Special to HuntingtonNews.Net

by Steve Davis

The middle class is the heart of any city. They are business people of all kinds. They own or work for companies that keep the wheels of commerce turning in the city. 


They buy homes and cars invest in local functions and other businesses that keep a city thriving. The middle class has the top to report to and the bottom to support.

Without the middle class cities struggle to continue to thrive. You begin to see neighborhood after neighborhood decline from 
Homes being turned into rentals or left abandoned.

This is not new and it is not always avoidable. The economy can cause the middle to leave any particular city and cause decline.

Poor policies and lack of leadership from those elected to secure and sell the worth of a city can also cause the decline thus sending the middle out to the suburbs or beyond.

The middle class is the best class at realizing the true value of investment and when that investment is no longer viable.

Once the home values of a city in decline begin the middle class is forced to decide wether to ride out the crisis or cut their losses and leave. This is a very difficult decision and most of the time not made without great pain to the family. Kids in school and their friends. Changing of jobs and the question as to what becomes of their biggest investment their home.

Most middle class families own their home and many time it is their largest investment. It is the anchor of their future. When the city that they have worked in and come to love begins to decline they become restless look at alternatives.

When a city looses the restless middle class the remainder look much harder at the reality of them staying. This is the second wave of decline. This is where many cities begin to fail in a very obvious and distinct way.

Jobs that pay minimum wage or slightly higher become the largest income source. The labor market declines and those needing or wanting assistance become the larger portion of the population. This leaves the city with budget issues and eventually shortfalls that affect the most basic services. Police, Fire Public Works.

The next wave is the find the money.
The remaining citizens face the brunt of increased taxes and fees. Basic service fees climb and climb taxes become higher and business look elsewhere to do business or simply close their doors.

Many cities do not recognize the need for a mix of manufacturing, distribution, retail and services as the way to keep the heartbeat alive. 
They miss the mark and allow other cities to take advantage of their down turn.

When good leaders lead the agendas are not self centered and the imagination of a created city of feel good plans is not the program.

Good leaders seek to find the balance and seek to keep and bring back the middle class.

For any city to thrive it has to include balance and must have a healthy middle class. Without that the city will decline and eventually the benevolence of those that remain will turn to hopelessness and disgust.

All of this leads to cities becoming the place not to be. No matter how hard they try and how many plans they make for the future it will not 
Fix the blighted neighborhoods.

The final wave is the selective demolition of blighted neighborhoods a home at a time. Then the takeover by corporate investors hoping to build down the road when the plans come together and the city recovers. Tax deductions and portfolio building blocks for those who they might need for further investment. It is not a new model and has been used for years.

The displacement of families of the lower class comes and the city looses its soul. The loss of the foundation of labor. When you see the lower class leaving it becomes clear that the city will become something much different. It becomes a city of crime and survival. A place where those who have no hope prey on those who have remained and have held on to hope and promises. Homeless and drug addicts as well as con artist and thief’s thrive in this environment. The need for money and drugs increases prostitution and home break ins Some businesses shift their plans to meet the need of these types and participate in the decline. Pawn shops convince stores and thrift stores all do well in this environment.

Drug dealers are flush with cash and have great influence in certain neighborhoods this leads to poor school attendance by children afraid to walk to school and teachers missing days out of fear. Neighborhoods are less active and events carefully planned and poorly attended where once we’re proud parents of children playing sports and performing arts.

Unkept homes trash in the streets and alleys prove that those who once had pride have long since left and those who dwell there now are only taking and not contributing.

Eventually the citizens left paying the way leave and the only thing left is the upper class and their dreams and visions of what could be.

When the middle leaves collapse is inevitable
This may sound bleak and may seem outrageous to some. I have traveled extensively in my career over 35 years. I have seen portions of major cities and small cities completely collapse from what they were with my own eyes

It is a pattern that is repeated over and over in our Nation.

The remedy is simple. The ballot box. 
Vote for Principled Men and Women to lead with morals and sound plans that include all citizens and keeps the middle class.

Steven J. Davis 
Chairman. Concerned Citizens of Huntington, WV