The Reverend Jesse Jackson is, to the surprise of all thinking people, right about something: “A spark has exploded,” he said, referring to the protests and violence in Ferguson, Mo. “When you look at what sparked riots in the Sixties, it has always been some combination of poverty, which was the fuel, and then some oppressive police tactic. It was the same in Newark, in Chicago, in Detroit, in Los Angeles. It’s symptomatic of a national crisis of urban abandonment and repression, seen in Chicago.”
A question for the Reverend Jackson: Who has been running the show in Newark, in Chicago, in Detroit, and in Los Angeles for a great long while now? The answer is: People who see the world in much the same way as does the Reverend Jackson, who take the same view of government, who support the same policies, and who suffer from the same biases.
This is not intended to be a cheap partisan shot. The Democratic party institutionally certainly has its defects, the chronicle of which could fill several unreadable volumes, but the more important and more fundamental question here is one of philosophy and policy. Newark, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles — and Philadelphia, Cleveland, and a dozen or more other cities — have a great deal in common: They are the places in which the progressive vision of government has reached its fullest expressions. They are the hopeless reality that results from wishful thinking.
Ferguson was hardly a happy suburban garden spot until the shooting of Michael Brown. Ferguson is about two-thirds black, and 28 percent of those black residents live below the poverty line. The median income is well below the Missouri average, and Missouri is hardly the nation’s runaway leader in economic matters. More than 60 percent of the births in the city of St. Louis (and about 40 percent in St. Louis County) are out of wedlock.
My reporting over the past few years has taken me to Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, St. Louis and the nearby community of East St. Louis, Ill., Philadelphia, Detroit, Stockton, San Francisco, and a great many other cities, and the Reverend Jackson is undoubtedly correct in identifying “a national crisis of urban abandonment and repression.” He neglects to point out that he is an important enabler of it.
Philadelphia, for example, has not had a Republican mayor since the Truman administration. It did enjoy the services of Mayor Frank Rizzo, a Democrat who endorsed Nixon in exchange for federal handouts and who governed in the progressive style: He converted a private utility into a public one and promptly turned it into a patronage machine, he was close with the labor unions and raised the city’s wage tax to fund spending on transportation and infrastructure projects, worked for economic benefits for the elderly, etc. He was a classic welfare-statist Democrat — and a man who, as police commissioner, famously promised to “make Attila the Hun look like a fag.” (Rizzo later ran as a Republican.) It wasn’t a right-wing radical who bombed a Philadelphia rowhouse and burned down the neighborhood — it was an African-American progressive, Wilson Goode. Closet Ayn Rand fans have not been running the affairs of Detroit all these years, and the intellectual patrons of the Chicago Boys have had approximately zero influence on the municipal affairs of Chicago. Ralph Reed will never be the mayor of San Francisco.
Read complete article via Who Lost the Cities? | National Review Online.