American Cities Are In Decline

American Cities Are In Decline

Paul Craig Roberts

Recent decades have not been kind to American cities.  Manufacturing cities were adversely impacted by the offshoring of manufacturing jobs. Cities that are destinations for the floods of third world immigrants are experiencing deteriorating budgets and infrastructure and population replacement.  In 1960 native born white American citizens comprised 90% of California’s population.  Today white Americans comprise 30% of the state’s population. The 90% white population in 1960 did not require the support services that the 70% non-white population requires today, and there were no homeless people camping on the streets. Cities with black populations, Democrat regimes, and defunded police experience mob looting and burning of business districts. Covid lockdowns have taught white collar businesses that employees can work at home and the expense of collecting large numbers of people in office buildings can be avoided.   

Covid lockdowns also taught people to shop online, and online penetration of retail sales has risen sharply.  Estimates are that over the next 5 years the US will lose 81,000 to 150,000 retail stores and the jobs that go with them, with clothing, consumer electronics, home furnishings, sporting goods, and office supplies taking the largest hits. 

Think what this means for shopping centers and for cities.

Cities are not just becoming less pleasant and more dangerous places to live.  Cities are losing their purpose and functions. Cities provide work forces for factories and offices.  They provide stores where work forces provision themselves.  They are transportation centers for people and goods.  All of the changes noted above are eating into these purposes and functions of cities.

With so much of American manufacturing moved abroad, with the ability of white collar work and shopping to be done from home, and with the increase in dangers from city life and taxes for immigrant support, professional classes are likely to abandon cities for like-minded enclaves protected with gates and their own police.  

Cities rise and fall like empires and civilizations. In my book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism, published eight years ago, I noted that the population of Detroit, Michigan, once America’s 4th largest city and a powerhouse of American manufacturing, experienced a 25% decline in population in the first decade of the 21st century. Gary, Indiana lost 22% of its population. St Louis, Missouri lost 20% with 19% of its housing units standing vacant.  Flint, Michigan lost 18%. Cleveland, Ohio lost 17%. These loses were largely loses of middle class income people.

Authors who chronicle the decline of ancient civilizations could just as well turn their attention to the United States today.  In 1950 life in America was safer, more enjoyable, more civilized, and more promising than in America today.  Today life in America is barbaric, and it is on its way to worse.

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