Many who can afford to are fleeing major cities.
Speaking at an Aug. 8 press conference, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, "I literally talk to [wealthy] people all day long who are now in their Hamptons house who also lived here, or in their Hudson Valley house or in their Connecticut weekend house, and I say, You got to come back, when are you coming back?"
Gov. Cuomo added in jest, "We'll go to dinner, I'll buy you a drink, come over, I’ll cook."
The governor’s comments come as state legislators and some New York lawmakers in Washington have called for him to adopt a billionaire’s tax, which he has vehemently rejected because the richest 1% already pay half of the city’s taxes.
The wealthy aren’t the only ones who are leaving.
Months of pandemic shutdowns and protests have compressed many years of progressive economic business and lifestyle ruin by liberal domination of major cities into endlessly tragic scenes.
Most recently, as many as 1,000 rioters and looters ransacked designer stores on Chicago’s famed Magnificent Mile, injuring more than a dozen police officers in the process.
As Daniel Henniger observed in his July 23 Wall Street Journal op-ed, "No matter one’s politics, it is sickening to see this happening to any U.S. city — mobs hammering and burning buildings along Portland’s streets, and then a carbon-copy mob battering Seattle."
Henniger added, "Outside wartime, with bombardments turning blocks into rubble, I’m hard put to think of any precedent for what is happening to these U.S. cities now. The enforced pandemic closures and isolation were bad enough. But the endless protests — with their instinct to violence and atmosphere of dread — have broken the spirit of many cities."
Most all of the worst riot and crime-plagued urban casualties have long histories of far-left Democrat rule, including: Minneapolis; Manhattan; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; Chicago; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Philadelphia; and Washington, D.C.
Conditions now worsen as progressive prosecutors refuse to prosecute; and police hold back because progressive mayors and governors don’t have their backs.
Daniel Henninger points out that looking beyond the serious civil disorder and mayhem reveals a very sad evolutionary reality, namely that "the irrepressible vitality of these cities— their reason for being — is disappearing, undone by pandemic, lockdowns and a new culture of permanent protest."
Large liberal cities are particularly impacted by a deepening political division between progressive elites and working-class residents, primarily the people who own or work for the storefront businesses that are the lifeblood of these cities.
Henninger cites an example where outdoor dining tables of restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen on Manhattan’s West Side have become overrun by "disturbed half-dressed beggars," whom Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has housed in nearby hotels.
One restaurant owner lamented, "Every bit of progress this neighborhood has made over the years is stepping backwards."
Additionally, in response to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s directive that alcohol cannot be served without food, many bar owners say they won’t survive. On top of this, the Bronx unemployment rate recently reached a Depression level of 24.7%.
Also writing in The Wall Street Journal, Jon Hilsenrath discusses a confluence of recent economic and social phenomena referred to as "agglomeration" — a sort of gravitational pull of certain groups to densely-populated cities — tech and financial hubs in particular - over the past couple decades that is losing influence.
Hilsenrath notes an urban renaissance that occurred during the past quarter century as educated young workers moved in to revitalize city centers, and as crime rates tumbled, businesses flourished.
Tech hubs like Seattle, San Jose, Boston and Austin not only drew skilled young professionals, but also financed urban amenities such as restaurants, bars, parks and other attractions.
In the process, however, they also became known for snarled traffic and soaring home prices that eventually made them harder to live in, particularly for middle-income workers.
Meanwhile, as some cities became tech winners, others — including Detroit — lost ground to experience industrial decline.
Research by Brookings Institution analyst William Frey found that 55 of the nation’s 89 largest cities added more people between 2010 and 2019 than between 2000 and 2010 partly because of immigration.
That growth already began to wane for many near the decade’s end, while it stayed strong in the smaller cities and suburbs which afforded better schools, less expensive housing, lower taxes, and less crime.
According to a recent Brookings analysis, cities grew about 18% faster in 2010 than the suburbs.
Last year, suburbs grew twice as fast as cities.
Jon Hilsenrath highlights three major shocks that now threaten to totally upend the previous urban renaissance: The coronavirus is preying on densely-packed places; anger over policing is producing social unrest reminiscent of earlier turbulent eras; and increasingly strained city and state budgets can be expected to prolong their economic pain.
As sadly witnessed by Daniel Henniger, Hlsenrath likewise observes that extended coronavirus lockdowns have further drained cities of the energy, charm and financial promise that drew so many in the first place.
Here, I will add a fourth shock.
As discussed in my book "Reinventing Ourselves: How Technology is Rapidly and Radically Transforming Humanity," the pandemic has also turbocharged a pre-existing transition to remote-telework which affords an escape for many businesses and professionals from increasingly onerous big city real estate, taxes, commuting, and other expenses.
Worsening urban crime problems will discourage recoveries. Increasing numbers of New Yorkers have already decamped to the suburbs or relocated to safer and more affordable, family-friendly Republican states.
To be clear, the decline of many of our greatest American cities is a tragedy not only for their residents, but for our nation as a whole.
Nor, also tragically, is the essential need for peaceful protests against all forms of discrimination and other injustices which represent the fundamental essence of America’s greatness and strength as a free nation.
And while we can all be confident and grateful that disruptively painful impacts of this pandemic, and the viral social acrimony that divides good people of all political persuasions will pass, we should also expect that the pathway to recovery will be both difficult and long, requiring massive leadership and policy changes.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. Larry has written more than 600 articles for Newsmax and Forbes and is the author of several books. Included are: "How Everything Happened, Including Us" (2020), "Cyberwarfare: Targeting America, Our Infrastructure and Our Future" (2020), "The Weaponization of AI and the Internet: How Global Networks of Infotech Overlords are Expanding Their Control Over Our Lives" (2019), "Reinventing Ourselves: How Technology is Rapidly and Radically Transforming Humanity" (2019), "Thinking Whole: Rejecting Half-Witted Left & Right Brain Limitations" (2018), "Reflections on Oceans and Puddles: One Hundred Reasons to be Enthusiastic, Grateful and Hopeful" (2017), "Cosmic Musings: Contemplating Life Beyond Self" (2016), "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2011). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.
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