Enforcing the American Way of Poverty

Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

by James A. Bacon

A critical but unappreciated contributor to poverty in the United States is the paucity of “social capital” among the poor. Social capital is the term economists use to describe informal knowledge and networks in communities that enable people to collaborate for their mutual benefit and greater good.  The term encompasses such intangibles as trust, reciprocity and cooperation. The United States is rich in social capital, at least in the professional and middle classes. Outside of churches, however, America’s poor have little social capital. That lack is both an effect of their poverty and a cause of it.

Poor African-Americans once had significant of social capital when they had cohesive communities, even during the Jim Crow regime of discrimination and segregation. But planners, do-gooders and advocates of “civic progress” did tremendous damage to African-American communities in the post-World War II era through slum clearance programs, the blasting of freeways through their neighborhoods and other state/local government initiatives. It is widely acknowledged by scholars of all ideological stripes that misbegotten social engineering of the 1950s and 1960s not only demolished African-American communities but disrupted important social ties that ameliorated the condition of poverty.

Unfortunately, the current generation of government practitioners appear to be eager to repeat the mistakes of the past. Writing in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, John Moeser and Shay Auerbach, warn that the campaign to “clean up” trailer parks in South Richmond could lead to the physical eviction and social disruption of thousands of poor, in this case, mostly Latinos.

Richmond has nine mobile home parks, all in South Richmond and all along the Jeff Davis, Midlothian and Hull Street corridors. Father Shay Auerbach, one of the authors of this column, is the Catholic pastor of the geographic area where all nine mobile home parks are located and knows well many of the residents of the parks and the social dynamics within their communities.

Most park residents are homeowners; they own their own manufactured houses and rent the lot. Some grow small gardens and, in some cases, raise chickens. Despite their sparse social safety nets, they resourcefully create communities bound by language and extended families that provide mutual support for child care, transportation, illness, loss and security. Connection, community and stability characterize park residents despite their tenuous economic status.

Thousands of energetic and hardworking people want to make Richmond their home. For their children, Richmond is the only home they know. Even the poorest members of this community are willing to work and make short-term sacrifices for their children’s future.

Purchasing an inexpensive manufactured home in a community is a crucial first step up the economic ladder for immigrant families. Whether these new city residents become fully integrated into Richmond life or over time lose hope and find that they have been relegated to a cycle of poverty depends largely on how the wider Richmond community embraces them.

Already, some residents are finding their mobile home communities being dismantled with no plan and very little support. Code enforcement “sweeps” — the building commissioner’s own term — are well underway in two of South Richmond’s mobile home parks and are planned for all nine. Remember, many of these homes are owner-occupied.

Bacon’s bottom line: Since the early 1900s, when the United States first introduced public housing, do-gooders have mistaken material poverty for spiritual (or cultural) poverty. Material poverty reflects a lack of income, a predicament tied to the business cycle and the availability of economic opportunity or the lack thereof. Spiritual/cultural poverty amplifies the challenges of material poverty through single-parent households, teen pregnancies, child neglect and abuse, substance abuse, criminality, dropping out of high school and other notorious challenges often associated with, but not caused by, material poverty.

It appears that the Latino immigrants living in material poverty in South Richmond have brought the resilience of their native cultures with them. They have not yet been fully acculturated to the American way of poverty. They own property. They grow their own vegetables. They collaborate to provide child care and transportation to work. They support one another in ways that the American poor typically do not. Now local authorities, mistaking material poverty for spiritual poverty, seem determined to disrupt these self-supporting communities. If this trailer-camp initiative is not thwarted, we can foretell the disruption of the Latino residents’ resilient culture and their conversion into “real Americans” who depend upon government for their subsistence.

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24 responses to “Enforcing the American Way of Poverty

  1. they say people of good conscience can disagree…

    “Poor African-Americans once had significant of social capital when they had cohesive communities, …………. that misbegotten social engineering of the 1950s and 1960s not only demolished African-American communities but disrupted important social ties that ameliorated the condition of poverty.”

    I know Jim Bacon is a good man but how can anyone live in Henrico and see the community in Eastern Henrico – especially the schools with “gangsta” culture and claim the “community” is “demolished”?

    How can anyone look at Ferguson and believe the black community is fractured and unable to marshal – a movement of their community?

    How can anyone have lived through the chaos of the civil rights movements in the 60”s with large numbers of blacks fire-hosed and beset with police with dogs.. think that blacks and their “capital” had been savaged by “do-gooders”?

    I know Jim sees what he sees but I’m truly starting to believe that Conservatives are incapable of seeing the realities sometimes because they cling to stereotype myths concocted by some who think recorded history and things right in front of us – are some kind of an unbelievable conspiracy.

