Tag Archives: Cities

Cities Have Themselves To Blame, Not COVID-19, For Sinkhole Status, by Fergus Hodgson

A lot of cities were in bad shape before Covid-19. Now they’re in even worse shape. From Fergus Hodgson at The Epoch Times via zerohedge.com:

The receding economic tide this past year has revealed many city officials to be naked.

Oft-forgotten amid the COVID-19 chaos is that their fiscal crises predated the virus’s spread. According to Truth in Accounting (TIA), a nonprofit fiscal watchdog, 62 of the 75 largest U.S. cities were already in the red in 2019.

That statistic comes from the latest TIA “Financial State of the Cities” report (pdf), which came out in the last week of January. The authors’ objective is to provide citizens with easy-to-understand information and peer comparisons regarding their local governments’ finances.

The total liabilities of the 75 most-populated U.S. cities amounted to $333.5 billion at the end of the 2019 fiscal year. Defined pension and medical commitments make up the lion’s share of the unfunded debt.

Sunshine Cities vs. Sinkhole Cities

The TIA report delivered not a single “A” grade. In other words, no major U.S. city had a taxpayer surplus—available funds to pay bills divided by residents—of $10,000 or more.

However, one Californian city, Irvine, set an example and at least stayed above water. Retaining the title of the fiscally healthiest city for the second consecutive year, Irvine registered a taxpayer surplus of $4,100 per resident.

Even if Irvine posts a lower surplus in the following fiscal year, hit by the pandemic, it has enough resources to weather the storm. “Irvine’s elected officials have truly balanced their budgets,” the TIA team claims.

Washington, D.C., Lincoln, Stockton, and Charlotte follow Irvine. Together, they make up the top five “sunshine cities”—those with enough money to pay all their accumulated debt to date.

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The Behavioral Sink: A Fable For Our Times, by Hardscrabble Farmer

Is humanity the subject of a giant human-scale experiment equivalent to a famous one done on rats in the 1950s and 1960s. There are definitely some similarities. From Hardscrabble Farmer at theburningplatform.com:

Not long after the last of the last American soldiers returned home at the close of WWII, a little-known ethologist named John B. Calhoun set up a quarter acre pen somewhere on the outskirts of Rockville, Maryland and populated it with several dozen Norwegian rats. His experiment was meant to see just how large the population density would become if they were provided with adequate food, water, shelter and protection from predators so that all of their needs were met. Fellow researchers dubbed his experiment rat utopia and before long he had discovered the answer to his question.

When his research caught the eye of bureaucrats at the National Institute for Mental Health, they approached him with an offer of unlimited funding for another project along the same lines under stricter conditions than the bucolic environs of a pasture just north of Washington, D.C. By 1954 he had devised a complex interior setup for his rats to inhabit that divided the environment into four cells, each configured to provide a continuous supply of food, water and bedding with plenty of space for nests and open areas for social interaction. Into each of these he placed an equal number of both male and female rats and simply watched as they began to at first explore and then to colonize and dominate their surroundings.

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Another Nail In The Coffin Of Big Cities, by John Rubino

Many of America’s cities are toast. From John Rubino at dollarcollapse.com:

The riots, political turmoil, and other banana republic embarrassments seem to be ending – for now. So let’s get back to examining the real problems of this hyper-leveraged, dangerously-complex world. Like how big cities might soon be obsolete:

Pretend it’s 2019 and you’re living in a major US city. You, your spouse and two kids have a fairly nice (though admittedly very expensive) apartment in a relatively safe neighborhood, and life is pretty good. There’s a park nearby, dozens of great restaurants within walking distance, and plenty of interesting friends. And of course your high-paying jobs are right there.

Then comes 2020. A pandemic causes your mayor to panic and lock down the city. There go the park, friends, and restaurants. And before the horror of this new normal has a chance to sink in, civil unrest explodes and turns your once-iconic neighborhood into a Mad Maxian war zone of burned-out cars and boarded up storefronts.

If it was just you, you might stick it out. But with a family, this life is now untenable. So you look into moving, preferably to somewhere semi-rural where neither a lockdown nor riots will ever be a problem and the kids can actually play outside. Maybe it’s time to indulge your fantasy of working remotely from a homestead in a gorgeous place.

But you immediately hit a technological speed bump: Broadband Internet, which up to this point had seemed both ubiquitous and a basic human right, isn’t available on the homesteads you now covet. The only option out there is low-tech, unreliable, molasses-slow satellite Internet that, if the reviews are to be believed, is worse than nothing at all.

You realize that if you want to keep doing your work at a high level, you’ll have to stay urban, or at best suburban, with all the health and safety risks that that now implies. Big cities and their burbs, it seems, will live on for a while as necessary places for sophisticated professionals to do their thing.

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The Scary Truth About Living in Big Cities During the Turbulent Times Ahead, by Jeff Thomas

In the Age of Chaos, cities are no where you want to be. From Jeff Thomas at internationalman.com:

International Man: Amid the Covid-19 hysteria and global shutdown, the drawbacks of living in a big city have become more apparent.

