Do Democrats Destroy Cities?

Here’s a little nugget you can chew for a bit. The following list is the top ten cities (over 250,000 population) with the highest poverty rate. The year and the percentage of the population at or under the government defined poverty level is included.

City Name 2009 2010
Detroit, MI 36.4% 32.5%
Buffalo, NY 28.8% 31.5%
Cincinnati, OH 25.7% 27.8%
Cleveland, OH 35.0% 27.0%
Miami, FL 26.5% 26.9%
St. Louis, MO 26.7% 26.8%
El Paso, TX —– 26.4%
Milwaukee, WI 27.0% 26.2%
Philadelphia, PA 25.0% 25.1%
Newark, NJ 23.9% 24.2%

Can you guess what all of these cities have in common? They all have had Democratic mayors for at least the last two decades (note most of the cities have had Democratic mayors for more than 50 years).

City Name Democrat Since
Detroit, MI 1961
Buffalo, NY 1954
Cincinnati, OH 1984
Cleveland, OH 1989
Miami, FL All Democratic Mayors
St. Louis, MO 1949
El Paso, TX All Democratic Mayors
Milwaukee, WI 1908
Philadelphia, PA 1952
Newark, NJ 1907

So, can we conclude that Democrats and their policies have lead to the cesspool cities we see here on the list? Not definitively. The correlation, however, is striking.

It’s no secret that a major component to democratic policies is to enlarge the number of citizens that rely on government handouts. This is accomplished by depressing the economy, creating new entitlement programs or by changing qualifying requirements for entitlements already in place. Regardless of the approach and the “save society” rhetoric, it always boils down to taxing productive members of society and then redistributing that money to the less productive or to the outright unproductive. Those that receive something for nothing, in theory, get used to their situation. They want it, or better yet for the politicians, they need it to continue and will then re-elect the re-distributors. There’s no saving society. How can there be if you’re intentionally depressing the economy to create more dependency? That is a sales pitch. And there’s no genuine attempt at improvement for the individual and his or her situation. Again, how can there be when you re-define or create new programs that allow for or actually promote levels of unproductive behavior? It is money shuffling and nothing more. You and I know it as buying votes. This is all well and good for the politicians but over the longer term, buying votes creates significant problems for society.

The most obvious is, what happens when there are more people living off the government teat than are producing the milk? America is heading for that situation faster than any Liberal or Democrat will admit. The productive know however, and perhaps that is why the partisan rhetoric has been so shrill. But there is a second problem with vote buying that gets very little lip service and it is what leads to large percentages of poverty in our cities. It is known as the Curley Effect. (continued, page 2 link below)

Named after James Curley, a highly successful yet notoriously corrupt mayor of Boston, the Curley Effect describes the conditions wherein taxes or other government policies are targeted to the detriment of particular populations to the point where they head for the hills. In Curley’s case, as a Democrat he excessively taxed well to do yankee “Brahmins”. Curley not only bought Irish votes with the cash but chased the wealthy yankees out of the city. Raise taxes again and again and again and eventually those that can escape will do just that, leaving behind the poor and those reliant on entitlements. Less wealthy people in the city to tax also means less money for upkeep. Add these together and you get city cesspools with large populations of poor.

Although Baltimore, MD, is not on our list, it is another real world example of the Curley Effect running out of control. Steve Hanke and Stephen Walters write,

The city has lost 30,000 residents and 53,000 jobs since 2000, marking the sixth consecutive decade of population and employment exodus. About 47,000 abandoned houses crumble while residents suffer a homicide rate higher than any large city except Detroit. The poverty rate is 50% above the national average…

In modern Baltimore, the (political) machine has exploited class divisions, not ethnic ones. Officials raised property taxes 21 times between 1950 and 1985, channeling the proceeds to favored voting blocs and causing many homeowners and entrepreneurs—disproportionately Republicans—to flee. It was brilliant politics, as Democrats now enjoy an eight-to-one voter registration advantage and no Republican has been elected mayor in 48 years.

But Baltimore’s high property taxes have repelled investment in physical capital for decades. As that capital decayed and became scarce, labor became less productive and less prosperous. In 1950, the city’s median family income was 7% above the national average. Today it is 22% below it.

The practice of buying votes through taxation and entitlements, rather than sound government policy, is ultimately flawed. This is not to imply that all Democratic politicians intentionally try to run a city, a state or society into the ground. Clearly, for love of power, some do. Regardless of individual political motives, the practice inevitably leads to class warfare, population and industry exodus as well as corruption and urban decay. History shows productive Americans will tolerate taxation only to a certain point before they exit in mass or rebel. So for Democrats and Liberals to believe the American people will ultimately allow themselves to be excessively taxed, perhaps into poverty, is as silly and short-sighted as believing American society can be saved with entitlements.

Follow I.M. Citizen at IMCitizen.net

One Response

  1. […] Do Democrats Destroy Cities? (whitehouse12.com) […]

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