The Curley Effect, so-called after Michael James Curley, four times mayor of Boston and one of the most colorfully corrupt 20th century politicians in Massachusetts, has been noted as a significant factor in city politics, where a long-time and popular ruling politician deliberately makes the city inhospitable to those who tend to oppose them, essentially shaping the electorate into one which will support the ruling politician forever and ever, amen. This tactic, of rewarding supporters with public largesse, and punishing opponents economically, worked well for the individual politician, as it did for the very Catholic and Irish Mayor Curley – but at the expense of Boston overall, as those individuals, businesses and institutions who opposed him most frequently, departed, taking their money, businesses and civic involvement with them. Mayor Curley and his cronies throve, but Boston was much the worse for it, over the long run. The same pattern wrecked Detroit under Mayor Coleman Young, given an extra push by the collapse of the auto manufacturing industry. It all worked out very well for Mayor Curley and Mayor Young – but not so well for the long-term vigor of the cities they ostensibly managed … right into the ground, they managed them, but didn’t care, as long as they themselves sat on top of the pile of ruin. Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Atlanta and others look to be heading in the same depressing direction – a city leadership determined to secure their own continuance, and not just by driving out those marked as political antagonists.
There’s an additional fillip – the concerted effort by the powers-that-be in progressive-run cities appears to be to drive out the middle and working class. It’s hard to say if this is a deliberate campaign, or just a pleasing side-effect. A large and functional middle and working class is almost essential to a city which functions well. Middle-class people tend to own and run small businesses, while those at the higher end of middle-class have sufficient money and leisure time to interest themselves in civic matters. They have the time and energy to volunteer for things like book clubs, charities, church and school activities, to join art societies and gardening clubs; at the very least, the time and energy to keep up their gardens and their neighborhoods pleasant and livable. They also have the time, energy and knowledge to complain effectively to city management when things go wrong. If and when and for whatever reasons, a city or a township becomes inimical to a middle class … they will have the wherewithal and the skills to be able to leave, although often with regret.
Ineffective/non-existent law enforcement, uber-expensive housing costs, decaying infrastructure, insane numbers of homeless in the streets and parks, awful schools and stultifying bureaucracy will tend to discourage those people who just want a bit of peace, quiet and security, their own patch of real estate paradise, good schools and to do their own job. Those who can do so, will leave – as appears to be the case now with the flood of departures from California, and New York. And the thought occurs, to me and to others – what if this apparent war on the middle class is not accidental, but deliberate and calculated? What if the civic powers-that-be have decided that they can get along splendidly with a small handful of the wealthy, who pay for their own private schools, private security for their secure condos and gated communities … and large numbers of the miserable poor, who can content themselves with occasional crumbs and vote reliably for the existing powers? What if a moderately prosperous middle class is seen by the average city-managing progressive as just too demanding and difficult to put up with? Discuss as you wish.