Inner city lives matter: Detroit’s disadvantage

by James Silberman

Millions of Americans feel that their lives don’t matter. They believe they are in a system that prevents them from rising.

Upon examination of the places where these people live, one cannot possibly disagree.

The American inner city is plagued by broken families, failing schools, poverty, violent crime, drugs and unemployment. This is still America, and even those who grow up in these grief-stricken regions have the opportunity to better themselves if they make good decisions in life, but there is no questioning the fact that the people growing up in American inner cities are at a disadvantage.

There is no restoration in sight for these communities. This is because there is little serious political discussion about how so many black communities have become broken, and who has presided over this malaise for decades.

Consider this from prominent social activist, Dumisami Washington: “You can take a knee during the Anthem, refuse to acknowledge the flag; dissect the country’s slave and Jim Crow past; change the names of streets, cities, and historical buildings that honor racists and slaveholders; change whose face is on the currency; put a black man or woman in the White House for the next 50 years, or listen to ‘Fight the Power’ for the 1 millionth time. None of that is going to restore our broken homes, fix the schools that are failing our children, or create business owners and entrepreneurs.”

Life in the inner city sucks, and political posturing and virtue signaling don’t do a thing to help those in need. What they need is new policies. Is it not fair to ascribe much of the blame to the political overseers of inner cities?

Since World War II, Detroit has had exactly one Republican on its city council. And in 54 years, there has never been a mayor who wasn’t a Democrat.

Baltimore has had Democratic mayors for 43 consecutive years and has had an all-Democrat city council for 73 consecutive years.

Chicago has had a Democratic mayor for 85 years running and only two Republican city council members in the last 32 years.

In L.A., Philadelphia, Seattle and just about every other major metropolitan area, the story is much the same. Even in conservative states such as Louisiana, Texas and Georgia, the left controls the major cities like New Orleans, Houston and Atlanta. Democrats have virtually monopolized the American inner city since black families, schools and communities began their tragic economic and social decline.

A large portion of this decline is directly connected to the Democratic Party’s social, economic and educational policies.

First, the social.

Marx, Trotsky, Alinsky, Horkheimer and all the great left-wing thinkers of history have known that if the state can dissolve the nuclear family, it can take over the essence of a nation. The American Left has succeeded at doing just that in inner cities.

First, they used the sexual revolution to separate sex from marriage. Then they waged the “War on Poverty” in 1964, which subsidized bad decision-making and promiscuous sexual activity.

Through the massive expansion of the welfare state, the government essentially replaced the inner city male by taking over his share of financial responsibility for the family. If a mother was single, she received significant aid from the government. But if she got married, the benefits were cut off. The increase in the rate of single-parenthood in the black community since the War on Poverty has been shocking, increasing from 21 percent in 1960 to 72 percent in 2010, according to a study done at Princeton. Due to the War on Poverty and the sexual revolution, inner-city families have successfully been broken up and the surviving individuals are completely dependent upon the government.

Second, the economic.

Detroit was once the epicenter of the American Dream and upward mobility. According to the US Census Bureau, in 1960, Detroit had the highest income per capita of any major American city. But 50 years of progressive Democratic governance has turned that prosperity into unprecedented poverty.

The first in Detroit’s string of Democratic mayors was Jerome Cavanagh (1962-70). He expanded economic regulations, raised taxes and increased welfare. Cavanagh’s successors built upon his progressive, welfare-city reforms for over 40 years until Detroit’s economic growth had been wholly strangled.

In July of 2013, the city of Detroit declared Chapter 9 bankruptcy. It is the largest public entity ever to do so in the United States. According to the Brookings Institution, Detroit’s poverty rate currently stands at 40 percent, the highest among the 25 major U.S. metropolitan areas.
Third, the educational.

Democrats have become the party of the public-sector union. Teachers’ unions spend massive amounts of money to help elect Democrats, who then stand in the way of vital educational reforms like charter schools and vouchers. In most inner cities, families that can’t afford private schools and can’t afford to move to better school districts have no choice but to send their children to the failing local public school.

Because of opposition to school choice from the Democrats, these schools have no incentive to improve. The best incentive would be competition, but wherever and whenever inner-city families have a charter school option, the waiting lists for these charters are massive, indicating how desperate people are to escape the failing public school system.

Over the past 50+ years, the progressive monopoly on inner cities has trapped millions in generational poverty and depression. Those people need pro-growth economic policy, choice-based education policy and pro-family social policy. In other words, inner cities need conservatism. If we’re serious about fixing our inner cities, there’s no better place to start than changing the leadership and the policies that have managed their decline.