The 2014 film Monuments Men chronicled the story of how Allied governments sent a team of art experts into Europe, while World War II was still going on, to track down art works that had been stolen by the Nazis. They were commissioned to find stolen art objects and return them to the rightful owners – churches, museums, and individuals, including many wealthy Jewish families.
On their way to finding and retrieving many priceless artworks – including paintings, sculptures and church altar pieces (see lead-picture) – the team made a surprising discovery. They learned that the Nazis’ monstrous anti-Semitic campaign – ceaselessly proclaimed to the world as a “noble” crusade to achieve Nordic “racial purity” – was merely a cover-story for a gigantic art-theft ring led by Reichskanzler Hermann Göring. Der gute Hermann aligned himself with Hitler’s racial purity rubbish as the means for seizing great European works of art and placing them under Nazi control.
While they were at it, Göring’s Nazi “collectors” stole anything else they could lay their hands on, from Jews and other “enemies of the state” whom they sent to the death-camps. Along with china, silverware and other household items their loot included barrels full of gold teeth taken from millions of prisoners who had been gassed in the death-camps. The Monuments Men made the grisly discovery in a cave crammed with stolen art, gold and other valuable objects.
The Monuments Men and their discovery of the Nazis’ under-the-radar art-theft ring crossed my mind recently, as reports have emerged of thousands of residents fleeing from crime-ridden cities that are governed by Democrats. Along with those reports came political analysts asking why any mayors or city governments would allow their cities to become so inhospitable to its citizens. Even fellow-Democrats are asking, “Why let things get so far out of control? Who is the better for this?”
Democrat apologists – such as they are – tend to characterize their soft-on-crime approach as a “noble” (there’s that word again) crusade for social justice. They want to lift up the fallen and disadvantaged – giving them freedom instead of locking them up for their “mistakes.” Of course, excusing criminals from paying any penalties for their crimes only generates more crime – as any 5th grader could predict. There is no end to the destructive cycle that is driving citizens and businesses out of once-great cities.
What does all this have to do with the Monuments Men? It takes us back to an old law-enforcement maxim that’s often forgotten in our present day: Follow the Money. This bit of wisdom often reveals the motives, means, and opportunities for the commission of crimes. In the case of the stolen art, the Monuments Men followed the trail of the art works until they discovered that “the money” – the priceless value of the art – was the real motive. And the whole racial purity shtick – including the persecutions, the anti-Jew laws, the arrests, the camps and the mass-gassings – was just a diversion that enabled the thefts.
The Monuments Men story models my theory about the lawless degradation of great cities like, Chicago, San Francisco, and New York. Where’s “the money” in this case, and where does it lead us? Many still-wet-behind-the-ears reporters don’t seem to realize that the miserable urban crime wave produced by Democrats’ lax law-enforcement has degraded financial values in those cities. When people sell out and leave, they often have to accept low prices for their homes or business-properties. Some business interests are sold for pennies on the dollar. Even renters leave a financial hole when they pull out.
So where does “the money” take us? It leads us to the heavy hitters – the big money guys – who are poised to swoop in and “buy cheap” from people who are running away from the lawlessness. No doubt they are well connected to politicians who are running a city into the ground with their “compassionate” policies. These investors stand to make millions, eventually, when proper law-enforcement in those cities has been restored, and property values have recovered. It’s a beautiful scheme, if you’re on the inside-track.
But what about the risk-factor? There’s always a risk when you try to commit a crime on this scale. In the case of the Nazis and their gestolene Kunstwerke, they ended up fighting a war which they ultimately lost. They lost the art, too, some of which was destroyed or captured by the USSR. Germany also lost the productivity of millions of their own people whom they had murdered. It was a complete disaster.
In the “business” of buying property and businesses at prices depressed by destructive political governance, investors obviously expect that those cities will eventually return to normal, when restoration of sensible law-enforcement and governance causes property values to recover. But the considerable risk is that the expected “renaissance” of those cities might not occur in the near-term, or even the long-term. Another old nugget of wisdom might come into play here: Thieves eventually fall out.
An alliance of crooks almost always comes apart at some point because the participants in their crooked schemes are people of ill repute who are fundamentally untrustworthy. Ordinary people (including Yours Truly) wouldn’t trust politicians like former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot any farther than we could throw her.
Suppose the crooked politicians who have created the buy-low opportunities don’t stop wrecking the place as expected? What if they just keep on with their destructive policies – driving values down below what they were when their investor-pals bought the depressed properties and businesses? As Jimmy Durante liked to say, it would be a “financial catastrastroke.” In fact, we might already have seen this occur in Chicago, when voters gave Mayor Lightfoot the boot. She didn’t know when to stop.
Investors always take a huge risk when they base a business decision on successful commission of what amounts to a crime. My estimate is that Democrat pols in some cities and states might have let things get so far out of control that they can’t be corrected except by installing responsible Republican governance. It will be interesting to see how this turns out in various locales – especially if connections are discovered between politicians and investors. It could be a wild ride.
“A wicked man …with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.” (Proverbs 6:12-16)