Robert J. Waste's Independent Cities Essay

Robert J. Waste's Independent Cities Essay

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In his book, Independent Cities, Robert J. Waste describes the major problems that cities are facing and how these are exacerbated by the lack of voice that American city’s have on the political stage. He states that cities have lack of representation in congress and the presidency, which often prevents their issues from receiving national attention. Waste describes failed federal policies that have attempted more top-down approaches and he also comments on state policy methods and their more successful bottom-up focus. In order to successfully eradicate the permanent crises that are tormenting entire regions, national, state and local level governments in conjunction with the citizenry need to work together to fuel a cultural transformation where urban issues are confronted rather than disregarded.
By the term permanent crisis, Waste is describing the urban issues that are affecting cities and now total regions, which became substantial concerns around 1900 (6). These issues include “poverty, hunger, homelessness, violent crime, infrastructure deterioration, fiscal stress… voter alienation and a decline in civic participation” (Waste 1). Perpetuating this crisis is the fact that American cities are often left to their own devices to solve these issues. Many individuals choose to leave the cities to live in suburbs, which ultimately depletes the tax base, decreases the population and diminishes needed support from political institutions (Waste 8). This fleeing from cities is unsuccessful because these problems are now regional. Another drastic consequence of the permanent crisis is the effects it has on children, who are disproportionately living in poverty, hunger and amidst violence. Realizing how these crises affect children i...


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... fact that many of Waste’s programs seem quite elaborate, innovation is required to solve these long-standing issues affecting entire regions. There needs to be a cultural transition where cities receive more political attention, especially because the huge population that is living in urban areas that has had their voice silenced. It is pivotal that these changes are instituted immediately because these crises are vastly affecting urban areas and bringing cities to a point that Waste suggests that they cannot return from. Ultimately, increasing civic participation and voter turnout in cities can promote the voice of those who have been suppressed and work to elect representatives who have the gumption to address urban issues rather than to shy away from them.



Works Cited

Waste, Robert J. Independent Cities. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. 1-154. Print.

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