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Democrat rule turns bustling cities into empty dirt-farms.

Democratic tax-and-spend policies have destroyed so many cities that the term "Curley effect" was invented to explain how it worked.  Boston's Mayor Curley perfected the process of buying votes with taxpayers' money.  Since there are always more tenants than landlords, giving away goodies in exchange for votes built long-lasting political machines.  Our government taxes A to buy the votes of B, C, and D.

As taxes went up, productive people left town.  As people who voted against tax increases moved away, it became easier to raise taxes.  The higher taxes went, the more professionals fled the city even though newspapers accused them of "white flight" and implied racist motives for their departure.

Over the decades, municipal costs went up, pension obligations exploded, and quality of city life declined.  The situation in Detroit became so bad that even black professionals gave up and left.

Eventually, there's nobody left except the very richest who can afford their own services and avoid the punitive taxes through their connections, the featherbedded public-sector workers, and the non-taxpaying underclass who contribute nothing but expect to be provided for all the same - not a viable economy or even a survivable political entity.  Detroit is so non-viable that  Michigan state government officials have seriously proposed dissolving it entirely.

Baltimore Goes the Curley Route

Baltimore hasn't suffered quite as badly as Detroit, but it, too, shows the damage done by Democratic policies.  In 1950, Baltimore's median income was 7% above the national average; in 2011, after 48 years of Democrat misrule, it's 22% below.

Enough people who seek to support themselves have left the city that it now has acres and acres of vacant land.  The Baltimore Sun was overjoyed to report that a company called Strength to Love Farms is clearing 75 contiguous vacant lots to create a 1.5-acre farm.

There are about 200 potential farming sites of an acre or more in Baltimore.  Each half-acre employs about six people.  If all the potential farm sites were occupied, about 1,200 jobs would be created.

This is an environmentalist's dream, of course.  75 lots which used to be occupied by polluting people have been turned into a farm which will feel locad residents.  What could be better for the planet?

Old MacDonald Had A Farm

Think about this for a moment.  In 2007, the EPA said there were over 285,000,000 people in the United States.  About 960,000 are farmers.  Less than a million people grew enough food for 285 million.

In 1935, the number of farms in the United States peaked at 6.8 million as the population edged over 127 million, less than half of what our population is now.  Increased demand for food has been met with large, productive pieces of farm equipment, improved crop varieties, oil-based commercial fertilizers, and chemical pesticides.

There were 27.5 acres per farm worker in 1890 and 740 acres per worker in 1990.  Americans grow so much food that lots of people eat too much and we have to pay farmers not to grow as much as they could.

Modern farms are so highly mechanized that one farmer manages 740 acres.  These new urban farms are too small for high-capacity machines and employ 12 people per acre instead of one person managing 740 acres.  

Urban farms need more than 8,000 times as much labor as modern mechanized farms.  The farmers of 1890 managed more than 27 acres per farm worker.  Urban farms need more than 300 times as much labor as the farms of 1890!

1,200 jobs sounds good, but muscle-powered stoop labor offers pretty nasty jobs.  Are the down-and-outers of Baltimore willing to work in muscle-powered farming instead of sitting on their couches watching Oprah while awaiting the next welfare check?  Is small-scale farming profitable enough that urban farms can afford to pay for health care?

It's a sad fact that Baltimore can no longer support at least 200 acres of what used to be a highly productive city.  Lots have been abandoned, become vacant jungles, and the resulting wilderness is being cleared for use as farms, as happened in Rome in the Middle Ages.

Cities grew because they were more productive places for people to gather than villages and farming towns had been.  Cities offered much better economic opportunities than farming communities could.  Low-income farmers flocked from the rural south to the booming northern factories.  The businesses were so profitable that they could pay much better wages than farms could afford.

Democratic policies have destroyed the cities' productivity.  Many cities are reverting to wilderness because they've lost their reason for existence as a city.  This process is so common that the term "urban farming" has come into vogue to describe it.

The "save the planet" folks keep telling us this is a wonderful change because the resulting produce doesn't have to be transported as far.  This isn't progress, however; it's admitting that the economic drivers of our civilization don't operate any more.  Low-tech urban farming makes less efficient use of labor than horse-drawn agriculture of the 1890's.  It won't pay much better than flipping fries at minimum wage, but that's OK because urban farming helps Save the Planet.

Is this what's in store for the rest of the country under Democratic policies?

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Economics.
Reader Comments

The left has always had a problem with productivity and using our natural resources for some reason, whatever it is I cannot even begin to visit their mentality without getting a headache.

The article is valid but what are you going to do with those acres? Allow me to tell you a story about what I proposed to the local Superintendent of Education and his right hand man.

I see education as the way to get us out of mess that we are in by accepting welfare as a way of life. Capitalism is the only system that has ever lifted people out of their circumstances to a better life. What I offered to was to teach an elementary course on capitalism along with a real life lesson of starting a business. Here's how it would go. I teach the principles of capitalism. We then go out to a farmer or to the city to rent an acre of land. I would make sure that everyone kept up with the costs of delivering the product to the grocery stores in the area. In this case I proposed to grow 1 acre of okra. We would need seed, fertilizer, gasoline for the tillers which would be rented from a local rental place and perhaps water if it was available and if we needed it. There would be no subsidizing of the project. We would also keep p with the labor and use the minimum wage as a basis. Of course we would have to buy a license from the city or the country or both in order to do business. There would be insurance purchased, etc. My goal for this project would be to show the students how to start a business and how to account for the all of the costs. This would be a great learning curve for those with entrepreneurial tendencies but important would be the lesson that the others would learn, that being that the money that comes in the front door is not all profit. Of course the Superintendent is so biased in his way of thinking, union of course, that my idea was quickly shoved under the table. We have to teach capitalism in our schools and this to me is the answer to some of our problems.

December 21, 2012 1:01 PM

Isn't this something like ....
John Holdren, Obama Science Czar, Advocates 'De-development' of the United States Through 'Free Market Economy'

December 21, 2012 2:55 PM

We once again go back to the question 'what did we subsidize?' At the federal level we have massively subsidized education, healthcare, and transfer payments. What have we gotten as a result? Overpriced education, overpriced healthcare, and over one half of Americans dependent on transfer payments.

The fact is whatever is subsidized distorts the market for that service or item. The result is an oversupply of whatever is subsidized. We have far too many worthless college degrees awarded to folks that incurred bankrupting debt to pay for the degree. We have far too many specialists in medicine and a huge shortage of generalists and para professionals

Sorry - I have no answers but I have plenty of theories regarding the cause.

May 24, 2017 8:30 AM
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