The Health of Cities This is the second of two articles based on a lecture recently delivered before the City Club of New York by Henry G. Cisneros, mayor of San Antonio. The lecture discusses the key role played in the federal society by municipalities. By Henry G. Cisneros New York City TO ATTAIN a prosperous national economy which is able to sustain an open society requires the health of a balanced system of cities across the country. Consider these facts: When structural unemployment in the central cities rises from inattention, each increase of one % in the national unemployment rate adds $25 billion to the national deficit in a combination of decreased tax payments and increased benefits entitlements. When cities are unable to meet the cost of building roads, bridges, ports or sewer systems, there are bottlenecks and inefficiencies that af Hopkins County . . . in-law to their car, and soon the rest of our family left too. Late that afternoon, Mary Frances and I dropped by to see Uncle Cliff and Aunt Ethel at their house in Sulphur Springs. Louise was also there, laughing her head off. She had just discovered that it wasn’t chili powder she had poured into the stewpot. She had dumped in, by mistake, a packet of poultry seasoning that comes in a similar wrapper. That’s why the stew never did taste right, she admitted cheerfully. We all agreed that it didn’t matter. TWO YEARS have passed now since that stew. Since then, some good things and at least one terrible thing happened at Paint Rock. One of the good fect the national economic prosperity. When central city schools are no longer able to train youngsters and prepare them for technological jobs, the nation pays a price in manpower shortages and gaps in the technical skills base needed for reindustrialization. When racial strife becomes one of the dominant features of urban life, the nation sustains a high crime rate and must live with alienation and division. When the cities are characterized by deterioration and when the urban landscape is a picture of decline and despair, then I believe there occurs a psychological change of mood such that national optimism is replaced by national pessimism. All of this suggests that policies which promote or reward regional abandonment are damaging, both to the cities and to the larger national economy. It suggests that a national policy whose essential thrust is to “Let them vote with their feet,” leaving behind pockets of despair for the least mobile citizens of the society, is flawed both for the cities and for the national economy. It suggests things was that J. B. started going back to events at the community center, and taking part. The terrible thing was that in December of that year, on the day his daughters were getting ready to help decorate the center for an old-fashioned Christmas party, Marion was in the field moving hay with a front-end loader on his tractor when one of the enormous round bales tilted off balance, rolled back, and struck him. He was killed instantly. The following June another stew was held at Paint Rock. Everyone knew it was hard for them, but Grace and the children came back too, and took part. Jean Froneberger is a freelance photojournalist now living in England. that because of the nature of American society today, to make national economy policy is to make national urban policy. And the best national urban policy is one that integrates the problems of the cities into national economic policymaking. These two great interests of national policy need to be considered. What does it mean to think of them concurrently? What should we expect of a national economic policy that relates to urban areas? What is the overarching framework for a federal economic role in the cities? What are the principles or basic elements of such an approach? I would like today to suggest three elements. The first element would be to create a sense of integration of the cities into national economic thinking. This is a delicate area because it deals with a kind of cooperation that we have not had in our nation. But it parallels the spirit that the national government, the cities and business need to foster in order to create the framework that best enables business to prosper and create jobs in the long run, drawing lightly as it does from the Japanese concern for “long run vision.” Actually that term is a nickname for one of the most important divisions of the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry. We need to think not in terms of subsidy, control, guidance, or supervision of business but in terms of creating the conditions for business that are necessary to realize long-term visions and infuse in that process some sense of the high stakes for the survival of the cities. In the Japanese case, an organization which serves as a clearinghouse for several ministries, the Economic Planning Agency, avoids attempting to manage the economy but it does . . provide targets reflecting longterm trends and specifying what would be necessary for balanced national development. It is, in effect, a point of communication, coordinating estimates of future growth made by governmental branches and by the business community. It helps draw attention to various needs and helps shape the thinking about what is required for a certain level of growth. . . .” COOPERATION has been tried before. “Every U.S. administration 18 JUNE 4, 1982
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