On December 17, 2021, San Francisco Mayor London Breed declared a state of emergency in the city’s Tenderloin district, which lead to an increased police presence in the epicenter of the city’s growing homelessness and addiction crisis.
“It is time for the reign of criminals to end,” she said in a press conference. “It comes to an end when we are more aggressive with law enforcement & less tolerant of all the BULLSHIT that has destroyed our city.” It was a sharp turnaround for Breed, who after the murder of George Floyd in 2020 called for “ending the use of police in responding to non-criminal activity.”
Breed was roundly criticized by progressive politicians and groups like the Coalition on Homelessness, who castigated the move as an “expansion of strategies that have been tried and failed” that would contribute to the “instability and poor public health outcomes” of people living on the streets.
Better known as a pro-nuclear-power environmentalist, Shellenberger appeared on The Reason Interview in July 2020 to discuss his book Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All.
In a discussion, Shellenberger talks with guest host Zach Weissmueller about the homelessness crisis in America’s big cities, which the environmentalist says is actually an addiction-and-mental-health crisis enabled by progressive policies that permit open-air drug scenes on public property, prevent police from enforcing the law, and undermine the creation of a functional mental health system. Zach talks with Shellenberger about his foray into social policy, his critiques of both progressive and libertarian politics, and how he thinks America’s big cities can clean up their streets without grossly violating civil liberties.
Cities with the Most Violence
Back in June 2020, The Washington Post declared it had disproven President Donald Trump’s claim that “the 20 most dangerous cities are Democrat-run” by affirming that only 17 of the 20 most violent have Democrat mayors lol.
Columnist Philip Bump began by quoting Trump claiming “the 20 most dangerous [cities] are Democrat-run”:
Trump has repeatedly lifted up a statistical factoid, as he did during an event at the White House on Wednesday. “You hear about certain places like Chicago and you hear about what’s going on in Detroit and other — other cities, all Democrat run,” he said. “Every one of them is Democrat run. Twenty out of 20. The 20 worst, the 20 most dangerous are Democrat run.”
Bump explained, “It’s not clear how Trump is defining ‘most dangerous’ in this context. So let’s look at two related sets of data compiled by the FBI: most violent crime and most violent crime per capita.”
In his analysis, Bump pointed to an FBI list of the 20 cities with the most violent crime, the top 10 of which all have Democrat mayors:
- New York
- Los Angeles
Out of the next ten cities, two (San Antonio and Las Vegas) have independent mayors, and one (Jacksonville) has a Republican. Bump went further, listing the top 20 cities with the most violent crime “per 10,000” people. In this list, only one city lacked a Democrat mayor, and that is Springfield, Missouri.
So on the straightforward list of most violent cities, 17 of 20 have a Democrat mayor. For incidents per 10,000 people, 19 out of the top 20 have a Democrat mayor.
Bump ceded that Trump was only “slightly wrong” before launching into a discourse on why making this comparison meanst nothing, anyway.
The following chart shows the 50 cities that have the highest violent crime rates in the United States and: (a) have a population of 25,000 or more; (b) are governed by mayors who are clearly identifiable as either Democrats or Republicans; and (c) have either a “Mayor-Council” (MC) form of government, a “Council-Manager” (CM) form of government, or a Hybrid (HYB) of the two.
Of those 50 cities, 46 are governed by Democratic mayors and administrations; only 4 are governed by Republicans. Moreover, 42 of the top 43 are governed by Democrats.
|Rank||Cities with Populations of 25,000+||Population||Type of Govt.||Violent Crimes/ 1,000||Mayor’s Party|
|6||St. Louis, MO||318,416||MC||18.2||Democratic|
|9||Pine Bluff, AR||42,984||MC||16.0||Democratic|
|10||Kansas City, MO||481,360||CM||15.9||Democratic|
|11||S. Bernardino, CA||HYB||MC||15.3||Democratic|
|13||Little Rock, AR||198,546||CM||14.6||Democratic|
|26||East Point, GA||35,282||MC||12.8||Democratic|
|28||Battle Creek, MI||52,347||CM||12.0||Republican|
|29||East St. Louis, IL||26,662||CM||12.0||Democratic|
|33||Riviera Beach, FL||34,674||MC||11.8||Democratic|
|36||New Orleans, LA||391,495||MC||11.8||Democratic|
|41||Daytona B., FL||66,649||MC||11.1||Democratic|
|47||Desert Hot Sp, CA||28,878||MC||10.7||Republican|
Cities with the Highest Poverty Rates
Mayors – more than US Senators, Congressmen, and even Governors – have a vested interest in finding solutions for the cities they are elected to lead. Accordingly, this column reflects research into 55 cities, covering five studies, credible data bases, and mayoral records.
The findings are arresting – and a basis for rethinking how to pull America’s worst cities out of darkness. Notably, Americans of all ages live in cities. Pew’s Research Center reports 97 percent of US counties – and cities – saw an increase of 65-and-older populations since 2010, a trend that is accelerating. Older Americans are affected by these facts, along with younger.
America is experiencing the best economy in 50 years, lifting every major minority group with record low unemployment, growth, dollar valuation, and accelerating wages. This should turn the tide in America’s cities – but the turn is slow.
