The Other McCain

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The Planners and Their Plans

Posted on | December 3, 2020 | 1 Comment

If you are my age, the very mention of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing project calls to mind memories of how liberalism’s “War on Poverty” ultimately ended in catastrophic defeat:

At its peak, Cabrini-Green was home to 15,000 people, mostly living in mid- and high-rise apartment buildings, totaling 3,607 units. Over the years, crime and neglect created hostile living conditions for many residents, and “Cabrini-Green” became a metonym for the problems associated with public housing in the United States. Beginning in 1995, CHA began tearing down the mostly dilapidated, mid- and high-rise buildings, with the last high-rise being demolished in March 2011.

Cabrini-Green began with noble intentions — “slum clearance” and “urban renewal” were the phrases used to describe the rationale behind this project in a neighborhood once known as “Little Sicily.” Originally, in the 1940s, most of the tenants were Italian-American, but by the time the earlier rowhouse development (named for Saint Frances Cabrini, a nun who worked with the poor) was augmented by the high-rise William Green Homes (named for a famous labor-union leader), black residents were the majority, and not accidentally so. The liberalism of LBJ-era Democrats like Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley (who held office for more than 20 years beginning in 1955) incorporated an attitude toward African-Americans that can at best be called patronizing, insofar as it was not actually racist. If stacking up poor black people in 10-storey-tall housing developments seems like a bad idea in retrospect, consider that the alternative to this vertical solution was to allow Chicago’s poor black population to spread horizontally through the city’s neighborhoods. Black people who had left the segregation called Jim Crow in the South discovered a kind of segregation called “liberalism” in the North.

Support for federally funded public housing was a touchstone of liberal policy for decades, and it was the critics of this program, rather than its proponents, who were accused of racism. You were not only racist if you questioned the wisdom of pouring out taxpayer funding for projects like Cabrini-Green, you were a cold-hearted Scrooge. The idea of public housing as an expression of philanthropic charity was deeply embedded in the liberal worldview of the Welfare State. LBJ declared his “War on Poverty” in his first State of the Union address:

The speech led the United States Congress to pass the Economic Opportunity Act, which established the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to administer the local application of federal funds targeted against poverty. The forty programmes established by the Act were collectively aimed at eliminating poverty by improving living conditions for residents of low-income neighborhoods and by helping the poor access economic opportunities long denied them.
As a part of the Great Society, Johnson believed in expanding the federal government’s roles in education and health care as poverty reduction strategies.

In 1987, Ronald Reagan famously summarized the result of LBJ’s policy: “In the Sixties, we waged a war on poverty, and poverty won.”

It turns out that old-fashioned poverty — not having enough money — was actually not bad, compared to federally subsidized poverty.

By the 1990s, the failure of liberal policy was so blatantly obvious that even Democrats did not object when the federal government began demolishing the high-rise public housing projects it had spent so much taxpayer money to build a few decades earlier. Cabrini-Green was a symbol of this failed liberal dream. The last resident to leave the last high-rise tower before it was demolished in 2010 was a woman named Annie Ricks. Born in Escambia County, Alabama, in 1956, Ricks was 10 when she moved to Chicago with her family. By the time she moved into Cabrini-Green in 1989, Ricks had eight children, and she gave birth to another five children while she lived there. The Cabrini-Green site was “redeveloped” with a mix of luxury condos and “affordable housing” in what reporters described as “a planned, mixed-income neighborhood.” There was an interesting coda to the story this year when a 9-year-old boy who lived in the “affordable” section was shot dead — Janari Ricks was the grandson of Annie Ricks. The man charged with Janari’s murder, 39-year-old Darrell Johnson, opened fire at “a group of people behind the townhomes on the 900 block of North Cambridge Avenue”:

According to prosecutors, Johnson spent four years in prison for a 2005 conviction on carjacking and weapons charges, and served two years’ probation for a 2002 conviction for aggravated battery.
Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said Monday it appears neither the shooter nor his intended target live in Cabrini Green, although they grew up there. . . .
Janari is the fifth child age 10 or younger to be shot and killed in Chicago this year.

Joe Biden got nearly 75% of the vote in Cook County, Illinois, and his agenda regarding law enforcement is mainly an exercise in blaming “systemic racism” for everything wrong in the black community.

Interestingly enough, the community where Annie Ricks was born has a larger black community, percentage-wise, than Chicago. Escambia County, Alabama, is 32% black, whereas Cook County, Illinois, is only 25% black. And while Biden easily won Chicago, Donald Trump got 68% of the vote in Escambia County where — perhaps not coincidentally — children don’t get shot to death as a routine matter. Just sayin’ . . .

One of the basic tenets of liberal thinking about race — affecting a variety of issues, including immigration, education, poverty and crime — is what Steve Sailer has called the “Magic Dirt” theory. The places where impoverished POC (“people of color”) live are demonstrably afflicted with social problems which, the liberal believes, can be solved by relocating these people to places where white people live. This idea that social problems are geographic in nature means that certain ZIP codes are “Magic Dirt,” where high SAT scores and low crime rates are more or less automatically obtained by anyone fortunate enough to live there, whereas the places with high crime and low SAT scores are “Tragic Dirt.”

Once you understand this misguided concept, it becomes impossible not to recognize the “Magic Dirt” meme in media and political rhetoric. Given what we know about Joe Biden — representing the same party that got 75% of the vote in Cook County — what should we expect if he becomes president? Steve Sailer has thoughts on that subject:

My theory has long been, going back to Chicago’s demolition of near-Loop housing projects, that, because poor black people are America’s perpetual hot potato that everybody hopes to hand off to somebody else, white urban elites wish to shove inner-city blacks onto the hinterlands.

The only possible reply to that is, “Wait and see.”

Did I mention that U.S. firearms sales are at record levels?

CORRECTION: “Magic Dirt Theory” is a phrase coined by Vox Day, specifically referring to the belief of open-borders enthusiasts “that all immigrants will magically become Real Americans, real life nephews of their Uncle Sam, reborn on the Fourth of July by virtue of geographical relocation, thereby instantly negating of all of their racial, ethnic, religious, political, and cultural traditions.” My apologies for the erroneous attribution.



One Response to “The Planners and Their Plans”

  1. News of the Week (December 6th, 2020) | The Political Hat
    December 6th, 2020 @ 6:21 pm

    […] The Planners and Their Plans If you are my age, the very mention of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing project calls to mind memories of how liberalism’s “War on Poverty” ultimately ended in catastrophic defeat […]