City Journal Summer 2014

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Summer 2014
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Myron Magnet
A Fairytale of Two Cities « Back to Story

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Good article, but Mr. Magnet overlooks the post-World War II government policies that drove the middle class from American cities, and enticed it to settle in the suburbs, leaving behind the urban ruins of Detroit, Camden, Cleveland, Gary, Newark, Youngstown, etc., etc., and thus depriving cities of the voting people most likely to have a stake in preserving a sound urban culture.
You are insane.
An accurately painfull scream at the darkness of rampant socialism. Regretfully the only way left to fix it is to destroy the system that allowed its creation, then start over
Michael Kranish:

No, you're not a half-step better than a criminal, but you're good at building straw men. The article said nothing about the inherent goodness of bankers or lawyers, nor did it say that public employees are inherently bad. They are, unfortunately, a part of an ever-growing and unaffordable city bureaucracy, which indeed does add to the problem of poverty, no matter their intentions or motives.
O.K., I admit it; I'm a retired public housing administrator. I guess that means I'm a half step better than a criminal and a quarter step better than a welfare mom. And I have to believe that bank presidents are angels, that corporate lawyers and financial advisors are candidates for sainthood.
Clarity about the Bill October 09, 2013 at 11:18 PM
Lake Worth's correct in only one way. There is in fact an "economic rent" being sought. The current rent seekers require those with means to pay to those who wish their rent be paid. While attempting to define the old socialist "pap" of his/her own, the simple fact is that the modern rent seekers are very, very different from the modern producers of products, services and ultimately wealth. The rent seekers historically across centuries has deemed it a "divine right" and took by force as by extractive law. The modern doctrine of Marxist and post-Marxist thought has led with regularity to a new quasi-aristocrat class of rent seekers aligned with the lower class of rent seekers. The distinction is one of utter inequality, as one saw under National Socialism and Soviet Socialism, as in Cuba's socialist state or Sino-Socialism, as in North Korea's and Zimbabwe political upper class, all extracting the rent from those beneath them. One only need consider the perks of today's ruling classes in the United States, or a federal administration with millionaires and a billionaire holding court, not to mention the billionaire and soon-to-be ex-mayor of NYC itself. All these new aristocrats "extract" while promising to extract for the lowest economic classes. This leaves only the question, from whence to extract, and that answer becomes clearer every day. Socialist enterprises as with the antecedent rent-seeking aristocrat enterprises collapse when extraction has operated long and deeply enough to sap the economy of more yet to extract. Given the debt of NYC added to the debt of the State of New York added to a New Yorker's "share" of the national debt, it is arithmetically true that extraction is come to its near breaking point. This is when the rent seekers, as ever, scream the loudest. Their plea? More! We want more! It is a simple historical process, the same acted out over centuries. More! And yet more! Meanwhile this commenter began with little, worked and worked to have more and it is from my "more" that the rent seekers seek their "more." Such is the extractive nature of the socialist today.
Give a man a fish, and withhold the rod; he will be there tomorrow, waiting for the next fish. The day after, he will do your bidding to have the third. Thus does the elitist ideologue acquire his following.
Stuart, " When I renovated the houses, I met a few people who inherited a fortune and basically live off investments. They no nothing and yet get richer each generation. While the poor get poorer, this is no solution either".

Even if these people do no work, and their inheritance money just grows while the poor get poorer who cares? My shirt is red, so what. It is just a statement.

But that man's money is still HIS and not yours or mine. He didn't steal it, and it grows because he loans it out to people who need to start a new business, but need capitol.
There is no "solution" to poverty or the war on drugs; only trade-offs. I say the progressives have screwed it up way more than free markets would.
A brilliant analysis Mr. Magnet -- the parasitical troglodytes of NYC from Chomsky-inspired teachers to overtime-gouging firemen to the permanent yet always breeding underclass literally extract wealth through "legal confiscation" from the city's most productive members. As a member of the private equity community, someone heavily invested in the multi-unit rental property market particularly in the Bronx, I'm increasingly disturbed by the public presence of the deserving poor in my beloved city. What is to be done?

