What’s the matter with Baltimore?

The National Guard on patrol -- not in Baghdad, but in Baltimore. (AP Photo / David Goldman)

The National Guard tries to restore order — not in Baghdad, but in Baltimore. (AP Photo / David Goldman)

If our friends on the left are going to look at what’s going on after tax reform in Kansas and declare it proof positive of the utter failure of Republican economics writ large, surely the news of recent weeks makes it worth considering which party has been running Baltimore’s police, Detroit’s economy and — ahem — Atlanta’s schools.

At National Review, Kevin Williamson does just that:

“St. Louis has not had a Republican mayor since the 1940s, and in its most recent elections for the board of aldermen there was no Republican in the majority of the contests; the city is overwhelmingly Democratic, effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department. Baltimore has seen two Republicans sit in the mayor’s office since the 1920s — and none since the 1960s. Like St. Louis, it is effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department. Philadelphia has not elected a Republican mayor since 1948. The last Republican to be elected mayor of Detroit was congratulated on his victory by President Eisenhower. Atlanta, a city so corrupt that its public schools are organized as a criminal conspiracy against its children, last had a Republican mayor in the 19th century. Its municipal elections are officially nonpartisan, but the last Republican to run in Atlanta’s 13th congressional district did not manage to secure even 30 percent of the vote; Atlanta is effectively a single-party political monopoly from its schools to its police department.

“American cities are by and large Democratic-party monopolies, monopolies generally dominated by the so-called progressive wing of the party. The results have been catastrophic, and not only in poor black cities such as Baltimore and Detroit. Money can paper over some of the defects of progressivism in rich, white cities such as Portland and San Francisco, but those are pretty awful places to be non-white and non-rich, too: Blacks make up barely 9 percent of the population in San Francisco, but they represent 40 percent of those arrested for murder, and they are arrested for drug offenses at ten times their share of the population. Criminals make their own choices, sure, but you want to take a look at the racial disparity in educational outcomes and tell me that those low-income nine-year-olds in Wisconsin just need to buck up and bootstrap it?

“Black urban communities face institutional failure across the board every day. There are people who should be made to answer for that: What has Martin O’Malley to say for himself? What can Ed Rendell say for himself other than that he secured a great deal of investment for the richest square mile in Philadelphia? What has Nancy Pelosi done about the radical racial divide in San Francisco?”

Read the whole thing, but don’t stop there. For all the hand-wringing about income inequality in cities such as Baltimore and Atlanta, it is highly relevant to consider that the party making the biggest fuss about the issue is the one that has dominated politics in these cities for decades.

I’m reminded of a piece in The Atlantic last fall in which Derek Thompson reviewed research about the nation’s 100 largest metro areas by Jed Kolko, the chief economist for Trulia.com. Kolko found inequality tends to be worse, and housing less affordable, in metro areas where Barack Obama’s 2012 margin over Mitt Romney was at least 20 percentage points. The reverse was true — that is, income was more equal and housing more affordable — in areas that went for Romney.

Wrote Thompson:

“Kolko’s theory isn’t an outlier. There is a deep literature tying liberal residents to illiberal housing policies that create affordability crunches for the middle class. In 2010, UCLA economist Matthew Kahn published a study of California cities, which found that liberal metros issued fewer new housing permits. The correlation held over time: As California cities became more liberal, he said, they built fewer homes.

“‘All homeowners have an incentive to stop new housing,’ Kahn told me, ‘because if developers build too many homes, prices fall, and housing is many families’ main asset. But in cities with many Democrats and Green Party members, environmental concerns might also be a factor. The movement might be too eager to preserve the past.’ …

“I asked Kahn if he had a pet theory for why liberals, who tend to be vocal about income inequality, would be more averse to new housing development, which would help lower-income families. He suggested that it could be the result of good intentions gone bad.

“‘Developers pursue their own self-interest,’ Kahn said. ‘If a developer has an acre, and he thinks it should be a shopping mall, he won’t think about neighborhood charm, or historic continuity. Liberals might say that the developer acting in his own self-interest ignores certain externalities, and they’ll apply restrictions. But these restrictions [e.g. historic preservation, environmental preservation, and height ceilings] add up, across a city, even if they’re well-intentioned. The affordability issue will rear its head.'”