Instead, we are witnessing higher homelessness in “sanctuary cities,” and policy stagnation across major impoverished, often unsafe cities – Baltimore to Buffalo, Birmingham to Brownsville.
The top-ten American cities for homelessness are sanctuary cities, which offer refuge to illegal immigrants, do not cooperate with federal law enforcement, and raise the price of low-rent housing for their citizens.
In this group are:
- Los Angeles (55,000 homeless)
- Seattle (12,000)
- San Diego (9,000)
- San Jose (7,000)
- San Francisco (6,000)
- Las Vegas (6,000)
So, one policy misfire is not thinking out implications of opposition to border security, while sheltering illegal migrants and blocking deportation of those facing final orders. Another policy misfire is assuming that one-time shelter funding will stop the inflow of illegal migration; actually, offering safe harbor is having the opposite effect.
These are cities that: (a) have populations of at least 200,000; (b) are governed by mayors who are clearly identifiable as either Democrats or Republicans; and (c) have either a “Mayor-Council” (MC) form of government, a “Council-Manager” (CM) form of government, or a Hybrid (HYB) of the two.
Of the 50 cities in this list, 41 have Democratic mayors, and just 9 have Republican mayors.
|Rank||City & State||Type of Govt.||Poverty Rate||Mayor’s Party|
|4||San Bernardino, CA||HYB||28.4%||Democratic|
|11||Baton Rouge, LA||MC||25.2%||Democratic|
|13||New Orleans, LA||MC||24.6%||Democratic|
|16||St. Louis, MO||MC||24.2%||Democratic|
|28||El Paso, TX||CM||20.0%||Republican|
|30||St. Paul, MN||MC||19.9%||Democratic|
|36||Los Angeles, CA||MC||19.1%||Democratic|
|37||New York, NY||MC||18.9%||Democratic|
|39||San Antonio, TX||CM||18.6%||Democratic|
|42||Jersey City, NJ||MC||18.3%||Democratic|
|46||Long Beach, CA||CM||18.1%||Democratic|
|48||Santa Ana, CA||CM||17.7%||Democratic|
Least Healthy Cities
Two last data sets stand out.
They relate to cities deemed “least healthy,” based on available health care, clean environment, and personal fitness.
- Brownsville (TX)
- Laredo (TX)
- Augusta (GA)
- Shreveport (LA)
- Gulfport (MS)
- Fort Smith (AR)
- Jackson (MI)
- Corpus Christi (TX)
All are led by Democrat mayors, except Corpus and Gulfport.
The second list of “least healthy,” on different data, include:
- Shreveport (LA)
- Beckley (WV)
- Pine Bluff (AK – with a crime rate 383 percent higher than average)
- Hammond (LA)
- Mobile (AL)
- Albany (GA)
- Monroe (LA)
- Florence (SC)
- Gadson (AL)
- Macon (GA)
All but two are Democrat-led. So, what does this tell us? On the numbers, ten incontrovertible things.
First, the top ten homeless cities are sanctuary cities, all led by Democrats.
Second, the top-ten “most dangerous” are led by Democrats.
Third, the top-25 “most dangerous” are mostly Democrat-led, and among the poorest and least employed, with weak infrastructure, tax base and incentives for private investment.
Fourth, among the 25 “most dangerous,” most face stifling poverty of 18 and 39 percent, against the national average of 12. 3 percent. These Democrat-led cities are America’s poorest.
Fifth, most of these cities suffer unemployment rates from 4.4 and 9.3 percent, versus 3.7 nationally.
Sixth, of the 20 “least healthy” cities, all but four are Democrat-led.
Seventh, while these mayors wrestle difficult issues, most oppose policies promoted by President Trump that are bringing prosperity to the rest of the country, such as lower taxes, less regulation, incentives for business investment, stronger law enforcement, cooperation with federal immigration officials, border security, comprehensive anti-drug policies, and local responsibility for declining tax base.
Eighth, most are in anti-gun coalitions, focused on restricting Second Amendment rights, favoring policies at cross-purposes with allowing citizens to protect themselves. While each is different, many favor gun-control, bans on concealed carry and higher minimum wages – all proven misfires.
Ninth, taken as a whole – the mayors are pursuing conflicted policies, on the numbers not breaking cycles of intergenerational crime, poverty, unemployment, dependence, employers fleeing tax burdens, untrained employees, accessible private health care, environmental stewardship and personal fitness.
Tenth, in closing: The facts are crystal clear, and they are stunning. For decade upon decade, the Democratic Party has fed mountains of rhetoric to its many reliable voting blocs in scores of U.S. cities, assuring them of its deep and abiding concern for the lives of ordinary Americans. Yet it has delivered absolutely nothing in terms of measurable improvements to those lives. Instead, the Party has gradually transformed itself into a political wrecking ball whose only tangible achievement in urban America has been to perpetuate obscene levels of poverty, crime, and human misery. It is a shocking record of wretched failure that can be neither ignored nor wished away.
Why on earth would anyone believe that entrusting Democrats with the reins of governmental power on a national level, as opposed to a city level, would lead to a better result?
It is time for serious-minded individuals who may have long supported the Democratic Party for reasons they deemed worthy and honorable, to finally recognize that their party has failed and betrayed them so consistently and so monstrously, that they now have a moral imperative to walk away from it.
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