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The death of the American city Rising crime and a pandemic-inspired exodus are powering urban decay

America's cities are broken. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

America's cities are broken. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)


March 24, 2021   4 mins

When my grandparents migrated to New York from Russia over a century ago, they found a city that was hardly paradise, but one that provided a pathway towards a better life. Life was tough, crowded and always a paycheck from poverty. My relatives were poor, but so was everyone; eventually, they all bought houses or apartments, and entered the middle class. As for crime in their native Brownsville, the home of Murder, Incorporated and other villainous enterprises, it rarely impacted “civilians”; my mother would tell me how a young girl could still walk across Prospect Park without fear of assault.

Today’s urban promise is, however, vastly different — not only in New York, but San Francisco and Los Angeles, London and Paris. No longer cities of aspiration, they are increasingly defined by an almost feudal hierarchy: the rich live well, protected by private security and served by local coffee shops and trendy clubs.

Meanwhile, the working class struggles to pay rent, possesses no demonstrable path to a better life and, as a result, often migrates elsewhere. Crime rates are spiking and homelessness, once an exception, is increasingly widespread. Those very streets once said to be “paved with gold” are now are filled with discarded needles, excrement and graffiti.

Indeed, what we are now witnessing is the decline of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s description of the city as “a luxury product”. Today, that sense of “luxury” has all but vanished, with modern urban economies promoting class divisions rather than upward mobility. Amid all the hoopla about urban revival, the truth is that entrenched urban poverty in the US — places where 30% or more of the population live below the poverty line — actually grew in the first decade of the new millennium, from 1,100 to 3,100 neighbourhoods.

Even the New York Times admits that, in the past decade, cities have gone from “engines of growth and opportunity” to places where class relations are increasing fixed, with only the upper end of the income spectrum doing well. Gotham’s one percent earns a third of the entire city’s personal income. That’s almost twice the proportion for the rest of the country. But such class disparity is becoming the norm; in the tech haven of San Francisco, which has the worst levels of inequality in California, the top 5% of households earn an average of $808,105 annually, compared with $16,184 for the lowest 20%.

Predictably, those at the bottom of this new feudal structure suffer the most; today, the old saying that “the city air makes one free” all too often means freedom to be poor, to experience endemic homelessness, collapsing public infrastructure and rising crime.

And that was before Covid hit. Already many poor urban residents subsisted on transfer payments or worked in service industries. They were paid, usually poorly, to clean now-empty offices or work in restaurants and hotels. The lockdowns, whether justified or overwrought, have since pummelled these low-income workers; roughly 40% of Americans earning under $40,000 a year lost their jobs last March.

Unlike workers who occupy “the commanding heights” of finance, tech, marketing, and media , these people did not have the option of working from their kitchen tables or moving to suburban locations or smaller cities. Nor could they count on education systems to work their magic; most schools in American inner-city districts, in contrast to many suburbs and smaller cities, remained closed.

All of which meant America’s urban districts were ripe for civil unrest when George Floyd died last May, and these festering conditions exploded into the worst national rioting in decades. Parts of many cities went up in flames, the damage of which was obscured by mainstream media’s mantra of “mostly peaceful protests”. The constant rioting and demonstrations in Portland, once seen as a paragon of new urbanist-led revival, has all but destroyed its downtown, which is now largely bereft of pedestrians.

Remarkably, despite the dramatic rise in homicides, the city seems likely to continue its programme of de-funding the police. In many cities — Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco, St. Louis, New York — “progressive” district attorneys have worked assiduously to restrain law enforcement. In California, where it is no longer considered a felony to steal anything worth less than $1,000, there has been a surge in property crime, including a huge rise in car thefts. San Francisco, for example, has seen the drug store Walgreens close ten outlets since 2019, citing elevated levels of theft and weak law enforcement. Meanwhile New York’s bodegas, small markets in ethnic neighbourhoods, experienced a 222% increase in burglaries last year.

The repercussions of this extend well beyond the criminal and judicial spheres. As cities slowly fall to pieces, they are increasingly becoming no-go zones for investors and business, except for those who see opportunity investing in suddenly distressed properties; barely ten per cent of US companies are interested in investing in large urban areas. A friend who runs a biomedical company had his warehouse burned down in the post-Floyd Minneapolis riots. When I asked him whether he would rebuild, he said yes — but in the suburbs of Tampa, Florida, or Atlanta.

Yet a number of progressives insist that the current urban exodus of wealthy residents is not a cause for concern, as it allows a more fair society to be “reborn”. Such a naïve approach forgets that there is one problem with expelling the rich: in New York, for example, the “one per cent” pay 43% of the city’s income taxes. The same is also true in California, where the top 1% of the population pays half of all income taxes. Even London now depends almost entirely on the wealthy to keep its economy afloat.

But today’s activist Left does not seem to be concerned with economics — or, for that matter, much of the real world. In New York, activists have helped put an end to proposals for new jobs from Amazon, as well as a recent “Industry City” proposal in Brooklyn. In Seattle, the doggedly radical city council is working overtime to also push out Amazon — the company that has driven much of the region’s economic growth — to the surrounding suburbs and other regions.

