Scratching By: How Government Creates Poverty as We Know It by Charles Johnson
"...The fault for despairing, dilapidated urban ghettoes lies not in the pressures of the market, nor in the character flaws of individual poor people, nor in the characteristics of ghetto subcultures. The fault lies in the state and its persistent interference with poor people’s own efforts to get by through independent work, clever hustling, scratching together resources, and voluntary mutual aid..."Below are two pictures. The first is the Stanley Holmes housing projects in Atlantic City, New Jersey. They are overrun by gangs and drug dealers, and are "free," as long as you don't earn too much income. There are murders regularly in the "villages," with very few arrests, and even less convictions. The name on the "lease" for these residences is often not the person actually living there, and numerous felons and gang members are 'transient', moving from apartment to apartment to avoid law enforcement, and any responsibility. There are few (if any) marriages, yet on any given night, at 1:00 am, young mothers can be seen with multiple babies, pushing strollers around - not worried about getting up in the morning, because there is no job to go to.
"...Lots are held out of use, often for years at a time, while they await government public-works projects or developers willing to buy up the land for large-scale building..."
[Monopoly fans will recognize Mediterranean and Kentucky Avenues. Illinois Ave was replaced by MLK Blvd - so if you're from out of town - you know where to get your drugs...]
The second picture is within walking distance to the east [note Vermont and Oriental Avenues]. There are empty lots, unaffordable for most of the citizens, unused, and an eyesore. The Boardwalk, the beach - unused.
The buildings in the pictures sit in the shadows of the giant casinos. Last year, Hurricane Irene shut down the casinos for three days. They estimated over $30,000,000 in lost revenue over those three summer days.
The Casinos make money. The government keeps the poor away from it. That is cronie capitalism.
The government gives free housing, free health care, free food, and free job training...but no freedom. The drug dealers call their area of control "the trap." They don't know how accurate they are. We are 2+ generations (closer to 4 in the inner cities) into the War on the Poor, and there are no peace talks scheduled.
Johnson's libertarian ideas expressed in the article above concerning drug trafficking, prostitution, and gambling, are disturbing...until you acknowledge the reality in Atlantic City. His section on cabs - is spot on. Cabs are a huge business in Atlantic City, and like all other cities - they are mostly driven by poor immigrants. Poor immigrants who can't elevate their status through hard work, because to buy permission from the city to own a taxi cab in Atlantic City costs...$200,000.
The left owns this problem, they bought it with their Progressive movement, their New Deal, and their Great Society. There is no "fixing" of this system. It must be dismantled.
"...American state corporatism forcibly reshapes the world of work and business on the model of a commercial strip mall: sanitized, centralized, regimented, officious, and dominated by a few powerful proprietors and their short list of favored partners, to whom everyone else relates as either an employee or a consumer. A truly free market, without the pervasive control of state licensure requirements, regulation, inspections, paperwork, taxes, “fees,” and the rest, has much more to do with the traditional image of a bazaar: messy, decentralized, diverse, informal, flexible, pervaded by haggling, and kept together by the spontaneous order of countless small-time independent operators, who quickly and easily shift between the roles of customer, merchant, contract laborer, and more. It is precisely because we have the strip mall rather than the bazaar that people living in poverty find themselves so often confined to ghettoes, caught in precarious situations, and dependent on others—either on the bum or caught in jobs they hate but cannot leave, while barely keeping a barely tolerable roof over their heads."