Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drinks

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Paul Ryan Lives in the 80s: Suburbs are Prosperous and the Inner City Is Blighted

Posted by on Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 8:34 AM

Yes, the House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan said racist things about inner city black males (they are lazy, they do not want to work, it's a cultural thing, and so on), but he also said:

"If you're driving from the suburb to the sports arena downtown by these blighted neighborhoods, you can't just say, 'I'm paying my taxes, government's got to fix that.' You need to get involved, you need to get involved yourself, whether through a good mentor program, or some religious charity, whatever it is to make a difference. And that's how we help resuscitate our culture."
Do not get me started about Christian charity or about the ideology of American individualism (the government is not the solution, you are). But I will say something about this strange trip from the suburbs to the stadium.

The person who makes this journey is, of course, white, owns a big house, and, unlike the blacks in the core of the economically dead city, has a strong work ethic. Between the safe points of home and the arena, the driver is exposed to the streets, the "blighted neighborhoods." What is this trip telling us? The years between 2007 and 2009 do not exist in Paul Ryan's picture of American urban life. The stable suburbs apparently slept as the housing market crashed all around them and the whole world collapsed into the Great Recession. Also, gas prices have not risen one bit during this time—which is why the trip to the stadium is still so cheap. Also, the gentrification of the inner city never happened in Ryan's world—whites flew away long ago and they will never come back to those places permanently blighted by blacks. Also, the suburbs know no poor, no foreclosures, no none of that. New malls are popping up everywhere. Home values there only know how to rise and rise. All of this, as you can see, is just bizarre.


Comments (30) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Urgutha Forka 1
There are plenty of "blighted" suburbs. I live in a suburb of Denver and the next suburban town over is definitely not white and rich.

Ryan and his ilk can ignore suburban poverty because it gets shut into isolated ghetto suburbs. They can't ignore urban poverty because inner cities are all mixed and melted together (for the most part, there are certainly isolated areas inside cities too, just not as large, land mass wise). So in the cities, you get the homeless person asking for spare change from the executive in the Mercedes. In the ghetto suburbs, the Mercedes driving executive goes out of their way to go around the suburb entirely. Out of sight, out of mind.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on March 13, 2014 at 8:47 AM · Report this
Paul Ryan is (nominally) from Janesville, WI. The nearest downtown arena he could drive to would be in Madison where the downtown is exploding because Epic (EMR software company) is expanding exponentially and the people it hires to work at its suburban campus overwhelmingly prefer to live in the city. I'm not sure if they have buses for us to protest yet but they're probably working on it.

He could be talking about Milwaukee, though, where there are indeed neighborhoods that were permanently blighted in the '50s when they shredded them with the massive freeway he's using to get to the game.
Posted by pjmad on March 13, 2014 at 9:00 AM · Report this
Banna 3
I love driving through the remains of the MLK riots in Chicago to go to a Bulls game. Seriously, it's been almost 50 years and there are still empty blocks on W Madison where buildings were burned down.
Posted by Banna on March 13, 2014 at 9:34 AM · Report this
raindrop 4
The Union Gospel Mission that serves meals and provides shelter to Seattle's homeless, including people of color, is a religious charity and is also staffed by people whether or not they are religious. Nobody is turned away.
Posted by raindrop on March 13, 2014 at 9:40 AM · Report this
lark 5
Gonna part with some of what you said. Yes, I believe Think Progress to be Left-of-center. Their ideology might get in the way of facts.

First of all, there are blighted suburbs in America featuring an array humanity residing there and some inner cities are being gentrified. Chicago is a good example. Also, I've even seen blight in small-town largely white America. And, it is largely known that American infrastructure needs repair. America, as a whole is in decline and it's showing.

Like you, I do believe a "work ethic" is largely missing in blighted inner cities in America because well, there's no work to be had to acquire one (we've lost the manufacturing base for good). I believe in America, one's first job is the most important one. Why? Because in order to establish a "work ethic" it must be established early, like in adolescence. Otherwise, as one ages it gets harder to learn a lot of things including a "work ethic". I am greatly uneasy that sloth has anything to do with this urban decline. On the other hand, virtually any work is better than none. Seeing a citizen sweep a street or tend a garden in a blighted area as I have seen is charming and an indication that someone is trying to improve the neighborhood. Good on them.
Posted by lark on March 13, 2014 at 9:52 AM · Report this
brandon 6
You're right, if there is blight, it's in the suburbs. The houses that are empty are so nice and pretty looking on the face you would't know it's an empty foreclosure that has been gutted that no one can afford to buy either because they don't have decent work, or because Wall St. is pumping up housing prices AGAIN.
Posted by brandon on March 13, 2014 at 9:53 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 7
Funny how when questions of "work ethic," aka: "blacks are lazy,' come up, racists and conservatives always forget that the vast majority of government assistance goes to white people.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on March 13, 2014 at 9:56 AM · Report this
There are some blighted suburbs, but most of the non-urban blight is in the exurbs, where overbuilding took place and now you can't give away houses.

Most in-close suburbs are doing just fine as long as the city they are surrounding is prospering.

