A Liberals Dream CityPublished in Bernardo News, 1991
ALLEN POLK HEMPHILL
In the 30's, a liberal union leader, I believe it was Walter Reuther, returned from the Soviet Union and announced: "I have seen the future, and it works." Well, not quite.
I have just returned from the liberal idea of the perfect city, and it too doesn't work. Norman Mailer was closer to describing socialist economics when he wrote"The function of socialism is to raise suffering to a higher level."
If you were LiberalMan, a cloaked crusader whose mission was to demonstrate the kind of society that liberalism might provide, you would have designed this city:
You would select a town populated by resident liberals - one that would be the first major city to discard segregation, one whose population would vote for McGovern and Mondale.
With a liberal constituency, you would elect to the mayor a black liberal who was prominent in the civil rights marches of the 60s. With a liberal mayor and constituency, you would pass the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation, and the most "progressive" affirmative action laws. These would be buttressed with the most stringent laws forbidding insurance companies to test life insurance applicants for AIDS. You would add a strong measure of rent control, "set asides" for minority business, early and massive school busing for desegregation, police review boards, a lobbying effort that would result in the highest per capita federal grants in the nation, and a spending spree on schools that would spend $6,000 per student, almost 50% above the national average.
LiberalMan would make certain that teachers in this city would be the second highest paid (average salary of $35,000/year) in the nation. Welfare would spend 270% of the per capita rate of other major cities.
You would, of course, provide a lot of public housing. The national average per capita spending for public housing is $39 per year, but in big cities the average is $56. As LiberalMan, you would see that Liberal City would spend $263 per capita.
Naturally, you would provide money for public services. Los Angeles spends $180 per capita on police and fire protection, and New York City spends $239. You will spend $400 per capita, while reducing the number of police actually providing protection.
You would provide money for public health - lots of money. While the national average of big cities is only $82 per capita, you would spend $425 per capita.
And you would make certain that the city had a large number of government employees to provide all the "needed" services. While the average number of city employees per 10,000 population in big cities is 224, you would employ 633.
To support Libcity, you would have the highest taxes in your part of the country.
LiberalMan has succeeded in designing Washington, D.C. - a city recently described by a congressman as, "Washington, DC, a work-free drug place." Washington Magazine captured the city in an article titled, "The Worst City Government in America." There are constant calls in Congress to send troops into the streets to take the city back from the drug dealers. It is now widely recognized as "The Murder Capital of the World." We see the results nightly on TV, but I fear that it will become so commonplace that we will soon ignore the problem, as we have done in New York. New York hasn't cleaned up any since the the attack on Bernard Goetz in the subway, possibly because today, Goetz is in prision for defending himself, properly, but with an improper weapon.
LibCity schools have so much money spent on them - 50% above the national average, and the second highest teacher salaries in the nation - but Libcity has a drop-out rate of 48%, and has not produced a single National Merit Scholar in several years.
Big cities in America seem to be liberal, run by liberal mayors, and led by liberal newspapers - the Washington Post, New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
This nation has tested liberalism in the crucible of its major cities, and it doesn't work.
(All numbers are from the Bureau of the Census, 1985, as printed in a Warren Brooks column in the Washington Times)
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