Sure, cities can offer more career opportunities. Still, they are also more expensive, dirtier, have higher levels of crime, crowded, have fragile supply lines, and infrastructure that can get easily overwhelmed.

How do you view the value proposition of living in a big city today, given what is transpiring?

Jeff Thomas: Well, in my college years, I found cities to be very attractive. Lots of social opportunities, lots of shops, a greater variety of goods, etc. But, during that time, I was very fortunate to have experienced two city crises from which I learned valuable lessons.

The first was an oil crisis in the winter of 1973. It was bad enough that many people had to abandon their cars, some out on the highway, in the snow. Some people died from exposure.

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The Breakdown Of Law In American Cities, by Samantha Biggers

It’s one thing if a police force is simply overwhelmed by crime. It’s another thing altogether if it simply stops enforcing certain laws. From Samantha Biggers at backdoorsurvival.com:

There is a disturbing trend in the cities of America. This trend is the complete disregard of the law and a persistent ignoring of very serious problems that affect the health, safety, and wellbeing of all that live, work, or do business in them and the surrounding suburbs. This cannot go on without some very serious consequences. When people are forced to take the law into their own hands, the situation can get out of hand quickly. Violence and chaos are far too easy to start and difficult or even impossible to stop without massive devastation.

When there is no law then that is anarchy and many of the larger cities in the United States are descending into it.

Anarchy is a slippery slope. When leaders issue orders to not arrest people for crimes, that is a warning sign that things are going downhill at a rapid rate.

What laws are not being enforced?

Shoplifting

Stores are being told they are on their own when it comes to stopping shoplifters. Everyone can just hire their own security force right? That is totally affordable for the small business owner in the eyes of some.

Vagrancy

There was a time when people would be told to move on or go to jail. Now there is no jail and police are not allowed to break up homeless camps in cities, even when they are literally on the sidewalks.

Smaller amounts of hard drugs like meth and opioids

Cities such as Seattle have told their police to not even bother booking someone unless they have more than about 30 doses of heroin. That is considered a personal amount and not anything anyone should worry about.

Property rights

One would think they have the right to say that someone cannot live on their property without permission or paying rent. More property owners are finding that they have a much harder time ridding their property of squatters.

People can make fun and scoff at celebrity LA landowners like Johnny Rotten for complaining about homeless encampments on their front yard but the man has a legitimate complaint. His wife has Alzheimer’s and a bunch of people in the front yard that are on drugs and unstable is not a safe situation.  Just because someone is wealthy doesn’t mean they don’t have a legitimate complaint if property laws are not enforced.

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California Dream Has Become an Overcrowded Nightmare, by Joe Schaeffer

Let’s add overtaxed and overregulated to overcrowded. From Joe Schaeffer at libertynation.com:

The state’s leftist immigration policies choke the livable life out of urban centers.

The quality of life in the former paradise known as the state of California continues to decline precipitously. Overcrowding, strained resources, homelessness, and accompanying social welfare hazards seriously hamper the Golden State’s major urban population centers. Instead of acknowledging that some form of course correction to developments over the past 30-odd years is necessary, however, California’s Democrat politicians are steadfastly beating the drum for and attempting to accommodate massive legal and illegal immigration into their congested domains.

Sardine Cities

“The California ranch-house lifestyle — founded on sunshine and ample backyard space for a pool — has become increasingly unaffordable for middle-class families in urban areas where most jobs exist. Living space has tightened and become impossibly pricey for too many,” the Los Angeles Times reports in what reads very much like an elegy for a lost land.

“It was wonderful when our population was only 12 million in the 1950s and 22 million in the 1970s. But now we’re at 40 million and headed to 50 million by 2050,” The Times reports.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s solution: stack bodies up to the sky. The Democrat, a staunch advocate for illegal aliens, is turning a blind eye to the negative effects of encouraging foreigners to pour into his state and instead trying to handle the swell of lower income residents by building what The Times states will be“densely populated, multistory living [areas] near transportation centers.”

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Who Benefits From Democratic Control? by Walter E. Williams

Blacks have hurt themselves by throwing their electoral support overwhelmingly to one party. From Walter E. Williams at lewrockwell.com:

In 1976, Gerald Ford won 15 percent of the black vote. That’s the most of any recent Republican presidential candidate. In most elections, blacks give Democrats over 90 percent of their votes. It’s not unreasonable to ask what have blacks gained from such unquestioning loyalty to the Democratic Party. After all, the absolute worst public safety conditions and other urban amenities for blacks are in cities that have been controlled by Democrats for decades. Let’s look at it.

What cities are the deadliest for blacks? The Trace, an independent nonprofit news organization, answers that question. Using 2017 data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program, The Trace (http://tinyurl.com/y9bvwlh2) listed the 20 major U.S. cities with the highest homicide rates — factoring in both the number of people murdered in cities and their populations. Chicago, with 589 murders in 2018 — one murder every 15 hours — is often called the nation’s murder capital. But that’s dead wrong.

