"Yes, it could very well be a long, hot summer of discontent...."
Spring is finally here and summer will start before we know it. Soon the days will be long and hot. Very hot in some parts of the country. And that could be the beginning of a long, hot summer of discord. Of social unrest. Of riots.
Yesterday I addressed the issue of poverty. It is a testy topic for sure. Many people (and I can't say I blame them) have very little time for the current landscape. The landscape which was painted by our infamous War on Poverty. You know - the war which cost trillions and did absolutely nothing to fix anything.
Today on the news one of the pundits brought up a very good point about what was going on in Baltimore. He believed the current riots have very little to do with Freddie Gray. In fact, a sheriff from another large city offered an interesting opinion. He said that 99% of all people rioting could not pick Freddie Gray out from a group of three people. First off, not to be disrespectful to Freddie Gray, he had an extensive rap sheet for his young age of 25. Even though he was no saint, he did not deserve to die. It is still an open question if he died by 1) maleficence of the police, 2) neglect of the police, 3) his own doing, or 4) we will never know.
The pundit on the news show went on to say the main reason for the unrest in Baltimore is not only poverty (okay, I said it again), but the incredible income disparity. He went on to say the average annual income in Maryland (a well to do state) is over $70k per household. The average annual income for the inner city of Baltimore is around $35k per household. The average annual income for the neighborhood that Freddie Gray grew up in is less than $30k per household. Mix in an unemployment rate for young black men in Freddie's neighborhood of close to 50%, and you have a bomb just waiting to be lit. And the mysterious death of Freddie Gray was just that match.
What happened in Baltimore could have happened in any number of our larger cities. And this contagion might spread. Over six years ago, the African American community voted in a monolithic block to elect our first black President. Many hopes were pinned on this young community organizer from Chicago. Even though he had little political experience, many thought he would be a transformational force of change for the community. Over six years later, nothing has changed. In fact, things have become worse for the inner cities. No hope + no future = big trouble.
So get ready folks. This is a problem that has not be able to fix itself. We have seen it cannot be fixed by our government(s) throwing trillions of dollars at it. I would love to say something either pithy or wise on what the cure is, but I can't. I along with most of us, are flummoxed. Not only flummoxed, but worried and scared for our country. With bloodthirsty enemies at our gates, waiting to kill us and destroy our way of life, we cannot stand anymore internal divisions. Divided we will fall.
So Houston, we might indeed have a problem. Not just Houston, but Baltimore, Los Angles, Chicago, or you name the city. So hang on and pay attention. We are far from being out of the woods. And a long, hot summer is right around the corner.