“To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.” — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Milligan — 1816.
For the first 12 years on my life I lived with my parents in a rented house in the inner city of Cleveland Ohio. Life there was not bad as I was living with our extended family in old, drafty three-story house. My dad worked hard and my mom worked part-time in order to save up enough money to buy a new home in Parma, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. In 1948 we moved to this new home and said good bye to Cleveland’s inner city with its growing crime rate and bad management by a corrupt Democratic Party machine.
The vacant lot is where my house in the inner city of Cleveland once stood
Abandoned house on the street where I lived in Cleveland. Typical of the area
Abandoned retail business with living quarters in the neighborhood where I once lived.
I didn’t realize it at the time but this was my parent’s exercising the Constitution right for Life, liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness by working hard to no longer be tenants, but to become owners of their own property — something they were very proud of.
House in Parma my Father purchased in 1948 and where I graduated high school from.
Street in Parma where our 1948 house was situated as it looks today (2011)
This phenomenon of upward mobility continued all over the United States for the next 60 years as people fled the dismal, mismanaged cities with rising crime rates, lousy facilities, and failing schools to move to what we call the suburbs. At the time this was called “white flight”, but over the ensuing years all races and creeds have taken flight from the decaying cities like Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. Husbands, and sometimes wives, worked hard to acquire the funds to make a down payment on a house in the suburbs where they could breathe clean air, own their homes, and where their children could attend better schools. They also believed they could have more control over how their community and schools were managed and property taxes were allocated.
As the home ownership in the suburbs grew businesses shopping malls, industrial parks, movies theaters, churches, schools, highways, and business centers soon followed. This was America of the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. It’s where the people wanted to live and raise their families. It should also be pointed out that with the creation of the suburbs our economy grew in leaps and bounds as millions of jobs were created in the construction and allied industries. This was post-war America where wealth was being created and people were living better lives. The United States had the highest percentage of home ownership in the world at 70%.
On the other hand the old inner cities were dying as the people were fleeing and the tax-base was decreasing. More and more of the people left were on welfare and did not own their own homes. Even government financed housing projects soon became crime-ridden ghettos. The inner city schools became worse and K-12 graduation rates decline to as low as 45%. With the failing graduation rates and test scores these children were not able to obtain good jobs or higher education and many turned to crime and gangs — even with the advantages of President Johnson’s Great Society, Model Cities, and affirmative action. Today this is the state of inner cities. They have become warehouses for the welfare class.
With all of the billions poured into The Great Society and the War on Poverty our cities have gotten worse not better. There is no doubt that education, children have children, and the massive welfare state are the main contributors to this mess. The Teachers Unions resist charter schools and school vouchers. Politicians pander to the inner city voters offering more and more free stuff. And in almost all of these failing cities the dominant political party is the Democrat Party, and has been for the past 40 years.
The Great Society has failed the inner cities. Central government planning by experts and masterminds has failed. Massive infusion of federal government money has failed. Those who worked had to move to the suburbs and are willing to pay local property taxes to support those communities are being taxes more and more through their income taxes (federal and state) to subsidize the failing inner cities.
Now President Obama wants to create a new “Fair Society”. This one is called the “Regional Equity Management Program.” (Note the word “equity”). The goal of the REMP is basically to destroy the suburbs in order to build up the inner cities — in essence the property from the industrious, hardworking responsible “makers” and give it to the irresponsible “takers”, something our Founders such as Madison, Hamilton and Jefferson would find reprehensible. The opening paragraphs of Socialism and Democracy in its report entitled “Regional Equity is a Civil Rights Issue” states:
“The color line in the U.S. is nowhere more visible than between its cities and its suburbs. Urban America, comprised largely of people of color mired in poverty, is the flip side of White suburban prosperity. Gentrified urban neighborhoods and declining inner-ring suburbs are also two sides of that same coin. These patterns of racial and regional disparity define the landscape of metropolitan areas. They also reflect the maldistribution of power and opportunity. Indeed, White suburban privilege is made possible precisely because of urban distress and racial oppression. In short, it matters where one lives.
