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The Ghetto-ification of America

Statist entitlement policies will cause a slow moral and economic decay across the country, similar to the swift ones they fostered in black communities.

by
J. Robert Smith

Bio

April 29, 2010 - 12:00 am

Walkin’ down the street, smoggy-eyed
Looking at the sky, starry-eyed
Searchin’ for the place, weary-eyed
Crying in the night, teary-eyed

Don’t you know that it’s true
That for me and for you
The world is a ghetto

The World is a Ghetto,” War

Since the 1930s, the Democrats’ self-advertised stock in trade has been compassion, and no group of Americans more so than blacks have been on the receiving end of the Democrats’ benevolence. With completely, comprehensively disastrous results.

If statist Democrats aren’t stopped, Democratic benevolence promises for the rest of the country a lesser — though still spirit-crippling — version of the compassion that has blighted inner cities and utterly wasted the lives of many poor blacks. Democrats have commenced transforming America into ghetto-light.

That’s not to trivialize the devastation that poor black families and poor black communities have suffered for decades at the hands of liberals and their own black leadership, which has bought into liberalism and controls many big city political machines. (See George Gilder’s classic Wealth and Poverty, or Charles Murray’s Losing Ground: American Social Policy 1950–1980, for more on liberalism’s abundant contributions to poverty.) Nor does it overstate the case by arguing that ramped-up government meddling, control, and costs would significantly harm middle- and working-class communities across the nation.

Want a hint of what happens to middle- and working-class communities long on the receiving end of Democrats’ big government policies?

Travel the Northeast and the Midwestern rust-bucket states where Democratic governance is the rule rather than the exception, where liberalism has been the governing philosophy for decades. What will you find? More than your share of middle- and working-class communities, usually close to cities, that are ailing economically and were hurting for many years before the 2008 recession.

Communities on the way to ghetto-light don’t make the glossy covers of state promotional brochures. Go to some of these communities yourself — in and around cities like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis, and Newark. The streets are potholed, new construction is minimal (and often partially or fully subsidized by tax dollars), buildings are run-down or vacant, and there’s a noticeable enervation among the locals given that the entrepreneurial spirits and the ambitious young have moved away to seek their fortunes — or just improve their lots — in the Sunbelt.

Conservatives are convinced that Barack Obama and congressional liberals want to remake America in the image of the socialist democracies of Western Europe, with all the nanny state, cradle-to-grave trappings. To give the Democrats their due, that’s probably how they see America’s future: sort of one big hospice, where the nation’s decline and death as an economic and military power is buffered by gobs of government largess and soothed by the kindly touch of bureaucrats.

That’s what’s happening in Europe. The nanny states across the continent are attempting to make the decline and death of Europe easier for the dwindling masses (Europe’s birthrates are alarmingly below replacement rates). But the economic crises facing the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) may well spill over into the rest of Europe. And that doesn’t account for the larger global economic trials the world is facing and which will impact Europe. A resulting economic upheaval may preclude a cushioned landing in history’s dustbin for Europe’s socialist democracies.

But whatever happens to Europe, it’s fair to say America is a different place. The United States isn’t dotted with Swiss cantons. Americans share a common character but aren’t a common race, like the Germans or the French. Americans aren’t a postmodern people drawing to a genteel end. The fading but quaint middlebrow communities in Europe aren’t going to be replicated here. No sidewalk cafes and cute bistros and charming cobblestone streets full of Europe’s bored but contented Mohicans.

A statist-induced fall for America’s middle- and working-class communities is more likely to resemble the seediest commercial strips you can imagine, where a new c-store merits a ribbon cutting. Ambitious Americans will still seek a way out from the suffocation of higher taxes and red tape, but in Mr. Obama’s America, there won’t be anywhere to escape, unless it’s into an underground economy.

Government-run health care and government takeovers of the automotive and financial industries are merely the opening bell in forcing America toward ghetto-light. The president has his sights set on detonating two other huge capitalism- and wealth-busting bombs: immigration reform and cap and trade.

Expect the president and the Democrats to commence humping the compassion angle to make illegals legal shortly. The real point of fast-tracking citizenship for ten million-plus illegals has nothing to do with heart-tugging concern; it has everything to do with votes. Legalized illegals are leftist voters. Nanny state blandishments are the Democrats’ lure. The extra costs to pay off these future voters, of course, will be borne by taxpayers.

Cap and trade, in some respects, is the companion measure to the Democrats’ health care grab. It finishes what government health care can’t finish: the effective takeover of the economy. Cap and trade is nothing more than an array of new confiscatory taxes (in the guise of consumer costs) and regulations aimed at radically changing consumer behavior and concentrating more economic and financial power in Washington. Cap and trade is guaranteed to add crippling costs to virtually everything produced in the United States. Business and industry may absorb some of the costs in an attempt to stay competitive, but by necessity the lion’s share of the burden will be passed on to consumers.

Americans, especially middle-income earners, are going to be socked by Mr. Obama’s Brave New Big Government, primarily in their paychecks. Less take-home pay for Americans is bound to hurt the businesses — mostly small — that are the lifeblood of communities, especially in middle- and working-class communities.

As we’ve seen in the Northeast and Midwest, government direction and spending is no substitute for people voluntarily spending their money in free exchanges that make communities vital. And as Arthur Laffer has amply demonstrated over the years, and as most everybody but liberals appreciate, high tax rates — and indirect taxes through government-imposed higher costs — don’t make for increased government revenues. Government simply isn’t going to have the revenues to soften its blows. And government can’t borrow forever, either.

What big government has done to the nation’s inner cities and poor blacks is nothing short of a moral crime. Unless the Democrats are stopped, a lesser though damaging crime will be committed against every other community. Ghetto-light may be your neighborhood all too soon.

J. Robert Smith is a contributor to American Thinker. He is a public affairs consultant with a practice in Alexandria, Virginia.
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