How To Virtue-Signal Your City Into A Slum
© Brian Cates 2020
If you followed the American news media last summer, you've noticed an increasing number of news stories coming from America's largest cities that all exhibit a common theme: rampant dysfunction in providing for public safety and health.
In Baltimore, the eyes of the nation turned there when President Trump singled out a member of Congress, Rep. Elijah Cummings, for having the most crime and 'rat-infested' district in America. Subsequent investigation turned up the facts that Cummings district does indeed have a notorious rat problem, as well as huge piles of trash and high crime rates.
In Philadelphia, the eyes of the nation turned there when a violent criminal engaged in a hours-long armed standoff with police, in which he sent six officers to the hospital. Of course it turned out this was a career criminal who shouldn't have been out in the first place. The mayor then used the media attention garnered by this to...plead for more gun control. Which struck a lot of people watching as being exceedingly strange. If your criminal control isn’t working, it’s doubtful pursuing more gun control is going to be effective.
In Chicago, another bloody weekend unfolded in a long string of bloody weekends. It's not exaggerating to call this city a literal war zone. Officer Anthony Gugliemi, who handles public relations for the Chicago Police Department, put out a series of posts on his Twitter account that revealed just what a farce law enforcement is currently dealing with in that city.
On the weekend of May 31st – June 3, 52 people were shot in Chicago. 10 of those people died. Meanwhile the Chicago PD apprehended 19 criminals on gun charges and...by Monday afternoon of June 3rd, 11 of these people were already back on the street. Of that 11, 7 were convicted felons and 6 had previous gun-related convictions on their record. Calling this situation a 'revolving door' doesn't quite do it justice.
In Portland, Oregon a journalist and several other people were assaulted on camera by an organized and violent gang of masked thugs that are being allowed to roam around free on the city's streets by the mayor and the chief of police.
And in San Francisco an incident was captured on a security camera when Ms. Paneez Kosarianfard was violently assaulted by a homeless man.
Whereas you and I would look at this poor fellow grabbing a woman at random on the street while clearly in the grip of schizophrenic episode as a clear public safety issue that needs addressing, the civil system went to work and promptly put him right back out on the street, much to the alarm of his victim.
It was widely assumed – even by the victim in her media interviews – that the judge must have seen the video of the incident in question before making her ruling. It now turns out this was not the case. How dysfunctional is a court system where VIDEO of the incident exists, but it somehow does not make it into the courtroom?
Everybody has compassion for the homeless, many of whom are in that condition because of mental health problems. I’m quite certain Ms. Kosarianfard is also someone who has compassion for the homeless. But what Ms. Kosarianfard is primarily concerned about right now is being able to walk about her own neighborhood without being assaulted by a mentally ill person who really should be off the streets.
The problems in San Francisco with the explosion of the homeless population there, along with other public safety issues has started to garner national attention. Public health officials are now throwing around fun words like 'bubonic plague' as they try to raise the visibility of this growing crisis.
What all of these news stories demonstrate is a breakdown of civil order. Civil services that citizens pay for are supposed to provide order that keep the city safe, clean and well managed. S0 why are so many large urban cities becoming increasingly dangerous, unhealthy, and decayed?
There is one common trait with Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, Portland and San Francisco: they are all run by Democrat political machines that have been in power for decades.
Philadelphia's last Republican mayor was in the 1950's. Chicago's was in the 1930's. Baltimore's last Republican mayor left office in 1967. Portland's was in 1980. And San Francisco's last Republican mayor was in 1964.
It can't be that Democrats in power in a city ipso facto causes these problems, though. Plenty of major cities in America have had Democrats in power for decades, and they don't have the same rampant homeless or sanitary health problems plaguing places like San Francisco.
Five of the last six mayors of Dallas, Texas have been Democrats. Houston last had a Republican mayor in 1982. The last Republican mayor in Boston left office in 1930. Only 2 of the last 9 mayors of Phoenix AZ have been Republican, 7 have been Democrats.
It would seem to depend on what **kind** of Democrats are in power in these large urban cities. In red states such as Arizona or Texas, the Democrats who win elections would be considered not really all that much different from Republicans in places like San Francisco or Chicago. Not all Democrats are in the same place on the political spectrum.
The common theme I see at work here is that the political machines in charge of places like Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco are all far on the Left of the political spectrum.
The further one goes to the far Left or the far Right on the political spectrum, it's my belief that one gets further and further detached from reality. And for this reason it's hard for the radical extremists of the far Left or the far Right to actually come up with workable solutions to solve urban problems when voters hand them power by electing them into office.
As a perfect example of what I am talking about, the current governor of California – and former long-time mayor of San Francisco - Gavin Newsom and his fellow political class elites are presently far more concerned with **changing words** used to describe convicted felons so no one's feelings get hurt than they are with cleaning up the unsanitary conditions and dangers their citizens are currently facing.
