Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Los Angeles Dying

Alas, Los Angeles. Another progressive city bites the dust. That’s apparently all that’s left of a once vibrant metropolis. True enough, the rich are still living in opulent comfort, but, for the rest, life in LA has become one misery after another.

As Joel Kotkin, who is certainly not a Republican, explains, the fault lies in the radical leftist politicians who run the place. And who have run it into the ground. In effect, Kotkin explains, there is no longer a functioning Republican Party in Los Angeles. Public sector unions and minority voters consistently turn out to elect radical leftists-- people who call themselves progressives-- and the city’s decline proceeds apace. (via Maggie's Farm)

I will emphasize Kotkin’s portrait of a failing city, led by incompetent leftist politicians. If the same process were not at work in many other blue American cities, I would say that it is cautionary. Instead, I will say that he is describing the death rattle of urban America. For my part I am not ready to say that the leftist leaders who are in charge of Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Portland and Seattle have a malicious intention. In larger part they are profoundly stupid people, leaders of America’s new idiotocracy. They believe in what they are doing and are so detached from reality that they refuse to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

Like the Biden administration, they simply lie and blame it all on Donald Trump. To a large extent it works. To say that the American mind has seen better days is an understatement. Obviously, the teachers who have been working to destroy children’s minds have enjoyed a considerable level of success.

Kotkin opens his portrait of a city in decline:

But now, for the first time in its history, the population of Los Angeles is in decline, falling by 204,000 between July 2020 and July 2021. LA was once a magnet for investors. But recently many of the area’s corporate linchpins – including aerospace giant Northrop Grumman, Occidental Petroleum and Hilton Hotels – have left, taking with them high-paying jobs and philanthropic resources.

In a city or a country that respected itself, people would not make a public spectacle of destitution. Not so in Los Angeles or in many other American cities. Homelessness, rampant criminal activity, hamstrung police officers. The streets of Los Angeles have been called worse places to live than Syrian refugee camps:

Anyone visiting some of the most famous districts of urban Los Angeles – notably downtown, Hollywood and Venice Beach – sees clear signs of destitution, including sprawling homeless encampments, vast numbers of people living in vehicles and rampant crime. Last year, a UN official compared conditions on LA’s Skid Row, a poor downtown neighbourhood, to those of Syrian refugee camps. Smash-and-grab thefts at local 7-Elevens and the persistent theft of goods from railyards suggest this is a city that has lost control to the modern version of lawless highwaymen.

Obviously, it is not what Kotkin calls a “hipster paradise.” It is a degenerate monstrosity, the worst that humanity has to offer:

Rather than a vibrant hipster paradise, LA’s urban core is dominated by the homeless, the poor, government workers and a few creative types – making for an odd juxtaposition of homeless camps and low-rent hotels alongside high-end restaurants and artists’ lofts. Meanwhile, newly built luxury apartments have suffered vacancy rates as high as 14 per cent – remarkable in a city so short of housing.

Kotkin blames public officials, the politicians that the people have elected and who they continue to elect:

Los Angeles remains too vital a city to write off entirely. But many things that made LA the premier urban growth centre of the past century are clearly eroding. A city once known for its efficient, at times brutal administration appears unable to curb its most pressing problems, especially homelessness. Despite massive expenditures, the city’s streets teem with more than 60,000 homeless residents, including 2,000 along upmarket Venice Beach. In their desperation, the city has proposed legislation that would force hotel owners to surrender spare rooms to the homeless – just the sort of thing that visiting tourists will surely appreciate.

Once upon a time, Los Angeles offered a considerable amount of manufacturing jobs. No longer. With the rising crime rate and the appalling homeless problem, the city has been hemorrhaging jobs.

