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.
23 thoughts on “The Curley Effect, 21st Century Style”
This is a good example of why the “one person one vote” abomination was so destructive. When the rural areas of states like CA, IL, NY, etc., had political power, there was a check on the ability of urban machines to destroy an entire state.
The hope now is that the era of “small government” is over, and that we can elect some representatives who are willing to use federal government to punish liberal cities and reward conservative constituencies like a real political party is supposed to do…
Isn’t there a class of ideologies that traditionally detest the bourgeoisie, and try to extinguish them? It’s on the tip of my tongue…
Yep, JL – the progs are impatient at having to deal with those uppity kulacks, who assume from their class privilege that they have the right to meaningfully and effectively participate in their society.
Stupid proles – running the affairs of state or the city is reserved for the nomenklatura!
I’ve been trying to figure out how Silicon Valley exists for 20 years or more. You have people with 6 figure salaries living in their cars or commuting 6+ hours which amounts to the same thing. How does a sane person reconcile doing that for barista/waiter wages.
It’s the middle class that makes cities livable at all. If they manage to eject them, where are the teachers at the tony private schools or the plumbers that keep the super expensive apartments from being full of you know what going to come from? What about the police to keep the fancy cars from being car-jacked? All the office workers, without them, there is no reason not to live in Jackson Hole instead of the war zone that New York is becoming and Chicago already is.
I think there’s a cynical, intentional ploy to drive middle-class liberals out of the blue states, so they then infest red states with their lefty voting preferences, like a virus. Thus, over time, red states will eventually turn purple, if not blue. See: Colorado.
I think Colorado was contaminated by high end resorts like Aspen taken over by rich Californians.
“…where are the teachers at the tony private schools or the plumbers that keep the super expensive apartments from being full of you know what going to come from?”
This is important and overlooked. While you touch on plumbers, we can’t forget electricians, HVAC mechanics, auto mechanics, other technicians and even janitors – all of whom are counted on and extremely necessary to keep a modern city humming. Typically a medical doctor living in an expensive apartment has no clue how to fix the cooling tower on top of the building, or the 100 hp industrial boiler in the basement. When you hollow out the urban centers of all of these blue collar technicians, who can get jobs anywhere in the USA right now, stuff starts to break. This will be a problem.
You have people with 6 figure salaries living in their cars or commuting 6+ hours which amounts to the same thing. How does a sane person reconcile doing that for barista/waiter wages.
My daughter was interviewed for a design job with Apple. This was about six years ago. She would fly up to SFO and be met by a limo, driven to the Apple campus. She had her final interview with the head of Apple design, a famous guy whose name I have forgotten. All the while she was thinking about where she could live. She was thinking of buying a small motor home. Finally, she was relieved when they told her they were going to promote someone there to fill the spot. She has since married and had a daughter and is much happier.
The Left holds the urban areas. Urban areas are both highly dependent on complex logistics, and those logistical pathways are full of choke points. It has held up all through human history that urban area whose choke points are blocked lose political/economic/coercive power. At which point the “rule of 3’s” comes into play.
}}} I think Colorado was contaminated by high end resorts like Aspen taken over by rich Californians.
Yeah, but conservative FL almost elected a liberal twat for governor last time. We got lucky and managed to get DeSantis.
Texas almost elected a total idiot instead of Ted Cruz. Regardless of how much you may or may not like Cruz, he’s a lot better than that useless moron.
Look at Virginia — this is a historically conservative state, now they’ve got all kinds of lefty gun control pushed through by people elected from the DC suburbs and Richmond. Something like 85% of the counties want to secede and join West Virginia.
Ditto Arizona and Nevada, both historically conservative. Not any more.
No, this is a serious danger.
Not enough people realize that the misery and wreckage of centrally-controlled societies is part of the concept, not a failure. Such societies are easy to rule, and there is no economy, either local or national, so wretched that it cannot eke out enough wealth to support a tiny ruling class like billionaires or kings.
Such societies have been almost the norm through much of human history.
From the perspective of its leadership class, North Korea is not a failed socialist state, it is a perfected one.
This tactic is self-defeating on the national scale, as population migration is a zero-sum game. Given two or three censuses, your state will lose influence to the areas that people moved to.
Some people say that driving Dems out to colonize a red state might also be a deliberate strategy, but in my experience people are reluctant to move large distances and tend to resent it. They may end up as staunch anti-Democrats as a result.
After all, the best anti-Communists were former Communists. That’s why the Communists hate apostates so much.
Middle class people fleeing to red states are like the German Jews who fled Germany to Holland, Belgium, France, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland.
I beg to disagree that the progressive plan is to force the middle class out of urban areas. My only evidence is that a plank of the communist manifesto expressly intends the opposite. What’s really happening is that the plan to accomplish that plank has gone, predictably by us, haywire.
Here’s a very cogent study by a group at Harvard about the Curley Efftect:
The Curley Effect: The Economics of Shaping the Electorate
Edward L. Glaeser
Harvard University and NBER
Harvard University and NBER
Ditto Arizona and Nevada, both historically conservative. Not any more.
Lots of California money elected Kelly, or maybe not according to the audit. He has to run again next year. That will tell us a lot. Plus Soros SoS Katie Hobbs is running for Governor as Ducey is term limited. We will learn a lot next fall. CA money might have to stay in CA.
I was disappointed. I came here hoping to read some insight based on something to do with the less hirsute of the Three Stooges.
Though I don’t disagree with the post. Spot on. I was just hoping for something less … normal.
Curly Shuffle >> the Curley Effect.
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. Where to start?
Just one point: it’s probably just a desirable side-effect that the contentious middle-class leaves The Big City when the Progressive city government is firmly established. The real goal is merely the accumulation of power.
It’s nice to have the credulous bourgeoise stick around to pay more than their fair share of taxes, but not required; bailouts are always available from the State and Feral Gubmints.
The cities will continue to sink slowly into morasses of filth and degradation without their middle classes, that much is certain. The only question is will we let them drag the rest of us down by means of ballot fraud and stolen elections?
Agree with OBH. DeSantis is good but if his opponent hadn’t self destructed at the last minute Florida would have elected an incompetent lefty machine hack as governor. DeSantis is limited to two terms anyway. AZ, VA, CO are a warning.
New York and California are both notorious for trying to collect taxes from those that leave. I wonder if we’ll see federal legislation to try to enforce some sort of an exit tax on the refugees?
Indeed. I’m almost certain that when mandatory CRT training takes full hold, as well as the targeting of conservatives in general, and recruiting and retention crash because of it… we’ll hear about a crying need to reinstate the draft.
” While you touch on plumbers, we can’t forget electricians, HVAC mechanics, auto mechanics, other technicians and even janitors – all of whom are counted on and extremely necessary to keep a modern city humming. ”
London seems to be coping with this exact problem*. I don’t know quite how, and whether the solution is transferable.
*Not due to the Curley effect, but due to housing costs.
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