We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Monday, November 26. 2012
This week's series began yesterday. You never know what you'll find here at Maggie's. America has plenty of Bridgeports these days. We'll have a daily Bridgeport post this week.
Bridgeport, CT (settled 1639 as "Newfield") was a boom town from around 1800 until the end of WW 2. Lots of farming in the back country, fishing, shipping and ship-building on the harbor, and, at its peak, over 500 factories. "Help wanted" signs everywhere.
Few people know that Bridgeport was the first city in America with an auto industry.
Farmers, factory workers, a good share of prosperous folk, tons of Polish, Irish, and Italian immigrants and then southern blacks attracted to jobs during the war, grand theaters, fancy stores, and of course, PT Barnum (who Walt Kelly yclept PT Bridgeport). Today, Bridgeport is about 40% recent Hispanic immigrants, 30% Black, and the rest are various kinds of white.
There has been no gentrification of downtown because there are few jobs and not much to do. Well, nothing to do. The weekend streets, empty of traffic and foot traffic except for the occasional hoodie, give a sense of desolation but not menace. There is no critical mass of activity, which has all moved to the suburbs to escape Blue City decay and taxes. (It's Obamaville for sure. In the previous election, just enough uncounted paper votes were mysteriously discovered in bags in a Bridgeport school basement to turn the election over to a Democrat CT governor days after good Repub Tom Foley appeared to have won the election.)
The city's heyday was probably between 1840 and the late 1940s - a century. In today's post-industrial northeast, the town's population is down to around 144,000, and many of the old factories are now vacant lots and the rest are rotting hulks. Even the old Bridgeport Post-Telegram is now the "Connecticut Post." With the decline of the town's manufacturing and farming base - its main bank used to be Mechanics and Farmer's Savings Bank - corrupt politicians, high taxation, criminals, drugs, welfare recipients, and mob influence have been feeding off the carcass of this failed old Blue State city.
This once-proud city, with abundant advantages, did not deserve this fate. Such bountiful towns are like the third world now.
The main businesses in town now seem to be government services, hospitals, and law, since it's the legal and court center of prosperous southern Connecticut and remains Connecticut's largest urban center. Oh, it also has the woebegone and marginal University of Bridgeport which until recently was owned by the Moonies and one which few would attend given any choice at all. Lots of foreign students desperate for an American degree of any sort.
Nobody visits downtown Bridgeport as tourists except me and a couple of my kids on an urban exploration jaunt last weekend. Well, also visitors taking the Port Jefferson ferry or going to Bridgeport Bluefish games. (They have a decent government-looking transportation hub, with the bus station, the Boston - Washington DC train station, I-95, and the ferry all within walking distance.)
During our tourism, we stopped for a pleasant lunch at The Creek in the Black Rock section of town. They had Palm on tap and the place was full of people. I'm told another good popular joint in the neighborhood is Harborview Market. I'll have to try that next time I'm in the area.
A few of my pics:
A cute old half-block (rest of the block demolished at some point, probably in "urban renewal" aka "Negro Removal" in the 1960s) in Bridgeport's South End, with garbage from Sandy's flooding.
Most of the in-town residential areas look like this. Typical northeast workingman's dwellings from the 1880s-1920s. Cheap housing now, but too-high property taxes for the people who might otherwise afford them. When the taxes are higher than a mortgage, it's not attractive. It leads to a downward, death spiral. The poorer it becomes, the more taxes are raised for government "services." Then voters vote with their feet.
Building on the corner of Main St, a block or two from the big new RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland, for those of you in Yorba Linda) bulding - doubtless located with generous multi-year tax breaks. The graffiti is really pretty well-done:
Bridgeport: Crap on a Connecticut Cracker
A boom town, but not anymore. It's Bridgeport Week at Maggie's Farm: Today, Bridgeport is about 40% recent Hispanic immigrants, 30% Black, and the rest arevarious kinds of white. There has been no gentrification of downtown because there are few...
Tracked: Nov 28, 11:19
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"..corrupt politicians, high taxation, criminals, welfare recipients, and mob influence have been feeding off the carcass of this failed old Blue State city."
It's refreshing to see that some on the putative red side of the force haven't lost their penchant for class bigotry. Yes indeed, if poverty and collecting welfare isn't a crime, it certainly should be. Let's make it a capital offense and finally win this long running 'war' on poverty. Let's shoot the drug addicts and win the 'war' on drugs also. If only those danged democrat politicians would let the republicans run things the right way...
I recall reading about how businesses in the Chicago area were racist by moving from the inner city to the suburbs. Soon thereafter I read about the experience of one business in the South Side of Chicago. Suffice it to say that the high rate of crime was what precipitated its move to the suburbs.
Its not the blue politics or the lack of things to do downtown, its the people. If we moved the population of Bridgeport into where ever you live you'd be planning to move away in less than a year.
I worked in Bridgeport for four years as a young man. I had to park on the street as the Federal government did not provide parking for low level G-7's. My driver side window was broken several times and my car radio was boosted in broad working hours daylight. The police could not stop repeats of this drama. I think it cost me $200 for a new window each time and $100 for a radio. For that $300 damage to me the thieves probably got $50 each time.
