Tucker Carlson, Buckhead, and Why Our Cities Fail - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Tucker Carlson, Buckhead, and Why Our Cities Fail
Tucker Carlson’s report on Buckhead, Georgia, June 14, 2021 (YouTube screenshot)

If you attempt to watch the YouTube version of Tucker Carlson’s report on what’s going on in Atlanta from Monday night, you’ll find yourself wading through warnings that “the following content has been identified by the YouTube community as inappropriate or offensive to some audiences.”

There is nothing pornographic in Carlson’s report. Nor is there foul language.

What’s “inappropriate” or “offensive” in it is the truth about the people who run Atlanta, truth that everyone knows and understands. It’s the fact someone might speak the truth in a video appearing on YouTube that is offensive to the “YouTube community.”

The funny thing is, Carlson isn’t telling the half of it.

The subject of the Monday segment is the effort by the residents of Buckhead, which is a formerly nice area in the northwestern part of Atlanta that is home to around 80,000 mostly well-off and mostly white people, to create their own city. Atlanta’s criminal element has turned Buckhead into a war zone in recent years and particularly since the fiasco involving the drunken criminal Rayshard Brooks, who was shot by police last year. As a result, the citizens there have decided they want their own police force to keep the place safe; Atlanta’s police department, which is being depopulated, if not defunded, thanks to widespread retirements and resignations in the wake of the Brooks fiasco, is no longer capable of providing that kind of public safety.

Carlson’s report talks with a rather matter-of-fact tone about efforts to pass legislation at the Georgia capitol enabling the birth of Buckhead. Why wouldn’t Buckhead’s residents attempt to form their own city? After all, upscale, law-abiding homeowners in nice areas like Buckhead are more or less members of an oppressed minority in Atlanta these days, particularly when a city like that one is governed by an “incompetent demagogue” (Carlson’s words) like Keisha Bottoms.

All of this is completely true. What Carlson’s report leaves out is the why.

Let’s introduce you to a term you should be familiar with if you want to fully understand urban Democrat governance and its effects on the population of a city. That term is Weaponized Governmental Failure.

Somewhere along the line, the urban Democrat machine politicians realized that running cities badly enough would chase off the middle class and leave them with a thin crust of wealthy people over a large mass of the poor.

Because Keisha Bottoms might well be an abject fool, and she is unquestionably terrible at running a major city. This is not in question. But Keisha Bottoms, like any urban Democrat mayor, is not an island unto herself. She’s more of an iceberg. She’s what you see, but beneath the surface is a vast political machine, an army of political fixers and operatives and assorted grifters, bureaucrats, lawyers, and street hustlers. Most of them are educated, at least to a degree, almost all of them have lots of experience in politics and government, and even if Bottoms is a fool they are not.

So how does Atlanta collapse from a world-class city to one that has its nicest area trying to escape? Not by accident.

Look, what makes a place livable is not the presence of lots of rich people. Rich people put themselves behind high walls, and rich people do what they can to keep the riffraff out. Having lots of rich people makes an area exclusive, not livable.

What makes a place livable is the presence of lots of middle-class people. Middle-class people are the ones most plugged into a community. They’re the volunteers, they’re the tax base, they’re the shopkeepers, the professionals, the volunteer coaches, and the churchgoers. A thriving community has lots of middle-class folks mowing their lawns on Saturday mornings, participating in bowling leagues, opening businesses and buying clothes, TVs, and furniture.

But the problem with middle-class people is that, while they bring a good deal of money in taxes, they also want lots of things for that money.

They want schools that teach the basics well, and they aren’t happy when the schools start indoctrinating kids into exotic sexualities and foreign theories on race relations, for example.

They want streets not full of potholes. They want public safety. They want trash picked up in a timely manner and litter cleared from roadsides. They want flood protection, sound drainage, potable drinking water.

In short, they want what they’re paying for with property and sales taxes. To keep them happy means giving them value for those tax dollars.

That doesn’t leave a lot of room for the pigs to feed at the trough. When the potholes in the streets have to be filled, it’s harder to steal the pothole budget.

And a city full of middle-class people will quite often turn out incompetent demagogue politicians like Keisha Bottoms, even in favor of a Republican. That, simply, will not do.

Somewhere along the line, the urban Democrat machine politicians realized that running cities badly enough would chase off the middle class and leave them with a thin crust of wealthy people over a large mass of the poor.

And a city thus populated would never elect Republicans, or even reform-minded Democrats. Accountability would disappear.

The rich know better than to kick up much of a fuss about bad government. They don’t need to. Most of what they need they pay for out of pocket, like private security in their neighborhoods and private schools for their children. What they can’t get through the private sector they know they can have simply by paying for it under the table. That’s why even conservatives, those who are left in urban America, pay “protection money” to the Keisha Bottomses, Lori Lightfoots, and LaToya Cantrells of the world by way of campaign donations and other filthy lucre; those monies are a foot in the door that more personal items, like getting the pothole filled at the end of the street, can be covered when needed.

And the poor? The poor can be bought off cheaply with crumbs from the table. They don’t expect much and are given even less than that.

So the schools are a disaster — because if they aren’t, the poor might become middle-class, and that won’t do at all. And the roads are a mess. And the criminals rule the streets with the tacit approval of the politicians. After all, a long time ago, urban Democrats realized there are more votes throwing in with the street criminals and the lowest common denominator than the law-abiding in those terrible neighborhoods; the law-abiding, after all, want nothing more than to get out and move up.

They’re ruling over a ruin, but they rule.

And the ruin pays well. Every bit of lost revenue from the disappearance of a city’s tax base gets made up with federal grant money, virtually none of which is controlled very tightly by purse strings. It’s eminently stealable, and it’s eminently stolen. The worse things get, the more money is thrown at the problem.

This is how Baltimore ends up spending almost $20,000 per student per year on public schools and many of its high schools turn out illiterates with Dean’s List grades. It’s how FEMA can give New Orleans more than $2 billion for improvements to drainage infrastructure after Katrina and 15 years later there is no discernible evidence any of that money was ever spent. It’s how the Obama administration could appropriate more than $1 trillion in a “stimulus” package that was supposed to fund infrastructure improvements, and a decade later the Biden administration is talking about $2 trillion to “finally” repair our declining roads and bridges.

Drive your city into an advanced-enough state of decline and nobody will expect competence or positive results anymore. They’ll throw money at you in the vain hope that it won’t be wasted, and you can keep all you find.

Get the local DA elected with Soros money and get the Biden administration in the White House, and you’ll be safe from prosecution even when the theft becomes flagrant.

The point being that none of what’s happening in Atlanta is an accident. It isn’t incompetence. It’s happening in every single city Democrats control. The pattern is the plan.

But if Carlson were to fully explain it all, the “YouTube community” would probably do a lot more than slap warning labels on his video segments. You can’t talk about Weaponized Governmental Failure, after all, no matter how obvious it is.

Scott McKay
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Scott McKay is a contributing editor at The American Spectator  and publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics, and RVIVR.com, a national political news aggregation and opinion site. Additionally, he's the author of the new book The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win The Next American Era, available at Amazon.com. He’s also a writer of fiction — check out his three Tales of Ardenia novels Animus, Perdition and Retribution at Amazon. Scott's other project is The Speakeasy, a free-speech social and news app with benefits - check it out here.
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