A three-pronged action plan for your consideration: 1) A voluntary sterilization program with significant financial incentives; 2) Increased voter suppression efforts at all levels of government; 3) A total assault on public sector salaries and benefits: eliminate all health care and pension benefits -- dramatically reduce the starting salary of all public employees -- "help" the troglodyte social workers develop a better understanding of a long forgotten word: deference. The city's masters must act to save the city -- do we possess the will to do so?
sometimes somebody writes something honest
@Lakeworth:

Clearly your idea of democracy includes demonizing the police force, forcibly developing "affordable" mixed housing; having coffee with murderous bike riding thugs and giving the really select few (union workers) not just back pay but raises that defy all notions of accountability while hundreds of thousands remain jobless. That in short is de Lusional's plan for New York City
The government MUST be responsible of protecting the country and the dollar. If not, what else is there to protect, special interest?
Why are we even paying attention to these grievance mongers? So long as social mobility through education and hard work is still possible in this country, these charlatans selling stories of class warfare should be dismissed immediately. Not a one has taken an economics course that would clearly note that economics is NOT a ZERO SUM GAME where if one person gains, another loses.

This is not a feudal system where you are locked into your lot in life from birth. And if you believe that it is, then it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The real tragedy is that people never really find out how easy it is to help themselves, that by staying married, for example, their children can avoid the miserable life that comes with poverty and crime and all the rest. Simple really - yet the Democratic media's adoption of a political correctness standard under which it is considered racist even to discuss the statistics ensures that this message never gets out. And,naturally, Democratic media made single parents acceptable through "Murphy Brown" and all the rest et als,

Easy right? Who would have thought that it was possible to halve the welfare rolls? Yet is was done in 1996. The answers to the problems are simple - but Democrats ensure that none of it happens.

At what point does one realize that Democrats are simply not interested in prosperity, education and what most people would consider a good life? That keeping people poor, living in criminzalized communities, ensuring that they are not getting educated is the goal, not the result of the polcies adopted by Democrats. How much evidence is needed to conclude that Democrats intentionally ensure that people reamin poor as the way to maintain power?

I mean....after half a century of rule in the black community, after importing workers from overseas to take away jobs in fields of employment traditionally done by blacks, which in a tight labor market could have resulted in good wages, after destroying the black family, criminalizing the black community, and all the rest, what more is needed to show that it was all intentional, that Democrats have done it all on purpose, knowing exactly what they were doing, with the result that the black community is precisely where they want them?

Because I can't see any other reason for how it was done, no one could be that inept, that stupid....
This is pap. It is what you get where "The Century of the Self" ideology, fan worship of popular novelists, propaganda hoaxes, and bad statistics are combined to replace solid, analytical economics.

Here's what passes for argument:
-- "mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio’s tale of two cities is pure fiction, a myth...";
-- "In the early days of industrialization, when nearly naked children pulled carts of coal through mine shafts and factory workers got ground up by unfenced machinery, this tale had a core of truth"; tumbling on to this:
-- "female-headed families living in housing projects or Section 8 apartments with flat-screen TVs and refrigerators stocked with food-stamp plenty, for generation after generation, whose unmotivated kids learn little from bad schools that cost more than almost any other public schools in the country"... contrasted with highly moral married white tax payers.

When Blacks migrated from the Slave States to the North they exhibited higher rates for marriage and for birth-within-wedlock than the surrounding White immigrant comunities. What killed their communities was first the arrival of Jim Crow employment standards in the 1890-1939 period and then the crack cocaine explosion in the 1960-1994 period.

The Two Cities problem seen by Bill is largely driven by the factor known as economic rent. One class and only one class has access to the zero-interest-versus-inflation hand outs from the Federal Reserve that have spawned repeated housing bubbles and at the same time concentrated ownership of prime real estate. This ownership class produce nothing -- as remarked by the fictional Gordon Gecko -- but they are given free money to acquire everything. And as we have seen from the absence of fraud prosecutions in the $7.3-trillion mortgage and "AAA" bond scams to the DUI-and-keep-going killing of Florence Cioffi in 2008, this ownership class stand above the law.

With Bill, maybe there's a chance to introduce a modicum of real democracy. Not merely appearance.
Here's my question -- given that NYC is doomed, what investment opportunities are there to "short" its "stock"? Surely there's some way to profit from this coming Detroit-style collapse.

