In a distant land long ago a small tribe, having been driven out by an invading force, wanders through the wilderness. Tired, hungry, and beaten they wander until one day they come upon a valley with a large river running through it, rich virgin soil to plant in, and herds of huntable animals around. Having wandered well out of reach of the enemy that had conquered them, they claimed this valley and made it their home. A new city was born, built around the resources people needed to survive and trade with one another. Hunters traded with farmers, farmers with seamstresses, seamstresses with fisherman, and so on and so forth and life was good.
As time went on the resources around which cities were built changed, but the nature of urbanization did not. A resource was discovered, people gathered around it, they harvested the resource, and either consumed it themselves or traded/sold it to make their living. So what happens when the resources run out? Well, socialism happens. A city can not be sustained without a resource and if the resource isn't harvested, mined, or manufactured, then the resource people depend on becomes other people.
This is exactly what has happened to Birmingham. Below is an excerpt from Wikipedia:
Birmingham was founded in 1871, just after the American Civil War, through the merger of three pre-existing towns, and Birmingham grew from there, annexing many more of its smaller neighbors, into an industrial and railroad transportation powerhouse, especially in mining, the iron and steel industry, and railroading. Birmingham was named for Birmingham, England, once one of the major metal manufacturing industrial cities of England. Most of the original settlers who founded Birmingham were of English ancestry. It was planned as a city where cheap, non-unionized, African-American labor from rural South Alabama could be employed in the city's steel mills and blast furnaces, giving it a competitive advantage over industrial cities in the Midwest and Northeastern United States.
From its founding through the end of the 1960s, Birmingham was the primary industrial center of the Southern United States. The astonishing pace of Birmingham's growth during the period from 1881 through 1920, Birmingham earned its nicknames "The Magic City" and "The Pittsburgh of the South." Much like Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Birmingham's major industries were iron and steel production, plus a major component of the railroading industry, where rails and railroad cars were both manufactured in Birmingham.
As mining and manufacturing declined, service industries sprang up in their place, meaning the source of Birmingham's wealth switched from resources, to other people. Instead of mining iron ore, making steel, and selling it, people today provide a service, legal, medical, repairs, and so on and so forth but a city can not survive if it's only source of wealth is the people who live there. Resources are being consumed, but not produced at the same rate they are being consumed. This creates need. A need provides an opportunity for the collectivist to exploit it. They will say we must help these people and their children. They will say it is our moral obligation. And so begins the transformation from a thriving and productive city into a giant public housing development.
Birmingham is tied with Montgomery for having the highest combined sales tax in the country at 10% while nearly 30% of Birmingham residents live below the poverty level, compared to 17.5% statewide. If you ask a Birmingham or Jefferson County politician what is needed to fix the problem they will simply answer “more”. Businesses and people who can afford to move are fleeing Birmingham for the lower taxed areas such as Shelby, which is growing rapidly in both population and industry.
I believe that man is a social animal. We like to live in groups. We seek the approval of others in our actions. We like to achieve and impress one another. We like to help other people to do likewise. We must be aware ourselves and remind others that just because we are social creatures does not mean we were meant to live in little boxes, stacked one atop the other, without room or motivation to create, produce, or achieve, consuming only what we can take from one another. We are human beings, not ticks. A city without resources becomes a societal parasite, eventually dying, but not before bleeding the areas around it. If we are to win this battle of the individual vs the collective, we must know and we must teach that a city must be self sustaining, because if it is not a need will arise, and a collectivist will exploit it.