My emphasis there at the end. You have probably heard of the magic of compound interest for money and investments. In cities across America, we are seeing the compounding effect of left-wing governance going unchallenged over a span of decades, culminating in the deep-seated problems that now spark protests and riots.

The irony is that the rioters in Baltimore and elsewhere aren’t marching on city halls or setting fire to public offices to show their anger (though they have, in many cases, set fire to police vehicles). Instead, they’re attacking the very private businesses and property that left-wing governance has choked to the point of being unable to offer an alternative model for opportunity and prosperity.

As long as the targets of the rioters’ anger make it obvious they’re intent on carrying out “not a revolt, but a crime spree,” as Williamson aptly puts it, it’s clear they have no interest in identifying the source of the systemic oppression they talk about. This also gives the lie to radical calls to eschew non-violence, or to view appeals to non-violence as a “ruse,” on the premise that the real source of violence and aggression lies within unreformed public services — when these services are of course run by public officials who generally occupy the same space on the political spectrum as the writers.

All of which makes it sadly likely we will see more explosions like the one in Baltimore, not fewer.

Reader Comments 0

94 comments
BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

My observation about the City of Atlanta, having been in or near to it for the lest 50 years:

Ivan Allen, Jr. was the last of the good mayors. Under the good mayors, City government was corrupt but fairly efficient, and it worked pretty well. Under all of Allen's successors, City government has become monumentally corrupt and monumentally inefficient, and nothing works well.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Here is what is wrong with Baltimore, expressed by black poet Langston Hughes, 65 years ago.



"What happens to a dream deferred?


Does it dry up 


like a raisin in the sun?


Or fester like a sore-- 


And then run? 


Does it stink like rotten meat? 


Or crust and sugar over-- 


like a syrupy sweet?


Maybe it just sags


like a heavy load.


Or does it explode?

jezel
jezel

What is the problem in Baltimore ? The same problem prevalent in most of America... low paying jobs, corruption at the highest levels, bigotry and racism, a judicial system that is set up to ignore justice when convenient and special interest groups that set and control the political,social and economic agenda.

JKLtwo
JKLtwo

Where's those neat OWS people when you need them.  Now those people know how to wreck a city.

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

"..rioters in Baltimore and elsewhere aren’t marching on city halls or setting fire to public offices..."

That's because they usually can't get close to those places. Think back to Ferguson, MO the night of the grand jury decision and recall where the cops were. They weren't in the 'hood, they were protecting their police station.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Hahaha Kyle - You too funny with the "All Powerful Mayor" problem. I guess the mayor should increase the minimum wage to $15.00, halt outsourcing of jobs, raise the EITC, increase capital gains, and use drug treatment instead of incarceration.  I'm scratchin' my head about why he has not used his mighty mayoral powers to enact these changes.

332-206
332-206

Kyle jumps the shark.

TomGaff
TomGaff

I thought it was pretty amusing when Hillary Clinton(the elderly 68 yr old female liberal) said she wants to put body cameras on all police officers. Perhaps she should put one on her hubby, Bill Clinton also, which would be justified if he were to become the First Dude! I did see her Democratic base running in and out of the CVS, check-cashing store, liquor store, etc in the City of Baltimore last nite on tv. Wonder how many are on govt assistance? Good tax-paying citizens, is this what you really want in the WH and making decisions for this country? JFMcNamara , I know you do?

Point
Point

Atlanta Schools are run by democrats?

Claver
Claver

"If our friends on the left are going to look at what’s going on after tax reform in Kansas and declare it proof positive of the utter failure of Republican economics writ large, surely the news of recent weeks makes it worth considering which party has been running Baltimore’s police, Detroit’s economy and — ahem — Atlanta’s schools."

One difference is that Kansas was billed by Republicans themselves as a test case for a Republican economic theory.  Some discrete policy changes were made and we are getting about as close to a controlled experiment in economics as you can get in the real world.  In the case of the cities, you don't have a controlled experiment of a specific theory and with discrete policy changes.  That makes it a lot more difficult to determine causation.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@Claver

Another difference is that Kansas' test case is in its infancy and may yet prove successful, whereas the Great Society is going on fifty years, has spent over $20 trillion of tax payer money (a sum greater than our national debt) and hasn't reduced poverty one iota.