Posted by bigyaz on March 13, 2014 at 10:04 AM · Report this
raindrop 9
@1: The executive driving the Mercedes is likely in a hurry to get to the corporate office to arrange financing to open a new store in the blighted suburb that will employ locals who will then have spending money for a future trendy burger place in the suburb that will become too chic and you'll eventually complain because of the Starbucks, and high-end retail and fashion shops like Talbot's. It will be like driving through Connecticut. So, here's to executives driving Mercedes, I guess.
Posted by raindrop on March 13, 2014 at 10:10 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 10
white man blinders.

you reap what you sow, dumb fuck. it's getting tougher to deny: if you were actually smart, you wouldn't be a republican.
Posted by Max Solomon on March 13, 2014 at 10:13 AM · Report this
Ryan was dead wrong but I don't think charles is totally correct here, have you been to the Suburbs of Seattle, Redmond, Bellevue, Kenmore, Bothell, Kirkland, etc. All seem pretty well off.
Posted by dkjndmsahksdhksal on March 13, 2014 at 10:25 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 12
Did you just cut and paste that from the Republican Handbook or do you have it memorized?
Posted by Urgutha Forka on March 13, 2014 at 10:42 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 13
Since when do Republicans have any connection to reality? Ryan is talking about the country conservatives *want* to live in.
Posted by keshmeshi on March 13, 2014 at 11:00 AM · Report this
@4: Union Gospel Mission has not been interested in serving needy people who are LGBT in the past. So saying that "no one is turned away" isn't really true. But maybe things have changed. What is Union Gospel Mission policy regarding LGBT people these days?
Posted by Kalakalot on March 13, 2014 at 11:07 AM · Report this
raindrop 15
@14: News to me. Back in the 80's, I volunteered once at Thanksgiving and didn't pick up on any homophobic vibes.

Of course, there are those who would say that the proselytization is homophobic.

Generally, people that work with the homeless are not anti LGBT,

Your experience may vary.
Posted by raindrop on March 13, 2014 at 11:35 AM · Report this
Charles Mudede 16
11) there is blight in Seattle?
Posted by Charles Mudede on March 13, 2014 at 11:40 AM · Report this
17 Comment Pulled (Trolling) Comment Policy
raindrop 18
@12: RNC Playbook for 2014, Book of Reagan, Verse 12.
Posted by raindrop on March 13, 2014 at 11:54 AM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 19
Paul Ryan watched Judgement Night once, so he knows what he's talking about.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on March 13, 2014 at 11:55 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 20
Nicely done.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on March 13, 2014 at 12:22 PM · Report this
Mike Force 21
On the micro level, yes of course we should solve our own problems (yay individualism!) On the macro level, sure we can discuss how the government can step in.
Posted by Mike Force on March 13, 2014 at 12:38 PM · Report this
Hernandez 22
@11 There is blight in Seattle's suburbs. Have you ever been to Lynnwood? Downtown Everett has been sinking into a ghost town for years. Suburbs closer to the city are doing better because non-wealthy families with kids don't want to move too far from the city but can't afford to live in most Seattle

The only real blight I can think of in the city is that stretch of properties in the Roosevelt neighborhood that are owned by a slumlord, and those will go away soon enough.

The real blight, however, is in the exurbs, like @8 said. Big, sprawling subdivisions devoid of amenities, culture, and oftentimes people. With gas pretty much permanently above $3.50 and traffic that's starting to rival L.A., it's a less attractive option. Not to mention the hasty, shoddy quality of construction in many locations.
Posted by Hernandez on March 13, 2014 at 12:42 PM · Report this
seattlestew 23
Paul Ryan has never held a "real" job that did not involve being a political lackey/government employee, the kinds of private enterprise jobs that he and GOPers rhetorically fap to. Paul Ryan is a privileged white man. Paul Ryan is racist. Paul Ryan is beholden to a dying and disproven ideology of Friedman-Rand Hobbesian survival of the fittest sprinkled with a little good-ol' fashioned American individualism Charles cites in the post. Consequently, Paul Ryan condescends to, and trivializes the lives and circumstances of workers and the poor. Paul Ryan believes in a version of America that exists only in the minds of the privileged. Paul Ryan should try leaving the 'burbs or the faux-intellectual (ivory tower!) bubble he was weaned on. Paul Ryan is the past, not the future.
Posted by seattlestew on March 13, 2014 at 12:48 PM · Report this
Suburbs close to the city are doing better? We'd better tell that to the Sammamish Plateau, Issaquah Highlands, Snoqualmie Ridge or the planned condominiums in North Bend. There's a lot of money fleeing into the more distant suburbs around Seattle right now.
Posted by Watching the money flee on March 13, 2014 at 1:55 PM · Report this
JonnoN 25
@24 except seattle's population is *rising*. Maybe they're fleeing Bellevue.
Posted by JonnoN on March 13, 2014 at 3:28 PM · Report this
@25, I said the money is fleeing, and didn't address the people. I'd argue the money is fleeing from Seattle *to* Bellevue, and the suburbanization of the Snoqualmie Valley is a sign of that.
Posted by Watching the money flee on March 13, 2014 at 4:34 PM · Report this
Hernandez 27
@26 - Suburbs close to prosperous urban centers are doing well, whether we're talking Seattle or Bellevue.
Posted by Hernandez on March 13, 2014 at 5:48 PM · Report this
As I see it, I read Ryan's comment (quoted in the story) to be that society can not only rely on taxes and the government to eliminate the problem - people need to also engage in volunteerism. The author takes this quote and proceeds to build a huge strawman argument around it.

There's a decent chance that it'll be Clinton vs Ryan in 2016.
Posted by StrangerThingsHaveHappened on March 15, 2014 at 6:43 PM · Report this
Money is coming into the city much faster than its leaving. By a lot. Home prices are going up, rentals are going up(residential and commercial). People who have half a million dollars and want a huge yard cant get that in Seattle, so those people are moving to the exurbs. But that is not the wealthy class of the region.
Posted by JonCracolici on March 16, 2014 at 12:56 PM · Report this
doesn't the change in pop. concentration since the 80s reflect a still-dynamic capitalism, not dead despite growth rates that aren't near as impressive as war - '73? everybody wants to live in these cities with low unemployment and sweet new tech industries
Posted by alfresco on March 16, 2014 at 6:11 PM · Report this

Add a comment


All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy