The Failure of the American Dream

” There is no equality. You cannot guarantee that any two people will end up the same. And you can’t legislate it, and you can’t make it happen. You can try, under the guise of fairness and so forth, but some people are self-starters, and some people are born lazy. Some people are born victims. Some people are just born to be slaves.”

– Rush Limbaugh



via dailymail: Los Angeles region racial segregation: Red represents White, Blue is Black, Green is Asian, Orange is Hispanic, Gray is Other


The phrase a picture is worth a thousand words comes to mind. What you are witnessing above is the effects of modern day inequality and segregation. There may no longer be covenants that restrict suburbs to being one race but the effects are no less disconcerting. Racial segregation in our cities is a real and recurring problem.

The primary reason for racial segregation is the act of exclusionary zoning. It works through the local zoning ordinance and effectively creates an invisible wall to keep “un-wanted” people out. Local municipalities do this by requiring larger parcels, larger homes, not allowing multifamily housing, etc. These requirements then drive up the cost of housing, thereby making their city impenetrable by the poor, and less affluent.


via dailymail: San Francisco Bay Area racial segregation: Red represents White, Blue is Black, Green is Asian, Orange is Hispanic, Gray is Other


Odds are that white people are more well off than their minority counterparts and can afford to live in the larger homes up in the hills or near the beach. Minorities are left to fend for themselves in the poor inner-city because that is all they can afford.These inner cities lack the quality of education and access to necessary social services that the poor require. The act of funneling minorities into crime infested, infrastructure lacking inner cities may become a perpetuating cycle, thereby ensuring that minorities remain at the bottom of the social latter.

The danger in segregating our neighborhoods lies in understanding. Someone born in an affluent suburb may grow up to dislike the poor and misfortunate and not show any sympathy because they do not understand where the poor come from. On a recent episode of the Colbert Report, Steven interviewed Davis Guggenheim, director of the new movie “Waiting for Superman.” During the interview, Colbert questioned why he should care about other humans. Guggenheim retorted that he should care because what happens to those less fortunate effects him in tangible ways. It can effect the price of homes, the safety of neighborhoods, and even the economy as a whole. To watch the video click the here.

What Rush Limbaugh suggested in the quote at the beginning does have a ring of truth to it, but I believe that the role of government is to create the opportunities and the favorable environments that allow upward mobility in our society. Just as in health care, the only way to rein in costs is to prevent the harm from occurring in the first place.

Many people might be thinking well government can’t help everyone. There isn’t enough money or resources to do anything about it, and it really isn’t government’s role. Well it was government subsidies and regulations that have created this segregate city-scape that we see today. Government loans created the single race subdivisions. Government freeway construction subsidizes travel from distant suburbs to central cities. We are living lives that are the result of government intervention. There is no reason why that government intervention can’t be honed to solve the problems that it created in the first place.

“If poverty is a disease that infects an entire community in the form of unemployment and violence; failing schools and broken homes, then we can’t just treat those symptoms in isolation. We have to heal that entire community. And we have to focus on what actually works.”

Barack Obama, July 18, 2007

The Obama Administration is doing its part by creating the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative.


Mixed-Income, Mixed-use housing doesn't have to resemble Projects. These projects can integrate neighborhoods rather than segregating them.


Creating Neighborhoods of Opportunity

The goal of the Initiative is to support the transformation of distressed neighborhoods into neighborhoods of opportunity – places that provide the opportunities, resources, and environment that children, youth, and adults need to maximize their life outcomes. This includes elements of each asset category such as high-quality schools and educational programs; high-quality, safe, and affordable housing; thriving commercial establishments; art and cultural amenities; and parks and other recreational spaces. In light of the need for better coordination and greater consistency in Federal support, the Initiative is focusing on four key opportunities for action.1. Integrating place-based programs in distressed neighborhoods – ED, HUD, and DOJ intend to coordinate their funding for the Promise Neighborhoods, Choice Neighborhoods, and Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation programs, to give communities with the need and capacity for each program a better opportunity to braid these resources, and increase the odds of success for these federal investments by drawing on the compounding effect of well-coordinated action. HHS will encourage local partnerships between existing and new community health centers and these programs, and consider other ways to coordinate community health centers and other grant programs with the above neighborhood-focused programs.

2. Coordinated peer review and alignment of program goals and requirements – ED, HUD, and DOJ intend to coordinate the review of their applications, including the sharing of reviewers with expertise across disciplines and throughout the continuum of development from birth through youth between the programs. These agencies also intend to work together to align the goals and requirements of the various programs as much as possible. This has included the development and use of common goals and program evaluation metrics, a shared theory of change, and common definitions of key terms, with the overall goal of ensuring that these programs align on the ground and that communities hear one clear message from the federal government on how resources could be targeted and coordinated.

3. Collaborative planning – Agencies in the Initiative will create incentives for local communities to develop plans, build organizational capacity, and establish accountability mechanisms to ensure that revitalization activities have the best prospects for success.

4. Integrated technical assistance – Agencies in the Initiative will jointly support integrated technical assistance in order to help high-need neighborhoods develop and implement comprehensive, collaborative approaches to neighborhood revitalization.


1 Comment

Filed under Colbert Report, Los Angeles, Mixed-Use, Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, San Francisco, Segregation, Zoning

One response to “The Failure of the American Dream

  1. Stephen

    This blog entry has to be one of the dumbest things I’ve read this week. You can look at the maps and see neighborhoods that are equally poor segregating themselves by race. There are neighborhoods that are all black next to neighborhoods that are all latino, with no difference in affordability between them. There are also poor asian neighborhoods and poor white neighborhoods. They choose to segregate themselves. At the other end of the market, there are wealthy white areas and wealthy asian areas. Even wealthy black areas. The wealthy also segregate themselves. This has nothing to do with “exclusionary zoning” or other policies that keep neighborhoods from being overrun with ugly, inappropriate developments. It’s a natural part of human nature to association with people who are similar to oneself, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There are exceptions, as there are to all facets of human nature, and that is why there are some “ecclectic” and diverse communities. But the exceptions prove the general rule.

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