Let’s catch up on some updates to the regular themes and stores we’re covering right now.
• Here’s our feel good story of the day:
New York City may lay off tens of thousands of municipal workers. Even with this massive downsizing, it won’t be enough to stem the financial hemorrhaging plaguing the city.
The Wall Street Journal reported that roughly 22,000 government workers need to be let go to close a $9 billion deficit that continues to grow.
Of course, if Joe Biden wins in November and Democrats take complete control of Congress, a massive bailout for states and cities will be their first order of business, so don’t celebrate just yet.
• Speaking of leaving big cities, the Financial Times is following the exodus from San Francisco:
According to a Harris poll in early August, 40 per cent of American city dwellers with children were considering a move, as the pandemic causes a rethink in the value of city life. An earlier poll from Zapier, a software company, found that almost half of respondents would leave the Bay Area if their jobs let them work remotely. Kaili Sanchez, an agent from Sierra Sotheby’s in Lake Tahoe, says summer sales volumes have been almost double that of a year ago. One of her properties, listed at $670,000, received offers of $70,000 above asking price. . .
The exodus from San Francisco is “real and historic”, says local publication SFGate. Real estate inventory has spiked 96 per cent from a year ago “following a flood of new listings during the pandemic,” according to Zillow, a web-based real estate company. Nationally, the annual pace of home value growth this year was 4.3 per cent in urban areas, as of June, whereas San Francisco — home to 13 of the priciest zip codes in the US — list pricings have fallen 4.9 per cent.
“We are going to see the biggest migration in our cultural history since the Great Depression,” says David Gemme, chief executive at Gemme Group, a luxury real estate firm in Lake Tahoe.
• It’s not just the big progressive cities that more people are opting out of. One of the other progressive projects—our current public education system—is seeing signs of serious exodus, too. Gallup released a new survey last week showing public satisfaction with K-12 education slipping badly, and the number of children being home-schooled (which does not include remote learning in the public school system just now) has doubled this year:
While parents’ satisfaction with their child’s education has fallen, there has been a five-point uptick (to 10%) in the percentage of parents who say their child will be home-schooled this year.
That may not sound like much, but the loss of even 5 percent of students, at a time when demographic trends are already reducing the number of school-aged children, will translate into a significant amount of teacher layoffs and school closings. No wonder Mayor de Blasio wants the public schools in New York to open as soon as possible. Democrats need those union dues.
A.O. Hirschman, call your office—2020 has turned into a massive field test of Exit, Voice, and Loyalty.
• Here’s some great graphic evidence of how the presidential race is tightening, from the good folks over at RealClearPolitics:
• The Free Beacon reported a few days ago that there are 5 million new gun owners in the U.S. in the first eight months of 2020 (I wonder how many were bought in just the last 60 days):
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the gun industry’s trade group, estimates that 17.1 million guns have been sold between January and August with 4.84 million Americans purchasing their first guns. The sales—especially to new owners—represent a significant shift in American attitudes on gun ownership. . .
“Firearm sales typically rise during presidential election years,” NSSF said in a statement. “Democratic candidates Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) are calling for stringent gun-control measures, including forcible confiscation, banning entire classes of firearms from lawful possession, licensing schemes and repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which would expose the firearm industry to frivolous and harassing lawsuits.”
Gee, I wonder who these new gun owners will favor in the polling booth in November?
• Finally, in the prog rock department, the Financial Times has a long feature about legendary prog keyboardist Rick Wakeman, who is now 71, and about to release his 122nd album. The story omits mention of the fact that Wakeman was a fervent Thatcherite, which marks him out from most rockers of any genre. But this is my favorite passage in the article:
To his fans, he epitomised rock’s most Olympian phase of development. For detractors, who were almost as numerous, he symbolised its dissipation into self-indulgence and grandiosity. “I was once asked in an interview, back in the 1970s: ‘Prog rock is overblown, it’s full of pompous asses and people showing off. What do you have to say to that?’ I said, ‘That’s a pretty good description’,” he says.