In response to a question about the violence in Baltimore posed during a joint White House press conference alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Obama delivered a perfectly anodyne and unremarkable 15 minute lecture about the lamentable state of affairs in America’s cities. There wasn’t much to object to in his response; it was a platitude-laden sermon about the school-to-prison pipeline, criminal justice reform, and excessive drug sentencing. Many leading Republicans would agree with the president’s assessment of the social ills that plague urban centers. Don’t believe me? Check The New York Times.
But the president conceded that he has no real plan to address the chronic hopelessness that bedevils cities like Baltimore when he claimed that what this moment truly called for is more infrastructure spending. And he would get it, too, if it weren’t for those darn Republicans.
If we are serious about solving this problem, then we’re going to not only have to help the police, we’re going to have to think about what can we do, the rest of us, to make sure that we’re providing early education to these kids. To make sure that we’re reforming our criminal justice system so it’s not just a pipeline from schools to prisons. So that we’re not rendering men in these communities unemployable because of a felony record for a nonviolent drug offense. That we’re making investments so they can get the training they need to find jobs.
That’s hard. That requires more than just the occasional news report or task force, and there’s a bunch of my agenda that would make a difference right now in that. I’m under no illusion that under this Congress we’re going to get massive investments in urban communities. And so we’ll try to find areas where we can make a difference around school reform, and around job training, and around some investments in infrastructure in these communities trying to attract new businesses in.
That might have made the president’s dispirited liberal base voters, many of whom reside in these hopeless urban environments, feel better, but this is about as naked an admission of powerlessness as you could get. And the president is correct to concede his impotence. The federal government has squandered much of its credibility among urban minorities.
“Inevitability, there are now calls for President Obama to intervene and calm nerves in Baltimore,” The Atlantic’s David Graham observed on Tuesday. “But what would it mean for the federal government to get involved? Does it mean Obama coming to town and delivering a speech, as he has after so many national tragedies? Such a step might offer a quick salve, but it wouldn’t do much to address the underlying causes of anger.”
There is a fatally flawed assumption at the heart of modern liberalism. That assumption is that you can solve any problem with more government. No matter what the problem is, the answer is always “more government.” Unfortunately, this is often not only the wrong answer, but it is frequently the worst answer.
Remember Obama’s “You didn’t build that” line? Well, government didn’t build it either. The only major US city that was build by government is Washington D.C. The rest were built by private enterprise. You can make the argument that government is what is destroying many of our cities, like Detroit and Baltimore. Government certainly isn’t helping.
Founded in 1729, Baltimore is the second largest seaport in the Mid-Atlantic United States and is situated closer to Midwestern markets than any other major seaport on the East Coast. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor was once the second leading port of entry for immigrants to the United States and a major manufacturing center. After a decline in major manufacturing, industrialization and rail transportation, Baltimore shifted to a service-oriented economy, with the Johns Hopkins Hospital (founded 1889), and Johns Hopkins University (founded 1876), now serving as the city’s top two employers.
The population of Baltimore has been declining since 1950. Not surprising when you consider the high cost of living, the high crime rate, the high rate of unemployment, and the low wages. If you were trying to build a major industrial plant in Baltimore you would have to deal with high costs, lots of regulations and strong local unions. Or you could build your plant in a more user-friendly place like Texas.
So what would more government do for Baltimore? It would subsidize poor people to stay in Baltimore, where there would still be no jobs. That would require massive infusions of tax dollars. It could try subsiding businesses to move to Baltimore with all kinds of tax breaks, which sounds nice in theory but usually ends up like Solyndra in reality.
Imagine trying to build a new house without tearing down the old house first. That is what liberal blue-model urban policies have been doing for the past 50 years. We keep paying poor people to stay where they are and keep being poor instead of incentivizing them to go somewhere else and get jobs and quit being poor. Imagine if Mexico started giving their poor people welfare benefits equal to what they could earn here working in the fields. How many Mexican immigrants would still keep coming here?
Liberals even oppose “gentrification” of urban areas because it forces out poor people, thus guaranteeing the problems will never go away.
The liberal blue model of governance violates the first rule of holes. If you don’t believe me, just look at Detroit.