Saturday, May 9, 2015

A libertarian perspective on the Baltimore riots

Nick Pandelidis: A Libertarian perspective on the Baltimore riots - York Daily Record:

May 8, 2015 - "I ... offer some reflections on the Baltimore riots. My purpose is not to present rigorous arguments regarding causes and potential solutions but rather to make a few broad observations from a libertarian perspective.

"The first observation is the changed nature of inner-city policing. Not so long ago, inner cities were composed of mostly civil neighborhoods where police protected and served the law-abiding citizen majority from a small population of criminals. Now, those neighborhoods have morphed into war zones where many young black men are (often not inappropriately) designated as criminal elements and have their constitutional rights routinely violated — including being beaten or killed for 'resisting arrest.' On the other side of the equation, police legitimately fear for their lives patrolling armed-drug-gang-controlled neighborhoods. And law-abiding citizens are caught in the crossfire....

"The second observation is that a misguided and failed war against drugs has significantly contributed to the breakdown of inner-city civil order. Criminalization of drugs has driven up prices and made drug dealing the most profitable and seemingly most glamorous employment option available to many inner-city youth.

"U.S. taxpayers have spent more than $1 trillion over the four decades of the war on drugs. And yet, the U.S. is the first in the world in illegal drug use, addiction rates are no lower, overdose death rates are at all-time highs, and tens of thousands of persons have died in drug-related violence in the U.S., Mexico and South America. In addition, our legal system has more than 500,000 individuals in prison for drug violations.

"The third observation relates to another failed government war, the war on poverty. Since the beginning of the Great Society in 1965, taxpayers have spent $15 trillion on anti-poverty programs and continue to spend more than $700 billion annually. And yet, the poverty rate which fell dramatically during the economic expansion of the prior 25 years has essentially remained unchanged since the war on poverty began.

"However well-meaning the original intent of our welfare system, it is undeniable that this "social safety net" program has resulted in unwed motherhood rates exceeding 80 percent and families nearly completely absent of fathers. The sons of single mothers in these fatherless communities are the principal perpetrators of violent crime in our cities today.

"The final observation is the evident pent-up anger and frustration manifested in the rioters' destruction of businesses and property within their own communities. This social unrest is less a product of poverty and more a product of a sense of hopelessness from a lack of economic opportunity and the humiliation of dependency....

"The poor in America are trapped on two sides. On one hand, they can't achieve because of the failure of inner-city government k-12 schools to provide the educational foundation for marketable skills, minimum wage regulation and occupational licensing preventing entrance into the work force, and general tax and regulatory burdens hindering small business formation. And on the other, welfare programs have provided an easy way to survive and promoted dependency.... In retrospect, the very social and tax policies that were conceived to help the poor have only ensconced dependency and hopelessness."

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