President Obama had a whole lot of nothing to say at his big economy speech. But savor for a moment the fact that what the president said he said in Cleveland, a city that has been following the his basic economic program for decades: It has lots of public-sector spending, powerful unions, redistributive taxation, lots of government management of the economy, very high levels of education spending, etc. By my count, every member of its city council is a Democrat, save one Green. It hasn’t had a Republican mayor since George Voinovich. It is also the nation’s poorest major city except in those years in which it is the nation’s second-poorest big city, behind Detroit. It’s a consistent contender on the most-dangerous list.
Like our investment in Solyndra, Cleveland spends but doesn’t have much to show for it. Its public schools spend about as much per student as it would cost to send them down the street to the tony University School, where 100 percent of the graduates attend a four-year college, many of them as National Merit scholars. But Cleveland’s schools, despite their spending, don’t get University School’s results, or even those of the more modest Benedictine high school, which spends about half what Cleveland’s public schools do and manages to send 96 percent of its graduates to college. Benedictine does this while operating its own busing system, incidentally.
Funny thing about Cleveland: It is every bit the distillation of urban dysfunction that Detroit is, but it doesn’t have Detroit’s mythic status as a lost city. Which means that Cleveland isn’t even all that good at being our crappiest/second-crappiest city. Hell of a backdrop, Mr. President.