The Economic Death of a City

The riots and devastation in Baltimore represent the decline of a city that will never fully recover.  It is not a protest against injustice but a looting expedition using the death of a man as the excuse.  It is history repeating itself.

When Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered, riots broke out in a number of cities.  One of those cities looked like Baltimore today – Camden, New Jersey.  It was a city on fire.  The destruction of businesses and the looting plunged the city into an economic decline that is still being felt today.

Camden was an industrial city that was the headquarters to a number of large corporations like RCA and Campbell Soup.  Those corporations represent jobs and revenue.   Because of the riot and looting, the corporations left the city and never returned.  Jobs disappeared and the city fiancés dropped dramatically. In addition, there was a white flight into the suburbs for those who could afford to move.  This resulted in even greater loss of revenue for the city because they were gainfully employed people who paid property taxes.

Houses were left vacant because nobody wanted them.  It became a shell of a city where corruption flourished and murder would be so common that the city became known as the “murder capital of the United States.”  The city police force was so overwhelmed by the violence that a succession of governors ordered in state troopers to assist the local police for a number of years.  It didn’t any good.  Murder and violence remained rampant as the city became poorer and poorer.

Baltimore is headed in the same direction as Camden.  Already the Baltimore city government is worried that tourist will not come to the “Inner Harbor” to see the attractions this summer.  They expect that conventions scheduled for the year will be cancelled.  Their concern is legitimate.  There will be a decline in these enterprises and the city will suffer an enormous economic hit.  This will start a cycle of job losses and business closures that will push the city deeper into poverty.

The victims will be some of the same people who participated in the looting and burning of the city along with their extended families.  Unfortunately, thousands of innocent people who wanted nothing to do with the violence will also suffer.   Many businesses will not be rebuilt.  Insurance rates will be so high that it will not be worth the trouble of rebuilding and reopening a store.  Those stores that escaped being looted or burned will have their insurance premiums raised to such a high level that store owners will have to charge higher than normal rates for their goods and services.  But the looters and burners are not thinking, rational people who see the consequences of their actions. It is a tragedy.

Baltimore’s police force, a minority force, will not swiftly react to crimes.  Why should they?  They have targets on their backs and know it.  Crime will grow making the city a dangerous place like Camden.  Crime and poverty will increase causing a further decline in the survival of the city.  It is a death sentence for what was a city on the rise and its own citizens are responsible.

The African-American community has turned its back on the Martin Luther King, Jr. legacy of non-violence.


About camden41

Retired public school administrator Retired history professor: Taught Western Civilization, American Civil War, United States History, Economic History, Ancient & Medieval Foundations, American History Since 1945
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