    How can anyone look at the upheaval over Ferguson and believe that blacks are fractured and unable to advocate for justice?

    come on Jim..

    • Larry,

      First, do you deny the scholarship that says the housing policies, urban clearance policies and Interstate highway policies of the 1950s-60s demolished black communities and disrupted their community cohesion? If so, you’re the one who is in total denial. That is not an argument that only conservatives make. Everybody who has studied that era has made it.

      Second, the Civil Rights movement was sparked by the social capital developed by black communities of the segregated South. While outsiders (Freedom Riders) did contribute to the movement, it was mostly home-grown. The Ferguson protests, by contrast, are largely the work of outsiders.

      Third, African-Americans have plenty of social capital in the U.S., as I noted, but that social capital resides mainly in the middle-professional classes. Poor African-Americans are highly atomized sociologically. They riot and loot. Educated African-Americans organize and protest peacefully.

      • ” First, do you deny the scholarship that says the housing policies, urban clearance policies and Interstate highway policies of the 1950s-60s demolished black communities and disrupted their community cohesion? If so, you’re the one who is in total denial. That is not an argument that only conservatives make. Everybody who has studied that era has made it.”

        the destruction and disruption DID happen. It did not destroy cohesive black communities that survived and ones that reformed… who is in denial here?
        Do you think Eastern Henrico does not exist?

        “Second, the Civil Rights movement was sparked by the social capital developed by black communities of the segregated South. While outsiders (Freedom Riders) did contribute to the movement, it was mostly home-grown. The Ferguson protests, by contrast, are largely the work of outsiders.”

        you’re living in denial. You’re listening to Fox. do you not think there is a cohesive black community in Fergeson? come on Jim.. yes folks came from other places to JOIN the folks that live there right now.

        Do you think the Civil Rights era was caused by “outsiders”?

        “Third, African-Americans have plenty of social capital in the U.S., as I noted, but that social capital resides mainly in the middle-professional classes. Poor African-Americans are highly atomized sociologically. They riot and loot. Educated African-Americans organize and protest peacefully.”

        poverty and low-income live together – they congregate in areas – that’s a simple reality. Did blacks suffer at the hands of urban renewal, redlining, and highways – YES! Are the poor now randomly dispersed geographically and unable to be a community? only on FOX news guy. There are cohesive black communities in every city and town in America.. and you know it.

      • ” First, do you deny the scholarship that says the housing policies, urban clearance policies and Interstate highway policies of the 1950s-60s demolished black communities and disrupted their community cohesion? If so, you’re the one who is in total denial. That is not an argument that only conservatives make. Everybody who has studied that era has made it.”

        the destruction and disruption DID happen. It did not destroy cohesive black communities that survived and ones that reformed… who is in denial here?
        Do you think Eastern Henrico does not exist?

        “Second, the Civil Rights movement was sparked by the social capital developed by black communities of the segregated South. While outsiders (Freedom Riders) did contribute to the movement, it was mostly home-grown. The Ferguson protests, by contrast, are largely the work of outsiders.”

        you’re living in denial. You’re listening to Fox. do you not think there is a cohesive black community in Fergeson? come on Jim.. yes folks came from other places to JOIN the folks that live there right now.

        Do you think the Civil Rights era was caused by “outsiders”?

        “Third, African-Americans have plenty of social capital in the U.S., as I noted, but that social capital resides mainly in the middle-professional classes. Poor African-Americans are highly atomized sociologically. They riot and loot. Educated African-Americans organize and protest peacefully.”

        poverty and low-income live together – they congregate in areas – that’s a simple reality. Did blacks suffer at the hands of urban renewal, redlining, and highways – YES! Are the poor now randomly dispersed geographically and unable to be a community? only on FOX news guy. There are cohesive black communities in every city and town in America.. and you know it or should. You have one right in Eastern Henrico.

        • “Do you think the Civil Rights era was caused by “outsiders”?”

          Read what I wrote, Larry. “The Civil Rights movement was sparked by the social capital developed by black communities of the segregated South. While outsiders (Freedom Riders) did contribute to the movement, it was mostly home-grown. ”

          So, the answer is, no, I don’t think it was caused by outsiders.

          I don’t see any point in carrying on a dialogue in which you persist in either misunderstanding and/or twisting what I write. It’s an exercise in futility.

          • ” I don’t see any point in carrying on a dialogue in which you persist in either misunderstanding and/or twisting what I write. It’s an exercise in futility.”

            I apologize to you for anything I said that you consider personal.

            I just think you are just wrong Jim. You’re working off of a myth – a stereotype – that is often repeated on right-leaning TV and web sites.