But expelling tech oligarchs will not stabilise cities, improve the schools or lure business development. It certainly will not correct the fiscal crises faced by many cities, nor generate upwardly mobile jobs. Cities do not thrive by having more cutting-edge coffee shops, trendy restaurants and edgy boutiques; they need safe streets, decent schools and jobs for middle and working-class families.

Wishful thinking will not spark an urban revival. Yes, the decline of first-tier conurbations might enliven smaller cities. But overall, society as a whole will still lose. Dense urban places have always been critical in the development of culture and social behaviours. They remain crossroads of trade for goods as well as ideas, in ways that more dispersed places, even in the internet age, are not always suitable. Our cities are far from perfect. But a post-urban future could be even worse.


Joel Kotkin is the Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and author, most recently, of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class (Encounter)

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J Bryant
J Bryant
3 years ago

I’m increasingly convinced that the answer to ‘wokeism’ is to let its agenda play out in the public sphere. Let the city councils of Portland and Seattle defund police, decriminalize much criminal behavior, selectively raise taxes on large corporations, and all the rest of it. As this article suggests, those cities will wither and it will be up to a majority of residents to either vote in a more reasonable city council or live with the consequences of the current administration’s policies.
Sometimes we have to re-learn one of the most fundamental truths of all: actions have consequences, although this might be a very painful lesson for all of us.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I agree that if people in these cities want to live this way, let them. I would not want to put up with what people in Seattle and Portland have to and I don’t. But I don’t agree it will be painful for all of us as many of us choose NOT to live like that.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago

A lot of people seem to want to live in a suburb. A suburb isn’t urban, but it has to be sub some kind of urbanism. Should cities fall apart, some kind of substitute will have to be imagined and built out in car country somewhere. I wonder how that will work out. Around New York City, the suburbs already have matured to the point of having lots of pollution, traffic, petty crime and homelessness, and they’re working up to low-level tribal warfare. I’m guessing the rich will form exclusive enclaves, but there are problems with that model, too.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Starry Gordon

We already have a substitute for violent democratic cities – non violent republican cities. No one has to give up urban living, they just have to give up democratic urban living. There are lovely cities in the US that do not permit what you see in the photo attached to this article. No one has to imagine how to escape what you see in democratic cities, people figure this out all on their own. And they move.
The rich in democratic cities are already ensconced in exclusive enclaves. You don’t think Nancy Pelosi has human excrement outside her front door do you? But she doesn’t care if you live in SF you do.

Howard Ahmanson
Howard Ahmanson
2 years ago

Which are these “lovely cities”?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

‘You Will Own Nothing, And Be Happy.’ Said by Charls Schwab of The World Economic Council.

Richard E
Richard E
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Yes, I enjoy watching the destruction of London by Khan and his third world brand of victim and woke politics.
In the end it becomes a mathematical problem more than anything, as feedback mechanisms kick in. The wealthy decide they no longer want to live in a city which is difficult to drive around – the bus lanes, congestion zones, blocked streets, green initiatives – and also the crime. The office workers decide they’d rather work at home than pay the high travel costs, pay for lunch, brave the crime, waste the time commuting.—-next the office and businesses and shops and cafes close as their customers are no longer there – then because many customers have moved out many theatres and restaurants will struggle and when they close, so many people who live in London for the cultural side of things decide it no longer makes sense – so they leave too – and so less theatre goers, less people buying dinner, less congestion and parking being paid – and those offices remaining, well maybe they don’t need to be in central London, maybe they can be outside London….etc etc
These wealthier people may choose other UK cities instead or even move abroad. So much easier now we have remote working in place.
Declining revenues, meaning those left have to take a bigger burden, and so they leave and revenues decline further, reduced services, more reason to leave, but the ones who stay are the ones who take out more than they put in etc etc. It’s the same path as places like Detroit. Once this cycle is in place, it’s very difficult to turn around.

In reality, because London is the capital city of the whole of England and UK, everyone should get a vote for the London Mayor. He is a direct cause of what is happening, with his anti car, anti business policies.

Last edited 3 years ago by Richard E
David Jory
David Jory
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard E

See Detroit. Losing the car industry did just as you suggest.
Ordinary people backed Trump because of the policies of the progressives. They were right, but, as the Time article said:’ the 2020 election was fortified.

David Crowther
David Crowther
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Agreed. I think sometimes you’ve got to let people learn the hard way. Let it all play out. Don’t argue, don’t stand in their way. Just let them do it. When it all collapses around them, then you can say “I told you so”. Maybe they’ll learn from their mistakes, maybe they won’t. Time will tell. Those willing and able to get out, should do so while they still can and then watch the chaos unfold from a safe distance.

Maria Bogris
Maria Bogris
3 years ago
Reply to  David Crowther

Only if they didn’t vote for that crap…if they did, they gotta stay and fix it, and re-earn their place in civilized society

Maria Bogris
Maria Bogris
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

And DONT let them leave said places and ruin everywhere else. If they don’t like the consequences of what they asked and voted for, let them stay and fix it, learn something and become people that the rest of the country doesnt want to run out of our towns

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

As a New York native, it is incredibly painful to watch what has been done to my beautiful hometown. AOC running off thousands of high paying Amazon jobs. (While having a job herself) But these are the consequences of democratic leadership, or lack thereof. Vote for democrats and this is what you get.
Case in point, Baltimore. Under democratic government for decades, the city is a bastion of homelessness, crime, graffiti, slums and failing schools. It used to be such an incredibly fabulous city. And yet when Trump pointed out what had happened to the city under democratic leadership, people went crazy. Democrats ruined Detroit (with a union assist) and Chicago too.
It’s a shame but you get what you vote for.
Note….the title should be The Death of Some American cities – the author fails to clarify that there are many well run cities in the US that provide a decent quality of life for their citizens. Where gun crime is not tolerated, rioting and looting are not allowed, schools are good, crime is low, the homeless are not allowed to set up tent cities and defecate all over the streets. But they are not run by democrats.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
3 years ago

No Democrats I’d wager

Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards
3 years ago

AK, I have a wife and a home near Raleigh NC, a middle of the road place with a balance between D and R. Why don’t Republicans do better in NY, Baltimore and California? Is it because these places are too far gone? Or is it that Rs living there are too scared of cancellation, or maybe agree with a lot of Dem policies?

Last edited 3 years ago by Jonathan Edwards
kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago

The film industry was started in California , as land was cheap, to create an industry which criminal gangs could launder money ie cinemas. Most of these cinemas were in cities and most of the gangs were Jewish, Irish or Italian. These nationalities comprise core voters and politicians in democrat areas.The demographics are starting to change which is why a little ‘tweeking’ was necessary in your last election to get the desired result. Whether the new demographics-who are naturally ‘conservative’ in outlook will allow this in future remains to be seen.

Michael McVeigh
Michael McVeigh
3 years ago

People who vote Democrat are, generally, more of the creative type whereas Republican voters tend to be of the more conscientious type. New York & LA & San Francisco are chocked full of the creative types. The conscientious types are leaving.

Ray Zacek
Ray Zacek
3 years ago

And the creative types are going absolutely batsh_t crazy.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ray Zacek
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Mostly they just leave. If you look at the people escaping NY and CA you’ll find lots of republicans. The Democratic Party has had a lock on segments of the population who vote Democrat regardless of the outcome. Republicans won’t do that. I’d love to live in NYC, no place like it on earth, it’s the apex of the universe. But it’s unlivable. It was great growing up there but we still had republicans running things. Rudy seriously cleaned the place up, even Bloomberg wasn’t horrible.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago

In New York we had Koch, a virtual Republican, Giuliani, an actual Republican, and Bloomberg, a billionaire whose party affiliation depends on political convenience. It has not appeared to me that things changed much one way or another during their reigns, at least not due to anything they did. The present inmate of Gracie Mansion talks a leftish liberal line, but he’s okay with big real estate concerns and the financial industry, and in any case is on the way out after an unremarkable tour of duty. It may be that localities are subject to forces far behind the control of their citizens and their elected officials.
Republicans do not do well in New York because the population is ethnically, ideologically, and culturally diverse, which is contrary to the view of life assumed by Republicans and ‘conservatives’. But as I say, it does not make a lot of difference.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Starry Gordon

“ It has not appeared to me that things changed much one way or another during their reigns”
Then you weren’t living in NYC in the early 1990s when David “do something Dave” Dinkins, a democrat, was the mayor. The city was a disaster to the point that even the NYT was noticing.
Giuliani got in and things changed rapidly. He cleaned up the mess Dinkins had made, started police patrols to stop the petty thievery, muggings, graffiti, and casual property damage that had plagued the city under a succession of democratic mayors. If you urinated in the street, you got arrested. If you spit on people walking by, you got arrested. He shipped the homeless laying all over the streets to California and made the streets safe for law abiding people again. He prosecuted illegal gun crime (what a concept!). People caught with illegal weapons were not excused and released. New York flourished, people opened businesses, boarded up buildings became viable again.
“Republicans do not do well in New York because the population is ethnically, ideologically, and culturally diverse, which is contrary to the view of life assumed by Republicans and ‘conservatives’. â€œ
Diverse people don’t like safe streets and open businesses? They don’t like decent schools? Really? That’s what you’re going with?

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
X Xer
X Xer
3 years ago

London is also currently getting what it voted for with Khan’s destruction. He’s set to win again too.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  X Xer

Yes and such a shame. London is a wonderful city.

X Xer
X Xer
3 years ago

It was, yes.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  X Xer

We are having a similar situation as described in America. I live in what was a poor rural Labour voting area that has now become suddenly trendy with the ‘woke’ types. Surely not because the area has virtually no crime , is cheap and the school population is virtually white? I wonder how long it will be before they join the PTA’s and other committees and start ‘improving’ the area and making it rather similar to the areas they have just abandoned?

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

That’s just gentrification. The better-off push the less well-off out by bidding up real estate. Then they start the PTA and so forth. It’s pretty boring after awhile.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

People move from basket case blue cities like SF and NY and they bring some of the dysfunctions with them. Even though they are very clear about what they are escaping in blue cities. They also tend to discover they can get much nicer properties for less money in cities like Indianapolis, Raleigh, Nashville, etc than they could in LA or Chicago, plus it’s safe to send their kids to public school so they save the private school fees as well. I have a friend in real estate whose entire business is helping blue city refugees find a better quality of life in a better city. They are looking, as you say, for low crime and decent schools.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

They don’t tolerate gun crime, the homeless can’t set up a home at the door of your business and use the sidewalk as a toilet, looting and rioting aren’t tolerated either, schools are decent (and they have been open for months while kids in blue cities and states fall further behind). IOW they are led by Republicans.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

For anyone wondering, THIS is why the Electoral College matters. Much of flyover country has no desire to be governed by the mentality that runs LA, NY, Chicago, etc.

Ray Zacek
Ray Zacek
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Precisely. Abolition of the EC will mean vast portions of the U.S. need not even vote in national elections which will be decided in the urban areas of a handful of states.

Duggan Flanakin
Duggan Flanakin
3 years ago
Reply to  Ray Zacek

The electoral college should apply to state and even county governments in some cases — imagine if New York and Chicago could not run rampant and destroy the entire upstate NY and downstate IL economies through policies that do nothing to benefit urban dwellers but which crush rural areas of the states.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Ray Zacek

Yes, it would mean that states no longer elect the executive. Which means we don’t have a republic anymore.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

The Latin Americans are, for the most part, hard working Christians with conservative views. They are not the problem per se, although of course if you dump millions of people into an infrastructure that can only support a few hundred thousand people, there will be issues. No, the problem, as is the case always and everywhere, is the lunatic policies enacted by left-wing politicians and ‘elites’.

G Worker
G Worker
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Thinking racially (ie, according to human nature) has the inestimable advantage of explaining instantly why, for example, low-IQ populations without the sublime European genius for civilisation-building are being imported into all the European living spaces and ONLY into all the European living spaces.
Try it some time.

Last edited 3 years ago by G Worker
Emperor Caligula
Emperor Caligula
3 years ago

The problem with being a conspiracy loon is that we keep getting our nutty predictions fulfilled to a T, but there’s never any joy in gloating over being right.

Last edited 3 years ago by Emperor Caligula
Jeff Mason
Jeff Mason
3 years ago

Without exception, America’s largest cities are controlled by Democrats who place their priory on reelection instead of improving the lives of the people who actually pay their salaries. New York experienced a renaissance under the leadership of Rudy Guiliani. His policies weren’t always elegant or popular but they sure worked. How many New Yorkers would welcome a return to those days? I’m betting most of them. San Fran was once the most beautiful city in America. Now it is a virtual cesspool thanks to ‘woke’ politicians who favor the criminal class over the working class. People in these cities complain but then reelect the same, self-serving elites who screwed it up in the first place. Well, stupid is as stupid does. Welcome to the wonderful world of the self-inflicted wound.

Ray Zacek
Ray Zacek
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Mason

I regarded San Fran as the most beautiful and stylish American city; I will not visit again to witness its deterioration.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Ray Zacek

I went about 5 years ago and my youngest daughter was so upset at the beggars all over the streets and having to watch where you step to avoid the piles to excrement. There is an online map warning system now in SF that warns people where the piles are.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago

The Non Conformists and Evangelocal improved the conditions of 19th century slums by insisting on high standards of behaviour: cleanliness, no drinking, no gambling attendance at Chapel and sunday School where the cjildren were taught literacy and numeracy.
Only rate payers could vote and they constructed sewers, water supplies, schools, hopitals, libraries, public baths, introduced gas and electricity. From the 1860s, the Labour Party comprising NC Preachers shopkeepers and craftsmen continued good works, especailly the Friendly Societies. Cleanliness, honesty, hardwork, numeracy, literacy, attendance at Chapel, band practice, births outside of wedlock, drinking in moderation and no gambling, removed the slums.
Bradford, perhaps the worst slum in Britain had gone from 6000 in 1800 to 120,000 in 1850s. The combined efforts of Tories, Liberals and labour Party greatly improved the quality of life as the discovery that bacteria caused disease created a massive push for sanitation and potable water. Tne attitude of I may be poor but I am honest and cleanliness was next to Godliness greatly improved the quality of life as shown by increase in life expectancy. The minimal NC influence in cities such as London, Liverpool and Glasgow meant social improvments were much slower. Docks due to their transient populations of unskilled people are always dirty and dangerous; compare with mining areas of South Wales of the same period.
Want to improve a slum? Introduce the NC/Evangelical Anglican traditions of 19th and 20th century Britain.

vince porter
vince porter
3 years ago

You mean woketopia is not unfolding as planned?

Dorothy Slater
Dorothy Slater
3 years ago

In Portland the answer to your question – are they just totally dumb? – the answer is yes. Our mayor is SO bad that he had to bring in the candidate who lost to him in the last election to help him run the city. We have something on the order of 15,000 homeless and no one has a clue as to how to deal with it except to change the word homeless to houseless. I guess with the hope that if we can just build more houses, the homeless crises will be solved.
Given that Portland is a total mess, the amazing thing is that housing is booming. The average price for a house is now $525,000 and that is for a two bedroom one bath fixer-upper. There are so few houses for sale that one would be buyer offered $75.000 above that asking price no matter if it failed inspection of not.
The rents for the thousands of overpriced cheaply constructed apartments are falling but even with lower rents, there are many many empty buildings around town which add to the charm of the city.
A walk around the high priced sections of Portland with the huge gorgeous homes built in the early part of the 20th century, show another view of Portland entirely. I can assure you, there are no houseless or homeless on their streets but lots of BLM signs on their lawns. .

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  Dorothy Slater

But the citizens voted for those policies. Apparently they see some charm in their ‘freedom’ featuring nightly riots by anarchists. Somebody benefits but it’s not clear the average citizen does. So the city continues to elect leftward progressives – but why?

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
3 years ago
Reply to  Dorothy Slater

The BLM signs are probably there to make sure that the homes are spared next time social justice wants a street party. If I lived in Portland I’d probably stick some on the windows as well just to be safe.

James Rowlands
James Rowlands
3 years ago

Around 29 years ago I worked briefly for a company in a socialist paradise. As an expat I quickly found that the party elites certainly knew how to live well.
One day our company was visited by the local party official. No humour, immaculately dressed, you could literally smell the fear of the locals. My boss said something stupid ( possibly knowing the likely reaction) and 24 hours later he was emptying his flat on his way home.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

The left failed to get the native white workers to do their dirty work, tried with black people and 1st gen middle east migrants – same problem. Now all they have left are junkies and thieves as their proxy army. This might work in parts of the UK and US where the police force is made of similar characters. Its not going to work in the Mid West or Deep South, nor in Spain, Greece or the visigrad countries.

shannon
shannon
3 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

And you have shiny blond Mister Universe types twirling their bristly Edwardian mustaches… honestly, there is so much junk on here.

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  shannon

You’re saying that as if there was anything wrong with blond Mister Universe types or with Edwardian moustaches.
I shudder to imagine what’s your idea of “attractive” – low forehead, 81 IQ, shiny white Nike shoes freshly looted, that sort of thing?

shannon
shannon
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

Nope, just compassionate, intelligent, well-adjusted and devoid of pathological tendencies. Next?

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  shannon

And you think that any such person would get within a ten foot radius around you, eh?
Newsflash: sane, intelligent, well-adjusted people are repulsed by the vomitous wokery you spout.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

It is not per se deliberate but in large cities you can always get people to vote for the promise of more free stuff if they think someone else is paying and they do not really care about the medium to long term

Richard E
Richard E
3 years ago

London is heading the way of New York and Detroit.
Detroit was a wealthy city, one of the wealthiest, Now it’s one of the poorest.

Cho Jinn
Cho Jinn
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard E

Detroit had one of the highest rates of home ownership in the country and, perhaps my preceding generation, was a destination (if mostly Midwest) in the mid 20th century. Cue Coleman A. Young’s administration and things went downhill in historical, regrettable fashion. However, Detroit retains some nice spots, restaurants and nightlife (COVID-considered).

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago

Depends upon nature of immigrant, what benefits they bring and how willing thery are to assimilate.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago

I suspect that it is selfishness rather than ignorance that shapes these policies. People realise their policies are harmful but if they benefit they do not care about the long-term damage that only affects others.

Hilary LW
Hilary LW
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Well of course selfishness plays a part in all these destructive policies, and we’re all capable of acting selfishly in certain situations. But what Sanford is suggesting goes way beyond individual “selfishness” or even greed.

Diane Dorbin
Diane Dorbin
3 years ago

and then, the ‘haves’ fleeing the cities take themselves to small quaint towns and colonize those towns with resorts and golf clubs and the trendy coffee houses, and deplete whatever housing market is left by investing in luxury vacation rentals, drive the ‘riff-raff’ out and then wonder why they can’t find the labor force to sustain their lifestyles and the few locals that remain wonder why school enrollments are plummeting and what happened to their culture.

James Slade
James Slade
3 years ago
Reply to  Diane Dorbin

That isn’t what happens, when they leave the pressure to conform to metropolitan thinking goes. The tech workers living in large ranch style houses in the suburbs of Texas with Republican neighbours don’t need to chant 4 legs good 2 legs bad anymore.

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  Diane Dorbin

And they likely don’t leave behind their ‘urban’ voting habits too, when it comes to elections. Another grim aspect of the “metropolitan elites” fleeing the urban cesspits they so lovingly created; when they spread themselves around the countryside their vote can sway election results.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Diane Dorbin

Can you name a couple of places this has occurred?

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
3 years ago

It’s not coincidental that the US cities with the worst urban blight have long-term Democrat administrations in City Hall.

Richard Turpin
Richard Turpin
3 years ago

Society, like it or lump it, requires law and order.For businesses to thrive, for people to get up in the morning and work a long day and pay their taxes, they need to feel safe and protected from other people that feel the law doesn’t apply to them and can thus behave differently and steal.
If women are going feel safer on the streets and children are able to walk and from school without getting stabbed and shopkeepers are able to open without stepping in human poo and needles then the police should stop being obsessed with the digital age of hateful words and get back to policing the streets. Communities need a much bigger police presence at night with patrols in key areas and in doing so, start doing their jobs. I believe they are hamstrung through fear of being perceived to be unequal in their treatment, having a tweet or text observed for inappropriate content often from years ago or not being sensitive or woke enough to carry out 21 century policing appropriately.
The irony is when the defund the police crowd watch the utter chaos of their woke policies ensue, they change placards and start mouthing off and marching in a different direction blaming the smell on everybody else. The criminal part is, it’s the most vulnerable within the crime infested communities that suffer the most.

