Thursday, January 05, 2006

How to Construct a Ghetto with Good Intentions

With inner city gun violence being such an important issue of the campaign I have decided to create a post on its origin; the ghettoization of neighborhoods in Canada. Social engineering fails at almost all tasks and government sponsored neighborhoods are no exception to this rule.

When a conscientious, socially active, compassionate individual undertakes the problem of helping the underprivileged, inevitably his mind ends up at some point in agreement with the idea of increasing the amount of social housing that is available. "Creating affordable, subsidized housing is exactly what poorer families need so that they can spend more of their resources on food, clothing and education, which increases their children’s chances of success and ending the poverty cycle" is a usual dogma. The solution is rational only on the most naïve and superficial level, because generally what occurs is the inevitable degradation of a community, the cementing of the poverty cycle within a family, the concentration of a class in the neighborhood, and an isolation from mainstream aspects of society; such as business, acceptable schooling, and eventually medicine, and reliable law enforcement.

Since it is very expensive to build a single house in a different location each time, social housing is usually created in large subdivisions of row or tract housing to minimize property, material and logistic costs, because the goal of these projects tends to be quantity, due to the nature of altruism.

A chief problem of any public endeavor is that when everybody owns something then nobody in particular owns it, which leads eventually to the more important problem; that nobody in particular feels or is obliged to maintain the ownership, or more specifically the property. The responsible maintenance of property is best achieved by utilizing the incentive of ownership (see collective farming vs. private farming, public industry vs. private industry, public schools vs. private schools, and public housing and reservations vs. private property studies). Because of the inherent qualities of public housing—meaning that it is never owned—nobody feels the particular duty to be responsible for the property, in the same way that if family and individual’s income was dependant on the property value. This lack of duty, on a general level, quickly leads to an area becoming unmanaged and rundown.

As the government does not control property values, values cannot be stopped from falling when housing becomes neglected and rundown within the neighborhood. When property values start falling, property-owning individuals seek to sell quickly, instead of standing put for an irrational principle of fairness (irrational in the sense that the moral code is essentially an anti-moral code; if you want welfare don’t do anything— the more that you are rewarded by individuals, the more you are penalized by the collective. The individual’s natural concern is in protecting the value of his modest assets, in order to protect his family from hardship. In reality, no individual wants to martyr his family for a primitive, socially dictated abstract principal.
As property in the neighborhood becomes rundown, and devalued, and usually segregated, community morale begins plummeting, and violence increases reciprocally, due to the many understandable factors of futility that we have socially engineered with our "good intentions". As property owners leave the neighborhood, and violence increases, businesses begin removing their assets from the community. This removal of small businesses from the community only further entrenches the poverty cycle, as now there is nobody left to provide goods and services, employ community members, support community events, sponsor sporting teams, and contribute to school fundraising. Equally worse is that businesses, sadly enough, are not easily recreated in the neighborhood either. Most small businesses are originally funded with their house as collateral, and when housing can only be rented, occupants are unable to borrow against its ownership, severely inhibiting entrepreneurial motives and abilities of a community.

Next to leave are the doctors, nurses, teachers, and law enforcement, which leads to shortages, and at best, a lack of experience in dealing with an exceptionally challenging role. The nation’s overall shortage of doctors, nurses, policemen and teachers gives them the ability to choose where they live, so eventually the roles can only be filled by using young inexperienced staff, which leads to the further erosion of public systems inside the community that needs them the most.

We have now cemented the poverty cycle within the neighborhood. Through the advent of social housing, as we have created rundown, sometimes racially segregated, violent neighborhoods, without local businesses, doctors and teachers; a neighborhood entrenched in a cycle of futility, or in other words a ghetto.


At 7:23 PM, Blogger Brian Lemon said...

For every punk that grabs a gun in a Jamaican ghetto, there are 100 that do not.
There are no eastern Euro gangstas, none in Finch and Bathurst, no Somalian dudes in little Mogadishu.
These Jam posse members will kill you as quick as look at you if it is in their momentary interest. Bump them accidentally, and you will die.
And these people were brought in by, and not jailed by, the Liberals.

At 8:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The main point being though that ghettos through their subsidization are artificially created. A reservation would work on the same principle-- perfect communism=perfect misery.


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