Rather than hand the banks another $1 trillion as Bernanke is demanding, and hand out hundreds of billions of dollars in additional pork barrel and make-work spending, I have a stupendous idea that would turn around our troubled cities overnight and create an entirely new reality for our urban poor and working class alike.
It is borne out of growing up in Philadelphia, where the latest big-government scheme was ALWAYS promoted as the answer. First, good old Frank Rizzo (when I was just a baby) promised prosperity and new buildings and clean streets. Then, in came Green (with his scandals). Then Wilson Goode (we all know how THAT ended).
Then Ed Rendell and his "prayer for the city." God wasn't listening.
In fact, the city that Mayor Michael Nutter presides over today has just 1.4 million residents -- and is losing 500 residents every month.
That's a HUGE decline from 2 million back in the 1950s.
And you see it in devastated neighborhoods in North, West and Southwest Philly, slowly spreading into Northeast Philly as well.
Big government programs and complicated "enterprise zone" and "special grant" politics didn't work too well back then. And they haven't worked since.
So here's my radical proposal.
Every single individual who purchases his solitary residence within the boundaries of a designated "blighted area" in any US city or town gets 20 years (or the term of his residency, whichever comes first) completely free of federal income tax.
It wasn't that long ago that Kensington and Allegheny Avenues in North Philly were the "workshop of the world," producing more manufactured goods than all of Britain. It was once said that "if you cannot get it at K and A, you cannot get it."
Houses with relatively decent restorations there go for $25,000. Shells go for $5,000. There are hundreds of abandoned homes in that neighborhood alone.
Imagine the new life and industry and money and creativity that would be brought into places like North Philly, Moraine Ohio, or bad parts of Wilmington as a result of such a policy. People willing to take a chance on a new business or a new job as a result of eliminating income tax.
Unfortunately, it's unlikely to happen. Instead, Obama will shell out trillions to super-wealthy banks in tony burghs like Manhattan, Boston and Chicago, telling the struggling taxpayers of Kensington that "sacrifice is needed."
As if they haven't sacrificed enough.
"Stimulus" will pass Kensington, Strawberry Mansion, Poplar, Mantua, Forgotten Bottom, Nicetown-Tioga, Hunting Park, Overbrook, Brewerytown, Germantown, Olney, Logan, Point Breeze, Grays Ferry, and tens of thousands of neighborhoods like them by -- for the benefit of Park Avenue, Boylston Street, and Billionaires' Row.
All because of a sad lack of vision and a religious commitment to the failed big government programs that helped bring those neighborhoods to their knees in the first place.