Baltimore Calling

Following a tired old script, the politicians from both sides argue to score political points while people suffer.

The recent weeks have brought on a host of pronouncements, soundbites, accusations, counter-accusations, and canned talking points about how “horrible” Baltimore is to live in. Always missing, in every case, is any coherent and honest analysis of why the current conditions exist. Equally missing are any thoughtful ideas that could improve conditions in Baltimore, other suffering inner-cities, and struggling rural areas for that matter.

By taking sides, the press continues their disingenuous pretend game of looking out for “democracy” and those that are nowhere close to living the “American Dream.” The end result of their actions is letting politicians off the hook for their indifference, mismanagement, corruption, and both subtle and blatant racism.

Politicians point fingers at each other’s comments as evidence that what they themselves said about the inner cities was OK. In Baltimore’s case, many look to the much lauded HBO show, The Wire, to see what Baltimore is like. The show is a carefully crafted, well written series with nuanced characters throughout. Its creator, David Simon, blasted Trump’s tweets about the city.

Our “leaders” cannot grasp any concept that eludes being boiled down to simple sound bites or social media posts. Racism and failed policies have played, and continue to play, roles in Baltimore and other major cities for sure, but the problems are more complex than that. These cities all had decent paying blue-collar industrial jobs at one time, many in the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore or at Baltimore’s Domino Sugar plant for example.

A deeper problem is that cities have life cycles that always end in the over-development of the real estate market, and the disintegration, bankruptcy, and exodus of companies that provided the skilled labor employment. What is left at the end of a city’s life cycle is a housing market that only the well-off can afford, an imbalance of white collar vs blue collar employment, decaying infrastructure, and inner city families that lose hope and fracture because any realistic opportunities to make a living and better their existence evaporate before their eyes.

It’s as if those who wield the true economic power in this country view cities as a disposable means to increase wealth. The powerful money brokers and developers can help create, expand, and use the development of cities for gain, and then pull out for greener pastures when the profits have been squeezed for all they are worth.

What is left behind is decay and despair in many cases. Left behind are people that want concrete opportunities for employment and a better life, not endless broken promises that they become numb to after many years, and not imbecilic tweets from the “Developer in Chief.”

I think people in these areas, both urban and rural, must feel weary and frustrated at being the forgotten women and men, only to be talked about whenever their mention may be useful during an election cycle. They deserve much better from both sides.

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