By Craig J. Cantoni
Sept. 7, 2006
A big mistake. I’m referring to what I chose to read with my morning coffee on Sunday, Sept. 3.
The choices on my kitchen table were back issues of Reason Magazine, Liberty Magazine, The Economist, and the Wall Street Journal; a compilation of articles from the Cato Institute; or the current edition of the Arizona Republic.
Not in the mood for in-depth journalism and analysis so early in the morning, I chose the thinnest intellectual porridge: a front-page story in the Republic by leftist reporter Karina Bland, whose stories always live up to her surname and have about as much to do with objectivity as Mormon fundamentalist Warren Jeffs has to do with monogamy.
The 130 column-inch story sang the praises of Bland’s idol and fellow leftist, Carol Kamin, who is retiring as the head of the local Children’s Action Alliance and moving back to her hometown of Boston.
I once debated Kamin’s second in command at a public forum. When we were asked what we would do to improve the Arizona economy, Kamin’s lieutenant responded, “I’d unionize everybody and raise the minimum wage to $12.”
That statement is a perfect illustration of how the Alliance embraces polices that seriously harm the economy and children. Yet the Alliance and Kamin have been praised repeatedly by the Republic, which doesn’t run 130 column-inch stories praising Arizona organizations and people that have actually helped the economy and children by advocating low taxes, limited government, personal responsibility and economic opportunity. As with most big-city newspapers across the land, the Republic prefers to honor collectivists, redistributionists and statists, especially if they claim to care about children.
Birds of a feather chirp nonsense together.
Speaking of chirping nonsense, here is what “reporter” Bland wrote about Kamin returning to Boston: “Kamin wants to live in a bustling city. She wants to be near her family. And, she says lightly, ‘I want to live somewhere where they are nice to children.’”
The article repeated a constant theme of the Republic: that red-state Arizona sucks compared to blue states like Mass.
Let’s do something that Bland and her editors don’t do: Let’s look at facts instead of opinions to see how Phoenix and Boston actually compare.
Keep in mind while reading the facts below that Boston had a head start of a couple hundred years over Phoenix, which isn’t on a bay or navigable river; which never had the economic engines of fishing, textiles and manufacturing; which is located in an out-of-the-way part of the country; and which doesn’t have great private universities funded by a legacy of industrial benefactors and wealthy Brahmin bluebloods.
- Phoenix’s population is 2.3 times larger than Boston’s. Since 2004, Phoenix’s population has grown 10 percent while Boston’s has decreased 5.1 percent. Apparently, people would rather live in a city that isn’t nice to children.
- Based on 2000 Census data, the median household income in Phoenix was $41,207, versus $39,629 in Boston. Apparently, Boston has squandered its huge head start and industrial wealth.
- Boston seems to have squandered its wealth on government. It has 50 percent more full-time city employees than Phoenix, although Phoenix’s population is 2.3 times larger. No wonder big-government advocates Bland and Kamin think Boston is utopia.
- In spite of its spending, Boston isn’t a safer place to raise children. In 2005, it had 61 murders per 100,000 population, versus Phoenix’s 15.3. It had 45.7 rapes per 100,000 population, versus Phoenix’s 45.7. And it had 705.9 assaults per 100,000 population, versus Phoenix’s 382.3. (Source: www.city-data.com)
- Nor does Boston seem very family friendly. About one-third of its population is married, versus about one-half of Phoenix’s population, although the two cities have about the same median age.
- Phoenix has a much higher percent of Hispanics than Boston (34.1 percent versus 14.4 percent). On the other hand, Boston has a higher percent of immigrants from Asia (6.2 percent versus a negligible percent for Phoenix), and a higher percent of immigrants from Europe (4.5 percent versus a negligible percent for Phoenix). Thus, Phoenix has a higher proportion of the racial/ethnic group with the highest dropout rate and lowest academic scores. Yet even with this demographic handicap, 76.6 percent of Phoenicians have a high school degree or higher, versus 78.9 percent of Bostonians.
In summary, you won’t get such facts from reading Bland’s bland gruel, but you will get intellectual indigestion.
Burp! Excuse me. I should be more careful about what I have with my morning coffee.
An author and columnist, Mr. Cantoni can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.