What is it that causes a political elite class to be so out of touch that it is constantly scanning the horizon for new windmills to joust while their cities continue to spiral out of control?
What leads a Governor or a mayor to constantly be babbling in front of cameras about plastic straws, global warming or how 'hurtful' the word 'felon' is when their city is literally having feces piling up on the sidewalks and tent cities expanding to cover new blocks?
After decades of observing the phenomenon of city leaders ducking real problems to spent most of their time blathering about small or imaginary ones, I finally came across a book that perfectly encapsulated what I was seeing.
Economist and social theorist Thomas Sowell wrote a book entitled “Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation As A Basis For Social Policy”.
In this book, Sowell demonstrates convincingly that a predominantly Progressive political elite class sees the crafting of social policy chiefly as an avenue to engage in self-congratulation rather than as a mere tool to fix problems and make improvements.
As radical as you might find this, public safety or finding workable solutions to problems is not the uppermost issue on the minds of the far Leftist elite who run San Francisco or the state of California. Their focus is on using public policy to shine the batsignal of their own imagined moral superiority. There are real world consequences when voters continue to make the mistake of putting people into important jobs who don't function in the real world with the rest of us. It's been manifest to many observers for years that the priorities of the political class in California are way out of kilter.
As an example, let's look at the “compassionate” decision of the city of San Francisco several years ago to begin allowing homeless people to defecate and urinate in public without any consequences.
There is not a single city, town or municipality in Texas that I am aware of where a person who defecated in public and left their feces on the street would not be arrested. In San Francisco, this kind of behavior has become so common that a social media app now exists that allows the user to see where all the current piles of feces have been allowed to accumulate on the streets.
When you celebrate and even encourage a breakdown in civil society by not punishing anti-social behavior, you will end up getting far more of it. So when the authorities in San Francisco made the decision to no longer punish people for defecating in public, they were tacitly assenting to a breakdown in the civil order. Once you've opened that door in one place, it's awfully hard to ever get that particular door closed again...and to keep other doors from opening elsewhere.
Before you take a fence down, you need to fully understand why it was built and placed there to begin with. San Francisco took the fence down, and is only now coming to grips with the consequences.
Now the homeless and sanitation problems have grown to such immense proportions the usual methods and excuses used to hide or deflect from how bad the problems really are no longer work.
Like taking hundreds of the homeless people in your city and giving them a one-way bus ticket out of town, for instance.
Recently when pressed on the homeless issue Governor Newsom made the absurd claim that much of California’s homeless problem is due to the state of Texas busing it’s homeless to places like San Francisco.
As any real research into this issue will demonstrate, Newsom has it exactly backwards; large urban areas that cannot control their homeless populations started busing them into the heartland states long ago. California has been giving hundreds of homeless persons one-way bus tickets to other states such as Texas for years now. Records show more than 21,000 homeless people were bused from one place to another in the US from 2011 to 2017.
Instead of fixing their own city’s broken social policies and laboring to restore civil order, the far Left politicians opted to use busing the homeless out of town as a safety valve. Nobody has to admit they were wrong or change the bad policies they put into place, and so no one's feelings got hurt. The problem was kept at a manageable level for a few years longer this way.
But the scandal that San Francisco now faces is that the homeless population has grown to such massive proportions that busing a couple hundred of these poor souls out of town to other locales no longer suffices.
I recently did a column for The Epoch Times in which I wrote about the fact that in the United States there hasn’t been a coherent policy in dealing with mentally ill people for some time now. There was a movement to push de-institutionalization of the mentally ill beginning in the 1950’s that has now led to this current situation in which the streets of America’s large urban cities are now crowded with people who really should be in some type of managed care facility.
Things are now in such a sad state in the United States when it comes to dealing with the mentally ill who are homeless where cities are just sending them back and forth on buses with one way tickets to nowhere. This has got to change.
The final factor in why this absurd and intolerable situation continues is that there is a class factor in play here. The political elite class is literally walled off from the rest of the community in these urban cities. All these city officials live in gated communities with armed guards and I assure you all the civil services in their ritzy neighborhoods are working just fine. The trash gets picked up like clockwork, and nobody is leaving piles of their feces or dirty needles on the sidewalk in Pacific Heights or Nob Hill.
The noble elite anointed ones leave these gated communities in the morning, driven in limousines to their important jobs at city hall, where they spend most of their time absorbed in virtue-signaling minutiae before being driven home again to the safety of their manors. And nothing really changes or gets better for the people on the streets.
Until voters wake up, these same people living in their own gated bubbles will keep on endlessly signaling their precious virtue and focusing on the windmills on the horizon as the feces and the dirty needles and the homeless tent cities cover more and more of these communities. Conditions in these cities will continue to deteriorate until new leadership is placed in charge.
That's the brutal truth.