Quote of the Day:
President Barack Obama responded to the Baltimore riots with a heartfelt bout of self-righteous hectoring.
–Rich Lowry in Politico
NRO’s Ian Tuttle has consulted the Baltimore City Health Department’s 2011 Neighborhood Health Profiles to get an idea of what kind of environment Freddie Gray, whose death set off rioting in Baltimore, grew up in. It is called the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, and it is bleak:
According to the department (which included in its analysis the adjacent neighborhood of Harlem Park), the 10,000-person neighborhood, which is almost entirely black (97 percent), had a median household income of $22,277 as of 2011– 40 percent below Baltimore City’s average. One in five residents age 16 or older were out of jobs, compared with one in ten in Baltimore City. Almost one in three families were below the poverty line, half of eighth-graders were not “proficient” readers, and a quarter of ten- to 17-year-olds could expect to end up in handcuffs.
We’ve been hearing a lot about how Sandtown-Winchester needs “investment”—even as those who call for it stand not too far from one investment in this neighborhood—a CVS—that has been burned down. Investment? But, as Tuttle points out, there has been no shortage of investments designed to help Sandtown-Winchester.
Former Baltimore mayor Kurt Schmoke, who was elected in 1987, raised almost $30 million in federal, state and private funds to pour into the neighborhood. Housing units were built and others overhauled. This allowed more than two hundred houses, which were built for $83,000 each, to be sold to Sandtown residents for $37,000 apiece. Subsequently, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), made $5.2 million available to create a nearby “Homeownership Zone.”
Although the population declined and crime rate rose, more money inevitably was funneled into Sandstone:
In 2001, aid from the state and federal government accounted for a full 40 percent of Baltimore’s budget. The Abell Foundation, which targets problems in low-income communities in Baltimore City, estimates that $130 million (private and public) was pumped into Sandtown-Winchester through 2000, before the city’s money and attention were focused elsewhere under new mayor Martin O’Malley.
President Obama has called for more investment in Sandstone, an idea echoed by Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer. But is more money really what is needed?
Insanity, it is said, is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. Taxpayers have invested heavily in Baltimore, and in Sandtown-Winchester, for decades, and it has availed them little. Perhaps it is time to try something different.
Rich Lowry agrees. Sandtown-Winchester, according to Lowry, is not in trouble through neglect or lack of investment. It is rather a “Great Society failure” for which much has been done, most of it the wrong things:
Exhibit A is Baltimore itself. The city hasn’t been “neglected.” It has been misgoverned into the ground. It is a Great Society city that bought into the big-government vision of the 1960s more than most, and the bitter fruit has been corruption, violence and despair.
All you need to know about the confused ineffectuality of the city’s leadership was evident in the purposefully inadequate initial response to the mayhem, apparently on the theory that a little rioting is OK.
And why not? The left has a soft spot for rioters. As soon as the windows start breaking, it rolls outs its intellectually rancid excuse-making for the destruction of property.
As police cars burned and businesses were ransacked, progressives declared nonviolence “a ruse” (Ta-Nehisi Coates); hailed looting as “a legitimate political strategy” (Salon); and called the senseless rampage part of a series of, sententiously all-caps, “UPRISINGS” (Marc Lamont Hill).
The lesson is that when the revolution comes, you best not own or operate a small business, or especially a CVS (drugstores, apparently, are notorious enemies of the people).
CVS invested in Sandtown. Look what happened to the investment. And before you call me pro-plutocrat, think about the low-income people who will now have far more trouble filling their prescriptions.
If Republicans can’t put forward winning arguments in the wake of the Baltimore riots, they should just give up.