kind to you, Jack.
— Adriel Hampton #Yeson10 (@adrielhampton) October 12, 2018
How is this open, honest, and transparent? He’s asking voters to trust that he knows best (and coincidentally, that a tiny tax increase on his business is definitely bad) without putting forth any alternatives.
— Kill-y Ellis 🔪🎃 (@justkelly_ok) October 13, 2018
But while some insisted that the vote is a straightforward pro or anti-homeless referendum, whatever the decision in November finding the right combination between compassion, toughness and effectiveness, is going to be a challenge for the Democrat-dominated city hall, where every new administration has come in with the best of intentions.
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