Gaski: South Bend’s ‘Worst City’ Status Explained

July 6, 2018

“South Bend is one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. There were 1,012 violent crimes in South Bend for every 100,000 residents in 2016, more than double both the state and national violent crime rates of 405 incidents and 386 incidents per 100,000 people, respectively. As is often the case in high-crime areas, property values in South Bend are depressed.” — Matt Cashore explaining South Bend’s 40th place in USA TODAY’s “50 Worst Cities,” June 13, 2018

by John Gaski, Ph.D.

I have long suspected that the terrible public governance in South Bend is attributable to the non-competitive politics here. We have what is essentially a one-party city, completely dominated by Democrats. Monopoly does breed complacency and low-quality output, even political monopoly apparently.

The underlying problem: The South Bend locals (“Benders,” they are called) keep electing mediocre public servants as long as they share the voters’ Democrat affiliation. So the poor quality of government in South Bend must be ultimately attributable to the poor judgment of the local citizenry (along with any non-citizens who vote illegally, which is very possible here).

Why else would they continue to violate Einstein’s definition of insanity, i.e., doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting a different result?

Curiously, virtually all failing American cities have two things in common: Democrat public officials and Democrat voters. A partisan sentiment? No, I am both a long-time registered Democrat and long-time registered Republican — intermittently, of course.

Perhaps more relevant, I am originally from Gary (the 18th “worst” city on the USA TODAY list), so I have background in experiencing and recognizing bad government. Good luck to both of my cities. They will need it.

John F. Gaski, Ph.D., an adjunct scholar of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, is an associate professor at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of “Frugal Cool: How to Get Rich — Without Making Very Much Money” (Corby Books, 2009).


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