The Lessons of Baltimore




By Gregory J. Welborn

The biggest lesson to learn from the rioting in Baltimore is the one not being taught. In fact, dosage all the usual suspects have already joined the chorus trying to teach the wrong lessons. Until we get this right, there are going to be plenty more Baltimores in our future.

President Lyndon Johnson, architect of the Great Society

President Lyndon Johnson, architect of the Great Society

The lesson that should be obvious to everyone is that Liberalism has failed the inner city, and inner-city blacks in particular. For 50 years, since Lyndon Johnson’s inauguration of The Great Society, liberal politicians have been on the ascendancy and achieved governing majorities in cities like Baltimore. We cannot ignore this fact.

The liberal model of governance has driven once-great cities like Baltimore to ruin. Liberal policies have failed the inner-city by producing high crime rates, low economic growth and failing education systems. The most important of these is the crime rate. If a city isn’t safe – if people can’t walk the streets without fear – people move away. The violent crime rate in Baltimore is three times the national average; the murder rate is more than five times higher. Predictably, the people who can afford to move to the suburbs have done so. These are the people who hold a community together. When you start to lose your middle and upper income citizens, you’ve lost what holds the place together.


Baltimore Schools

Of course, the people who can afford to leave are also influenced by the quality of the education they feel their children will receive. 70% of Baltimore’s 8th graders fall below proficiency in math. 45% are below proficiency in reading. 65% are are below proficiency in science. Does this sound like a city in which you’d want to live? Stupid question, right? But sadly it needs answering. You can’t govern a city with violent crime rates and abysmal education levels and expect to make progress, and you can’t simply ignore the question, hoping the facts will go away.

It should come as no surprise to find that Baltimore’s economy is in the toilet as well. When good people leave, when crime is rampant, and when the population is cripplingly under-educated, what businesses would choose to invest there? Again, a stupid question. The instinctive answer is supported by grim economic statistics. Baltimore’s unemployment rate is 8% against Maryland’s state-wide rate of 5%. Among inner-city blacks, it’s an order of magnitude worse; 21% of blacks are unemployed. Baltimore is a disaster of liberal proportions and policies.

Unfortunately, there are still those who trot out the shibboleth of race. All these bad things, they desperately want to say, are because the white establishment is holding down the black populace. This still makes the nightly news because it fits their predetermined world view, but it does not comport with the facts in Baltimore.

Baltimore’s population is 60% black. Its mayor is black, as was her immediate predecessor; a majority of its city council is black; its police chief is black, as was a predecessor; and 40% of the police are black. There is no way to paint this city as a bigoted construct of a racially prejudiced white establishment. But it certainly is possible – in fact it’s absolutely true – to see this city as a failure of liberal policies.

It is not the race of a city’s leaders and police that make a difference. It is the value system that is the determining factor. When violent crime is allowed to grow, when businesses are driven away by high tax rates, and when non-performing teachers and schools are retained, rather than fired, it will not matter whether the architect of that environment is black or white. Such an environment is toxic to the most vulnerable of our citizens.
Too many in Baltimore’s halls of power, and too many in positions of influence elsewhere, have gone out of their way to excuse the failures of liberal policies. Out of the guilt from knowing their policies have failed, these same people then scramble to offer excuses for the antisocial behavior of the criminals who take advantage of an environment which tolerates violence and lawlessness.

Whatever the cause of Freddie Gray’s death – and that is far from a settled certainty – the rioting served only to harm the city’s inner-city residents further. Burning local businesses, looting the stores of national retail chains, and playing to the national television audience watching in horror will not reduce violent crimes, will not fix broken schools and will not entice employers to move jobs to Baltimore. People who claim to be waging an uprising against a white system are in reality only raging against their all-too-often black neighbors.

Unless and until voters rise up at the ballot box to replace those who still advocate for more of the failed liberal policies which brought a once-great city to its knees, Baltimore will soon be forgotten, as were Detroit, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago, Oakland and Cincinnati. It is not the racial composition of leadership or of the police force that makes a difference for inner-city residents. It is the policy prescriptions of those they elect.


Gregory J. Welborn is a freelance writer and has spoken to several civic and religious organizations on cultural and moral issues. He lives in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 3 children and is active in the community. He can be reached [email protected]/

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William Hicks

A great editorial. Lots of improvements can be suggested to improve the condition of Baltimore, or a city near you. Until the policy makers are changed, don’t expect much positive change. Until the family dynamic is returned to a Mother and Father as head of the household, expect little positive change.

We are talking about generational return to the intact family. Without this return we will still have people that create a false narrative of everything including race and poverty as the cause of Many more Baltimore’s. It took generations of people being beneficiaries of “The Great Society” with “The War on Poverty” to get to where we are today. It will take generations to get back to the intact family. If we don’t start with the policy makers, just expect more of the same platitudes as excuses for the present condition of cities like Baltimore.