Are progressive-led big cities digging their own graves?

Daniel Turner sums up why and how the liberal elite has destroyed city life for him.  He’s gone, and he isn’t looking back.

We put up with a lot in order to live in the city: lousy transportation, noise, traffic, pollution, and our fair share of homeless people. It’s all just a part of living in urban America. But I’ll gladly tolerate sirens and car horns in exchange for a new restaurant on the corner. For major league sports, performing arts, museums, and bars, I will put up with the occasional crazy guy on the street, metro derailment, or gridlocked traffic because an intersection is blocked by some group “raising awareness” about something or other. That’s just the price of the urban lifestyle, and as a life-long city dweller, I knew what I was paying for—and with what.

I did my part, too. My role in the fabric of urban society, overlooked but essential, was to spend my money. Eat, drink, shop, spend, tip, pay. And man, did I pay: taxes, rents, then a mortgage and HOA fees. I paid taxes on things the government deemed “bad” for me, like alcohol and cigarettes;  taxes on services which organized labor deemed “bad” for them, like rideshare. I paid gas tax, cable tax, cell phone tax, and, of course, income tax. Lots of income tax.

All I asked in return was relative safety and to be left alone to enjoy the city. City-living in America, for decades, meant tolerating mild inconveniences so that you could be left alone, alongside millions of others. That was the tacit pact.

And DC broke it.

. . .

The pact we made to live here has broken. What am I paying for?  A defunded police force? More murder? More violence? Do the property taxes I’ve faithfully paid for years not protect the CVS I can see from my bedroom—a building which recently had every window smashed and was looted because of “justice”?  When the metro was lousy, we turned to Uber. When the schools were failing, parents turned to charter schools. When one area turned bleak another neighborhood popped up. But when chaos and destruction permeate, and an exhausted people asking for relief are told their indifference–not violent looters—is the true culprit, then there is no alternative but to leave.

The protesters may think this is their moment, but there is a deep, dark secret that will crush every disaffected group now demanding “justice” or “awareness” is this: city people really don’t care. We have an amazing, almost unparalleled ability, to be indifferent.

. . .

The great beauty of the city is that we come from all walks of life and we get along.  We accomplish this by leaving each other alone.

That’s why, when DC’s Mayor Bowser spray painted “Black Lives Matter” in front of my tea spot, I knew I was done. Not because of the issue itself or the cause (remember I don’t really care) but because through her actions, Bowser effectively mandated empathy. This was government-sanctioned compassion. The mayor used taxpayer dollars—the one’s I’ve forked over for years—to force her beliefs on me. And, just like that, the pact was broken.

. . .

I am a buying, consuming, spending, law-abiding DC citizen, one who adds and adds to the city’s coffers and never takes. DC needs me. Cities need me. Cities are now angry, dangerous, garbage dumps. I’ll take my money elsewhere.

There’s more at the link.

What I found particularly interesting about this article is that I’ve heard similar sentiments from a number of my friends, acquaintances and contacts, on both sides of the political spectrum, including some I’d classify as somewhat extreme in their views.  They include:

  • A university professor;
  • A doctor;
  • An executive at a major aircraft manufacturer;
  • A writer;
  • A member of the clergy;
  • A Wall Street investment analyst.

At least two are card-carrying members of the ACLU.  Four are Democrat and two Republican in their political outlook.  All of them have either left the cities in which they lived, or are in the process of doing so.  All of them have voiced sentiments similar to Mr. Turner’s.  They were at home in the city, because they lived in tolerance of and with their neighbors, and paid their way.  Suddenly that’s no longer enough.  It’s expected – no, demanded – of them that they:

  • Pay more than their “fair share”;
  • Not only tolerate, but enthusiastically support, extremist views;  and –
  • Put up with major inconveniences and disruptions caused by riots and blatant thuggery.

Such investments of time, money and self are demanded of them with nothing in return – and they’ve found it too much to ask.

I reached my tipping point in Nashville, Tennessee some years ago, when the authorities not only allowed demonstrators to swarm onto a major Interstate highway through the central business district, blocking it to traffic, but the city actually provided coffee and portable toilets to the protesters.  Motorists whose freedom of movement was impaired as a result were advised to be “patient” and “tolerant”.  As far as I was concerned, that was the last straw.  Those demonstrators had no right whatsoever to obstruct my, or anyone else’s passage.  They deserved to be thrown in jail, not cosseted and “tolerated”!

