President Obama’s principal solution to the problems of the inner city is to slather on more money and government. Because these are the things he believes will abet change, even though minority communities have been banging their heads against the wall of government solutions for 50 years and come away dizzy with impoverishment every time.
An eloquent plea for helping the poor by removing the hand of government came today on the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal – “My Baltimore Business Problem,” by Jay Steinmetz, who owns a supply-chain management company in downtown Baltimore.
His message is very simple. It amounts to, Please, no more government kindness. Let me just run my business so I can hire people and help lift this place out of poverty.
From the piece:
When the building alarm goes off, the police charge us a fee. If the graffiti isn’t removed in a certain amount of time, we are fined. This penalize-first approach is of a piece with Baltimore’s legendary tax and regulatory burden. The real cost of these ill-conceived policies is to the community where we—and other local businesses in similar positions—might be able to hire more of those Baltimoreans who have lost hope of escaping poverty and government dependency.
The bottom line is that our modest 14,000-square-foot building is hit with $50,000 in annual property taxes. And when we refinanced our building loan in 2006, Maryland and Baltimore real-estate taxes drove up the cost of this routine financial transaction by $36,000.
State and city regulations overlap in a number of areas, most notably employment and hiring practices, where litigious employees can game the system and easily find an attorney to represent them in court. Building-permit requirements, sales-tax collection procedures for our multistate clients, workers’ compensation and unemployment trust-fund hearings add to the expensive distractions that impede hiring.
Contrary to President Obama’s suggestion in a news conference following saturated television coverage of the riots, lack of urban “investment” is not the problem. The Maryland state and Baltimore city governments are leveraging funds to float a $1 billion bond issue to rebuild crumbling public schools. This is on top of the $1.2 billion in annual state aid Baltimore received in 2015, more than any other jurisdiction and eclipsing more populous suburban counties.
The simplest, most direct way to offer hope to discouraged people is to hire them. The Baltimore business community has a simple message to law enforcement and elected officials: “Help us help you.” People making good wages, working at jobs they are proud of don’t destroy themselves or the place where they live.
Many liberals, including President Obama, in their hearts dislike conservatives and believe the right is merely conniving to help the rich and oppress the proletariat. Obama, ostensibly the president of all of us, actually says things like this. But most conservative leaders that I listen to believe truly that in the notion that the gifts Obama bestows are destroying the poor.
It occurs to me how much this mimics good and bad parenting. So many parents give in to their kids and shower them with electronics, garbage excitingly repackaged as food, and other bright and shiny objects that make children happy in the short run but ultimately do great harm.
Oh how much harder to make the kids read a book or drag them to a museum on the weekend. Even, these days, just to make them play outside with their friends instead of firing up an Xbox.
Do this and your kids will think you’re a troll blocking their bridge to happiness. But incurring the their anger and the inconvenience of not just leaving them to the supervision of their iPad is a greater love.
And no, I’m not comparing the poor to children. It’s a analogy meant only to illustrate to bad consequences of good intentions incorrectly applied.
One day maybe liberals will recognize that they don’t have a monopoly on compassion. If the country is to be saved, hopefully those in disadvantaged communities, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic, will recognize it first.