America’s Urban Desolation, Does Anyone Really Care?

America’s cities are dying, and contrary to the theme song of the old television series, M.A.S.H., ‘suicide is NOT painless.’ Instead it comes with enormous human suffering.

One of the major D.C. grocery chains, Giant, is likely to close the doors on stores in the Anacostia area of the capitol city due to rampant theft.

According to DCNewsNow.com, District Councilmember Trayon White, Sr. reported after a meeting with store officials, “We learned that this Giant [store] has lost over $500,000 in product loss which is about 20% of its sales after theft.”

The Giant is one of the few grocery stores in the Anacostia area and getting the store to open at all was seen as a victory for the residents of the area. Now, it is all falling apart as the poorer sections of DC slink back to becoming little more than open drug dens where theft is a regular way of life.  And of course, those who want to go to work and live their lives are the ultimate victims of the criminal first ideology that rules the District and many of our major cities in America.

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Just forty miles up the road, the city of Baltimore is being destroyed by the same phenomena.

The Baltimore Inner Harbor area was the source of pride for Marylanders over the past forty years as it symbolized the rebirth of the city. Once home to a thriving convention area, robust retail, tourist sites (Ft. McHenry is a short distance away) and the stadiums for both the Major League Baseball Orioles and National Football League Ravens, the area has fallen on very hard times.

While those two stadiums retain their luster, the surrounding area’s economy has collapsed. The Baltimore Brew, an independent investigative outlet reports that the retail heartbeat of the InnerHarbor, Harborplace, is now 90 percent vacant.  Thriving a decade ago, the Inner Harbor has become a depressing retail landscape with little to offer tourists as it has not recovered from a lethal combination of urban rioting (which caused Oriole games to be played with no fans) and the impact of the pandemic.

Certainly the shift away from brick and mortar retail which is impacting malls across America plays a role in this emptying out of what was once a top tourist destination, but it is more than that.  Baltimore is plagued by the lethal combination of drugs, rampant theft, violence and a failed local education system.  As a result, business is abandoning it.

The people who live in some sections of Chicago, Illinois endure homicide rates which top Tijuana, Mexico which has the highest murder rate in the world. Beyond the immediate human devastation, the psychological harm to the city is profound as the city faces the departures of the $57 billion Citadel Hedge Fund, Boeing, Tyson Foods and yes, even the Chicago Bears (moving to the suburbs.)

Citadel Hedge Fund’s Ken Griffin is reported to have made the decision to move the Chicago homegrown behemoth after a colleague was robbed at gunpoint during a coffee run. The proverbial last straw which made the decision to abandon the Second City for Miami a no-brainer. But it can’t be ignored that the state of Illinois is in a constant state of fiscal crisis and the upper income employees of the firm have to be relieved to move from a high-tax state to the zero income tax Florida.

McDonald’s Corporation is based in Chicago and its CEO is considered to be one of the city’s biggest promoters, but a year ago he acknowledged that, “One of the things that I hear from our employees about maybe reluctance to come to the office is, well, I’m not sure it’s safe to come downtown, not sure it’s safe to go ride the public transportation.”

San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Denver and Los Angeles are all also proving that rampant crime both violent and non-violent are destroying retail business and their city’s tax base.

The City by the Bay was once one of the jewels of America with Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz Island and a summer that required visitors to wear sweaters.  Now, homelessness and addiction work hand in hand to tarnish whatever magic the San Francisco used to possess.  Half of all unsheltered homeless live in California with thousands sleeping on the streets of San Francisco.  Shoplifting and concerns about worker safety have played a significant role in companies like Nordstrom, Old Navy and Whole Foods closing stores, along with the increased number of formerly commuters who are working from home to almost create a perfect storm.

The problems in urban America are at their core, policy problems.  Politicians end vagrancy laws, attack law enforcement efforts to enforce property crimes (in many cases decriminalizing retail theft), and defacto if not actual drug legalization are making many cities unlivable.  When combined with local education systems which simply fail to educate anyone as the teacher union power brokers pick their local elected bosses through sparse turnout elections, America’s cities are in distress.

And unfortunately, the very politicians who benefit from their votes don’t seem to care.

The author is president of Americans for Limited Government

Cross-posted with The Daily Torch


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