It's infuriating to be living in the leading nation in the First World, the largest or second-largest economy in the world (depending on who's measuring, and how), and the most powerful nation in the world, and yet see Third World levels of filth, infrastructural breakdown and dysfunctional government invade many of our cities.
The headlines over the past few years tell a horrifying story to anyone who values the achievements of civilization. I won't bother linking to actual reports here; there are so many that simple Internet searches will find an abundance of them. Consider these areas of concern:
- Public urination and defecation;
- Homeless encampments invading city streets, inconveniencing businesses and passersby;
- Partisan city governments choosing sides in political debate, to the extent of deploying their law enforcement agencies to support one side and muzzle the other;
- Crimes being incorrectly reported, and low-level crimes being deliberately ignored so as to "better allocate" scarce police and prosecution resources;
- Politically correct criteria being used to define who is "good" or "bad" on any particular issue, and use city resources accordingly to support or block them;
- The wholesale waste of taxpayer money on politically correct projects, or those aiming to enrich the "privileged few", while ignoring the ever-increasing burden being placed upon taxpayers;
- The use of pension promises to enrich those working for city governments, without making provision to actually pay what has been promised.
There are many other elements and criteria one could use, but they merely contribute more to the same result - the breakdown of our cities. Daily examples may be found in San Francisco's infamous "poop map", Chicago's crime statistics, and other sources. They tell the same story in different words.
What I find most infuriating (and most incomprehensible) is that so many Americans appear willing to just let this go on. Why is there not a massive public outcry against so great a breakdown of the standards in which most of us were raised? Why are we not demanding that our local governments act to clean up our cities? In the final analysis, if our local authorities refuse to take action, why are we not doing so ourselves?
I've lived in Third World countries. I've seen cities like Kinshasa in Congo, Nairobi in Kenya, and Harare in Zimbabwe. I've even been in real hell-holes like Massawa in Eritrea, and some of the ports in West Africa during the worst of the unrest there. American cities are nowhere near that bad yet . . . but they've fallen a long way from the pinnacle to which they'd climbed. If you took a resident of San Francisco, or Chicago, or Baltimore, or Philadelphia, in the 1950's and 1960's, and dropped him into the same cities today, he'd be horrified, outraged and disgusted to see how his home town had deteriorated.
Why have we tolerated this, and why are we doing nothing to reverse it? It's no good blaming our politicians. We elect them. If we persist in electing such feckless, useless nonentities, it's on us, not them.