In a recent Gazette column, Cal Thomas explained why he’s soured on New York in the face of soaring crime rates, the exorbitant cost of living, high taxes, filthy streets, people pushed onto subway tracks, muggings, throngs of panhandlers and the homeless.
As a native New Yorker growing up in Brooklyn in the1950s, I was reminded of a column by Pete Hamill in the New York Post in 1970 that I read and saved. Hamill (who also grew up in Brooklyn) was an iconic New York journalist, a salty man of the people. Here’s an excerpt from that column:
“A typical New York Day: Up early, to discover that overnight someone has been gnawing at the lock of your front door. On the sidewalk, scattered garbage with no one answering for the mess. In the gutter you skid on something a dog has left behind. In the subway the smell of something fecal, the hot breath of the guy next to you, the train stuck in a tunnel, late for work…A call to the Health Dept. to complain about the garbage. The Health Dept. has changed its name to ‘one moment please.’ The moment lasts 17 minutes and you are disconnected.”
“Coming home, a broad-shouldered hippie nails you: ‘Got seven cents, man?’ You stare past him with zombie eyes, and he yells something about your mother at your back. Climb the stairs, open the door, and the TV set is gone, the typewriter is gone, the tape recorder is gone…Add to that the fact that the air is a health hazard of a major order; the public schools are factories for making people stupid and the private schools are outrageously expensive; more than a million people are on welfare, with 17,000 added every month and no end in sight; food and drink are the most expensive in the country; traffic is choking the life out of us and narcotics cutting the souls out of the young.”
“It’s still too early to surrender the town, but I no longer feel that those who leave are quitters. Many of them have just decided that this is the only life they will ever live, and they are not going to live the rest of it in joyless struggle…So I’ve been looking at the United Farm catalog, too, and there’s a hell of a little ranch for sale in Wyoming…”
Now, Denver isn’t that bad yet, but it seems headed that way. Hamill never did buy that ranch. He remained in New York until his death in 2020, at 85. But I ditched the city in 1971 in favor of Denver. In the 1990s, Mayor Rudy Guiliani successfully implemented the “broken windows theory” of policing, clamping down on all offenses from the small to great, restoring law and order in New York, which has since regressed.
Denver has changed a lot since I came here 52 years ago, much of it for the better. But not all of it, especially these days. Denver’s current City Council makes Boulder’s look conservative, dominated by radical progressives including Candi CdeBaca, an anti-capitalist, Marxist ideologue. Their social justice agenda is more concerned about the welfare of street people, illegal immigrants, criminals and convicted felons than about the well-being of our police and the people who make the city work. Murders and burglaries are commonplace, car thefts are epidemic, people are afraid to walk downtown at night, public schools are awful. And the city has paid millions in lawsuits rewarding rabblerousers masquerading as “peaceful protestors” who provoked the police, blocked the streets, harassed motorists, and vandalized the state Capitol during the Black Livers Matters riots. This is crazy. And many good cops are quitting.
If Denver’s decline is not reversed, we’ll fall into the decay of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and other cities run by Democrats from which millions are fleeing to Republican states like Florida and Texas with far better living conditions and no income tax. New York is the highest-taxed state in the country with a NYC income tax on top of the state income tax. Unsurprisingly, the IRS reports that 320,000 people left New York in 2000-2021, including more than 4,000 millionaires who’ve left Manhattan, forever depriving the city of their tax revenue.
Most of the twenty, or so, candidates for Denver Mayor this year are as destructively progressive as those who now dominate the city council. Denver government commendably provides for those in need. But that’s not enough. To avoid the decline of those failing cities, it should recognize and support those who make that possible: the businesses, law-abiding taxpayers, cops, and all those whose productive efforts make Denver thrive. You don’t want them to go elsewhere.
“Good Grief, Charlie Brown” as Lucy would say in the classic “Peanuts” comic strip. Coincidentally, that was the same name as a former Denver City Councilman who was an affable, reasonable, responsible, moderately conservative Democrat. That’s a mindset in short supply these days where militant, dogmatic, economically clueless, anti-capitalist, social justice warriors dominate the playing field.
Longtime KOA radio talk host and columnist for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News Mike Rosen now writes for CompleteColorado.com.
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