M Spahn
M Spahn
3 years ago

Nobody was “blocking” Amazon. They wanted corporate welfare, and then had a hissy fit as soon as anyone raised questions about it.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  M Spahn

Yes, you have a point about Amazon. They seem to be a largely evil company and they certainly should not be given any tax breaks.

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

This is why the identity politics agenda is so insidious and socially damaging.

The US Democrats aren’t a million miles away from the British Labour Party and one has to wonder whether this continuing blind alley, narrow obsession over the largely irrelevant things that set people apart from each other rather than the far, far more important and greater number of things that should be bringing them together eg jobs, pay, education, housing, healthcare etc are being deliberately ignored and exploited for their own expedient political ends.

The demographics of the US are obviously very different but there are striking parallels, and this tendency to divide and rule rather than strive to find common ground shows either a paucity of imagination, if we’re being kind, or a darkly cynical desire for power for its own sake.

Certainly in the UK the Labour Party here has incrementally rendered itself increasingly irrelevant to its once core working class vote by pandering ad nauseam to this divisive nonsense whilst morphing into a party of the metropolitan, middle classes ‘with a social conscience’ who lap it up voraciously, nay now expect it.

To be brutally honest the only thing that keeps Labour at the forefront of British or more specifically English and Welsh politics nowadays, with Scotland long since lost to it, is the UK’s First Past the Post electoral system.

Take that away and its decline would be far more marked and faster.

Sadly, there just simply doesn’t appear to be anyone on the left with a broad, alternative vision anymore, let alone anyone willing or brave enough to repudiate the very thing that is slowly strangling it and, I suspect, America’s Democrats can’t be that far behind.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

The alternative to Idpol is class war. Therefore, the smart money sees to it that Idpol gets funded — Democrats in the US, Labour in the UK. Divide and rule.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Starry Gordon

Not in the US. The alternative is red states.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

“The US Democrats aren’t a million miles away from the British Labour Party and one has to wonder whether this continuing blind alley, narrow obsession over the largely irrelevant things that set people apart from each other”
You are right but there is one major difference between the US and the UK in terms of how much damage the democrats can do in the US. And that is the existence of sovereign states. US states have far more power in many ways to affect daily life than the US federal government does. So if you look at what democrats are doing at the federal level, states can respond to protect their citizens from the worst of the damage. Democrats are trying to cram critical race theory down everyone’s throats but states are beginning to ban the teaching of it in public schools to protect citizens from being taught to hate each other. Florida, for example, has banned it.
Georgia would be another good example, the state just passed a law to protect elections while the democrats in congress are trying to take over state election processes. They likely won’t be able to do so because elections are state matters but there will undoubtedly be a trip or two to the Supreme Court before it’s all over.
Americans can simply choose to live in states that protect their rights and don’t try to get everyone to hate everyone else.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

Good point regarding the separation.of sovereign states and their attitudes toward this, but still unsure about some of Georgia’s moves over electoral reform there.

Any further thoughts?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

I think on balance it is good legislation. It does the following:
1) expands early voting Previously, only one day of weekend early voting was required throughout the state, with counties given the option of offering more. Now two Saturdays will be required, and counties can offer two Sunday voting days as well.
2) prevents organized groups like the NRA or Planned Parenthood from showing up at the polls and handing out food and gifts as a way to swing votes. They can still bring drinks to be left for voters to pick up, if they want to, but they can’t go up to voters and hand out freebies. This prevents last minute campaigning while people are in line to vote. And of course, voters may always bring their own drinks and refreshments.
3)Georgia is the only state in the nation that mandates runoff elections between the top two finishers following general elections in which no candidate achieves a majority. Like some other states, Georgia also mandates runoffs for candidates who do not win a majority in a party primary. The new law shortens the time for runoffs from nine weeks to four, with lawmakers saying the current span is “exhausting” and needs to be shortened to a “more manageable period.” In my view, four weeks is plenty.
4) Voters over 65, with a disability, in the military or who live overseas will still be able to apply once for a ballot and automatically receive one the rest of an election cycle. But the earliest voters can request a mail-in ballot will be 11 weeks before an election instead of 180 days.
The final deadline to complete an application is moved earlier, too. Instead of returning an application by the Friday before election day, SB 202 now backs it up to two Fridays before. Time-wise, this doesn’t appear problematic.
5) Requesting and returning a ballot will also require new ID rules: either your driver’s license number, state ID number or, if you don’t have those, a copy of acceptable voter ID. You cannot do anything these days without an ID, so this doesn’t appear unreasonable to me.
The law also allows for applications to be returned online, after the Secretary of State’s office launched an online request portal using your driver’s license number or state ID number ahead of November’s general election.
Poll workers will use that information, plus your name, date of birth and address, to verify your identity, and you will sign an oath swearing that everything is correct. This is a change from recent procedure that would check your signature on the application with those on file. Signature checking is time consuming and open to human error of course,

