Monday, August 5, 2019

America's Declining Big Cities

President Trump’s attack on Rep. Elijah Cummings’ home city of Baltimore may have been “crude,” as Joel Kotkin says, but they did draw national attention to the plight of America’s largest cities. They drew attention to the simple fact that America’s big cities are disintegrating, falling apart, becoming a national disgrace. (via Maggie's Farm)

The reason, Kotkin explains, has much to do with virtue signalling leftist politicians who care more about fighting climate change and leading the Resistance against President Trump than about fixing what’s broken in their cities.

Why do these politicians do what they do? They are mired in the quicksand of identity politics, as we all know. But, more obviously, they do not know how to build anything. When you do not know how to build you feel resentment toward those who do. And you believe that the only way to cover up your shame is to destroy what others have built.

Kotkin describes the reality of our cities:

Baltimore represents an extreme case, but sadly it is not alone. Last year our three largest urban centers — New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — lost people while millennial migration accelerated both to the suburbs and smaller, generally less dense cities. These demographic trends, as well as growing blight, poor schools, decaying infrastructure and, worst of all, expanding homelessness are not merely the result of “racism” or Donald Trump, but have all been exacerbated by policy agendas that are turning many great cities into loony towns.

They might consider themselves principled, but these local politicians are mere incompetents… doing what they need to do to cover up the fact that they do not have a clue.

Kotkin continues:

Economic growth generally is not much of a priority for the woke urban political class. In New York, Rep. Ocasio Alexandria Cortez’s allies succeeded in driving Amazon’s new headquarters out of her district. Meanwhile her socialist comrades in Seattle have helped persuade the on-line giant to relocate more of its employees out to a massive new building in the suburb of Bellevue while the Emerald City hosts a rising homeless population.

Business leaders look at AOC and ask themselves whether they want to locate a hub in a place that abuts her district. The virtue-signaling bigots of the Squad will inevitably compromise the good name and the reputations of the people who live in their districts. What happens to the reputation of Somali-Americans when their chosen representative is Ilhan Omar?

Among the other urban problems, a city like New York has been losing its middle class. It has been losing families with children. The reason is simple: the city is too expensive. If you have to choose between sending your child to a substandard dysfunctional public school or going broke sending your child to a private school, you will naturally pick up and move to the suburbs. And you will do so even though New York City does not have the crime problem we see in a place like Baltimore.

Kotkin is correct to say that it’s all about local governance, and about the fact that these cities have been taken over by the radical left. We should all get over the habit of calling these politicians progressive. The last thing they care about is progress. They are dedicated to destroying the system, whether democracy or capitalism or the patriarchy:

Resolutions on sanctuary cities, condemnations of Trump tweets, social justice demands and boasts about combating climate change do little to improve tangibly reality that cities like Baltimore or even superstars like San Francisco, Washington, and New York.

Only when grassroots people and concerned businesses decide to challenge the urban status quo and the virtue-signaling political class can decay and the relentless bifurcation of our cities be reversed. After all, large and powerful companies, like Amazon, can always pack up and migrate to less insane political environments. But those with a strong stake in the local economy and neighborhoods have fewer options. It will be up to them, to restore our cities’ historic role as places for both families and middle-class economic aspiration.

And yet, the more the cities lose the middle class, the more the lower classes will become dominant… and will vote for imbeciles like AOC. As for the rich, keep in mind that 1% of the population of New York City pays 40% of the city taxes. If the rich spend six months and a day in Florida they will seriously diminish their tax bills. And they will wipe out the city budget.

Let's not overlook the fact that, considering how badly the radical left has failed in America's big cities, it wants to bring the same policies to the rest of the country.


trigger warning said...

America's once-great cities are declining because city governments have been, in Vox Day's analysis, "fully converged"; i.e., elected and appointed officials "devote significant resources to social causes" that have nothing to do with good governance, governmental communications focus on "social justice platitudes" like "diversity" and "climate change", and city officialdom displays open contempt for the needs and concerns of residents (cf., Baltimore).

Full convergence means that precise racial and gender balances (as currently evolved) of the city's workforce must be adjusted and readjusted as needs be with the precision of an analytical laboratory balance, evil political totems like plastic straws and Big Gulps must be legislatively exorcised, and drug abuse, public defecation, and filth must be tolerated in urban areas picturesquely described by The Guardian as "homegrown neighborhoods" and "informal settlements". It's why every proposed tax cut is met with dire projections of cuts in fire and public safety budgets, but never with warnings about budget cuts for the Annual Mogadishu Dumpsterfire Diversity Festival, needle-sharing programs, or kindergarten transgender equality sessions.

But yawning potholes can go unrepaired and streets unplowed in snowstorms, public transportation schedules can become mathematically indistinguishable from random processes (as Boston's Green Line was outside a former colleague's window at Northeastern University), and billions of taxpayer dollars disappear beyond the event horizon into fiscal gravity wells.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Something that’s gone unnoticed in the aftermath of Trump’s notorious tweets is his accurate portrayal of the situation he describes.

Predictably, we get the tantrums that the tantrums of the hate-filled Ctrl-Left, the moaning/wailing of the liberals, and the hyperbolic chattering and epithets the Big Media after one of Trump’s razor tweets. He seems to do them on Saturday or Sunday, and they catch the full mainsail of the news cycle.

We universally hear about how loathsome, despicable and awful Trump is. What a racist he and his deplorable supporters are (always irrefutable guilt-by-association). This goes on, and on and on.

And then, about 24 hours later, someone begins to unpack what’s in the tweet. And then we find out that Elijah Cummings is using the humanitarian migrant crisis on the border to score points while his district suffers. We find out that Baltimore is crime-ravaged. And that it is actually rat-infested. And despite all the hyperventilating interpretations that Trump equated rats with black people, we find out that Baltimore Mayor Pugh used the same language to describe neighborhoods in Cummings’ district. And that there actually has been a lot of federal aid going to Baltimore for some time — though where’s it’s been spent is uncertain.

For all the accusations that Trump is an idiot, it’s striking that he paints his opponents as idiots (or worse) and the paint seems to stick. Just ask The Squad... they’ve been quiet lately, haven’t that? Nancy saw to it that they got in line.

But being on the Left means never having to say you’re sorry.

Sam L. said...

"The reason, Kotkin explains, has much to do with virtue signalling leftist politicians who care more about fighting climate change and leading the Resistance against President Trump than about fixing what’s broken in their cities." Not to mention, that's way, Way, WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY easier. Not to mention, cheaper.

"We should all get over the habit of calling these politicians progressive." Oh, NO!! Call them "progressives", and always say that that word always reminds you of cancer, which it certainly does for me, as it killed my wife.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

38 homicides in Baltimore in July 2019. How much have you heard about that?

I’ll bet there weren’t many scary “assault rifles” used in those killings. I’d wager that they were almost all unregistered pistols, and that the perps were forbidden to have firearms.

That’s the problem with gun control — only law-abiding citizens are prohibited from having guns. Few people in the Big Media seem to understand that.

Dan Patterson said...

The decline is expected and is following a well-traced path.

Sam L. said...

All these cities need a Fiorello La Guardia.