Wednesday, April 06, 2011

MORE NOTES FROM THE URBAN HELLHOLE. Here's one of those staples of modern social discourse, the weeping over gang-infested urban hellholes, where "drug addicted young women desperately sell their bodies in the age of HIV; their unwanted, uncared for children grow up as best they can," and "children and teenagers can be fooled into thinking that the images generated by our pleasure-seeking and irresponsible commercial entertainment complex define the meaning of life."

Author Walter Russell Mead posits the "failure of the blue social model" to prevent the Warriors hellscape in which I supposedly live. (As a marginally-employed New York City resident, I assume his concern extends to me.)

Reading these things from New York is always amusing, and Mead may have sensed he would have this effect, as partway through he expands his purview to embrace slummy cities worldwide, so my own Lefferts Gardens address gets lumped in with Kibera and City of God. Looks much worse now, doesn't it?

Here's another good bit:
Restless, violent and poor urban communities have been with us for a long time. What often seems to happen is that poor people migrate to the cities in hopes of more exciting and rewarding lives...

But many of those migrants found sadder fates; cities were not very healthy places, and the combination of poor sanitation and sewer facilities, bad diet and poorly preserved foods, poverty and violence meant that many cities had to constantly draw on the countryside to keep their populations up. In the last 150 years, the flow to the cities increased with the mechanization of agriculture and improvements in transportation — and developments in public health meant that more of those migrants lived and had children, even if they failed to find the kind of upward mobility they hoped for.

What this means, not only in the United States, but in cities around the world, is that we now have something new: vast urban conglomerations whose populations include second, third and even fourth generations of people who know nothing but the city — and lack the opportunity and ability to earn their way out of the slums through normal, legal channels.
Two words that do not occur in this historical analysis: "labor unions." You will be unsurprised to learn that the author is unconcerned with any means of providing jobs and decent livings to underprivileged urbanites. In fact, it kind of sounds like he's not sure those "developments in public health" aren't a mixed blessing at best, seeing as they curse future generations to life in metropoli.

What's Mead want to give them instead of the "Great Society blue social model," then? Jesus.
If we are serious about changing lives in the inner cities, we need to think about strengthening the capacity of these churches.
He does suggest that these God squads dispense social services along with the Gospel, which is a good idea, as Republicans are working hard to make sure that the government can no longer do so.

Link found via Ole Perfesser Instapundit. I assume he was just attracted to the city-hating, though it's possible he was trying to shore up his libertarian cred.

UPDATE. Like the crackling of thorns under the pot is the laughter of our commenters. "I've been waiting thousands of years for someone to suggest religion as the answer to social problems," claims Nom de Plume. "The major portion of Mead's research was listening hard to Stevie Wonder's 'Livin' For The City,'" hypothesizes Glenn Kenny. And mds sees the solution: "You know what a godless urban wasteland like Lower Manhattan needs? A religiously-motivated community center!"

More seriously, R. Porrofatto directs us to Mead's "Black And Blue 2: Blacks Flee Blue States in Droves" (the folks in my neighborhood must be holdouts, then), where Mead does in fact refer to unions, thus: "high public union membership," "high costs of public union urban services," "the interests of teacher unions," "high wage scales for unionized public servants," etc. So he's not unaware of ways to improve poor people's wages and hopes for the future -- he just doesn't approve of them. He does recommend "more effective government... to ensure that American citizens are not undercut in the labor market by desperate illegals," and of course Jesus, who must be wondering about now what he did to deserve this kind of treatment.

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