Considerable debate swirls over around crime, poverty and America’s cities – with politicians suddenly blaming each other, and generalizations flying. Here are facts, which help deliver the truth.
First, while 535 members of Congress feud and fume over how much federal money to spend on federal entitlements, anti-crime, anti-poverty, anti-drug, and anti-social disintegration programs, a strong argument exists for focusing on local leaders – not Congress – for answers.
Mayors – more than US Senators, Congressmen, and even Governors – have a vested interest in finding solutions for the cities they are elected to lead. Accordingly, this column reflects research into 55 cities, covering five studies, credible data bases, and mayoral records.
The findings are arresting – and a basis for rethinking how to pull America’s worst cities out of darkness. Notably, Americans of all ages live in cities. Pew’s Research Center reports 97 percent of US counties – and cities – saw an increase of 65-and-older populations since 2010, a trend that is accelerating. Older Americans are affected by these facts, along with younger.
What did I discover? America is experiencing the best economy in 50 years, lifting every major minority group with record low unemployment, growth, dollar valuation, and accelerating wages. This should turn the tide in America’s cities – but the turn is slow.
Instead, we are witnessing higher homelessness in “sanctuary cities,” and policy stagnation across major impoverished, often unsafe cities – Baltimore to Buffalo, Birmingham to Brownsville.
Fact: The top-ten American cities for homelessness are sanctuary cities, which offer refuge to illegal immigrants, do not cooperate with federal law enforcement, and raise the price of low-rent housing for their citizens. In this group are Los Angeles (55,000 homeless), Seattle (12,000), San Diego (9,000), San Jose (7,000), San Francisco (6,000), and Las Vegas (6,000).
So, one policy misfire is not thinking out implications of opposition to border security, while sheltering illegal migrants and blocking deportation of those facing final orders. Another policy misfire is assuming that one-time shelter funding will stop the inflow of illegal migration; actually, offering safe harbor is having the opposite effect.
Bigger discoveries were made. Of the top-ten “most dangerous cities” in America, according to Forbes, all have Democratic mayors. Those cities are Detroit, St. Louis, Oakland, Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta, Baltimore, Stockton, Cleveland and Buffalo.
Race may have little to do with it, although poverty and unemployment are tied to violent crime prevalence. Roughly half the mayors in this top-ten analysis were Caucasian, half African American.
Seven of ten appear in another study of America’s top-25 “most dangerous” cities, which tracks the first adding Kansas City, Little Rock, Milwaukee, Rockford (IL), Albuquerque, Springfield (MO), Indianapolis, San Bernardino, Anchorage, Nashville, Lansing, New Orleans, Minneapolis, Chicago, Houston, Hartford (CT), Chattanooga, and Beaumont (TX), dropping Birmingham, Atlanta and Buffalo.
And of the top 25 “most dangerous,” most are Democrat-led and all but one have poverty rates between 18 to 39 percent. The national average is 12.3 percent.
Of the top 25 “most dangerous” American cities, on top of poverty between 18 and 39 percent, most have unemployment between 4.4 and 9.3 percent. The national average is 3.7 percent.
So, these Democrat mayors – with good intention – are leading cities deep in poverty, weak on tax base, infrastructure, employers, trained citizens, and policies to attract corporate investment. They lead the nation in murder, manslaughter, robbery and aggravated assault.
Two last data sets stand out. They relate to cities deemed “least healthy,” based on available health care, clean environment, and personal fitness. The first includes Detroit and Memphis, adding Brownsville (TX), Laredo (TX), Augusta (GA), Shreveport (LA), Gulfport (MS), Fort Smith (AR), Jackson (MI), and Corpus Christi (TX). All are led by Democrat mayors, except Corpus and Gulfport.
The second list of “least healthy,” on different data, include Shreveport, adding Beckley (WV), Pine Bluff (AK – with a crime rate 383 percent higher than average), Hammond (LA), Mobile (AL), Albany (GA), Monroe (LA), Florence (SC), Gadson (AL), and Macon (GA). All but two are Democrat-led.
So, what does this tell us? On the numbers, ten incontrovertible things.
First, the top ten homeless cities are sanctuary cities, all led by Democrats.
Second, the top-ten “most dangerous” are led by Democrats.
Third, the top-25 “most dangerous” are mostly Democrat-led, and among the poorest and least employed, with weak infrastructure, tax base and incentives for private investment.
Fourth, among the 25 “most dangerous,” most face stifling poverty of 18 and 39 percent, against the national average of 12. 3 percent. These Democrat-led cities are America’s poorest.
Fifth, most of these cities suffer unemployment rates from 4.4 and 9.3 percent, versus 3.7 nationally.
Sixth, of the 20 “least healthy” cities, all but four are Democrat-led.
Seventh, while these mayors wrestle difficult issues, most oppose policies promoted by President Trump that are bringing prosperity to the rest of the country, such as lower taxes, less regulation, incentives for business investment, stronger law enforcement, cooperation with federal immigration officials, border security, comprehensive anti-drug policies, and local responsibility for declining tax base.
Eighth, most are in anti-gun coalitions, focused on restricting Second Amendment rights, favoring policies at cross-purposes with allowing citizens to protect themselves. While each is different, many favor gun-control, bans on concealed carry and higher minimum wages – all proven misfires.
Ninth, taken as a whole – the mayors are pursuing conflicted policies, on the numbers not breaking cycles of intergenerational crime, poverty, unemployment, dependence, employers fleeing tax burdens, untrained employees, accessible private health care, environmental stewardship and personal fitness.
Tenth, in closing: These cities can do better. That is what democracy is for. If the policies and leadership are not working, there is an option – especially as America’s economy is thriving and cities are seeing a renaissance in investment, employment, income, health and safety: Elect new leaders. The numbers are compelling, so are elections.