The St Louis Contrarian

Providing Independent and Intelligent Insight on St. Louis Public Policy Issues

Who or What is Responsible for Problem Conditions in City

I have worked my whole life in the field of housing and urban development. Billions of dollars have spent spent in cities to upgrade housing, provide needed social services and upgrade the quality of life. Major problems persist, many of which are the same from which I started. These problems are poverty, crime, poor school accomplishment, poor health, unemployment etc. The question becomes, who is responsible for these problems.

The journalist David Brooks addressed the issue well. He said that conservatives hold the individuals totally responsible for their problems, while progressives hold society totally responsible. In truth, the answer is somewhere in the middle. On the one hand there is still extreme racism, class warfare, insufficient housing, a dysfunctional health care system, and insufficient funding of education. On the other hand poverty does not necessarily equal crime, children are not raised to be successful in school, and many people make poor dietary and health care choices.

Two examples stick out that show that urban problems are more than racism. First, Black people from the Caribbean and Africa, without a penny to their name when they arrive here are very successful. They work 2-3 jobs, send their kids to school, and become middle class. Second, the University City School system is another example. When the schools were predominantly white and Jewish it was considered one of the best school systems in the country. Now it is predominantly Black, it is considered underperforming, even though the resources for the schools have actually increased. It would be refreshing if progressives would ever talk about individual responsibility. Written by Paul Dribin


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