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December 6, 2021

December 6, 2021

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Progressive Politics Hasten the Tragic Demise of Great American Cities

by | Sep 8, 2020 |

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Our great nation is presently experiencing a disturbingly dangerous period of economic and social upheaval that threatens to shroud and discredit our awareness of lessons-learned from a shared history, and to replace our cherished inherited constitutional independent freedoms with government-conscripted conformity.
A new pandemic of protests, riots, and lootings is certain to propel an already tele-work accelerated flight of fright exodus of small businesses and affluent residents from turbulent social disorder that is tragically being allowed to rage out of control in many of our nation’s major urban centers.
Daniel Henninger has written a highly insightful article about this alarming political and moral crisis in his June 18 Wall Street Journal piece, “The Coming Urban Exodus.”


How and Why an Accelerating Urban Exodus Is Forever Transforming America’s Economic and Political Landscape
A Three Part Series:

  1. Tele-Work Affords Business and Family Access to Suburban and Rural Lifestyle Advantages
  2. Coronavirus Pandemic Turbocharges Information Technology Shift to Virtual Platforms
  3. Progressive Politics Hasten the Tragic Demise of Great American Cities

Henninger observes that many of the same city centers that have experienced nonstop street marches and significant lootings following outrage over the Minneapolis murder of George Floyd, were the ones already losing population: New York (as always), Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, St Louis, Minneapolis, Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., on and on. This trend, he argues, reflects an ambivalence – at best- on the part of modern urban progressive governance towards maintaining civil order, political incompetence, and intellectual incoherence.

At a time of growing crime and chaos, politically progressive and impotent state and municipal leaders are acquiescing to radically incompressible demands to defund the police.

In New York, with blocks of stores boarded up and cherry bombs exploding nightly everywhere, the City Council had agreed to cut the city’s police budget by $1 billion, or one-sixth. Nevertheless, even that may not be appeasement enough. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a plaintive request to the daily street protests: “You don’t need to protest. You won. You won.”
Cuomo then even more lamely capitulated, pleading “What reform do you want? What do you want?”
Those who can afford to are fleeing in droves.
Speaking at an Aug. 8 press conference, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, “I literally talk to [wealthy] people all day long who are now in their Hamptons house who also lived here, or in their Hudson Valley house or in their Connecticut weekend house, and I say, You got to come back, when are you coming back?”
Gov. Cuomo added in jest, “We’ll go to dinner, I’ll buy you a drink, come over, I’ll cook.”
The governor’s comments came as state legislators called upon him to authorize a “billionaires’ tax” which he has vehemently rejected because the richest 1% already pay half of the city’s taxes.
The wealthy aren’t the only ones who are leaving.
Months of pandemic shutdowns and protests have compressed many years of progressive economic business and lifestyle ruin by liberal domination of major cities into endlessly tragic scenes.
As many as 1,000 rioters and looters ransacked designer stores on Chicago’s famed Magnificent Mile, injuring more than a dozen police officers in the process.
Daniel Henninger observed in another July 23 Wall Street Journal op-ed,

“No matter one’s politics, it is sickening to see this happening to any U.S. city — mobs hammering and burning buildings along Portland’s streets, and then a carbon-copy mob battering Seattle.”

“Outside wartime, with bombardments turning blocks into rubble, I’m hard put to think of any precedent for what is happening to these U.S. cities now. The enforced pandemic closures and isolation were bad enough. But the endless protests — with their instinct to violence and atmosphere of dread — have broken the spirit of many cities.”