Paul Ansell
Paul Ansell
3 years ago

This is a timely piece by the author.
Maybe I would alter the title of this piece though, as prior to 2020 some cities had been doing well, others not so well. But since then 2 things have occurred that have had enormous repercussions George Floyd and Covid.
The rioting and looting have resulted in many businesses being lost permanently as they will not relocate to these areas. This is being compounded by the Defund the Police crowd who seem oblivious to the spike in crime rates.
Due to Covid, many people are now working from home and this has had an impact on those industries that service the downtown white collar workers, from cleaners to cafe workers.
Cities need people to thrive, which means they need to attract businesses, you know …to employ people. Currently, too many politicians are busy playing to the gallery and the result has been a spike in crime that has hit those most vulnerable hardest.
This is irony that goes way over the head of the Woke crowd.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Ansell

Many cities are still doing well. Because they don’t allow rioting and looting. They don’t allow gun violence. Businesses are protected from the violent. These cities benefit from refugees from dysfunctional blue cities. So many of us are not all that upset if blue cities want to destroy themselves. At some point, you have to recognize that there are people who don’t mind living that way. And for those of us who would mind it if we were forced to accept it, we benefit when companies escape to better managed cities and states. This is one of the main benefits to living in the US, you can choose where to live and what you are willing to abide.

clem alford
clem alford
3 years ago

As John Kenneth Gailbraith wrote under capitalism you have private affluence and public squalor. How right he was. And if the politicians elected to represent and improve social conditions don’t then there will be more dystopian violence and disorder.

Last edited 3 years ago by clem alford
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  clem alford

That is certainly true of democrat run cities but not of all cities.

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago

the majority of commentators here argue that anyone who isn’t a White European is a burden on our wonderful civilisation. 

What? Nobody argues that. Are you one of those dimwits for whom ‘non-white’ means ‘thirdworlder’ exclusively?
Show me anyone who regards Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, etc. people as “burden”. There’s a lot more shades to “non-white” than the whiny blacks.

shannon
shannon
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

Well you’re a breath of foetid air aren’t you.

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  shannon

No, not really.
You, on the other hand….

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

Funny how often that works

Eric Kreitzer
Eric Kreitzer
3 years ago

The Amazon “deal” was corporate welfare scam for a nearly trillion dollar company. Why should Bezos get a break the small business man dosen’t? Meanwhile, Google is expanding its footprint without the tax payer footing the bill.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Eric Kreitzer

Because Amazon brings with it thousands of jobs. Is the small business man doing that? Your confusion is that you believe that Queens was being asked to give money to Amazon (corporate welfare), it wasn’t. It was tax breaks. Tax breaks for companies based on the number of jobs they bring are not uncommon at all in the US. If they don’t bring the jobs, they don’t get the break. AOC is a cut your own nose off to spite your face type, even Andrew Cuomo knew that Queens needed the jobs.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago

I can see you don’t know the underlying facts of the Amazon in Queens story. What happened was this: Amazon had bought off virtually all the local politicians, bureaucrats, fixers, and rentiers, with one exception: the labor unions. (Of course the local people didn’t like Amazon coming in because the area had already been gentrified, and they did not need crap jobs across the street, but even though most of them were well-off they didn’t count.) So a couple of union leaders went to the Amazon team and said, ‘You can do what you want here as long as we can do what we want,’ that is, organize. Amazon is scared to death of unions because their business model depends on exploiting minimal-cost labor. Their team ran away. Then AOC and company took credit for running them off, leading from behind, as they say. In this she read the politics of the locals, especially the gentry, very well.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Starry Gordon

I think people do need jobs at an average of more than $100k a year. But that’s just me. And where do you consider gentrified in AOC’s district? This should be good for a laugh.
But it wasn’t unions that drove Amazon away. It was objections to their tax benefits which were based on hiring levels. In any case, the jobs went to others and unemployment in Queens remained above the US average.
NY Senator Michael Gianaris, whose district includes Long Island City opposed Amazon pointing out the many other needs for the money coming from what he called “massive tax incentives”. Which is bizarre because that’s not how tax incentives work. Here’s what he said. “Our money is better spent investing directly in our future: functioning mass transit, thriving schools, affordable housing, We should not need to pay massive corporations to bring their largess to our communities—let us build that future ourselves.”
Again, no one was paying Amazon anything.
btw, the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union pointed to the tax breaks as well when they protested Amazon moving to LIC. So no, it wasn’t that the jobs were not unionized, it was the tax breaks that they did not understand.
Personally I hope that Amazon does get unionized. I would love to see Bezos’ face if that were to happen. It would be well deserved.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Jennifer Britton
Jennifer Britton
3 years ago

Very interesting and timely writing…thank you.

Defunding the police was a bad idea when it first started to be voiced. And now the scenes of the police going into the King Sooper grocery store as the shooter was still shooting shooters make the idea not just bad but insane.

Dying cities are worrisome for all the reasons the writer mentions. As cites collapse we can expect to see rising crime and fewer dollars to support law enforcement. Those left behind in these failed cities will be left to fend for themselves in what will come to resemble a Mad Max Thunder Dome.

