A Critical View of the Urban Crisis

in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 405, January 1973, pp. 7-14. Reprinted in Edward C. Banfield, Here the People Rule: Selected Essays (Washington, DC: AEI, 1991).


From the farmhouse in Vermont where this is written, it is several miles to the nearest city, the population of which is about ten thousand, but one can find here most of the “big problems” that together are usually thought of as constituting “the urban crisis.” There are multiproblem families; welfare mothers—some of them visited, it is alleged, by mates; substandard housing; functional illiteracy—some of it on the part of high school graduates; hard-core unemployment—meaning able-bodied men who will not work; sexual promiscuity; drug abuse—a helicopter hovers overhead as this is written, searching for plantings of marijuana; pornography—this evening, a local movie advertises, one may take an “unforgettable journey into a new erotic world” of “way-out German sex practices”; venereal disease—Operation Venus has recently been locally organized; and crime—mostly vandalism and stealing by juveniles, but occasionally violence by adults.

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