“There are a relatively small number of complete knuckleheads in this city who are causing this kind of disruption, and we will not tolerate it” -Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter
Owing to a rise in unruly youth “flash mobs” and criminal behavior, mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia took his case to church this weekend. He spoke at his home church (Mount Carmel Baptist) with quite a few colorful remarks regarding the youth, their parents, and their clothing choices.
Naturally the comments are getting a lot of play amongst the right-wing punditry. It is so rare to hear a Democrat actually blame the rioters and looters for their behavior instead of blaming society, economic plight, and social injustice. That said, I think I might go the other way on this one. Let’s consider some issues:
Unemployment here in the U.S. is at 9.1%. (The unemployment number is always misleading, as it discounts anybody who wants a job but has given up out of hopelessness – but it is the official statistic so we’ll work with it.) Unemployment is not equal across demographics. Unemployment amongst 18-24 year-olds is 16.6% (vice 9.1% for the general population). Furthermore, unemployment is historically twice as high for blacks as it is for the population as a whole, currently running 15.9%. Throw these two together and you’re hit square in the face with synergy (that’s right, synergy – where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts). The current unemployment rate amongst black teens … wait for it … [pause for effect] … 39.2%!
Are you kidding me? Two of every five black teens cannot find a job. Low and behold they’re rioting. Shocker.
Mayor Nutter’s response? “When you walk in somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back and your shoes untied and your pants half down — tattoos up and down your arm, on your face, on your neck — and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you?” Well, I guess he has a point. But I think he also misses the point.
Liberal policies (high taxation, rewarding non-ingenuity) have dominated inner cities for decades, and businesses (the places that hire folks, giving them jobs) have packed up and left. Now the youth in these cities can’t find a job – and it’s because of the way they dress, you see. (When all else fails, deflect blame.)
According to the 2010 census, 69% of American children (up to 18 years of age) live with in a home with both parents. For blacks the number is only 39%. Digging deeper, we see that under 27% of all American children live with their mother only … a number that rises to almost 50% for blacks.
And why is this? Well, perhaps the number of explanations are the same as the stars in the sky – but that won’t stop me from claiming to know.
People are people. We all have our aspirations to behave with integrity and morality – and we also all have our failings. Sometimes those failings are no more than the conflict between ideals and physical needs. You rarely find rich people stealing food and clothing. It happens, it just doesn’t happen as often. Are these wealthy folks made of greater moral stock? Not at all, they just aren’t as susceptible to certain temptations.
Now let’s consider the status of poor families in America. You’re young, perhaps married, perhaps not, and you find yourself pregnant. It ain’t easy raising kids. They’re not cheap and they’re a fat lot of work. Now, suppose you do happen to decide to keep the baby, and the government comes along and says “we’ll help you out with the expenses … but only if the father’s not around.” Cause and effect, anyone?
And what are mayor Nutter’s thoughts? “The Immaculate Conception of our Lord Jesus Christ took place a long time ago, and it didn’t happen here in Philadelphia … So every one of these kids has two parents who were around and participating at the time. They need to be around now.” Well yeah! But it cuts both ways.
Your policies, mayor Nutter, have helped to drive families apart, and helped to create a generation that no longer sees marriage and family as something to value, something in which to participate. Don’t you want to take at least a little of the blame? Maybe just a pinch?
No, I guess not. Politicians are brilliant at instituting policies that have all sorts of nefarious (mostly) unintended consequences. They never seem to issue a mea culpa with regards to their own policies though. No, they just don’t even conceive of the notion that they themselves were part of (a big part of) the problem.
So I feel your pain mayor Nutter. I don’t like the rise in violence any more than you do, and yes, ultimately each of us (and each of those youngsters) are responsible for our own actions. I hope you can get it under control. I hope (and pray) that the chaos will abate and you can restore order to the city. But someday you’re going to have to deal with the “root cause” (liberals love root causes, don’t they?) of these problems. No sign of that just yet.
It’s not just Philly either. Last week mobs of black youth attacked people at the Wisconsin state fair in Milwaukee. It probably won’t stop here.
The government is all out of “magic bullets” to deal with the economic problems. Those high unemployment rates (and high single-parent-family rates) are unlikely to turnaround any time soon.
The church is going to have to bear the burden of this hurting generation …