We have not learned one of Plato’s most important lessons: we often don’t know what is good for us. But being able to recognize what we really need means some rational thought, a rare commodity in the age of identity grievance politics.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

“Those left behind in these failed cities will be left to fend for themselves in what will come to resemble a Mad Max Thunder Dome.
They get what they voted for. We won’t see rising crime and fewer dollars, we are ALREADY seeing both as those who can, move away. Baltimore’s mayor just announced that they city would stop prosecuting crimes like prostitution and drugs. Think that’s going to help the city? Yet I’d guess she will be re-elected, no matter how bad it gets. And Baltimore is already really really bad,
Portland Oregon has the nation’s third highest rate of car theft. Yet it was almost never prosecuted. The state legislature had to change the law through House Bill 2328 which makes it easier for prosecutors to prove that a person is guilty of stealing a car given certain types of evidence, such as discovering the person behind the wheel of a stolen vehicle while possessing burglary tools. I kid you not. Being caught behind the wheel of a stolen car was not enough to get you prosecuted before. How dumb can people be?
Two 14 year olds in California who filmed themselves killing a 13 year old and dancing on the body were just released by a judge in CA to their parents with no sentence other than anger management therapy. This will work out well don’t you think? Their next victim is likely out there right now, totally unsuspecting. Same with the two teenage girls in DC who just carjacked a Pakistani Uber Eats driver and father of three, whom they murdered when he refused to give up his car. The mayor carefully referred to it as “a tragic accident”. Awwww, they all had an “accident”.
I don’t feel sorry for people in cities like Baltimore and DC and NY and SF and Seattle and Portland at all. I am delighted I don’t have to put up rioting and looting in dying cities while the leaders focus on renaming schools they won’t open.
If people aren’t smart enough to vote out the folks allowing this all to happen, then they get to live with it. Elections have consequences.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
David Harrison
David Harrison
3 years ago

So your solution is the oligarchy?LOL!!

Jorge Toer
Jorge Toer
3 years ago

A decline of very good society ,,progresives&capitalism are rotten, for one another, intelectuals for the two extremes are mortaly sick.
Corruption from all levels, unlimited freedom made a very curious reality,every one have is ways, but the general situation is worse.
Like in british soil,,the greedy capitalism made us the some,live in a unrealistic sense of patriotic idiotic behaviour that kills us fast,
Trump there,,Johnson here,,humans going to end of the roads

shannon
shannon
3 years ago

The window has moved so far to the right that seemingly sensible people talk about ‘The Left’ as if it was trying to destroy civilisation. That’s a real big bee up the ass people. How about thinking of the left as the ones who would try to support you if you were put on the street by your landlord after you were sacked for not running around a warehouse fast enough to keep your bleeper happy while ill due to not being able to afford meds. Maybe that doesn’t compute, because you’re all so happy on the teet you don’t realise you’re a couple of misfortunate steps away from such a scenario.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  shannon

‘The window has moved so far to the right that seemingly sensible people talk about ‘The Left’ as if it was trying to destroy civilisation.’
But the left is trying to destroy civilisation. The destruction of civilisation is the inevitable consequence of its beliefs and policies, as we have seen for over 100 years.

shannon
shannon
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Well, that was quite funny. ‘The Left’ sure have been busy in your mind. Meanwhile outside the world is heading towards climate and ecological disaster. Because of ‘The Left’ I guess.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
3 years ago
Reply to  shannon
Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
3 years ago
Reply to  shannon

Because of ‘The Left’ I guess.

You guessed right. The socialist countries were more disastrous to the environment than anything ever – still are, just look at China. But the USSR and its European colonies did such large-scale environmental damage than 30 years on those countries are still struggling with the impact.
That aside, it is ‘the Left’ who is hellbent to import the thirdworld’s obscenely large population overspill into the civilised world. Explosive thirdworld population growth is the single biggest threat to the global ecosystem.

Noah Ebtihej Sdiri
Noah Ebtihej Sdiri
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

In France, historically, it was the neoliberal right that advocated for open borders and in the 1970s, imported hundreds of thousands of non-European immigrants to break the labor movement and weaken the communist party.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

The Chinese are not ‘the Left’. The Chinese Politburo is composed mostly of billionaires.

X Xer
X Xer
3 years ago
Reply to  shannon

The progressive left in California voted for Prop 22 exempting Uber and Lyft from classifying drivers as employees, which doesn’t sound too charitable to me.
It’s silly to blame ‘the right’ for pointing out the facts that urban decay and decline is the result of the “progressive” hegemony on both US coasts. Don’t shoot the messenger!

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  shannon

How about thinking of the left as the ones who would try to support you if you were put on the street by your landlord after you were sacked for not running around a warehouse fast enough to keep your bleeper happy while ill due to not being able to afford meds.
that’s quite the collection of straw men within the same sentence. If your version of the left was doing these things, cities would not be the disasters they are.

shannon
shannon
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

My version of the left is very busy campaigning on these things. These things are, incidentally, all things the ‘right’ seem to be comfortable with. So the narrative is ‘Look, with your organised labour laws you are stopping people getting jobs’ then later when people are hollowed out and fired or fall ill and can’t get insurance on their pay grade it’s very much:

………………………………………..

So anyway, which version of ‘the left’ are you thinking of? The one Alan Moore was banging on about in his comics?

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
3 years ago
Reply to  shannon

Good to have your input Shannon-keep it up !

shannon
shannon
3 years ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

Do I have to?