Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Baltimore: A Case Study of Failed Government

In case anyone was wondering how such failures as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake can continue to get reelected in Baltimore, yesterday's Wall Street Journal has the answer.  In a piece titled, "How Property Taxes and the 'Curley Effect' are Killing Baltimore," two economics professors offer a trenchant explanation of the circuitous cycle of failed statism and electoral politics in cities like Baltimore.  Of course, Baltimore is the paradigm for such corrupt and odious leadership:

Away from the waterfront, this strategy's failure is apparent. The city has lost 30,000 residents and 53,000 jobs since 2000, marking the sixth consecutive decade of population and employment exodus. About 47,000 abandoned houses crumble while residents suffer a homicide rate higher than any large city except Detroit. The poverty rate is 50% above the national average.
Much of this decline is a result of the city's exorbitant property-tax rates, which are twice as high as any other jurisdiction in Maryland and Washington, D.C. The encouraging news is that all four major mayoral candidates are promising property-tax relief. [...]

In modern Baltimore, the machine has exploited class divisions, not ethnic ones. Officials raised property taxes 21 times between 1950 and 1985, channeling the proceeds to favored voting blocs and causing many homeowners and entrepreneurs—disproportionately Republicans—to flee. It was brilliant politics, as Democrats now enjoy an eight-to-one voter registration advantage and no Republican has been elected mayor in 48 years.

Be sure to read the full article here.

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