 LA was once the country’s most dynamic manufacturing area. But in the past decade it has lost roughly 13 per cent of its industrial jobs – only New York has fared worse among major regions. In business and in professional services, the largest high-wage sector, Los Angeles lags behind not only the San Francisco Bay Area, but also cities like Austin, Nashville, Phoenix and Denver. According to Chapman Business School professor Marshall Toplansky, even the strongest parts of the LA economy, like entertainment, are slowly declining, as companies seek cheaper and safer locales. Even the city’s port is in decline, the last stronghold of blue-collar labour, with jobs gradually leaving the West Coast for ports like Houston and Tampa.

And, when it comes to population, the loss of jobs is causing the middle class to decamp for friendlier climes:

Critically, the city is also losing its appeal to families and the young. Over the past 20 years, Los Angeles County has lost nearly 700,000 people under 25 – the biggest per capita decline in youth among all large US counties. In contrast, its elderly population has surged by 500,000. The Los Angeles Unified School District, which is mostly inside the city boundaries, has lost over 40 per cent of its student body in just 20 years. Even immigrants, who have restored much of the city’s vitality in the past few decades, are no longer coming. Between the 2010 and 2020 censuses, the number of foreign-born residents in Los Angeles County fell.

Naturally, the incompetent administrators are receiving considerable financial support from radical leftists in the entertainment industry. These latter are so principled that they have completely lost touch with reality. One thing they do not want you to find out is, how stupid they really are.

And besides, while the local police are no longer allowed to pursue criminals, the rich Hollywood types have their own security:

This success is somewhat understandable since most leftist liberals live in the city’s bucolic enclaves, far from the camps or the smash-and-grab events that other Angelenos endure daily. When crime does emerge in the wealthiest enclaves, the well-heeled celebrities enlist private security firms. LA may be dysfunctional for most, but it still works for the ultra-affluent.

While national Democrats are whining about the rise of the radical right, the truth remains, that major American cities are being destroyed by radical leftist politicians. Think-- AOC multiplied:

Besides the mayoral race, progressives seem poised to make the city council even more left-wing, placing as many as five members of the Democratic Socialists of America on the 15-member board, which already comprises 14 Democrats and one independent.

Far-left politics is about the last thing LA needs. With the rise of remote work, and the shift of business to Texas, Arizona, Nevada and other states, the ability of LA to keep, much less lure, residents and businesses requires a shift towards the pragmatic middle.

We appreciate Kotkin’s effort to offer a ray of optimism, but, in truth, we wonder how much even he believes that the city can move toward the pragmatic middle:

Great weather is, well, great – but it’s not enough to build a thriving metropolitan economy or a successful big city. Under current circumstances, it is difficult to see how the city will be able to repeat the success of its 1984 Olympics in 2028.

Unless there is a political sea change, the prospects for LA, like many American cities, are far from bright. Yet they are also far from hopeless. A strong grassroots effort together with business leadership could still turn things around. But if LA and other cities shift further left, or at least what passes for the left these days, the prospects of this happening are beginning to look bleak.

Is this America’s future? If the radical left has its way, it is. How to stop the radical left remains a challenge that far too many Republicans have failed to counter.


SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Pete Malloy and Jim Reed are long gone.

Mike-SMO. said...

American cities grew in the age of rail transport and primitive communication. No one rides the rails anymore and everyone has telephone/internet. The cities are the dumping ground for human defectives. The disease, smell, and crime make the downtown offensive and risky. The major highways by-pass the urban cores. Some facilities may survive with increased security but the cultural attractions and most businesses have decamped to the surround. The casinos, and theme parks will have an attraction called "Downtown" which will be safer, cleaner, and probably cheaper than the original. No one in their right mind will go into the "City" for a job, a show, a special meal, or a special shop/service. Build a fence and forget it.

Bizzy Brain said...

Scott, I did get to see Pete Malloy and Jim Reed at work when I lived in North Hollywood back in the 70's, when their show was on the air. They would do exterior shooting in the San Fernando Valley at times, and one day they were shooting just down the street from where I lived on Magnolia Blvd.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...


icr said...

Somehow safe, functional and civilized cities are still possible in East Asia, Eastern Europe and maybe a few other places.