By Michael Gecan
An established neighborhood organizer outlines how to opposite the fifty-year decline in social mobility and financial growth.
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Additional info for After America's Midlife Crisis (Boston Review Books)
Until recently DuPage County had been one of the big winners during the 40-year decline and imminent collapse of Cook County. Major corporations fled Chicago’s failing downtown and moved to DuPage’s open spaces and tax-friendly towns. Workingclass homeowners on the West and Southwest Sides of the city sold their bungalows and bought ranch houses, Cape Cods, and new town homes in Wheaton and Naperville and Downers Grove. Families troubled by the city’s public schools happily sent their children into shining new facilities and well-equipped classrooms.
A Roman Catholic pastor I met in Nassau County described this state of affairs as suburbia’s midlife crisis. It may be part of America’s midlife crisis as well. michael gecan No longer young, no longer trendy, no longer the place to be, no longer without apparent limitations or constraints, these places, like people, have developed ways of avoiding reality. Denial (supported by ever-stronger doses of public relations). One way is just to deny that there are new realities, or that these new realities will ever affect them.
The reality in New York 30 years ago was that both the market and the government had failed miserably—the market unwilling to invest in devastated areas or support a dying city, the government wasting hundreds of millions on do-nothing programs run by local groups connected to hapless pols. When I described the situation in DuPage County and other areas to a well-respected Republican advisor, he responded in the predictable way: “How michael gecan about cutting business taxes? ” But business taxes have always been low in Republican-led DuPage County and are decreasing as a percentage of overall revenue.