The very next morning, I began the search that led Miss D. and I to move our home to Texas in 2016.  We also moved from a large city into a much smaller town, one that also serves as a dormitory community for a nearby city, but is filled with people of sound common sense.  Any suggestion here that demonstrators should be “tolerated” if they interrupt traffic on nearby major highways would be met with disbelief, abuse, and an immediate exodus of one’s audience to collect “items of persuasion” before heading for the disturbance, to demonstrate the error of the protesters’ actions.  That sort of nonsense won’t fly here.

I think the cities doing the most to “tolerate” and even encourage the current demonstrations, protests and riots have no idea of the damage they’re doing to themselves in the long run.  The first signs are already evident.  As just one example, consider Minneapolis’ housing market.  I’m willing to bet most of those newly trying to sell their homes aren’t doing so to move to another address in the same area.  The same trends are becoming visible in other urban centers blighted by riots.

Joel Kotkin analyzes current trends, and concludes they’re a serious threat to cities.

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 … Academic Melina 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.”

. . .

Caught between their poor constituents and a declining middle class, progressive politicians like Minneapolis’ Jacob Frey, Seattle’s Jenny Durkan, and New York’s Bill de Blasio, have looked the other way as their cities are trashed, sometimes refusing to arrest or jail vandals. Massachusetts District Attorney Maura Healey went so far as to excuse looting as a legitimate, even revered form of protest. Elite journalists compare the ransacking of Target and Apple stores to the protests to the Boston Tea Party.

This rapid reprise of what Fred Siegel labeled “the riot ideology”—unleashing violence and disorder as an intimidation tactic to achieve progressive policy goals and extract economic concessions from government agencies who just want a way to make the violence stop—has no chance of actually improving conditions in the lives of people on whose behalf, supposedly, it is carried out.

. . .

To succeed, cities need to be aspirational, safe and healthy. No city thrives under contagion or the constant threat of violence or infectious disease; what humbled late Imperial Rome can also be visited on New York. Against such threats, the nonstop righteous anger, and ever-expanding demands, and the relentless “virtue signaling” by the urban elites will serve only to further alienate the middle class and the political center necessary to achieve compromise and reform.

Again, more at the link.

Those of my readers still living in such cities might want to seriously reconsider their options . . . before it’s too late.  Don’t delay too long.  As Mish Shedlock noted a short while ago:

It Takes 3 Weeks to Escape Illinois

Why 3 weeks? That’s how long it takes to reserve a one-way U-Haul outbound.

“Everyone is leaving. No one is coming,” a U-Haul agent told us a few weeks ago.

That’s a word to the wise if ever I heard one!



  1. Big Cities have been getting worse for years, losing population due to high taxes, crime, and the other 'issues' that this writer used to laud.
    It shows how Democrat/ Liberal beliefs are inherently unworkable and will fail – I shudder to think what will happen if they get the chance to apply them nationally. Fortunately for you and me, this country is so large and spread out that their ideas will never fully penetrate it – the same way that remote regions of the Soviet Union, especially near borders, were under much looser control than central areas.

  2. Sadly Peter the ability to leave such a Socialist-Democratic mess is severely limited. The mass exodus of ex-city people to "Green Acres" also means they are bringing the SAME Social Disease to those "unspoiled" rural areas.

    They come here and vote in the same garbage that destroyed them with high taxes and squalor. But that takes too long for the Revolutionaries now.

    PURE Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting about what's for dinner. The whole thrust of the founding fathers was to establish a Republic where all were free with in agreed laws to live out their lives with out being enslaved (or eaten as the sheep above) by a Mob or a King.

    The Mob is the Rule of the New Democrats like AOC and the Squad, they have already chopped two senior old school not revolutionary Democrats off the voter selection for November in favor of the New Democrats selection.

  3. Excellent article about leaving DC. How anyone would want to live in a city is beyond me, but good luck to those who do.

    Thank you for sharing these articles and information, I always learn something when I come to your blog.

  4. How to make the cities safer? Shoot the rioters. Hang the career criminals. Jail the politicians and judges (but I repeat myself) who enabled it all.

  5. Hey Peter;

    I have commented for years that a vibrant middle class was a check and balance against the rich and powerful that believe that they know what is best for the rest of us and if we would just get with the program they could tell"the little people how to live" like the gentry of old and the vibrant middle class is a check on that ambition to rule, sure we individually don't have the money they have, but we are many, hence the strength of the middle class. If they can break us, they can rule us. that is the endgame.

