April 30, 2015

CITIES WERE A MISTAKE:

Baltimore, a Great Society Failure (RICH LOWRY, April 29, 2015, Politico)

The city has been shedding jobs and people for decades, including in the 1990s when the rest of the country was booming.

We don't know all the facts surrounding Freddie Gray's tragic, and highly suspicious, death. But as a general matter, it is easy to believe that the Baltimore police are corrupt, dysfunctional and unaccountable -- because most of the Baltimore government is that way. Mayors and police commissioners get convicted of crimes.

This is a failure exclusively of Democrats, unless the root causes of Baltimore's troubles are to be traced to its last Republican mayor, Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin, who left office in 1967. And it is an indictment of a failed model of government.

Baltimore is a hostile business environment and high-tax city, with malice aforethought. "Officials raised property taxes 21 times between 1950 and 1985," Steve Hanke and Stephen Walters of Johns Hopkins University write in The Wall Street Journal, "channeling the proceeds to favored voting blocs and causing many homeowners and entrepreneurs -- disproportionately Republicans -- to flee. It was brilliant politics, as Democrats now enjoy an eight-to-one voter registration advantage."

To counterbalance the taxes, they note, developers need to be lured to the city with subsidies, and the developers, in turn, contribute to politicians to stay in their good graces. This makes for fertile ground for the city's traditional corruption.

Baltimore's preferred driver of growth has been government. Urban experts Fred Siegel and Van Smith write in City Journal that Baltimore has "emphasized a state-sponsored capitalism that relies almost entirely on federal and state subsidies, rather than market investments." The model makes for some high-profile development projects, but trickle-down crony capitalism hasn't worked for everyone else.

For those left behind, Maryland has one of the most generous welfare systems in the country, according to Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute.

Baltimore has been good at sucking up federal and state subsides, and at taxing and at spending. The other functions of government? Not so much.

We all know how to fix Baltimore--move the people out.



Posted by at April 30, 2015 3:38 PM
  

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