‘unlike entities supported by government “investments” . . . Walmart reliably keeps its end of the bargain’

May 6, 2015

Kevin Williamson at NRO has a good line about the comparative behavior of the free market and the government:

A poor black man from Baltimore, or a poor white man from eastern Kentucky, would have to jump through a great many hoops before he would be granted a job interview with Professor Hyman’s former colleagues at McKinsey or his current colleagues at Cornell. But a man with $10 in his hand is the same as any other man with $10 in his hand, regardless of race, background, or accent, when he is standing at the register at Walmart or Target. And unlike entities supported by government “investments” — like Atlanta’s schools or Baltimore’s police — Walmart reliably keeps its end of the bargain: You pay Walmart $20 for a pair of shoes, you get the shoes.

The larger point of his piece is that the success or failure of cities is not entirely mysterious; partly it comes down to basics like safety.

These cities are now safe — that’s the difference. . . .

There are two straightforward ways to improve the material conditions of people living in the poor parts of Baltimore: Move them out or move capital in. . . . The real issue is moving people, businesses, and resources into poor neighborhoods — which is not going to happen when the locals are assaulting people, burning down businesses, and destroying resources. . . . Somebody, somewhere, wants to sell things in those abandoned Baltimore storefronts, but no one can, because it is not safe.

And that’s the horrible irony here. If Baltimore wants to get its economic act together, it has to get something else right first: policing.

So far, neither the police department nor the people of Baltimore have shown any particular capacity for keeping the peace.

(The title of the piece?  “One Weird Trick That Can Help Make Your City More Prosperous”!)

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