  6. I grew up in the DC area. The city itself has always been run like a corrupt Caribbean island. Unless you lived in the upper northwest, it was never a great place to live. I like the part where he points out that until relatively recently there were still burnt out buildings from the '68 riots. I've had more than one job in the city, and would pass these parts all the time.

    Sizing up the situation now, I can't help but wonder if the people that run these cities are really that stupid, or are they doing this on purpose. I think the issue is, as Victor Hansen says, these "leaders" never have to live with the consequences of their bad decisions.

  7. The rise in telecommunications will also hurt city centers. Less workers, less rent, higher vacancies.

    Which will hurt all the businesses the workers used to frequent.

    Which will drive down tax revenue even more.

  8. "Those demonstrators had no right whatsoever to obstruct my, or anyone else's passage. They deserved to be thrown in jail, not cosseted and "tolerated"!"

    No. What they deserve is to be run over, repeatedly, and left as roadkill. Thrown in jail is an acceptable compromise.

  9. One of the difficulties in California, besides mandating statewide policies to please the posturing coastal e̶l̶i̶t̶e̶ fringe, is that, for the most part, the population centers are bottled up by mountains and desert. Leaving the urban core in an emergency, is virtually impossible. You may get out of downtown but the physical barriers begin not that far away. If you're unprepared the weather and terrain will kill you.

  10. Due to my Nomadic lifestyle following jobs across the country, over many years I've lived in or near many large cities including Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago, Philadelphia, Charlotte and Phoenix. When I retired, I came back to the small Eastern Idaho city I call home, When Dad died, I contemplated moving back to Phoenix, to avoid the Idaho winters, after this year, I'm happy to stay here. In my small city we have decent medical services, good law enforcement, neighbors who care about each other, reasonable taxes, and relatively low cost of living. If I really get a serious jones for high end cuisine that I don't make my self, it's a short drive to Jackson Hole or a somewhat longer drive to Sun Valley. With Amazon and the interwebz, I no longer have to go to the "Big City" to shop for stuff not carried in local stores. I'll put up with minor inconveniences compared to the big cities, and I'll hibernate through the winter if I am reasonably safe and unmolested.

  11. As I read the post I wondered about my locale and if there is a chance that a handful of execs at places like Target are subsidizing the heck out of close in to the urban core stores even though they get trashed and looted in an effort to keep the underclass from roaming another 3 or 6 miles out of the city to trash and loot the branches of the store located in many of the surrounding small cities/towns. I won't go to my nearest Target for anything but will drive to one 10 miles away. OTOH, we also don't shop in the nearest chain grocery store anymore-not because it's unsafe, it simply has the most screwed up drivers in the universe who bash cars in the lot every single day, sometimes 5 at a time. Plus the stores in the same chain but further outside of the City are much nicer and have a lot more stuff/different stuff and the shoppers know how to drive.

  12. They made those beds and deserve to lie in them. Make sure out of state-ers and city people know they are not welcome.

  13. No alternative to leaving?

    Recockulous codswallop.

    Simply start shooting the Problem Children until they qualify for the Endangered Species List, if not outright extinction.

    Bonus Points: You're supporting the mortuary and ammunition industries, while greening the planet by reducing the carbon footprint of such useless eaters. Be an early adopter. Portland and Seattle could be red, both literally and figuratively, by end of the week, and their respective states returned to the jurisdiction of Free America before Labor Day, and for decades to come.

    It's an idea long overdue, and after the first one, the rest are free.

  14. Aesop under the current protection that leftist-Socialist-Democratic (but I repeat myself) politicians(Latin root words meaning Poly=many ticks= bloodsuckers)are giving their wayward problem children WE will be inside the Grey Hotel for decades. How many Antifa are in prison for their many well documented felonies? Crickets eh?

    As I used removing poison ivy as an example before you don't just apply flames to the leaves, you get a lung full of toxic gunk. You destroy the roots and then that plant is eliminated.

    Are the Problem Children in the street the toxic leaves or the root of the problem? Who provides their paychecks, their health care, their legal services? Who gives them carte blanche to act out while police are ordered to stand aside OR worse PROTECT them from White Supremist Militia that might harm them poor little rioters?

    Both actions to remove that poison ivy infestation have dangers to the gardeners but one is far more effective for the risks involved.

  15. Michael,

    You're incorrectly assuming that "Problem Children" doesn't necessarily include their accomplices giving them media and politico-legal cover.

    That's a failure of imagination right there.

    I repeat: after the first one, all the rest are free.
    "Never do an enemy a small injury."

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