Despite these seemingly intractable conditions, progressives are increasingly challenging this social order. One strategy community organizers are pursuing is to inject themselves into current regional planning debates. Urban activists have turned towards regional level organizing because community-building efforts are being undermined by larger regional-and global-forces. Community builders are witnessing the undoing of hard-fought gains on a daily basis. Powerful actors and developments in other parts of metropolitan areas are severely altering the shape of urban neighborhoods-from the availability of jobs, housing, health care, education, and public space, to crime and punishment-no matter what activists and residents do. These conditions demand a new approach to community organizing: one that not only takes regional developments into account, but can also affect them.”
This is a program with the total support of Barack Obama and his administration. He stated as much in his 2007 speech at Hampton University where he said “we don’t need any more bridges and highways in the suburbs, we need the money in the inner cities.” What he failed to mention is that with the inner cities have a reduced tax base the people in the suburbs will have to pay for it. This what Obama considers “fair.”
As Thomas Sowell writes in Townhall:
“Senator Obama, as he was then, pointed out that this requirement was waived in the case of New York and Florida because the people there were considered to be "part of the American family." But the people in New Orleans -- predominantly black -- "they don't care about as much," according to Barack Obama.
If you want to know what community organizers do, this is it -- rub people's emotions raw to hype their resentments. And this was Barack Obama in his old community organizer role, a role that should have warned those who thought that he was someone who would bring us together, when he was all too well practiced in the arts of polarizing us apart.
Why is the date of this speech important? Because, less than two weeks earlier, on May 24, 2007, the United States Senate had in fact voted 80-14 to waive the Stafford Act requirement for New Orleans, as it had waived that requirement for New York and Florida. More federal money was spent rebuilding New Orleans than was spent in New York after 9/11 and in Florida after hurricane Andrew, combined.
Truth is not a job requirement for a community organizer. Nor can Barack Obama claim that he wasn't present the day of that Senate vote, as he claimed he wasn't there when Jeremiah Wright unleashed his obscene attacks on America from the pulpit of the church that Obama attended for 20 years.
Unlike Jeremiah Wright's church, the U.S. Senate keeps a record of who was there on a given day. The Congressional Record for May 24, 2007 shows Senator Barack Obama present that day and voting on the bill that waived the Stafford Act requirement. Moreover, he was one of just 14 Senators who voted against -- repeat, AGAINST -- the legislation which included the waiver.
When he gave that demagogic speech, in a feigned accent and style, it was world class chutzpah and a rhetorical triumph. He truly deserves the title Phony in Chief.”
President Obama is not a fan of America’s suburbs. Indeed, he intends to abolish them. With suburban voters set to be the swing constituency of the 2012 election, the administration’s plans for this segment of the electorate deserve scrutiny. Obama is a longtime supporter of “regionalism,” the idea that the suburbs should be folded into the cities, merging schools, housing, transportation, and above all taxation. To this end, the president has already put programs in place designed to push the country toward a sweeping social transformation in a possible second term. The goal: income equalization via a massive redistribution of suburban tax money to the cities.
Obama’s plans to undercut the political and economic independence of America’s suburbs reach back decades. The community organizers who trained him in the mid-1980s blamed the plight of cities on taxpayer “flight” to suburbia. Beginning in the mid-1990s, Obama’s mentors at the Gamaliel Foundation (a community-organizing network Obama helped found and based on the principles set forth by Saul Alinsky) formally dedicated their efforts to the budding fight against suburban “sprawl.” From his positions on the boards of a couple of left-leaning Chicago foundations, Obama channeled substantial financial support to these efforts. On entering politics, he served as a dedicated ally of his mentors’ anti-suburban activism.
The alliance endures. One of Obama’s original trainers, Mike Kruglik, has hived off a new organization called Building One America, which continues Gamaliel’s anti-suburban crusade under another name. Kruglik and his close allies, David Rusk and Myron Orfield, intellectual leaders of the “anti-sprawl” movement, have been quietly working with the Obama administration for years on an ambitious program of social reform.
