Monday, June 08, 2015

Urban dead end? Move South.

Michael Barone, in the conservative Washington Examiner, tells us that gun violence is up 60% in Baltimore so far this year compared to 2014, Homicides are up 180% in Milwaukee, 25% in St. Louis, 32% in Atlanta and 13% in New York.

Barone quotes Heather MacDonald of the conservative Manhattan Institute, who provided the above stats. MacDonald attributes the increase to “intense agitation against American police departments over the past nine months,” propagated by mainstream media, the Eric Holder Justice Department and the Barack Obama White House. Together, they maintained that unarmed innocent blacks are being slaughtered by racist police. "Black lives matter," they proclaimed, as if, in MacDonald’s words, most cops believed the opposite.

To MacDonald, the problem is "offices scal[ing] back on proactive policing under the onslaught of anti-cop rhetoric." Proactive "broken windows" policing --searching for guns, approaching petty criminals and catching them on possession crimes that block more serious criminal activity -- is being replaced by police non-benign neglect, even as the resulting rise in homicide victims mostly kills blacks.

Indirectly taking issue with the MacDonald/Barone hypothesis, Carl Cannon of the conservative “RealClearPolitics” website seeks to document police literally getting away with a “shoot first” culture. Cannon quotes a Washington Post study that found police shooting 385 people to death in the first five months of 2015, and details two grim cases where police unnecessarily gunned down unarmed suspects (race not specified).

Yet from Cannon’s own story, we learn that of the 385 killer cop cases nationwide, 62 involved unarmed suspects. That means 84% of those killed were armed. Additionally, of the total number of deaths, only 105, or 27%, were black, while 180 were white.

At least Cannon is honest enough to provide figures that undermine the usual “white cops killing unarmed blacks; black lives matter” meme.

Let’s say the question of police behavior -- whether damped down by anti-cop hostility to the point it’s unleashing an urban crime wave, still marked by a “shoot first” mentality, or both -- deserves further examination.

Joel Kotkin, in the liberal “Daily Beast,” is more concerned with the underlying tragedy of life -- and death -- for those forced to live in our high-crime ghettos. Kotkin says,
The most dangerous places in in the U.S. in terms of violent crime tend to be heavily black cities, led by Detroit, Oakland, Memphis, St. Louis, and Cleveland. Baltimore ranks sixth. . . the average poverty rate in the historical core municipalities in the 52 largest U.S. metro areas remains at 24.1%.
neighborhoods suffering entrenched urban poverty actually grew in the first decade of the new millennium, increasing in numbers from 1,100 to 3,100 and in population from two to four million. In other words, poverty spread but also became far more intense in cities. “This growing concentration of poverty,” note urban researchers Joe Cortright and Dillon Mahmoudi, “is the biggest problem confronting American cities.”
Kotkin is worried about “a hardening of class and racial divisions.” Inner Baltimore, for example, functions as a “dead-end, a cul-de-sac for dreams of a better future.” Kotkin finds that two in five Americans feel race relations have gotten worse since Barack Obama took office; only 15% believe things are better under our first black president.

Kotkin asks, “How do we reverse this ugly trend?” His answer:
  •  an improved economy is more important than ramping up social spending. States like New York, Massachusetts, California and Illinois spend almost twice as much on welfare payments than do North Carolina, Texas, or Florida. Yet overwhelmingly the best results for blacks are found in the former Confederacy, states not known for their generosity to the poor or interest in redress by race. 
  • Blacks go South not because they like the politics but because they seek betterment. Sunbelt cities have more broad based opportunities for middle and working class residents than do the “post-industrial economies” of California and the Northeast corridor.

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