The Deeper Consequences Of A Bias Against Cities
Often lost in the discussion of Washington’s “anti-urban bias” – most easily demonstrated by this or that budget number or this or that percentage of expenditures – is the deeper impact on how Americans think about government, our relationship to it, and our role in it. We highlighted this impact in a piece this weekend for the San Francisco Chronicle:
The consequences of Washington's anti-urban bias run deeper than lopsided funding. The "urban crisis" the federal government has tried so hard to manufacture is fictional. Instead, in our cities, challenges appear alongside solutions often unavailable elsewhere: expanded health care coverage, social services accessible to the neediest, transportation systems that encourage affordable and environmentally friendly lifestyles, mixed-income neighborhoods where emerging artists and immigrant entrepreneurs find common ground and are better off for it.
Reorienting Washington toward urban accomplishments and the central role of cities in American life would restore faith in the shared interests and sense of collective purpose that should shape public policy. It would also help rebuild the electorate's trust in government's ability to protect and secure our lives: As more city institutions and agencies are properly supported, more of them can have a positive impact on how we all live and will highlight the value of public goods and services compared to the risks and costs of privatizing the public sector.
Federal policy for cities is not just about sending more money to urban areas. It is also about celebrating, supporting, and building upon the accomplishments of policy already made by cities.