The American Dream – Cities, Promise and Peril

If you’re like most Americans, you live near a big city. Once the envy of the world, setting records for the height of their skyscrapers and showcasing some of the most stunning architectural wonders of art-deco design in places like New York and Chicago, starting in the Depression American cities began a marked decline. Following the war, efforts to clear out “urban blight” were made through a series of social and civil engineering projects designed to move entire ethnic white communities out of the city centers, mixing them with black populations, and creating an entirely new infrastructure designed around the suburbs outlying the city and all connected by the automobile and the newly created interstate highway system. The economic boom of the 1950s was spurred on by this massive infrastructure redevelopment, but as the tumult of the 1960s, the Vietnam War, and oil shocks of the 1970s exposed the vulnerabilities of these newly created megalopolises, people began to question these soulless commutes on the highway and the vast time, energy, and monetary expenditures necessary to keep the system going. Like the Hippie movements of the 1970s where people went off to live in small communal farms away from the chaos of the modern city, after the 2008 financial crisis Millenials are increasingly turning to solutions like Tiny Houses to try to scrape by some semblance of what they had growing up in the suburbs in which they can no longer afford to live. The shape and character of the American Dream is surely defined by its people, but when the majority of them cannot afford to live in these vastly expensive and globalizing cities, yet cannot find work outside of them, the prospects for the ordinary American begin to look uncertain – as does the stability of the system itself.

with Very special guest Dark Enlightenment @enlightdark

— Timeline —

-1941- The Managerial Revolution is written, redefining organizational structures, government departments, and American corporatism.
-1944, June- FDR signs the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, aka the ‘GI Bill’.
-1945, September- end of WWII with the surrender of Japan.
-1947, October- Levittown launched as a suburb in upstate New York, marking the beginning of the Suburban Era
-1948, May- Shelly v. Kraemer decides racial covenants on real estate are illegal.
-1950- Introduction of the Diner’s Club Card, the first major ‘credit card’ carried by the general public in America.
-1954, May- Brown v. Board of Education decision desegregates schools across the USA, increasing racial integration.
-1954, November- Berman v. Parker reinterprets the 5th Amendment, allowing private property to be taken by the public for just compensation.
-1956, June- President Eisenhower signs the Federal-Aid HighWay Act, giving rise to the American Interstate Highway system.
-1958 – ‘entertainment and travel card’ created by American Express, assisting expansion the global credit system.
-1964,May- President Johnson announces his ‘Great Society’ initiative aimed at increasing home ownership, reducing poverty through direct infusions of financial aid, and eliminating racial inequalities.
-1973, October – OPEC institutes oil embargo in response to Yom Kippur War and US aid for Israeli military forces, sparking the first 1970’s oil crisis.
-1977, October – President Carter enacts the ‘Community Reinvestment Act of 1977’, enticing commercial savings and loans banks to diversify their investments into low to moderate-income communities, regardless of racial composition.
-1979, March – Iranian Revolution, oil production in the Middle East begins to collapse, creating the second 1970’s oil crisis.
-1993, July- President Clinton reaffirms support for the Community Reinvestment Act, attempting to simplify standards and create internal consistency, further fueling the rise of homeownership.
-1999, November- President Clinton signs the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, undoing the Glass-Steagal Act of 1933 and restrictions between mergers of commercial investment banks and savings and loans banks.

— References —

– The Managerial Revolution, Burnham (1941)
– A Quest for Community, Nisbet (1953)
– The Organization Man, Whyte (1956)
– Rise and Death of Cities, Jacobs (1961)
– A Timeless Way of Building, Alexander (1979)
– The Machiavellians, Defenders of Freedom, Burnham (1988)
– The Collapse of Complex Societies, Tainter (1990)
– Falling Down, Schumacher (1993)
– The Slaughter of Cities, Jones (2004)
– Infrastructure, Hayes (2005)
– Moving Minds: Conservatives and Public Transportation, Lind and Weyrich (2009)
– Chicago’s Murder Problem, Sailer (2016) – https://www.unz.com/isteve/chicagos-murder-problem/
– 10 Towns that Changed America, PBS (2016) – http://www.pbs.org/video/2365709534/
– Weimerica Weekly – Episode 27 – Tiny Houses, Landry – http://www.socialmatter.net/2016/06/01/weimerica-weekly-episode-27-tiny-houses/
– Dr. E. Michael Jones discusses his book The Slaughter of Cities – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTrBXSwwsdI
– John Legal vs. Juan Illegal – The Problem with Illegal Immigration – https://www.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/comments/6n8mdq/john_legal_vs_juan_illegal_the_problem_with/
http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/infrastructure-policy-lessons-from-american-history
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_U.S._public_works_projects
https://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/

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5 Comments Add yours

    1. Adam Smith says:

      Thanks for listening. https://socialmatter.net has great content and a full archive.

      Like

  1. infowarrior1 says:

    Given how post world war ii architecture is atrocious in the 1st place as a reflection of spiritual bankruptcy. I’d say many cities by that time deserves to be in decline.

    Like

    1. Adam Smith says:

      100%. Our descendants will not admire the strip mall and tract housing of post-war America – but the pre-war classical works of the country before it got taken over by people who had no business doing so.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. infowarrior1 says:

        Definitely. And people try to preserve those abominations for buildings. Screw that.

        Like

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