            Yes there was DOCUMENTED destruction of African American communities – SOME of them, too many – but by no means a majority of them – and the reality is that in every single town and city in the country including your own Henrico – there are significant geographic groupings of African American communities.. which is hard to ignore..especially when you look at neighborhood school demographics – which you yourself have pointed out!

            how do you get to generalized statements that low-income blacks are “atomized” when all around us are black communities with neighborhood schools that are largely black?

            You’re constructing a narrative that is false – demonstrably false ….because you have extrapolated from the fact that some communities WERE destroyed but by no means the vast majority of them. The “destruction” was far from complete but it’s used to promote the idea that all poor blacks are “atomized”.

            Yes there were outsiders in Ferguson.. there is also a significant resident black community already there and highly upset with the largely white policing of their totally intact community.. a point being made – over and over.

            Again – if I said anything to impugn you personally – I do apologize.

  2. This is an insightful and timely article. I recall an article written in the Washington Post perhaps 15 or 20 years ago by a black women who’d been raised (and lived as a young adult) in a 1940s and early 1950’s “poor” black neighborhood in Washington DC.

    Her recent return to that neighborhood after a long absence prompted her article, a lament at what she had just discovered. The vibrant, culturally rich, and supportive neighborhood that she’d left long ago now had been replaced a dysfunctional crime ridden barren place, one where desolation, fear, alienation, and loneliness haunted the elderly, the young, the vulnerable, indeed all decent people who lacked the means of escape.

    Government policies, however well intentioned, had played on strong roll in the destruction of her neighborhood. The vibrantly alive good neighbors of all ages that had filled the streets before, taking joy and sustenance from mixing with one another, now when at home were forced to stay locked up inside their houses shuttered against the predators who now owned the streets.

    Bad and thoughtless government policies reek harm of all kinds and varieties that now plague most all of our neighborhoods.

    • there are “black neighborhoods” EVERYWHERE -complete with neighborhood schools that are 80-90% black!

      They’re in SE Washington, South Alexandria, Eastern Henrico, Ferguson, Missouri, Petersburg, Va, Lynchburg, etc, etc..

      were black communities chopped up by red-development and highways – YES!

      did they not subsequently re-form in other locations ?

      people in poverty don’t locate anywhere they want guys.

      they generally go to the places where others in poverty or low incomes live.

      every town and city in America has such a place!

      you guys are on a different planet!

  3. ” Poor African-Americans are highly atomized sociologically. They riot and loot. Educated African-Americans organize and protest peacefully.””

    I cannot believe you said this. You’d categorize them that way?

    All the poor – riot and loot? Only the “educated” – “organize”?

    the “poor” are not “educated”?

    • these are your words:

      ” Third, African-Americans have plenty of social capital in the U.S., as I noted, but that social capital resides mainly in the middle-professional classes. Poor African-Americans are highly atomized sociologically. They riot and loot. Educated African-Americans organize and protest peacefully”

      own them

  4. Once again, you’re twisting words, Larry, when you say “All the poor – riot and loot? Only the “educated” – “organize”?”

    I did not say “all” poor people riot. I did not say that only educated people organize. I was making generalizations with the expectation that any normal person would see them as generalizations and recognize that all generalizations have their exceptions.

  5. I first have to disagree with you Jim of your assessment that the poor black have ‘poor social capital’. The most valuable asset anyone has in any poor community is social capital. It actually refers to the benefits of membership within a social network. The reciprocal social relationships within a community provide wells of financial, social or political support from which people can draw in times of need. The experiences of the poor emphasize the importance of kinship networks for daily survival as well as for crisis management.

    That said, Larry, your opinions are clearly not informed by facts, but rather on feelings. The consistent historical evidence demonstrates overwhelmingly that well-intentioned social policies, as well as interstate policies, from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s are a direct cause of the destruction of the black communities nationally. What it destroyed is not the “social capital” per se, but the community demographics. Before all of the social engineering, doctors lived alongside trash collectors. Everyone looked out for all of the kids in the neighborhood.

    Social capital existed then. And it does today in the projects.

    It’s only been during the past 10 years that local and state governments have recognized this and are now trying to undo the damage done. This isn’t a knee-jerk conservative versus liberal argument. This is a heartbreaking and serious situation that needs to avoid simplistic answers.

    The hardest thing to watch are the superficial efforts done locally. Whether it’s local government or large nonprofits, they all are ego-driven and not truly serious about solving the problem. They don’t include the people directly involved to come up with solutions. They put together ‘task forces’ filled with CEO’s of corporations and nonprofits that have never lived a day in the circumstances they are addressing, and want to solve problems in silos. We’ve all listened to more “noise” in this region about solving poverty, yet we have not moved the needle one bit for the poor.

