Casualty of Capitalism

Exiled into Wilmington, Delaware by virtue of corporate layoffs. (Note: Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this blog are Copyright 2005, Michael Collins, and cannot be used without permission.)

Location: Wilmington, Delaware, United States

Graduate of University of Maryland School of Law; University of Maryland, College Park (Economics/Political Science).

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Some Things Never Change

I am currently reading a book I heighly recommend: "Washington's Crossing" by David Hackett Fischer (buy if from by clicking the ad on the left sidebar), a generous Christmas gift from my future mother-in-law. The book describes the events surrounding George Washington's famous crossing of the Delaware during the Revolutionary War.

Prior to the crossing, Washington's army spend several weeks on the run across New Jersey after British forces crushed the rag tag Americans in New York and began to pursue them through the country-side. As the British army neared Philadelphia, the city panicked, and the Continental Congress abandoned the city, eventually ending up in Baltimore.

I recently lived in Baltimore for four years and I can confirm that little has changed since 1776. Fischer writes:

A week later [Congress was] meeting in Baltimore, then a rough and disorderly boomtown. The congressmen were not happy to be there. Oliver Wolcott of Connecticut wrote his wife that Baltimore was "infinitely the most dirty place I ever was in." Benjamin Harrison of Virginia called it "the Damndest Hole in the World."

Sounds like commentary that could have been written yesterday.

He says this in the shadow of a new study that says about 20 percent of young black men in Baltimore are behind bars on any given day, and that 50 percent are incarcerated, on probation or on parole. Jones disagrees. He says these figures are low.

And he points to the destructive culture of the streets. He says, "The guys who come in here and say, 'I can't wear a tie here. In my neighborhood, they beat you up for wearing a tie.' That's what we're dealing with. So we tell 'em, 'Put it in a bag. Wear your street gear here. We've got a bathroom where you can change. But you've got to change.' A lot of these guys, you give 'em a tie, they might hang themselves. That's their level of anxiety. So it's our job to help them navigate between two different worlds."

Baltimore has made a comeback in its tourist areas and upscale neighborhoods, but for many (if not most) residents it's still the "Damndest Hole in the World."


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