17th February 2013
Indeed, there is nothing new under the sun. The ‘progressive’ program, for all its failures, refuses to learn from history, and therefore condemns all of us to repeat it.
Even the glittering island of Manhattan was unnaturally composed of a thin sliver of the rich, garrisoned in wealthy neighborhoods, and a massively enlarging population of the ghetto poor, with very little in between; a million middle-class New Yorkers bolted the city between 1955 and 1965, and the exodus was continuing. The year 1965 was the first in which the city’s elementary schools had a greater proportion of blacks and Puerto Ricans, 50.8 percent, than whites. All races and classes had to cope with a rash of pathologies, from noise pollution and clogged streets to an alarming crime rate. In the first three months of 1965, “serious crime” on subways rose 41 percent. After one particularly brutal and senseless subway killing, in April, Wagner ordered night patrols on every train, with additional cops posted at each of the system’s 480 stations, to combat the predations of “the mugger, the hoodlum and the young punk.”
Sounds very much like your typical Blue state: California, say, or Michigan.
Writing in The New York Review of Books in October 1965, Paul Goodman, author of the countercultural manifesto “Growing Up Absurd,” discerned the specter of Big Brotherism in L.B.J.’s grand liberal vision. It was fine when the government summoned its resources “to prevent or remedy social and physical evils, like urban poverty, exploitation of labor, traffic congestion, air pollution,” Goodman wrote. But this “safeguarding function is entirely different from government trying to make life excellent, to make society moral, civilized or magnificent.” Strip away its vaunting promises and the Great Society, in practical terms, “multiplies professional-client and patron-client relationships” with its “large stable of mandarins” employed to “raise the tone, use correct scientific method, and invent rationalizations. Also, the literate mandarins write the speeches.”
The Crustian utopia in a nutshell. (Emphasis on the ‘nut’.)
Many people don’t remember that William F. Buckley Jr was the first public figure to advocate bike lanes in a major city.
No establishment politician dared to say it, but racial tension, more than any other factor, was responsible for the “crisis” of the city. Crime, narcotics, substandard schools and housing, white flight, the soaring costs of social services – all these were related to the distinct problems of New York’s underclass, a million-plus blacks and 730,000 Puerto Ricans, most of them trapped in vermin-infested ghettos, where two children were bitten by rats on average each day. Products of the city’s poorest schools and excluded from key labor unions, black men faced unemployment and idle days. No fewer than half a million of the urban poor were wards of an overstressed welfare system that would drain almost half a billion dollars from city coffers in 1965 alone.
And just look how things have improved from that day to this! (That was a joke. HA HA. Fat chance.)