Kotkin: Urban Blues–Folks Fleeing Big Cities

Do you want to live in the Toilet Bowl called San Fran?  Or do you prefer to live in a city controlled by criminals and gang members like Los Angeles?  How about living in a city with almost no cops and those that wear the blue are not allowed to prevent crime, like Oakland.  Or you can live in a city where private property is under attack by a socialist Mayor—wants government to own utilities and motels/hotels, all proposed by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

“Yet even as their political power waxes, the woke progressives are engaged in a process of blue-icide, undermining their own urban base of disadvantaged citizens and their own credibility. Such self-destructive tendencies existed even before COVID-19 and the George Floyd upheavals, in the form of crushingly high taxes, regulatory burdens, and dysfunctional schools. The failures of Trump may help progressives in 2020, but their emerging policy agenda seems destined to benefit the red states, conservatives, and, sadly, the far right, later in this decade.

Over the past several years New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago have lost population and San Francisco seems likely soon to join them. Meanwhile the suburbs, exurbs, and sprawling cities of the interior have continued to grow. Politically, almost all the major blue states—New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and even California—are expected to lose seats in the House in the next congressional elections, while the big Sunbelt states, notably Texas, Florida, and Arizona, will gain.”

Even Regressives can no longer live in high priced, crime ridden, corrupt cities—they want out.  Not just in California, but nation wide.  The recent COVID situation, along with the riots, the skyrocketing crimes in LUE run cities—all of this means decent folks (i.e. people who want to survive and perhaps flourish) are leaving the Big Cities behind.  This is an excellent article, should be passed around.

Urban Blues

The fashionable radicalism now popular in progressive cities will ultimately fail and, in the process, hurt working people and minorities the most

BY Joel Kotkin, Tablet,  7/5/20 

On the surface, progressive “Blue America” has never appeared stronger. President Donald Trump’s leadership failures exposed by the pandemic and the recent disorders, is sinking him in the polls. His rival, Joe Biden, seems likely to concede his traditionally moderate stances to placate the Democrats’ youthful activist and identitarian wings. Radical “transformation” of the United States seems to some just months away.

Yet even as their political power waxes, the woke progressives are engaged in a process of blue-icide, undermining their own urban base of disadvantaged citizens and their own credibility. Such self-destructive tendencies existed even before COVID-19 and the George Floyd upheavals, in the form of crushingly high taxes, regulatory burdens, and dysfunctional schools. The failures of Trump may help progressives in 2020, but their emerging policy agenda seems destined to benefit the red states, conservatives, and, sadly, the far right, later in this decade.

Over the past several years New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago have lost population and San Francisco seems likely soon to join them. Meanwhile the suburbs, exurbs, and sprawling cities of the interior have continued to grow. Politically, almost all the major blue states—New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and even California—are expected to lose seats in the House in the next congressional elections, while the big Sunbelt states, notably Texas, Florida, and Arizona, will gain.

The departure of the urban middle class, with even millennials now joining the exodus, has left cities such as New York increasingly divided between a predominately white and Asian, overclass and a large, and often struggling, predominantly minority population. Without the restraints that traditionally come from a politically engaged middle-class constituency pushing for moderate and necessary reform, urban politics have evolved in directions unlikely to attract desperately needed investment and higher wage jobs in the inner city.

These demographic changes have left the fate of our bluest cities in the hands of radicals such as the increasingly potent Black Lives Matter movement. The blue state political and media establishment, and their allies in the corporate elite, have conceded enormous credibility to a group whose stance is explicitly radical.

Thoroughgoing police reform, the key reason for the Black Lives Matter movement’s growth, is clearly needed. But BLM’s politics go beyond even support for such widely unpopular measures as defunding, or even abolishing, the police and the prison system, and endorsing reparations. The group generally favors radical socialist economics to battle what its founders see as “racial capitalism.” Besides favoring federal favoritism for Black institutions, it embraces single payer health care, huge tax increases, and other leftist positions that might not appeal to blue state oligarchs. It also condemns Israel as “genocidal.”

Blue state leaders have been slow to recognize—or perhaps slow to acknowledge—that BLM politics are more akin to the Black Panther Party of the 1960s than the Southern Christian Leadership Council. Academic Melina Abdullah, a prominent BLM spokesperson and co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter, is an open admirer of the Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan. She describes the protests not as a cry for reform but an “uprising” or “rebellion.” In late May, Abdullah explained: “We’ve been very deliberate in saying that the violence and pain and hurt that’s experienced on a daily basis by Black folks at the hands of a repressive system should also be visited upon, to a degree, to those who think that they can just retreat to white affluence.” Among the areas where rioters visited pain was LA’s traditionally Jewish Fairfax district, where stores were destroyed and synagogues were vandalized and spray-painted with slogans like “Fuck Israel.” A BLM leader in New York has endorsed the armed takeover of neighborhoods, something that has already occurred, with deadly results, in painfully white and hip Seattle.

The outrage after George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis grew not just out of generations of mistreatment by law enforcement, but also a worsening economic situation for working class minorities in big cities. The bluest, densest urban cores were already reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, a situation worsened both by both White House incompetence and that of top elected local officials. But the impact has, for the most part, been more intense in densely populated blue urban areas, particularly those dependent on public transit.