In July of 2011, Kruglik’s Building One America held a conference at the White House. Orfield and Rusk made presentations, and afterwards Kruglik personally met with the president in the Oval Office. The ultimate goal of the movement led by Kruglik, Rusk, and Orfield is quite literally to abolish the suburbs. Knowing that this could never happen through outright annexation by nearby cities, they’ve developed ways to coax suburbs to slowly forfeit their independence.
One approach is to force suburban residents into densely packed cities by blocking development on the outskirts of metropolitan areas, and by discouraging driving with a blizzard of taxes, fees, and regulations. Step two is to move the poor out of cities by imposing low-income-housing quotas (Title 8 housing) on development in middle-class suburbs. Step three is to export the controversial “regional tax-base sharing” scheme currently in place in the Minneapolis–St. Paul area to the rest of the country. Under this program, a portion of suburban tax money flows into a common regional pot, which is then effectively redistributed to urban, and a few less well-off “inner-ring” suburban, municipalities.
(It should be noted that the term Section 8 refers to housing vouchers provided to low-income individuals and families by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Some people have the mistaken impression that Section 8 housing refers to certain housing developments, and while HUD may maintain such housing, a person may use this voucher as a real estate allowance at any real estate rental available that accepts these vouchers. This means that a Title 8 voucher holder might be your neighbor).
The Obama administration, stocked with “regionalist” appointees, has been advancing this ambitious plan quietly for the past four years. Efforts to discourage driving and to press development into densely packed cities are justified by reference to fears of global warming. Leaders of the crusade against “sprawl” very consciously use environmental concerns as a cover for their redistributive schemes.
The centerpiece of the Obama administration’s anti-suburban plans is a little-known and seemingly modest program called the Sustainable Communities Initiative. The “regional planning grants” funded under this initiative — many of them in battleground states like Florida, Virginia, and Ohio — are set to recommend redistributive policies, as well as transportation and development plans, designed to undercut America’s suburbs. Few have noticed this because the program’s goals are muffled in the impenetrable jargon of “sustainability,” while its recommendations are to be unveiled only in a possible second Obama term.
Obama’s former community-organizing mentors and colleagues want the administration to condition future federal aid on state adherence to the recommendations served up by these anti-suburban planning commissions. That would quickly turn an apparently modest set of regional-planning grants into a lever for sweeping social change.
In light of Obama’s unbroken history of collaboration with his organizing mentors on this anti-suburban project, and his proven willingness to impose ambitious policy agendas on the country through heavy-handed regulation, this project seems likely to advance.
A second and equally ambitious facet of Obama’s anti-suburban blueprint involves the work of Kruglik’s Building One America. Traditionally, Alinskyite community organizers mobilize leftist church groups. Kruglik’s group goes a step further by organizing not only the religious left but politicians from relatively less-well-off inner-ring suburbs. The goal is to build coalitions between urban and inner-ring suburban state legislators, in a bid to force regional tax-base sharing on middle-class suburbanites. That is how the practice came to Minnesota.
The July 2011 White House conference, gathering inner-ring suburban politicians for presentations by Rusk and Orfield, was an effort to place the prestige of the Obama administration behind Kruglik’s organizing efforts. A multi-state battle over regional tax-base “sharing,” abetted by the president, would usher in divisive class warfare on a scale likely to dwarf the puny efforts of Occupy Wall Street.
Obama’s little-known plans to undermine the political and economic autonomy of America’s suburbs constitute a policy initiative similar in ambition to health-care reform, the stimulus, or “cap-and-trade.” Obama’s anti-suburban plans also supply the missing link that explains his administration’s overall policy architecture.
Since the failure of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty and the collapse of federal urban policy, leftist theorists of community organizing have advocated a series of moves designed to quietly redistribute tax money to the cities. Health-care reform and federal infrastructure spending (as in the stimulus) are backed by organizers as the best ways to reconstitute an urban policy without directly calling it that. A campaign against suburban “sprawl” under the guise of environmentalism is the next move. Open calls for suburban tax-base “sharing” are the final and most controversial link in the chain of a reconstituted and redistributive urban policy. President Obama is following this plan. This is what he calls “Fairness.”
Stanley Kurtz, the author of Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities writes about Obama’s plan for the Cleveland, Ohio in Townhall:
“President Obama aims to help Ohio’s Democrats bail out your state’s struggling cities by forcibly transferring suburban tax money to urban treasuries. It’s a bold plan to redistribute the wealth of Ohio’s suburbs. It also calls for halting the sort of highway and commercial development that brings jobs and taxes to the suburbs. The shorthand for this is “regionalism.” Should Obama be reelected, a redistributive city-based regionalist agenda will likely be imposed on Ohio’s suburbs. The best way to envision the future of suburban Ohio in a second Obama term is to see how close this regionalist agenda came to enactment in Obama’s first four years.
Around 2006, Cleveland-area planners began floating proposals to grant the city access to taxes collected by surrounding suburbs. Their model was the Minneapolis–St. Paul region, where the Minnesota state legislature forces reluctant suburbanites to “share” their tax revenue with the cities. Cleveland’s regionalists also touted Portland, Ore., for its metropolitan planning agency. Portland’s planning commission has laid down an “urban growth boundary” that forbids highway or commercial development around the edges of the metropolitan area. Regionalists blame the plight of the cities on the loss of tax base to the suburbs. Blocking new highways that could ease commutes or serve as gateways to newly constructed suburbs is designed both to prevent further exodus and to press current suburbanites back toward the cities. This is what Obama was getting at in that recently released 2007 video where he said, “We don’t need to build more highways out in the suburbs.”
As written in the Regional Equity as a Civil Rights Issue:
“Regional-level solutions-particularly at the political level-can address varying kinds of problems that affect different groups. The challenge regionalism poses for community-builders is to forge effective coalitions that make racial and class equity a central part of their everyday operation. Fortunately, recent successes by groups promoting regional equity offer direction and promise. While there is much ground yet to cover, the mobilization of democratic regionalists has begun to reshape the color line-not in the manner of those who push for colorblind policies (such as abolishing affirmative action and bilingual education) - but on their own terms. Community organizers are moving resources to people and people to resources, making regionalism a civil rights issue.”
According to the definition, as stated by the Department of Agriculture Regional Equity is:
“A provision enacted in the 2002 Farm Act that requires that each State be allocated an amount of conservation funding through specific conservation programs, that collectively exceeds a predetermined minimum amount.”
This provision has very little to do with farms and a great deal more to do with cities and suburbs. Political experts left and right agree: the coming election will be decided by America’s suburbanites. From Florida to Virginia on across the country, in every battleground state, they are the key demographic. All of which raises a question that has not been considered as yet, and ought to be: is President Obama’s re-election in the suburbanites’ interest? The answer emphatically is no. Yet this issue has all but been buried in the MSM.
As many Americans do not know, in the eyes of the leftist community organizers who trained Obama, suburbs are instruments of bigotry and greed — a way of selfishly refusing to share tax money with the urban poor. Obama adopted this view early on, and he has never wavered from this ideological commitment, as a review of his actions in office goes to show.
President Obama’s plans for a second-term include an initiative to systematically redistribute the wealth of America’s suburbs to the cities. It’s a transformative idea, and deserves to be fully aired before the election. But like a lot of his major progressive policy innovations, Obama has advanced this one stealthily — mostly through rule-making, appointment, and vague directives. Obama has worked on this project in collaboration with Mike Kruglik, one of his original community organizing mentors. Kruglik’s new group, Building One America, advocates “regional tax-base sharing,” a practice by which suburban tax money is directly redistributed to nearby cities and less-well-off “inner-ring” suburbs. Kruglik’s group also favors a raft of policies designed to coerce people out of their cars and force suburbanites (with their tax money) back into densely packed cities. And you wonder why Obama is not concerned about the price of gasoline approaching five dollars per gallon and is opposed to drilling for more oil or the Keystone Pipeline.