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@Claver 

Oy veh! 

"billed by Republicans"....  OK, so democrats never "bill" things, true enough.  They don't need to because the media is picking up, revising and doing their dissembling for them. 

If the recent behavior of our big cities, which have been dominated by incompetent democrats throughout our lifetimes can be discounted as not a "controlled" experiment, I might agree with you.  It is long past that and has been realized as mismanagement and ineptitude of epic proportions born out from bad policies conceived from perfidious ideas--poisonous and un-Christian ideas which have resulted in riots, violence and destruction. 

Obama says on one hand that he understands these people, while on the other he calls them "thugs" and "criminals." 

Anyone else see that the naivete and boorishness of our President is just as apparent in dealing with disgruntled Americans as it is with Iranians? 

lvg
lvg

Strange that no one has commented on the President choosing to make fun of "repressed Black anger" at the press dinner last Saturday and the need for an anger coach while Baltimore was erupting. I guess the Baltimore Orioles are playing with no spectators and a huge $$$ loss due to repressed Black anger and lack of sufficient anger coaches.

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

@lvg  The Orioles are cowards,  they let the bad guys beat them.

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@lvg 

Bamster has quite the foot-and-mouth disease lately.  Didn't he bring up the inflate-gate story when the Patriots came to visit??

Maybe he finally caught it from Biden--or maybe he really thinks there are 57 states. 

n8diggidy
n8diggidy

Liberal policies, well intentioned as they are, most always create barriers to entry.  Which in turn reduce competition, opportunity and increase prices.

WilJohnson
WilJohnson

This entirely misses the point. Ferguson, Detroit, Baltimore and Atlanta are not about governance but about ownership or more specifically the lack of ownership by blacks in these inner-city blighted communities. 


It's tough to govern poverty. As yourself who owns these fractured neighborhoods in Baltimore. Who owns the real estate in downtown Detroit or Atlanta's poorest neighborhoods. Who  were the landlords and property owners in Ferguson?


Hint: it's not the people protesting or rioting.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

rich, white cities such as Portland 

That didn't sound right, so I looked it up:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland,_Oregon

The median income for a household in the city is $40,146, and the median income for a family is $50,271. Males have a reported median income of $35,279 versus $29,344 reported for females.

I'm pretty sure most wouldn't call that "rich."

MarkVV
MarkVV

To believe that the elected city officials can easily deal with police brutality is an illusion. We have seen the example in New York with the police turning their backs to the mayor.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany


As Baltimore burns, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is turning the flip-flop into a high art form, to the point where she is now apologizing to the rioters for calling them “thugs.”

She stated early Monday that police were instructed to allow “those who wished to destroy space to do that.” By Monday evening, facing heavy criticism from residents and business owners, she walked back from those comments.

As the city was in flames Monday night, Rawlings-Blake spoke freely on CNN about “thugs” and “criminals” who were destroying what so many had worked so hard to build, even as Marxist professor Marc Lamont Hill said the rioters were just expressing “righteous rage” and should not be called thugs. Hill added that the situation in Baltimore was “not a riot” but “uprisings” in response to blacks “dying in the streets for months, years, decades, centuries.”

By Tuesday, the mayor again walked back from her previous comments.

“I wanted to say something that was on my heart … We don’t have thugs in Baltimore. Sometimes my little anger interpreter gets the best of me,” she said, pointing to her head. “We have a lot of kids that are acting out, a lot of people in our community that are acting out.”


Incompetent and spineless.  That's a dangerous combination.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

"the irony is that the rioters in Baltimore  and elsewhere aren’t marching on city halls . . .  ". . . is that you are using this to lump "rioters" with "protestors"


http://www.kbzk.com/story/28875514/baltimore-protests-5-questions-demonstrators-are-asking

"Protesters rallied at Baltimore City Hall on Thursday,"

"Long before they took to the streets to demonstrate over Gray's death, some of them had already been at city hall, voicing their concerns over other cases."


There were a vast greater number of protesters than rioters, but you do not mention them.  You only mention the rioters. 


When an opposition party needs to misdirect anger at another party by focusing on "rioters" they miss the more important protests that resulted from the government action in the first place.   I'm surprised Kyle fell into this trap and thought better of him to use such a tactic. 



Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@LogicalDude First, the rally at City Hall that you mention appears to have taken place after I wrote this post.

Second, I have no doubt that some number of people went to City Hall before today -- and that this was a smaller number of people than we have seen in the streets in recent days.

Third, I used the word "rioters," where I used it, advisedly. It is meant in reference to a discrete group of people who are reacting to the police actions in their city. The point is, if they are so angry about the police, why are they taking it out mostly on non-police? And, lest you forget, the writers I mentioned at the end of the post were attempting to justify the actions of "the rioters," not "the protesters."

In any case, the broad point of the post concerns the presence of these problems -- police brutality in Baltimore, etc. -- which affect groups of people, and these people's disproportionate propensity to keep voting for like-minded (meaning, like their predecessors in office) officials.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@Kyle_Wingfield @LogicalDude

The article was from last week.  April 23. BEFORE the rioting occurred.  Sorry if that wasn't evident in my post. 


"the writers I mentioned at the end of the post were attempting to justify the actions of "the rioters," not "the protesters.""

Thanks, that was not clear in the article.  If you mentioned a different group "protesters" then it may have been more clear that the groups weren't being lumped together. (true for the articles you cite as well, if they didn't specify.) 


"keep voting for like-minded (meaning, like their predecessors in office) officials."

I can agree with certain degrees of that statement, however, police are not elected officials.   What solutions should be in place to ensure more equity in having differing candidates up for positions? Less gerrymandering? 

Less money in government? 

Less corruption or cronyism? 


Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Kyle_Wingfield @LogicalDude

if they are so angry about the police, why are they taking it out mostly on non-police?

You mean why are people who have become so enraged that they begin behaving violently, do so in a logical fashion?

To ask that question is to answer it. And there've been the-day-after interviews with participants that I've heard, where they realize that all they've done is hurt themselves with the local vandalism.

lvg
lvg

Kyle- Agreed the Mayor of Baltimore is a Moron saying "giving the protesters space to destroy" and then did just that refusing to call upon the Governor for assistance while looting had been going  on for hours.

Bigger issue is Hillary's call to relax criminal reforms that were part of her husband's 1994 Criminal Reform Act.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

Surely, any party with monopolistic powers will be the same.  


It's hard to take the article seriously when it plays into such partisan hands. As if "just vote in a Republican and life will be just fine" is the answer. 


"What's the matter with Baltimore" can be best described by the brutality of the police there.  There were civil protests in Baltimore before the riots broke out.  Look to fix the police issue by a top to bottom refresh of how to handle situations without violence, along with heavy penalties (starting with dismissal, ending with jail time) for any policeman that violates what actions a policeman should do. 

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@LogicalDude  But . . . with single party Democratic rule for decades please explain WHY the local police are so "brutal"? How could this even be possible?

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@DawgDadII @LogicalDude I hope the investigation by the Department of Justice can answer that.  

My guess is that bad behavior is either congratulated or unpunished.  If punished, consequences are not severe enough to deter the bad behavior. 

You brutally hit someone who was already under control?  You are fired as a minimum punishment. Charges to be filed and jail time may be appropriate as well.  Do you think a few brutal officers getting jailed will stop a lot more police brutality?  I think so. 

Jefferson1776
Jefferson1776

The bad folks were not the peaceful protesters,  they were the bad folks that burned and stole and should be held accountable.

Yes_Jesus_Can
Yes_Jesus_Can

@Jefferson1776 

--"bad folks," huh?  You know the President of the United States, the most powerful and inflential man in the country, Barack Hussein Obama used the words, "criminal" and "thugs" to describe them, don't you? 

Mustang100
Mustang100

To JF:  Police brutality is driven by a desire of not being murdered by career thugs. Like Gray.

TGT88
TGT88

Nice piece Kyle. I saw Williamson's piece yesterday, but if I saw The Atlantic piece last year, I had forgotten about it. There is has been much out the last couple of days on Baltimore that makes similar points to Williamson. It can't be said enough as far as I'm concerned!

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

These incidents are driven by events of police brutality. There are a lot of things wrong in the world, but this isn't about that. Its about agents of the state (police) systematically harassing and abusing black people.