In 2017, St. Louis had the nation’s highest murder rate, at 66.1 homicides per 100,000 residents. Baltimore came in second, with 55.8 murders per 100,000 people. Detroit was third, with 39.8 murders per 100,000 people. Other cities with high murder rates included New Orleans; Kansas City, Missouri; Cleveland; Memphis, Tennessee; and Newark, New Jersey. With 24.1 murders per 100,000 residents, Chicago ranked ninth in the nation. It was followed by Cincinnati and Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., was 17th.

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The great exodus out of America’s blue cities, by Kristin Tate

People are getting fed up with the high costs, taxes, crime, grime, and homelessness rampant in many of America’s cities, most of which have been run by Democrats for decades. From Kristin Tate at thehill.com:

Am I the only one in my spinning class at Equinox in Manhattan who’s fed up paying $200 every month for a gym with clean showers, $3,000 in rent every month for an apartment without cockroaches and $8 every morning for a cup of coffee? Am I the only one moving through the greater part of New York City boroughs and seeing an inexorable march of urban decay matched with the discomfort of crowding and inexplicable costs? I know I am not.

New York is the most expensive city in America. Its lower-cost neighborhoods are riddled with crime and homelessness. Its public schools, some of which are among the worst in the nation, look more like prisons than places of learning.

With between up to 50 percent of their paycheck going to a combination of federal, local and city taxes, not including other consumer taxes baked into every aspect of their consumer practices, residents don’t even have the comfort of knowing that their tax expenditures are going to the improvement of their lives in the city. New York infamously misuses the hard-earned tax revenues of its citizens in ways that scarcely benefit them.

Eventually, city and state taxes, fees, and regulations become so burdensome that people and corporations jump ship. More people are currently fleeing New York than any other metropolitan area in the nation. More than 1 million people have moved out of the New York City metro area since 2010 in search of greener pastures, which amounts to a negative net migration rate of 4.4 percent.

The recently passed tax bill, which repeals the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, will only speed up the exodus. Thanks to the bill’s passage, many New York taxpayers will save little or nothing despite a cut in the federal rate. The state’s highest earners — who have been footing an outsized share of the bill — will pay tens of thousands of dollars more in income taxes in 2018. In New York alone, loss of the SALT deduction will remove $72 billion a year in tax deductions and affect 3.4 million residents.

To continue reading: The great exodus out of America’s blue cities

Attention America’s Suburbs: You Have Just Been Annexed, by Stanley Kurtz

If you have not heard about President Obama’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Regulations (SLL had not) it’s time to bring yourself up to speed. These regulations that my have as wide reaching and pernicious impact as Obamacare. From Stanley Kurtz, via a guest post on theburningplatform.com:

It’s difficult to say what’s more striking about President Obama’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation:its breathtaking radicalism, the refusal of the press to cover it, or its potential political ramifications. The danger AFFH poses to Democrats explains why the press barely mentions it. This lack of curiosity, in turn, explains why the revolutionary nature of the rule has not been properly understood. Ultimately, the regulation amounts to back-door annexation, a way of turning America’s suburbs into tributaries of nearby cities.

This has been Obama’s purpose from the start. In Spreading the Wealth: How Obama Is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities, I explain how a young Barack Obama turned against the suburbs and threw in his lot with a group of Alinsky-style community organizers who blamed suburban tax-flight for urban decay. Their bible was Cities Without Suburbs, by former Albuquerque mayor David Rusk. Rusk, who works closely with Obama’s Alinskyite mentors and now advises the Obama administration, initially called on cities to annex their surrounding suburbs. When it became clear that outright annexation was a political non-starter, Rusk and his followers settled on a series of measures designed to achieve de facto annexation over time.

The plan has three elements: 1) Inhibit suburban growth, and when possible encourage suburban re-migration to cities. This can be achieved, for example, through regional growth boundaries (as in Portland), or by relative neglect of highway-building and repair in favor of public transportation. 2) Force the urban poor into the suburbs through the imposition of low-income housing quotas. 3) Institute “regional tax-base sharing,” where a state forces upper-middle-class suburbs to transfer tax revenue to nearby cities and less-well-off inner-ring suburbs (as in Minneapolis/St. Paul).

If you press suburbanites into cities, transfer urbanites to the suburbs, and redistribute suburban tax money to cities, you have effectively abolished the suburbs. For all practical purposes, the suburbs would then be co-opted into a single metropolitan region. Advocates of these policy prescriptions call themselves “regionalists.”

AFFH goes a long way toward achieving the regionalist program of Obama and his organizing mentors. In significant measure, the rule amounts to a de facto regional annexation of America’s suburbs. To see why, let’s have a look at the rule.

To continue reading: Attention America’s Suburbs