The death of another black man at the hands of the police, this time Freddie Gray of Baltimore, has again set off a national debate about poverty, inequality and racial injustice.
The Washington Post journalist Marc Thiessen wrote about this several days ago in, “The Baltimore Democrats Built,” saying that:
- Although 63% of Baltimore residents are black, so are 40% of police officers.
- City officials injected $130 million into the Sandtown-Winchester community (where the riots took place) in a failed effort to transform it.
- The poverty rate in Baltimore is 24% compared with 14.5% nationally.
- The unemployment rate for black men in Baltimore between the ages of 20 – 24 is 37%.
- Among the nation’s 100 largest counties, the one where children face the worst odds of escaping poverty is the city of Baltimore.
- In 2014, Baltimore public schools ranked third in the country in per-pupil spending, yet 55% of Baltimore fourth graders scored below basic in reading.
- In the Sandtown-Winchester community, nearly half of all high school students missed at least 20 days of school in 2011.
- This community’s murder rate is double the average for Baltimore, which in turn had the fifth highest murder rate last year among major U.S. cities.
In other words, Baltimore’s problems cannot be blamed on racial prejudice or on a lack of resources to combat poverty and low educational performance. Clearly needed are better schools and more employment opportunities. Better state and local leadership would help in this respect. But what is most needed is faster economic growth for the whole country. There are many things which could be done to accomplish this. It’s a shame that our current political system is too fractured to allow this to happen.