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A Cry for Help From Baltimore

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.

Obama handout

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.

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21 Responses to A Cry for Help From Baltimore

      • Answer to your question AVet, corruption!
        Quick example. 2 weeks ago it was revealed that the current head of Chicago Public Schools was a former employee of a company that was awarded 20 million dollar NO-BID contract to educate teachers on how to be Principals.
        Chicago’s current “for the children” scandal.

  1. My folks didn’t have much money.
    When I was growing up, I never got an allowance.
    When I was old enough and Dad trusted me with the mower, I mowed yards in the neighborhood to make money.
    I don’t see kids doing that today.
    Hell, they won’t even mow their own yard.

  2. My parents were poor. My mother made dresses from flour sacks and sold eggs so she could buy sugar and flour. My father worked every day – no matter the weather – building houses from the ground up.
    They rose early every morning and worked all day long.
    They planted a huge garden and my dear mother stood over the kitchen stove – after a full workday – canning the vegetables from that garden.
    I still remember seeing the sweat running down her face from the heat of the stove in our small kitchen.
    My parents weren’t perfect – but they set an example for their children – and encouraged us to “be better.”
    They made the best of the hand they were dealt and taught us to respect our elders, be honest, work hard and get an education.
    How my respect and admiration and appreciation for them has multiplied! I could not have asked for better role models.
    My life is probably 3/4 over now. It was not all I dreamed but it has been a good life – not because the government helped me but because I earned my life. I am proud of that.
    And if I could do it – everyone else can, too. My mother said so – and she was oh-so-always right.
    The government needs to butt out of the individual personal lives of the citizenry. Let the schools teach students how to learn the three Rs. Let the churches and synagogues teach how to be productive, supportive, ethical, moral and successful human beings. Let us be responsible for ourselves – so that our beginnings do not have to result in our endings.
    And – as always, I pray – may God in His Mercy, bless the United States of America.

    • Thanks, Aileen, to remind all of us what it is all about! My parents were married during the depression and Mom says they left for Tulsa OK with $10 and a promise of a job there. They made it, however, not with riches but a job and a rent house and they were grateful for what they had! No one gave them anything; they earned what they had and were grateful for it; learned a lot from them, so it is hard for me to understand this feeling that the government “owes” me attitude. When did we fall to these depths of despair?

    • That is what made America great Aileen, hard work and a dedication to strive to be better.

      Thank you for your story.
      Proud to know you. :)

  3. Many years ago, Nancy Pelosi’s father was mayor of Baltimore. I wonder if this has anything to do with the obscene amount of $$$ they are receiving from taxpayers.

    Baltimore is the third largest recipient of govt funding for education. WHAT A WASTE!

    The population of Baltimore is small – 6M. Where in hell’s bells is that money (1/5B) going??? Never mind.

    Just heard Krauthammer talking about the Republican led Welfare Reform Act which decreased poverty over a six yr period from 41% to 30%. Unprecedented.

    The IRS should audit every single Black legislator in every town where poverty and illiteracy continues to grow in spite of govt. largesse. Fat cats – all!

  4. Drudge has an article this morning that 20.7% of jobs in Baltimore are government jobs; whereas, just 6.5% are in manufacturing.

  5. 70 years ago this week Allied Armies put the final nail in Hitler’s evil.
    Many in those armies were 18 and 19 year old kids that grew up in the Depression only to be shipped off to war.
    Now we can’t even get 18 year olds to graduate high school.
    You want hard? You want “disadvantaged”? Read your history.
    There have always been obstacles, there have always been disadvantaged, yet never before in the annals of human endeavor have there been more conveniences and more opportunities for anyone willing to work for them than right now, right today, in yes, this good ol U S of A.

  6. […] A cry for help from Baltimore . . . An eloquent plea for helping the poor by removing the hand of government was made in the WSJ 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. White House Dossier […]