Most all of the worst riot and crime-plagued urban casualties have long histories of far-left Democrat rule. These conditions continue to worsen as progressive prosecutors refuse to prosecute; and police hold back because progressive mayors and governors don’t have their backs.
Daniel Henninger points out that looking beyond the serious civil disorder and mayhem reveals a very sad evolutionary reality, namely that “the irrepressible vitality of these cities— their reason for being — is disappearing, undone by pandemic, lockdowns and a new culture of permanent protest.”
Large liberal cities are particularly impacted by a deepening political division between progressive elites and working-class residents, primarily the people who own or work for the storefront businesses that are the lifeblood of these cities.
Henninger cites an example where outdoor dining tables of restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen on Manhattan’s West Side have become overrun by “disturbed half-dressed beggars,” whom Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has housed in nearby hotels.
One restaurant owner lamented, “Every bit of progress this neighborhood has made over the years is stepping backwards.”
Additionally, in response to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s directive that alcohol cannot be served without food, many bar owners say they won’t survive. On top of this, the Bronx unemployment rate recently reached a Depression level of 24.7%.
The net result in many cities since the coronavirus pandemic has led to a sense on the part of residents of irresolvable chaos, stress and threat. This helplessly futile perception is buttressed by urban-based media that as Henninger notes have “become bizarrely invested in apocalyptic story lines, picking at scab after scab and problem after problem.”
He adds, “People with all sorts of political beliefs are going to get out because they are watching city after city reach a tipping point of social disorder and political disorganization.”
Meanwhile, previously undervalued suburbs and exurbs, distant from city centers, are gaining residents.
Henninger warns of a great reordering of America’s population as more and more distrustful people determine that it is time to separate themselves and their families from dangers and moral decline of high-density urban life. He believes that many are deciding that the cost-benefits that they once valued just aren’t working for them anymore, “with incentives mounting to move out.”
Worsening urban crime problems will discourage recoveries. Increasing numbers of New Yorkers and other major metropolitan residents have already decamped to the suburbs or relocated to safer and more affordable, family-friendly Republican states.
To be clear, the decline of many of our greatest American cities is a tragedy not only for their residents, but for our nation as a whole.
And while we can all be confident and grateful that disruptively painful impacts of this pandemic, and the viral social acrimony that divides good people of all political persuasions will pass, we should also expect that the pathway to recovery will be both difficult and long, requiring massive leadership and policy changes.


How and Why an Accelerating Urban Exodus Is Forever Transforming America’s Economic and Political Landscape
A Three Part Series:

  1. Tele-Work Affords Business and Family Access to Suburban and Rural Lifestyle Advantages
  2. Coronavirus Pandemic Turbocharges Information Technology Shift to Virtual Platforms
  3. Progressive Politics Hasten the Tragic Demise of Great American Cities

General Series Introduction:
A demographic business and residential shift away from many large metropolitan centers caused by a coronavirus-accelerated tele-work trend and growing crime and social disorder is reshaping America’s economic and political landscape.
As discussed in Larry’s 2018 pre-COVID-19 book Reinventing Ourselves: How Technology is Rapidly and Radically Transforming Humanity, this escalating business and cultural population exodus to surrounding or distant suburban and rural areas will inevitably extend and deepen preexisting regional ideological divides.
Many metropolitan centers were already losing large tax-paying headquarter companies and employees through a digital wave of workplace and workforce transitions away from traditional big office — big city — operating structures made possible by internet connectivity.
Survival necessities, in combination with newly realized remote-working employer and employee benefits, continue to cause more and more corporations to dramatically downsize central city offices, or relocate them altogether.
And it just got worse. A new pandemic of protests, riots, and lootings is certain to propel an accelerated flight of fright exodus of small businesses and affluent residents from turbulent social chaos that is tragically being allowed to rage out of control in many of our nation’s major urban centers.
As Americans we share a common history, common cultural and family values, common economic needs and self-fulfillment aspirations, and a common future. We celebrate our independence to speak and live freely, and we revere the enrichment and empowerment afforded by non-prejudicial diversity expressed and exercised through lifestyle preferences.
Our great nation is presently experiencing a disturbingly dangerous period of economic and social upheaval that threatens to shroud, discredit and to replace our cherished inherited constitutional independent freedoms with government-conscripted conformity.
John Steinbeck painted a grim picture of accelerating outcomes of this disruptive and destructive trend in his 1960 book Travels with Charley: In Search of America. He writes:
“When a city begins to grow and spread outward from its edges, the center which was once its glory…goes into a period of desolation inhabited at night by the vague ruins of men. The lotus eaters who struggle daily toward unconsciousness by the way of raw alcohol.
Nearly every city I know has such a dying mother of violence and despair where at night the brightness of the street lamps is sucked away and policemen walk in pairs.”
More optimistically, Steinbeck adds:
“And then one day perhaps the city returns and rips out the sore and builds a monument to its past.”
The challenge at hand is for human society to now determine what cultural and economic monuments to achievements and failures will ultimately represent America’s future.

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Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston. He founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the space architecture graduate program. He is the author of several books, including "Reinventing Ourselves: How Technology is Rapidly and Radically Transforming Humanity" (2019), "Thinking Whole: Rejecting Half-Witted Left & Right Brain Limitations" (2018), "Reflections on Oceans and Puddles: One Hundred Reasons to be Enthusiastic, Grateful and Hopeful” (2017), "Cosmic Musings: Contemplating Life Beyond Self" (2016), and "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles."

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