As long as I can remember black people have complained about this. Driving while black, arrests for petty crimes, increased policing of black neighborhoods to increase taxes, police brutality, disparities in drug arrests even though there is no disparity in use.

The Republican response is to blame the blacks. Black on Black crime or blame the Democrats or whatever, but the real truth is that white people (Democrat or Republican) think less of black people and want them treated like crap.

Black people are asking that the people we hire and pay to protect us stop harassing and killing us. They are supposed to protect and serve ALL of us. In reality they protect and serve white people and harass and beat black people.

That's all you need to make of it, because that is all there is. Anything else is a deflection to get people off topic and push what is happening under the rug.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator


@JFMcNamara Yes, in Baltimore's case it is about police brutality. (The Detroit and Atlanta examples are different.) But who runs the police? Who runs the city? The same people who are consistently voted into office by the people who are victims of police brutality. That's the broader point of this post.

TomGaff
TomGaff

@JFMcNamara Blacks are committing the vast majority of the crimes and the citizens(black & white) are calling the police to report crimes and protect them from these criminals/predators of society. When the police locate them, they either run or fight in order to escape jail. They do not raise their hands up in the air(like in the movies) and just give up. They do not want to go to jail and will do any thing to escape that, including killing or injuring the officer or citizen victims! I know this first hand from working in law enforcement in the City of Atlanta and Dekalb County for over 30 years. I thank God every day I survived and now happily retired. Every thing else you read on these blogs from liberals is simply BS!!!

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@Kyle_Wingfield @JFMcNamara , my point is that doesn't matter.  You wrote an article and didn't even mention the root cause.  They broke Freddie Grays back and killed him.  That's why people are out there.  It's not anything else. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@JFMcNamara As I mentioned earlier, I referred to "Baltimore police" as shorthand for that. I could have been more explicit but didn't think that was necessary.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@TomGaff @JFMcNamara , this is simply not true.


Whites commit 84% of violent crimes on other whites. Blacks commit 93% of violent crimes against blacks. 


http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded-homicide/expanded_homicide_data_table_6_murder_race_and_sex_of_vicitm_by_race_and_sex_of_offender_2013.xls#disablemobile


Whites commit more murders than black people in any year.  


As for petty crimes and drug offenses police are much harsher on African Americans.  You are proof of that.  You are a former policeman and clearly biased from your comment.   I'm glad you are retired too.  You were clearly treating people differently.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@JFMcNamara Baltimore proves that the narrative is this case is false.  The narrative of white policeman abusing black offenders.  Baltimore is 60% black, black mayor, black police chief, and probably a majority black police force.  60% of Baltimorians are black, they commit 90% of the crimes.  The problem is crime in the black community results in heavy policing in their neighborhoods and more interactions with police, which increases the odds of something bad happening during the arrest procedures.

TomGaff
TomGaff

@JFMcNamara @TomGaff Yes, and does not the country of over 300 million people have a 14 -15 % black folks? Still say they do not commit a majority of all crimes, just watch tv any evening in any big city? Sir, you are lying to the people!

TomGaff
TomGaff

Let's be completely honest here. It seemed like the Mayor and city leaders cared more about the safety of the demonstrators(some of whom turned to looting, arson and attempting to assault the officers) than she did about protecting the businesses in her city? Why would any business want to locate now in the City of Baltimore? I would not rebuild, I would take my insurance money for the destruction and move on!! They will probably be the next black run City to declare bankruptcy and ask for federal(tax-payers) money to survive. There are so many lies being told by the media, first they said the young man was thrown into the paddy wagon after arrest, I saw  tv footage where the officers placed him in the paddy wagon very normally ,not roughly! They do not want to mention this young man(25 yrs of age) was arrested about 20 times, mostly for drugs. Guess where he was at? In a known drug area! I will want until all the evidence is in and not side with the criminal just because he is black!

straker
straker

Black leaders and Democratic politicians have been beating the drums in the march towards more and more civil rights since the 60's. 


When it comes to civil responsibilities, however, the only sound you hear is thundering silence.


The results of this have been and are there for all to see.


Only in America.

MANGLER
MANGLER

So, you're saying that cities are more expansive than suburbs.  This is a liberal failure?  I always thought that was supply and demand.