Density is both an inevitable fact of city life and an urban planning goal supported by blue state progressives, but it also increases the chances of pandemic spread, a pattern that has been clear since at least the Roman Empire. Historian Kyle Harper, in his brilliant The Fate of Rome, notes that the “precociously urbanized” empire created cities that were “victims of the urban graveyard effect.” The rise of global trade and mass immigration in Rome, as today in our great cities, boosted the capacity to transmit and incubate pathogens.

Even as the country has witnessed a resurgence in recent weeks of COVID-19 cases concentrated in red states like Texas and Arizona, the preponderance of infections and fatalities have taken place in dense, often heavily minority cities. The highest rates of fatalities have occurred in the New York area, locale for roughly one-third of all deaths. But other predominantly Black cities such as Washington, D.C.Trenton, New Orleans, and Detroit also account for a disproportionate share. Even with the recent surge, fatality rates in Sunbelt states like Texas, Arizona, and California are generally about one-eighth of those in New York and New Jersey.

The pandemic risks represented by density, concentrated poverty, and transit use, can explain the generally harsher blue state lockdown policies. But, whatever their motives, the economic consequences could be profound. No one seems to know how or whether high-rise offices, subways and elevators can work efficiently when people have to be 6 feet apart.

Even before the coronavirus, most new jobs were being created in suburbia; the urban core accounted for only 9.9% of all job growth between 2010 and 2017. This percentage is likely to shrink as information and finance firms shift to online work. Many workers are adapting to the shift from the 60th floor to the kitchen table and a large proportion seem to prefer it to commuting to the office.

The trend is likely to encourage migration to less expensive regions or, for the better paid, a search for houses in the bucolic surrounding suburbs of cities like New York or San Francisco. The real estate firm Redfin has found that up to half of all new post-pandemic telecommuters want to continue to work from home, and, after interviewing potential and present homeowners, predicts a steady movement of skilled workers to smaller cities and outer suburbs. Overall, less dense areas are now growing much faster than denser ones.

Big city diehards insist that “talent” will return in large numbers to the metropolitan cores. But in reality, even in fields like professional business services and technology, employment had already been drifting away from places like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago to less crowded, more dispersed regions like Raleigh-Durham, Nashville, Austin, Charlotte, and Orlando. This is now likely to break down the concentrations of knowledge workers even in marquee locations like Silicon Valley. As many as 2 in 3 tech workers in the Bay Area tell surveyors they plan to leave in the near future.

Tech company employees and white-collar urban professionals may be able to pick up and leave big cities, but what about the service workers, many of them immigrants and minorities, who keep the cities running? They are more vulnerable in every sense: more vulnerable to infection, and to the bad economy—roughly half of all job losses in April were in such low-paying fields as restaurants, hotels, and amusement parks. Almost 40% of those Americans making under $40,000 a year have lost their jobs as the wage gains made during the first two years of the Trump administration have largely evaporated.

In the longer run, the progressive policy agenda is likely to accelerate urban feudalism, driving out middle-class families and businesses from the big cities and coasts to the country’s interior and periphery and leaving behind only the lords and peasants.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. Schools for years have been teaching socialism and the young people today have never paid taxes, owned property or lived like normal citizen. They believe the government is the answer to all their problems. If we do not change and change soon you will soon the United States the land of
    freedoms turn social Marxism government. Your freedoms as you know today will be gone. You will get what you think is good and it will be too late to change.

  2. John Keyes says

    What has happened to California? How about over using welfare and other socialist programs? How about out Of control inflation from Public employee Unions that have bankrupted the cities where middle America is trying to survive.
    Over taxing the working Population to pay back debt from out of control
    Socialist programs?
    You want to save California cut taxes, cut welfare and stop using socialism.

  3. Really??? says

    This is NOT a fact….”Density is both an inevitable fact of city life ….”

    Here is a reality, the aging of the US population will in the next 20 years start to see a “drop” in population “IF” the borders are secure, and unrelenting immigration is stopped.

    As Calif. clearly shows with fewer people between 20-35 there is going to be a drop in the need for density small foot print apartments. Understand the scenario of the retirement community driving more and more blue collar workers is false. Fewer people of high incomes, with fewer retirement people means fewer restaurants, etc. It also means those left will want the freedom of personal transportation not buses and trains.

    If you want to live in New York, or Boston, move there. You will send a message to the rest of us, good riddance

  4. Ken Campbell says

    The problem with people fleeing big cities is they bring their liberalism with them. Their liberal policies ran the city into the ground so they flee for a better way of life, problem is when they land in the country they try to recreate their liberal utopia they are fleeing. Case in point, liberals flee the bay area and land in Placer County. The first thing they do is pollute us with their liberalism and try to get rid of our Congressman Tom McClintock…replacing him with someone to their liking, a Nancy Pelosi type. Well if you want Nancy Pelosi go back the hellhole you left, and get the hell out of here—we like it how it currently is!!!!! Go back and fix your hellhole and leave us alone!!

  5. Richard Wahl says

    They succeeded in polluting Colorado.

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