It's not the people - well, it is the bad guys - but government destroyed the city so that the bad guys were all they had left.
The war on poverty had noting to do with welfare. The programs commonly called the war on poverty were: VISTA, Job Corps, Head Start, Legal Services and the Community Action Program. The programs were not intended to make transfer payments to poor people but to provide training, jobs where necessary, legal power equal to more well off, etc. That was supposed to end poverty. Just as sex education in schools was intended to end teenage pregnancy :-> Both were failures, nicht war?
After working in Bridgeport, now I am in Ridgewood NJ. It also has no jobs (except waiter and limited retail) it is about an equal train ride to Manhattan as Bridgeport. Its safe to walk the streets at all hours.
New York City before Rudy was a lot like Bridgeport and it could equally have been said If we moved the population of New York City into where ever you live you'd be planning to move away in less than a year. But Rudy turned it around, NYC became relaltively safe. There are a lot of factors that go into creating the problem but in general all of those factors are politics and policy.
Oh, the 'city', 'politics and policy' and the 'government' destroyed Bridgeport. Hmm, and actual, real 'people' had nothing to do with it. That's such a relief to my worried mind. So, there's really no problem then. The government can snap it's fingers, assuming that mysterious entity has any fingers, and industry, whaling, privateering, or whatever, can come back to save the day. And the south will rise again. When pigs learn to fly and the white folks in the burbs once again learn to love life in cramped city apartments listening to police sirens and noisy neighbors all night. OK then. Or, how about selling the dump to a prince of Arabia who might successfully reintroduce slavery to our culturally deprived Yankee shores? Honest slavery really isn't so bad, since ownership means responsibility, proper nutrition and social and fiscal discipline. Lets see now, Detroit, Camden, Atlanta, etc. Yep, good old fashioned slavery gets my vote.
I'm getting all nostalgic. And it is all true. I didn't think Bridgeport could get worse when I lived in Southport in the 1990s. I was wrong.
I'm with you Taqiyya. Let's not shoot the addicts. Let's let them live and give them what they need. Let's not end welfare. Let's up the sum a bit every year. That will win the war on poverty even if the government moves the definition of poverty up every year or so. Let's just let it all roll. Let's just let them all squat in Bridgeport forever like toads in a swamp. Smells like victory.
Desolation without menace--how did they pull that off? Send Detroit some of that and win a Nobel.
Taqiyya, slavery already has your vote. You live on a the liberal plantation, and I do too. Who is the master and who is the slave is a confusing issue, but you are not aware enough to be confused.
Well Munch, you may be correct that welfare payments were not intended or described as being part of the war against poverty. However, while the programs you listed and other newer ones you didn't mention may have training in their legislative description, they are every bit a transfer payment just as a check or food stamp card is. The pertinent fact is they all cost tax dollars and those tax dollars come from those who have and is transferred to those who don't. One salient difference being that the 'training' programs cost a lot more, interpose many more bureaucrats and involve the government more deeply and at a younger age into those peoples lives. Which amounts to training the recipients from a young age how to be a professional dependent, just as the bureaucrats who administer them are. Of course the wars against poverty and drugs are lost. Winning them would put millions of bureaucrats on welfare. It's designed to fail, because politicians wish to build a bigger dependent constituency.
My earlier tongue in cheek style comments may have been slightly misunderstood. I was partly responding to the equivocal whining I hear about the criminal poor underclass. They sound like they want them to disappear and yet they offer no solutions. I provide the unspoken solution and catch flack. So, why not shoot them? We imprison millions of people for long terms for all kinds of reasons. That costs a lot also. Let's shoot them. Of course, then we have the problem of what to do with all of those unemployed civil servants. Well, I guess we could put them on welfare or enroll them in some non-welfare training programs? After all, they had jobs and paid taxes even though they consumed far more tax dollars than your average ghetto queen. No, that just brings us back to square one. Let's shoot them too? Labor camps? Slavery?
Well, one thing is for sure. One or more of my options is very likely coming down the pike. The federal government does few things very well and it does most things very poorly. Increasing the amount of tax money dependents and decreasing the number of tax money contributors the government does very well indeed. It's the nature of spending money not your own and of those seeking power to increase it. So, unless the government is restricted and soon, it will continue to do the one thing it does very well until we are all slaves or dead. That means pulling the plug on the federal this and the national that. No more federal funding of charities, schools, industries, farmers, windmills and railroads. More power to the States, Counties and Cities. Local rule, not long distance. We had poor people before we had a centralized, subsidized, massively dependent country. They were people we knew and we took care of them. Through county welfare, the churches and the local towns and individuals they were clothed, housed and fed. They found seasonal work or odd jobs and were usually integrated back into society because they were never alienated from it. If they were determined to kill themselves with drink or drug, they died. Which is OK, because buying them a home and transporting them to 'support' meetings as if they were some sort of victim and to expensive medical appointments and filling them with drugs is just stupid and I'm tired of stupid. It would be better to shoot them. Cheers.