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How to Save a Dying City in Four Steps . . . Or Maybe Five

Written by Gary North on October 17, 2015

Detroit and Chicago are models of urban failure.

The decline of both cities visibly began around 1960. That was when a decade of Democratic control merged with the federal government to turn these cities into welfare state disasters.

This had begun in the New Deal. But it took a quarter century for the process to begin to become visible. Whites began moving out. The suburbs continued to grow.

James Curley of Boston had begun this process even earlier. He was the model for the mayor in the novel and 1958 movie, The Last Hurrah. Tax by tax, he penalized the productive middle class. They started leaving.

Everyone knows abut Detroit. They are learning about Chicago. The public schools are not salvageable. Charter schools are the last remaining hope of the city to retain white, upper class, taxable citizens. The city council has just passed a new property tax. They have exempted all homes under $250,000. This will make other cities in the region more attractive.

The four major employers in Chicago, in this order, are these: the federal government, the public schools, the city, and Cook County.

George Will has written an insightful essay on the plight of the city. Amazingly, the Washington Post reprinted it.

Young college graduates like to live in cities. Given incentives, they live in downtown areas. But they can be kept out by high taxes. They are the future of any city.

They are outvoted by inner city welfare-dependent voting blocs. So, they leave. This is not a new phenomenon. It has been going on since 1946. The suburbs grow faster.


First, declare bankruptcy. This makes possible the next three steps. Second, default on all pensions. Third, close the public schools. Fourth, cap the property tax at 1% of market value. That was the limit placed on the municipal governments in California in 1978: Proposition 13. Voters in the state approved a constitutional amendment that tied the hands of city governments to loot the residents.

There is a fifth step: imitate Houston. Abolish all zoning. But this is not as important as the first four steps.

(For the rest of my article, click the link.)

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