Monday, June 15, 2009

Thoughts on cities and societal shift

Another story of decay, albeit a minor one. H/T to Shomes on the story.

The other day, I posted about an article regarding cities bulldozing neighborhoods and shrinking. In comments, JK says that shrinking cities are not a bad idea, and I can't help but agree with that. I think many cities have outlived their real purpose, and devolved to geographic warehouses for the poor. Then again, hasn't it always been so in some ways?

The situation has been on my mind, triggering thoughts. Is it a good idea that cities shrink if they can no longer support their own size? You bet it is! But... here's the analogy that keeps coming to mind: It's like a man losing weight. If he's dropping pounds because he wants to be healthier and live longer, thats a good thing, but if he's shedding weight because he's starving to death, thats another thing.

The discussion about cities shrinking is not being had for healthy reasons, but to control loss and excise blight. Cities grew into place for wonderful reasons, as places where commerce was strong and jobs were in abundance. Now they shrink for reasons not so good..... jobs have fled to less costly environments and the few people left paying taxes can't support services for all those who don't contribute.

As cities grew to the point of self governance, they became entities unto themselves. That's all well and good, right up until the people doing the governing forgot why the city existed in the first place. As soon as 'The City' became the reason to have 'The City', and free market business became a barely welcome sideline, then cities dancing to that tune were doomed.

What were once national powerhouses of production and wealth have now become black holes of taxation, sucking in hard earned wealth from outside the city limits and tossing it down rat holes of social services and waste.

Yes... cities should shrink, and some should cease to exist, in my opinion. The biggest question in my mind.... what happens to the people who exist in cities solely for the social services there? Families (such as they are) who for generations have collected welfare, food stamps, and every other flavor of tax payer funded free support... what will they do and where will they go?

I'm feeling a NIMBY moment coming on.

Also on this topic... I'm reading articles about the Federal government and it's new administration making plans to do the bulldozing. Since when did the Feds come into ownership of these cities? I thought the people who lived there owned them, and had rights to their own property.

Silly me.... that was the old paradigm, and this is the socialist new paradigm. Sure the people own their property... just as long as they do what they are told and shut up.

Funny... I have to read about this interesting socialistic shift in British newspapers. There's very little coverage in the American press.


Crucis said...

What cities do, with the aid of the feds, is to export their problems to the suburbs. Case in point. I couple of decades ago, mainly due to decades of poor or non-existent maintenance by democrat city administrations, KC suffered some disastrous floods. Fingers were pointed everywhere. The affected areas were mostly populated by low-income or welfare maintained families. KC lost a lost of rat-trap, slum housing in that flood. KC was saddled with hundreds of dependent people with nowhere to house them.

Here is where the feds came in. They bought or coerced blocks of apartments and single family housing in the suburbs. And dumped that dependent population there pushing them onto the suburb city governments. The result? Crime spread from the inner city/KC out to the suburbs. Profitable, well maintained shopping malls were inundated with crime and vandalism. Within a few years, the malls and the satellite businesses closed or moved away. Property values dropped, insurance went up or was red-lined by many commercial carriers.

Nothing was solved other than KCs problems were pushed out to their neighbors. The flooded area turned into a blight with few or no residents or supporting businesses.

I moved from Jackson County, MO to Cass County, MO and instead of commuting to work and spending money for lunches and gas in my work territory, I now work at home and support my local businesses.

I now have a CCW permit because the spreading crime. A couple of decades ago, my neighbors felt safe and left their doors unlocked if someone was home. No more. Now, no one is safe anywhere and doors are locked all the time.

Thank you, Kansas City.

JK said...

Sometimes starving to death is as natural as life itself. Not sure what that means, but it sounds insightful anyway.

I believe a good City government will facilitate or direct projects to recruit free market business. Taxation is the method to invest in projects that benefit the public and attract outside investors, or promote local businesses. Come to Wilkes-Barre, and I'll show you a city government that has re-invested in a deteriorating downtown (since the demise of the coal industry). Bring your camera! Our new riverfront opens this weekend. You can find me in a canoe on the Susquehana river. I say "thanks" to the city government and the citizens of the Wyoming Valley. This has stimulated several outside and local businesses to flourish in our downtown.