Thursday, October 01, 2009

Black Cities


A recent post about the dissolution of Detroit elicited the following response:

So, the city of Detroit is screwed up, that is not new news. What point are you trying to make here? Also, while the beginnings of the problem go back to the riots, what is the point of noting the corrupt "black" government. What "color" government do you expect in a city that is 85-90% black?
To which I responded:
I also noted that the city was predominantly white and prosperous at one time. So what?

Are you insinuating that a comment about a black, corrupt government is not permissible?

What I expect is a black government that is not corrupt and works in the best interests of its residents... something that has not happened since before Coleman Young, the great divider, took over the office of the mayor.

Now go back and read the links to the earlier posts.
This post is about race and politics. It does bring up the issue of cities with largely black populations. In some minds, that automatically will be racist. In those minds, it is not possible to examine the relationship of black Americans [I dislike the term African-Americans because it's akin to saying almost-Americans] to societal problems without being a racist. I simply disagree. Let the reasoning be examined and let the rhetoric be removed.

Here is a list of major cities with at least 50% black population based on the 2000 Census [from Wikipedia]:
Rank City Percentage Black
1 Gary, Indiana 84.03
2 Detroit, Michigan 83.73
3 Miami Gardens, Florida 79.39
4 Birmingham, Alabama 73.46
5 Jackson, Mississippi 70.64
6 New Orleans, Louisiana 67.25
7 Baltimore, Maryland 64.34
8 Memphis, Tennessee 61.41
9 Atlanta, Georgia 61.39
10 Washington, D.C. 60.01
11 Richmond, Virginia 57.19
12 Savannah, Georgia 57.08
13 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 55.70
14 Newark, New Jersey 53.46
15 Flint, Michigan 53.27
16 St. Louis, Missouri 51.20
17 Cleveland, Ohio 50.99
18 Shreveport, Louisiana 50.80
19 Portsmouth, Virginia 50.61
20 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 50.02

Not every city is a problem-city although each city has its problems. Nevertheless, there is a fairly strong correlation between predominantly black population and urban decay.
One has to be careful in ascribing a racial basis to urban problems. The urban problems may have preceded the loss of other racial and ethnic groups so that all that are left are the poorest... economically and educationally... who had the fewest options to leave. Hence, simply stating a strong correlation does not mean an unrelenting cause-effect.

The fact is, however, that black populations are generally less educated and, concomitantly, poorer. There are higher crime rates [that some minds will see as a racist observation despite the overwhelming percentage being black on black crimes]. And there is an irrational pride in rejecting "white" [read mainstream] values among many of the younger blacks... the generation most needed to turn around the situation.

That does not change the fact that, for Detroit, the present geo-political structure is untenable. Detroit has tremendous natural advantages as a port on the Great Lakes and access to a large population of well-educated people with major industry and universities within a short distance. Underpopulated [less than 1/2 its peak population] Detroit [about 40% derelict or abandoned] simply cannot take advantage of those advantages as long as it is comprised mostly of poorly educated and poor blacks who lack both the means and the attitude to be mainstream successful. That is why the city must be dissolved and reconstituted into manageable units.

At the opposite end of the spectrum with an opposite dynamic is San Francisco.

African Americans are leaving San Francisco because of substandard schools, a lack of affordable housing and the dearth of jobs and black culture, according to a report by a committee looking into the exodus.

The African American Out-migration Task Force, put together by the mayor's office last year to figure out what can be done to preserve the city's remaining black population and cultivate new residents, presented its findings at a public hearing Thursday called by Supervisor Chris Daly.

San Francisco's black population has dropped faster than that of any other large U.S. city's. It went from 13.4 percent in 1970 to an estimated 6.5 percent in 2005, according to the census. Nationally, African Americans make up 12.1 percent of the population.

Read more....
The reasons given are a little shaky... especially lack of "black culture." Just what does that mean? Is that the reason blacks have stayed in Gary and Detroit... and why those are failed cities? Or could it be that because blacks are more representative of their national percentage of highly educated population that San Francisco is more vibrant and economically sound... and that the blacks who remain are better able to contribute to that vitality while those that leave represent the same educational and economic strata that dominate Detroit?

A city based on poor, ignorant residents doesn't stand a chance of economic success regardless of its "culture." Cities should be the source of wealth, creativity and culture... not a blight on their surroundings. Perhaps it is time for more cities to emulate San Francisco's population than Detroit's... despite some of the other issues associated with San Francisco.


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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
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“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
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SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)