Admittedly there are two major unknowns:

1. The length of time needed for NYC to get to Detroit's level.

2. The danger that NYC is deemed "too big to fail," with the feds providing support -- at least delaying the demise. On the other hand, NYC is too big to save either.
great piece
well thought out article...unfortunately the truth cannot prevail in this country as long as the mainstream media keeps carrying the water for the current administrations' bigoted and poisonous view of working America. Soon there will be no middle class left. There will only be rich or poor.
Amen! This is the truth and probably not acceptable to those that will continue to live OFF the poor.. those claiming to be their saviors.
The left has a new scheme to remedy the plight of the permanent underclass it's called comprehensive immigration reform. Let's flood the nation with tens of millions of uneducated low skill workers. Ya think it might make for more poor people? Not a problem they will vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Problem solved!
is that a joke about the humanities medal?
Myron Magnet’s incisive articles and books offer an escape from marxist dogma.

However, he claims, “The belief that people are poor because they are victims of economic injustice, and that the nation owes the African-American poor ... “ As almost every other social analyst, Mr. Magnet omits the vast system of preferences, quotas and tax redistribution allocated to girls and women, from day care to corporate boards. Those benefits are not earned or merited, but allocated by entrenched laws.

Mr. Magnet condemns, “ ... teachers purveying a curriculum of social justice and an ideology of victimization,” which accurately characterizes pervasive feminist indoctrination, in education, the media, government and feminist jurisprudence. The West cannot escape marxist dogma and retain its integral single - parent child, feminism.

Although Mr. Magnet offers compact and revealing analysis, I would be grateful if he could offer shorter sentences. A sentence - paragraph in this article runs on for 186 words.

Jeffrey Asher
An argument for a guaranteed income - at least by simply sending people a check you would eliminate the class of people described above who feed off of and perpetuate the underclass.
Yesterday's solution to today's problem won't work.

There isn't much left to sell, industry has been hollowed out with globalisation. Banks only lent us what we asked to borrow and gambled to increase profits.

The top is getting richer and simply taxing them is no solution, the bottowm is seeing real wages fall to the point where they are in line with the international cost of production.

Environmental legislation makes for too higher business costs in the industrialised nations and encourages environmental vandalism in the developing.

I don't know the new solution, but with casual work it is bloody hard to get up. I worked for seven years as a casual lecturer at a university. I renovated four houses in that time and sold them on, each time reducing my debt. On a well paid hourly basis we struggled, my wife and I and depended on our vegetable garden and chickens for a lot of food.

The top 1% I read own 87% of the publically listed shares. 18% of GDP is spent on health care, when most don't even have any.

If you earn too little, and are too casualised, then the difference between unemployment and work is just not enough. Or perversely you can be worse off as you qualify for no help and often have short weeks and less income than dole, but being back to a full week the next week can claim.

We can't un-globalise, nor socialise employment, but we need to come up with something.

When I renovated the hosues, I met a few people who inherited a fortune and basically live off investments. They no nothing and yet get richer each genration. While the poor get poorer, this is no solution either.
The bulk of wealth sits in the hands of those who earned their start and then either just flat earned a lot more, or built their own company, or invested their substantial stake very shrewdly.

Shrewd investments, the ones that aren't a cover story for theft and mostly that's not what investments are, are good more for the country than for the investor. Almost all the proceeds of invention and capital formation flow to the general public. The fraction that goes to the investors is well worth it---they earn it by directing capital to where it will be most effective.
The Left used to mean Labor, and the Right was Management. Today the (economic) Left is those who live off government mandate, either welfare or a job that wouldn't exist without government interference (like Diversity Coordinator).

The narrative of Two Cities misses the three-way economy of those living off: investments, wages, or government. A conservative publication like this one will lump the interests of wage-earners with those of the investor class; while liberals claim they're more naturally aligned with the government-dependent.

Both are wrong. The next great political movement will divorce working Americans from both the Left and Right, who are tired of the choice of having their wages diverted to the rich who haven't earned it, or the poor who haven't.
In many cases, employment of the government payroll is a form of welfare.

This is because government jobs are over staffed and the compensation is far greater than the work provided.