A recent article in the real estate section of MSN.com, written by Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes Magazine, was titled “America’s Most Miserable Cities of 2013.”
The article ranked American cities based on metrics that included violent crimes, unemployment, property tax burden, the exodus or net out-migration rate, foreclosures, falling home prices, traffic (long commutes) and weather.
The top 10 list included three Michigan cities, three in California, three in Illinois, with New York City coming in at No. 10 based primarily on its high property taxes and really bad traffic. Granted, New York City has a lot of neat features and is a great place to visit, but you might not want to live there.
New York would have been higher on the misery list except for the fact that 19 years ago, with their city in a dire crisis, New Yorkers were smart enough to elect Rudy Giuliani as their mayor. His crackdown on petty crimes and vagrancy went a long way to giving New York a fighting chance for redemption.
However, if political corruption had been a key component of this survey, New York would have ranked much higher on the misery list. The U.S. attorney there has announced charges against six New York assembly members in the last few weeks with dozens more under investigation and more indictments likely to come.
“The criminal complaint describes an unappetizing smorgasbord of graft and greed involving six officials who together built a corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in announcing the charges last month.
Topping the list of most miserable cities, as you might guess, was Detroit, followed by Flint, Mich. While the Chrysler car commercials paint a rosy glow for Detroit, and the violent crime rate has dropped a bit in recent years, the city is still king of violent crimes with 1,052 per 100,000 population. It is near the top with people leaving and its home prices are at rock bottom. Their vaunted Democratic machine has done nothing but trap the citizens who are left behind into a pit of despair.
Jesse Jackson carried out protests in Detroit recently to stop the implementation of the city’s Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) plan. The plan was created by the governor and the state legislature to salvage something out of the chaos and to deal with the city’s massive debt.
Detroit’s new manager is Kevyn Orr, a lawyer whose home is in Montgomery County, Md. Like some other Democratic appointees in the recent past, Orr had to get caught up on back taxes owed to Montgomery County and the IRS once his appointment was made public.
Initial comments by Orr sound favorable and suggest that he is realistic about the problems he is facing and what needs to happen to get Detroit’s financial house in order. Hopefully, he is the right person for the job.
Jesse Jackson’s complaint was to warn about this “Economic Czar” taking away the voting rights of Detroiters. He is trying to make it a civil rights issue about democracy and the right of citizens to govern themselves. This is laughable, given that self-governance has not been working in Detroit for a long time.
Another city on the Misery Top 10 with a large Democratic footprint is Chicago. There, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s plan is to close 54 schools in the city where massive “out-migration” has left schools with empty classrooms. Significant protests by teachers and parents were strong, even extreme, with Emmanuel, formerly President Obama’s right-hand man, being labeled “a racist liar” by leaders.
So maybe those sophisticated blue states with all those really smart people can figure out how to turn things around before losing more of their residents to red states.
George Michael, who lives in Williamsport, is a former principal of Grace Academy. His email address is email@example.com.