Sunday, May 10, 2015

What is the Baltimore Narrative?

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake lifted the curfew. The National Guard pulled out. Baltimore is quiet. So what did we learn? What is the Narrative? 1) Black lives matter? Of course they do, but so do white lives, brown lives, yellow lives, red lives, and blue lives, Especially when they’re being shot at or stoned. 2) (White) police are the greatest threat to young blacks? 3 of the 6 arrested cops are black The greatest threats to young blacks are other blacks, drugs, alcohol, and gangs. The homicide rate in Baltimore was 6X the national average and the violent crime rate 3X before Freddie Gray. 3) Hands up, don’t shoot? That wasn’t even true in Ferguson 4) Another example of the white power structure? The Baltimore power structure is black and Democratic 5) Racism? The New York Times editorial page today blamed Baltimore on racism – 100 years of racism at the local, state, and national level We used to call it “White Flight,” but now we know it’s middle class flight as the middle class, regardless of race, flees the inner cities when they can, for the same reasons: better schools and safe streets. The residents left behind are often in dire straits. That’s not racism. 6) Protection of the right to demonstrate? If peaceful! Demonstrating against police brutality is protected speech; arson and looting are not 7) Protecting looters has a higher priority than protecting property rights? Mayor Rawlings-Blake said: “Let them loot; it’s only property,” and “We also gave those who wish to destroy space to do that as well.” Marie Antoinette said: “Let them eat cake” That was just as effective Looting is often accompanied, as in Baltimore, by arson. Looting by itself wipes out small, minority businesses. 300 businesses were destroyed in the Baltimore riots, looting and arson rampage. New business will not move into a city where the authorities will not protect them. Think of Watts in 1965, Detroit in 1967 and Baltimore in 1968. They have not returned. Six died, 700 were injured and 1,000 buildings looted in the 1968 Baltimore riots. The desolation persists today. 8) Justice was served? A rush to prosecute is not justice, but a political reaction to mob violence 9) Freddie Gray died senselessly? So did Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Walter Scott, and Oscar Grant III. They should still be alive, but fault is not always easy to decide. 10) Baltimore was crying out? The young blacks were crying out for attention. They are poorly educated by failing schools, suffer high unemployment, live in run down residences surrounded by abandoned buildings (17,000 in Baltimore), and immersed in a gang/drug culture. Negative attention does not achieve the goals of the looters. 11) These cities need more “investment?” “Investments” is a euphemism for money. President Obama said we need “massive investments in urban communities.” Pursuant to President Johnson’s War on Poverty and Great Society, $15-22 trillion has been “invested” in these cities. Baltimore alone received $1,831,768,487 in President Obama’s Stimulus Bill (that’s $1.8 billion). $467.1 million was for education and $26.5 million for crime prevention. Look at Baltimore, Detroit, Flint, Lansing, Philadelphia, Springfield, and the South Bronx – indeed, almost all older industrial cities in the Frost Belt. Government money is not the solution. 12) Government can create jobs in these inner cities? The $1.8 billion Stimulus in Baltimore is estimated to have created 290 jobs in the 4th quarter of 2013. 20% of the jobs in Baltimore are government jobs. That’s obviously not the solution. 13) Private investment can restore the cities? Not when you loot and burn the private investors. Freddie Gray’s neighborhood, Sandtown-Winchester had a failed $130 million urban renewal project in the 1990’s. The community suffers from roughly 50% unemployment and a third abandoned homes. 14) Lack of leadership? One of the primary obligations of the public authorities is to maintain public safety. Baltimore protected gangs of looters, many with crowbars, rather than the public. Baltimore did not learn from the 1968 riots in the same community. 15) Social media can incite mobs? We’re seen that with flash mobs before 16) Toya Graham, the mother who pulled her son out of the mob? Would that it were! Toya was not the only one, but there wasn’t enough Toyas 17) History is against Baltimore? It’s a miniature version of Detroit, dropping from about 1 million residents in 1950 to around 622,000 today. Detroit can partially blame its fall on the collapse of Detroit, the auto industry, but the riots of 1967 sent it on the same death spiral as Baltimore’s 1968 riots 18) Reverend Jamal Bryant: “This is not what Baltimore stands for?” That, sadly, is what it stands for to prospective investors. What is the narrative of Baltimore? The existing solutions of the past 50 years are not working. Doubling down on failure is not a solution. No easy solution exists. The residents, especially the teenagers and young adults need jobs in the private sector – not only for earnings but also to learn a different lifestyle and culture. A raise in the minimum wage will increase their despair and unemployment. The way out for many entails education. That means charter schools because the existing public schools are failing their mission to educate. And the list goes on.

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