The Mayor of Baltimore’s Not-So-Freudian Slip

Police personnel line up protected with shields in front of CVS building with smoke in background

Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake made a stunning admission Saturday in the aftermath of violent protests over the recent death of Freddie Gray, saying she wanted to give space to those “who wished to destroy.”

“I’ve made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech,” Rawlings-Blake said during a press conference Saturday night. [ 4/27/15]

It seems insane; and it is.

But it also makes sense on its own terms, if you consider the definition of “free speech” that many people hold.

Properly understood, freedom of speech refers to ideas expressed on your own property, at your own expense. In no sense can the exercise of free speech be understood to permit violation of the right to life, safety or property of others.

Yet that’s not the definition of free speech as Baltimore’s progressive mayor, and many others, understand it. To them, freedom of speech means freedom to express yourself. It refers to the freedom to express your emotions — regardless of their validity — in virtually any way you wish.

Rioters take them at their word.

Until now, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would take the idea this far. But Baltimore’s mayor has. It’s what she thought all along, and it’s what she still thinks now, no matter how much she might aim to backpedal.

The oldest excuse for rioting? Poverty and unemployment. But wait a minute. Obama’s policies have carried the day for years. Shouldn’t conditions be better, not worse, for poor black people, as  a result of Obama’s policies? Particularly in an overwhelmingly Democratic state like Maryland? (Their recent election of a Republican governor is a rare fluke.) No, says Democratic Obama supporter Chris Matthews on MSNBC:

I wish the jobs hadn’t first gone south, congressman, because that’s where they went first. And they went to the right-to-work states, you know where they went, where the unions didn’t have any power. You could get people to work for nothing and the stuff wasn’t that good that was made down there. But that was the first stop on the trip away [of jobs leaving the country].

But federal union laws have carried the day since at least the 1930s. Because of this legislation, unions have rights and advantages, under the law, that other entities do not have. If union legislation is so great, then why are we blaming the lack of unions for riots in Baltimore?

More than that: Don’t people have free will? Aren’t people — poor, black or not — capable of seeing how self-defeating, self-destructive and just plain wrong it is to set another’s private property on fire? What about the majority of poor black people (or anyone else) who refuse to engage in destruction of the property of others? If rioters are to be excused, or even enabled, to act on violence, then why aren’t the non-violent majority praised for exercising restraint?

When it comes to anything else, we’re constantly told that violence is not an answer. Even if a foreign government or entity attacks American citizens with violence, we’re automatically and always told that violence in response is not an answer. Yet when people riot in the streets — because, we are told, they don’t have enough jobs or money — it’s somehow acceptable? To the point, where the Baltimore mayor has claimed, that the government should even make room for those who “wish to destroy”?

It’s madness, but it’s also the inevitable dead end of social, political and ideological policies that tell us people have no free will, no personal choices, cannot handle living in freedom and must have government to care for their every need.

What we see in practice: The more government takes care of every need, the more dependent and helpless or economically stagnant people become; and the more it gives seeming credibility to the idea that government must be there, to take care of every need. This is more true in the slums of Baltimore (and elsewhere), because these individuals are the alleged success stories of the social welfare and redistribution policies that have been the norm in the United States since the 1960s, or longer.

Policies of wealth redistribution are now the norm. They have been for decades. Those policies have won, in the United States as much as anywhere else. The New Deal, The Great Society, the Bush-Obama escalation in government spending, record numbers on food stamps, Social Security disability, Obamacare and other government programs. What have these policies brought us? The rioters in Baltimore seem to be telling us that these policies have not gone far enough. So how far must they go?

Consider some facts.

In 1970, about 5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) went to social spending (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, disability and welfare) programs. Today, it is more than 10 percent. On our current spending path, we will hit 30 percent by 2050 and more than 50 percent by 2080.

Bear in mind that spending almost always ends up being more than projected, because supply creates its own demand. With government programs, “supply” is created by virtually unlimited commitments to debt and taxes, and the private economy, even in “recovery,” does not grow like it used to grow. We’ll almost certainly hit the 50 percent point well before 2080, and in most of our lifetimes. At that point, more than half of the gross domestic product (assuming the economy continues to grow) will go to social welfare programs, entitlements, health care and the like. Will that be enough? Will the riots stop then?

In 2014, only 17 percent of federal spending went to defense. The other 83 percent went to Social Security/health care (48 percent); subsidies to business/agriculture and other “discretionary” spending (29 percent); and 6 percent to interest payments on the national debt. [Source for figures:, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the U.S. Treasury Department. ]

The Constitution does not even provide for — or permit — 83 percent of what the federal government currently does. Yet such spending is justified in the name of helping the working poor and others who are disadvantaged get out of poverty. How well is that working out for them?

Government has created a massive welfare-entitlement that grows exponentially, as these figures show. It’s not working. Not even if you accept the terms that government has a right to forcibly take from some to “give” to others (I don’t). In fact, the evidence of generations and decades is showing just the opposite. It makes sense. The more you tell a group of people, “You’re helpless and I must take care of you,” the more dependent those people become. Occasionally, they will lash out, in seeming frustration that you’re not taking care of them well enough. In reality, and perhaps subconsciously, they’re reacting against the fact that you have taken their self-responsibility and, along with it, any hope of independence and freedom away. The rage that many people feel, without necessarily knowing why in such situations, could explain (if not excuse) violence. Yet this theory will never be one you hear advanced.

And the band drones on. “Poverty and unemployment cause riots.” “Taxes are too low.” “There are too many rich people. The evil one percent are responsible.”

The more we socialize, redistribute and impoverish the economy (relative to what it would have been), the more these social programs grow. Generations of black and other politically connected groups are frozen in time, hooked to a government economy that works out pretty well for the politicians who keep funding it, and presiding over it, but doesn’t seem too inspiring, hopeful or effective for those stuck in it.

If they’re victims, they’re victims of the very people who keep spreading the idea that they’re victims. Therein lies the huge irony and paradox of our times. It’s illuminated right now in Baltimore. But the wrong things are getting the blame.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is a moronic fool. But she’s a moronic fool that got into high office because of wrong thinking on the part of millions. People have to reexamine everything, and soon, if cities like Baltimore are ever to turn around and have a chance.


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