The path of ‘progressive’ public policy lemmings

The path of ‘progressive’ public policy lemmings

We talked of America’s “Great Re-ordering” on Monday, a new exodus from our urban centers fueled, in part, by the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest.

But while there can be little doubt that one or the other or each might just be serving as a catalyst, it is seeds sown many times over many years that demographers and public policy makers now must address instead of whistling past.

There have been several scholarly articles on the topic as the spring of our discontent turned into the summer of our many questions. As a recent Wall Street Journal editorial noted:

“There were signs even before the pandemic and riots that the revival of America’s cities was going in reverse. This is especially ominous for progressive cities in high-tax states.”

The evidence is compelling, as the Brookings Institution records it: In 2010, cities grew 18 percent faster than the suburbs. But in 2019, suburbs grew twice as fast as cities.

Thus, a great transformation was well underway before the troubles of 2020 broke out. And the reasons come as a surprise only to those “progressive” policy makers whose “solutions” only exacerbated the problems.

Yes, we have talked about this repeatedly. But it is worth repeating anew.

In Pittsburgh and elsewhere, one-party rule only reinforced political machinations at the public’s expense and at the expense of public services.

The “right to organize” has become a license to pillage the proverbial village of ever scarcer taxpayer dollars required to maintain those vital services.

Or as The Journal editorial noted, “Big-city progressive politicians have long treated businesses and taxpayers like ATMs to finance their public-union machines.”

Heck, even Franklin Delano Roosevelt warned of the manifest dangers of public-sector unions.

Public schools, especially at the elementary and secondary levels, continue to academically crumble, typically under the “if-we-only-had-more-money” excuse – and never mind that some urban districts spend twice as much money per pupil than their suburban counterparts.

That, in a climate in which, at least in Pittsburgh, school leaders can make expensive junkets but leave thousands of students without remote learning capabilities when coronavirus push came to shove.

Businesses that should pay their own way don’t, raiding the public kitty in the name of the public’s future good. But, in the end, all they do is reduce their bottom lines from the pockets of the general taxpaying public, all too often disproportionately affecting those who can afford such highwaymannery the least.

The list goes on and on.

Yet rational, thinking people are eviscerated for having the audacity to question urban center leaders who increasingly have eschewed basic economics and sound public policies?

Where does it end? With, as we are seeing nationwide, people voting with their wallets and feet.

We know we run the risk of sounding like a CD player on “repeat track” mode. But that too few in power in Pittsburgh and other major urban centers have taken to turning these entreaties to “mute” more than suggests they have no intention of changing course.

Not only have they chosen to not take Robert Frost’s path less-traveled, they, by their nonfeasance, have decided to take the path of “progressive” lemmings – over the cliff.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (