Adam Smith said, “there is a great deal of ruin in a nation.” He meant that a nation can withstand a great deal of incompetent governance and misguided policies.
Smith was right. There’s less ruin in a city, though, and that brings us to Baltimore
Bryan Preston of PJ Media reports that business owners in Baltimore’s Fells Point area are threatening to withhold tax payments if the city doesn’t respond to their plea for better service from the city, including its police force. More than three dozen owners signed this letter to the city’s leadership, which (sadly) includes the lawless power couple of Nick and Marilyn Mosby.
The letter states, in part:
What is happening in our front yard — the chaos and lawlessness that escalated this weekend into another night of tragic, unspeakable gun violence [note: as described in part here] — has been going on for far too long. We have struggled through a global pandemic, enduring restaurant shutdowns and mask mandates. For months, we have been holding on by a thread, waiting for daybreak, worrying whether we will make it or if we will be the next business to shutter our doors for good.
Through this adversity, at great expense to ourselves, we have sacrificed for the sake of our customers, employees, and community. We have done this because we love Fells Point and believe it represents the very best of Baltimore.
But we have reached our breaking point. Our elected leaders have closed their eyes and ears and turned their backs on our community for long enough. We are fed up and frustrated, and we now realize that nothing will change unless we demand action.
What kind of action? The business owners make four demands:
1. Pick up the trash.
2. Enforce traffic and parking laws through tickets and towing.
3. Stop illegal open-air alcohol and drug sales.
4. Empower police to responsibly do their job.
Regarding the last of these demands, the owners state:
It is harder than ever to recruit and retain quality staff. On top of everything else, some of our employees are now scared, and we are scared for our employees.
In a city with organized crime and soaring gun violence, we appreciate the extraordinary demands on our police. Our officers cannot and should not use the power of arrest to address every situation. At the same time, police cannot be directed to ignore manifest lawlessness that happens right before their eyes.
When it comes to prostitution, public urination and defecation, and the illegal sale and consumption of alcohol and illicit drugs on the streets, we know these crimes are not as serious as the carjackings, shootings, and homicides that have become routine. But, as this past weekend proved, a culture of lawlessness rarely remains confined to petty offenses and invariably leads to the kinds of violence and tragedy we witnessed late Saturday night.
That lesson was learned in the 1980s and learning it helped produce the stunning decrease in crime the nation enjoyed for roughly 20 years. But the lesson turned out to be “racist” (or something) so it had to be unlearned or, to be more precise, ignored by liberal officials.
To counter the failure of Baltimore officials to do their job, the business owners make this threat:
[T]he undersigned parties are prepared to withhold our city taxes and minor privilege and permit fees and place those funds into an escrow account, which we will not release until and unless basic and essential municipal services are restored.
How will the city respond? It might decide to play hardball with the business owners. But doing so would risk driving them out of the city.
Baltimore seems to have used up nearly all of the “ruin” that once was at its disposal.