The inner cities have their issues. If you’re in Minnesota and reading this, you know about them; you’ve either fled them, are paying for them via your taxes, or are – like me – living among them.
Minneapolis and Saint Paul are taxed half to death; Minneapolis’ crime rate has fallen from brutally-high to merely ridiculously-high, with a murder rate higher than New York, Boston, LA, San Francisco. Higher, indeed, – ironically, given how Minneapolis’ political, academic and media elites sniff at them – than Mobile, Omaha (twice as high!), Tampa, Jacksonville, higher in fact than all of the major cities in Texas but one (and only slightly off Houston’s pace). Only marginally lower than Chicago. (Saint Paul’s is quite low by major-city standards – 60% lower than Minneapolis – a testament to Saint Paul’s excellent police department, strong neighborhoods, and at least a couple of relatively sane administrations).
The cities are addicts; their drug is money. Nearly four decades ago, the “Minnesota Miracle” enacted the idea of “Local Government Aid”, which as the DFL’s stranglehold on the inner cities accelerated turned into an eternal subsidy of DFL inner-city policy by the parts of the state that actually pay their way. Governor Pawlenty’s cuts in LGA acted the same way as cutting off the heroin acts on a jonesing junkie; the addict went crazy. The body couldn’t get along without the drug; the drug had incorporated itself into the body’s chemistry. City governments had been providing “services” far beyond what their eroding tax based could provide, even as their left-leftward-moving policies drove more and more of the tax base out of the cities themselves. When LGA cuts forced cities to pass the “service” costs directly to their own tax bases, and the cities were forced to pay their own bills – well, you’ve read the headlines and the op-ed pages, right?
And yet, election after election, the DFL stranglehold over the inner city not only deepens, but gets more and more radical; Greens now have a solid foothold in Minneapolis; Saint Paul’s “Gang of Four” ultra-liberal councilpeople is now a Gang of Five. Policies that were madness thirty years ago are commonplaces today.
How did it get this way?
90% of politics is local. And the DFL understood this from the very beginning, and over the past fifty years has extended its reach into every corner of life in the Cities.
Is there hope?