Thursday, February 2, 2017

U.S. Cities and the Long, Slow Divorce

We know, of course, that politically liberal Americans have for some time now been concentrating themselves in the nation’s big cities.

My bold prediction:

This trend accelerates.

As it does, the most progressive American cities—New York, Portland, D.C., San Francisco, Seattle—will start providing their own residents social services of the type citizens of most wealthy nations have long enjoyed: free health clinics, free daycare and preschool, free public higher education, free or radically subsidized housing for the elderly, etc.

Enabled in no small measure by Republican provincialism (states’ rights and all that, right?), big cities will keep raising their own minimum wages. They’ll reduce their own carbon emissions and foster development of renewable energy sources. They’ll shelter and protect undocumented immigrant workers fleeing poverty or seeking asylum. They’ll decriminalize drug use. They’ll treat addiction medically. They’ll resume the effort to equalize and integrate public schools. They’ll expand rights of and legal protections for women and LGBTQ residents. They’ll work to eradicate poverty in all their communities.

How will New York, Portland, D.C., San Francisco, and Seattle afford all this?

As an increasingly permanently conservatized federal government keeps ratcheting down taxes on super-wealthy citizens, American cities will steadily ratchet up taxes on their own super-wealthy residents.

Most of whom—brace yourselves—will be fine with it.

And so the long, slow divorce will proceed. Those who want Bernie Sanders-style socialism will get themselves to Philly, or Oakland, or Pittsburgh.

Those who want to keep pursuing Trumpist "liberty"—the stuff that’s already concentrated the nation’s wealth into alarmingly few hands, changed the weather, shortened the average American’s lifespan, and rendered college a pipe dream for the working class (hey: you probably didn’t want your kid brainwashed by liberals anyway)—will simply stay put. And keep voting as they already do.

In not many years’ time, we’ll see that very few indeed of the world’s tired, poor, and huddled still dream of making it to America.

They may, however, dream of making it to Chicago. Or L.A. Or Boston.

And if the blessing of a redeye flight means they never have to see, even, the strange Mad Max world beyond those city-states’ borders...all the better.