They had discovered that they paid as much in workers comp for desk workers as they did for hardhats. There are a lot of ways to hurt backs, hands, eyes, necks in the poorly designed non-ergonomic open-plan offices. And those injuries are expensive to diagnose and to treat.
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Which circles back around to the fact that it is necessary to sit quietly and learn the way teachers are told to teach or be left behind. And if you are gifted at art or music, well, you are just sol.
Everything that used to be cool and funky or artistic is now a corporatized landrush -- 80K naked drunks peeing on lawns during Bay to Breakers, just for a start. And there really is a place with $4 toast.
And all the museums suck (except the exploratorium) and the best galleries just got shut down because a start up will pay lots more to rent the building.
The City has been expensive as long as I have been here (roughly 30 yrs), but there were always pockets of interest that weren't insane of busy being bid up by the ignorant.
Back in the day, the City ran on financial services firms, which were very conservative. There was something to be different from. Now, everyone is hip, slick, and cool and goes to work in jean or leggings and drinks too much on the job and is vegan (except on Thursday when the company serves grassfed beef.).
I miss my City, even the times it turned out people I thought I wanted to get to know were junkies.
Oh and it is beautiful and the air is clean and the food is very, very good. As is the tap water.
The most highly regulated businesses exist in the high population density areas -- San Francisco and surrounding counties, Los Angeles and Orange County, San Diego, and, to a lesser extent, Sacramento. The unemployment rate in SF is hovering around 5%.