today, the old saying that “the city air makes one free” all too often means freedom to be poor, to experience endemic homelessness, collapsing public infrastructure and rising crime.
And that was before Covid hit. Already many poor urban residents subsisted on transfer payments or worked in service industries. They were paid, usually poorly, to clean now-empty offices or work in restaurants and hotels. The lockdowns, whether justified or overwrought, have since pummelled these low-income workers; roughly 40% of Americans earning under $40,000 a year lost their jobs last March.
Unlike workers who occupy “the commanding heights” of finance, tech, marketing, and media , these people did not have the option of working from their kitchen tables or moving to suburban locations or smaller cities. Nor could they count on education systems to work their magic; most schools in American inner-city districts, in contrast to many suburbs and smaller cities, remained closed.
...In many cities — Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco, St. Louis, New York — “progressive” district attorneys have worked assiduously to restrain law enforcement. In California, where it is no longer considered a felony to steal anything worth less than $1,000, there has been a surge in property crime, including a huge rise in car thefts. San Francisco, for example, has seen the drug store Walgreens close ten outlets since 2019, citing elevated levels of theft and weak law enforcement. Meanwhile New York’s bodegas, small markets in ethnic neighbourhoods, experienced a 222% increase in burglaries last year.Read more here