Obama has lent the full weight of his White House to Kruglik’s efforts. A federal program called the Sustainable Communities Initiative, for example, has salted planning commissions across the country with “regional equity” and “smart growth” as goals. These are, of course, code words. “Regional equity” means that, by their mere existence, suburbs cheat the people who live in cities. It means, “Let’s spread the suburbs’ wealth around” – i.e., take from the suburbanites to give to the urban poor. “Smart growth” means, “Quit building sub-divisions and malls, and move back to where mass transit can shuttle you between your 800 square foot apartment in an urban tower and your downtown job.” In all likelihood, these planning commissions will issue “recommendations” which Obama would quickly turn into requirements for further federal aid. In fact, his administration has already used these tactics to impose federal education requirements on reluctant states. Indeed, part of Obama’s assault on the suburbs is his effort to undercut the autonomy of suburban school districts.
Suburbs are for sellouts: That is a large and overlooked theme of Obama’s famous memoir, Dreams from My Father. Few have noticed the little digs at suburban “sprawl” throughout the book, as when Obama decries a Waikiki jammed with “subdivisions marching relentlessly into every fold of green hill.” Dreams actually begins with the tale of an African American couple who’ve come to question their move from city to suburb – the implication clearly being that the city is the moral choice.
Early on in Dreams, Obama tells of how his mother and Indonesian step-father, Lolo Soetoro, were pulled apart by a proxy version of the American dream. Lolo got a job with an American oil company, bought a house in a better neighborhood, and started dining at the company club. Obama’s mother, who had come to Indonesia in search of Third World authenticity, wanted nothing to do with the “ugly American” types who frequented this new world, and she taught her son to disdain them as well. From Obama’s perspective, American-inspired upward mobility had broken his new family in two.
Back in Hawaii after his Indonesian interlude, Obama came to see his grandparents as strangers. The realization dawned as they drove him along a sprawl-filled highway. Obama then threw in his lot with an African-American mentor named Frank Marshall Davis, who lived in a ramshackle pocket of the city called the “Waikiki Jungle” where his home was a gathering place for young leftists and nonconformists. Rejecting assimilation into America’s middle-class, Davis hit on socialist politics and identification with the urban poor as the way to establish his racial credentials.
In Dreams from My Father Obama describes Davis’s efforts to pass this stance on to Obama. At Occidental, with Davis’s advice in mind, Obama worried that he was too much like “suburban blacks, students who sit with whites in the cafeteria and refuse to be defined by the color of their skin.” This fear of becoming a middle-class suburban “sellout” is the background to the famous passage of Dreams where Obama explains why he started hanging out with “Marxist professors” and other unconventional types. Recalling Davis’s admonition to reject the standard path to success, “the American way and all that shit,” Obama left Occidental’s suburban campus for Columbia University, “in the heart of a true city.”
To this day, Obama quietly coordinates his administration’s policies on urban/suburban issues with Kruglik, Orfield, and Rusk. Kruglik’s anti-suburban battle is set to become one of the defining themes of Obama’s second term. Although calls for “regional tax-base sharing” will strike the public as something entirely new, the program is the fulfillment of the president’s lifetime ambition. Still trying to avoid being mistaken for a middle-class, suburban “sellout,” Obama has hit upon the ultimate solution: a massive redistribution of suburban tax money to America’s cities.
That would not be in the interests of America’s suburbanites or, ultimately, anyone else. Redistribution kills the growth that benefits everyone. Once voters realize that there has never been a president more ideologically opposed to the suburbs, or more reliant on redistribution as a policy, they should know what to do — especially all those suburbanites on whose judgment the election itself will turn. But, what will it take for the red flag of warning to be noticed by all who have worked so hard to attain the castle in the suburbs and live the American Dream?