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Bernie Comes To Greenville

Sometimes Bernie Sanders reminds me of the enthusiastic kid in class who waits all year with his hand up to be recognized and then when finally called upon, says something really stupid. 

Bernie visited the Historic West End of Greenville back in April. He took a look around at all of the new buildings and declared “gentrification.” He then created a new national anti-gentrification ad campaign featuring the City of Greenville. 

If you are confused about terms, you have the right to be. Gentrification suggests a reversal of genteel poverty. Urban renewal suggests a reversal of urban decay. Both terms used together accomplish the same restoration of community and property values. Bernie didn’t say “urban renewal” for a reason. He used gentrification as a code word to imply class division.

Bernie returned to Greenville last week to show us his ads. During his campaign rally in the Peace Center, a virtual shrine to the power of gentrification, Bernie explained that gentrification occurs when the costs of urban renewal raises local prices to the point that the current residents of the community being renewed cannot afford to live there. Bernie wants to fix that.

The powers that run the City of Greenville should listen closely to Bernie and any other presidential candidate who promises a solution. Such promises can only be kept by further federal intervention into local development and zoning laws.

Bernie and his young radical followers clearly don’t approve of the City’s West End renewal efforts – arts district, coffee shops, textile mill condominiums, the obliteration of City View’s speed trap, and hope eternal notwithstanding. They don’t approve because they are progressives who regulate, suppress and extinguish the free market of capital and ideas. In short, they are socialists. 

For the generations who came after the Berlin Wall fell and may not fully understand socialism, read closely. Socialism ultimately brings shared economic misery for all but a privileged few. The proletariat does not win.

To be fair with Bernie, he did not speak of economic opportunity. He spoke of economic justice – two very different terms. One term suggests the possibility of reward; the other term promises the certainty of punishment. 

Does Bernie want to punish the City of Greenville for finally having the resources and business interests to remake a part of the city that has been derelict since the textile industry departed to China? The answer lies with who Bernie made the national example for his criticism of gentrification. He gave Greenville that distinction.

Yeah! That Greenville!