Same old social programs won't fix Baltimore's murder rate
Feb 10, 2017 | 3:12 PM
Mayor Catherine Pugh says that her administration is searching for answers to the city's surge in crime. (WJZ)
Regarding The Sun's "Alternative fact of the week" (Feb. 10) about Baltimore's alarming murder rate, like most liberal commentaries on the subject, it cites as the "real causal factors" for our city's war zone environments the "high concentration of poverty, its drug addiction epidemic, our poor performing schools, stark divisions by race and income, the lack of entry-level jobs, and loss of trust in the police department tarnished by the Freddie Gray case." In other words, the same old attribution to external factors that can only be solved by external government aid and programs, which have been funded again and again for over 60 years with little or no progress made.
While the liberal intent is likely altruistic and well-meaning, it is based on flawed circular reasoning and completely avoids any attribution of personal responsibility. It assumes that our disadvantaged neighborhoods are neither capable nor willing to do anything to help themselves, portraying them as mere "victims" to be rescued. This mantra of causality is akin to the recent "fake news" claims, and elsewhere referenced in the editorial page as propaganda similar to Joseph Goebbels oft-cited quote "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." If you live in poverty, you will become either drug-addicted or will become involved in drug dealing criminal activities. If you live in poverty, your children will not do well in schools, which will de facto prove the schools are sub-standard, etc. The reference to the police department being tarnished by the Freddie Gray case is entirely in line with the propaganda tone — the factual result was that the city government, specifically the states attorney, was tarnished. The police department was exonerated. The result, however, has been a primary contributor to the rising homicide rate — a diminution in proactive policing which has long proven to be a key deterrent to entrenched criminal activities that prompt high homicide rates.
Arguments have been made that government programs aimed at diminishing poverty and improving the lot of the poor have in fact done nothing more than maintain a culture of dependence on outside, external, government support, denying those populations any incentive to develop the sense of personal responsibility and motivation for self-improvement. Despite the long-standing failure of this arrangement, no alternatives are ever offered beyond "we need new programs." There is a point at which harsh reality must be acknowledged. It is not working.
To counteract our city's entrenched criminal culture and homicide epidemic takes strong policing. Any arguments for a "kinder and gentler" police department only provide a strong incentive for expansion of criminal activities. When a rogue or racist cop is caught in the act, they should suffer sure and swift consequences. But to presume that the entire department should be chastised and rule-bound is both illogical and counterproductive, and it puts the decent families in our poverty areas at increased risk, as shown by the alarming numbers of innocent bystander shootings we've seen over the past year.
I admire and support Mayor Catherine Pugh's dedication to eradicating or diminishing our alarming murder rates. If successful, it benefits all of us, not just those living in our impoverished neighborhoods. But let those discussing their plan not assume that doing the same thing we've tried for decades will produce different results.