    In the meantime, they continue to survive. Perhaps not in ways a lot of us middle-class types would choose, but it’s their social capital is what helps them survive.

    There’s something very powerful about friends and family coming to the aid of someone. How many of us in middle-class homes would be willing to accept help from a neighbor, much less even admit there was a problem?

    • I just respectfully disagree. The FACTS – DO clearly show otherwise. There are large, cohesive black neighborhoods EVERYWHERE defined largely by low income and poverty… not not “atomized” – spread randomly. Ferguson is one such example. So are the neighborhoods in east Henrico and significant parts of Richmond, Petersburg, Portsmouth These are not “feelings”. They are facts.

      Highways, industry/smokestacks, redevelopment, blight removal – ALL have displaced low-income – but it does not “destroy” them – they re-locate and re-form in part because there are only parts of towns where they can and many other parts where they cannot… for the same reasons as before. There are neighborhoods that do not want them in their neighborhoods so they go to where there are places .

      The doctor, trash collection idea is similarly ludicrous. WHITE doctors don’t live near WHITE trash collectors EITHER. Capische? The REASON blacks used to is because black doctors were NOT WELCOME in white neighborhoods. Get real – and deal with the real history here,

      I do not dispute that blacks have been displaced by highways – they have but why are they routinely mixed in and confused with “do gooder” policies gone wrong?

      that’s not do-gooder – that’s pushing low-income folks out because it’s easier than try to build through an upscale white community.

      I don’t dispute there have been and are do-gooder policies gone wrong either – but that’s not what destroys black communities any more than highways or locating industry near the seedier sections of towns.. why do we conflate them?

      but in no case – for any of these reasons do black neighborhoods get “destroyed” and cease to exist because they have been spread to the winds.. There are ALWAYS black sections of towns … look around you.

      what’s “wrong” is the narrative that attempts to blame “do-gooders” and “liberals” for the “help” – when clearly things like highways and smokestacks and even re-development and razing of “blight” was NOT intended to help blacks at all.. in the first place and certainly not the work of “liberal do-gooders”.

      What defines black neighborhoods is poor education, unemployment, a lack of an income, dealing with illegal drugs as a means of making an income then getting drawn into the criminal justice (sic) system – not do-gooder policies gone wrong.

      when people do not have a decent education – they do not get jobs.. it’s pretty simple. why they don’t have decent educations is also not due to do-gooder policies gone wrong – day care, Head-Start, Title 1, free and reduced lunches, etc HELP KIDS – regardless of how the kid got here even if they did from “irresponsible” parents. It helps pulls kids out of poverty if they can get a decent education. it works for all races – as long as the do have a school that “works”.

      We can disagree about feelings – but please don’t confuse them with the facts which are right in front on you – you can go to a predominately black poor cohesive neighborhood like Furgeson – like East Henrico, like Petersburg, like Lynchburg – no matter how many highways or smokestacks have been built – or for that matter no matter how many do-gooders have run amok or racists for that matter – there are.. there remains – people still have to have a place to live – most middle and higher income neighborhoods do NOT want the poor living “randomly” among them white, black or hispanic so they tend to group in places where they can. That’s a demonstrably reality you can easily prove in just about any city or town with a population of poor and black.

      I seek the truth here. I don’t buy narratives that have such obvious conflicts as the ones put forth here.. and the truth is – there are black neighborhoods everywhere.. no matter that some have been harmed or even “destroyed” – many, many more remain and are intact and cohesive and in many ways – far more cohesive that some white neighborhoods who don’t even know some of their neighbors…

      I respectfully disagree. I apologize to anyone who has been offended or feels I have impugned them personally – but I do speak plainly.

  6. The problem I have with posts like this is that it and the discussion are all by a bunch of white folks who have never lived in or experienced the “social capital” of the slums they write about. Another problem is that plenty of African-Americans and Latinos are most assuredly in the middle class and have been for some time.

    • what disturbs me is that it is part and parcel of a conundrum on the right that seeks to portray the plight of poor blacks as the fault of wrong-headed government and “liberal” do-gooder policies and of course the blacks themselves.

      it starts off like this: ” A critical but unappreciated contributor to poverty in the United States is the paucity of “social capital” among the poor. Social capital is the term economists use to describe informal knowledge and networks in communities that enable people to collaborate for their mutual benefit and greater good. ”

      where does that conclusion come from? where is the data to support it?

      and from there – more gets layered on –

      ” Poor African-Americans once had significant of social capital when they had cohesive communities, even during the Jim Crow regime of discrimination and segregation. But planners, do-gooders and advocates of “civic progress” did tremendous damage to African-American communities in the post-World War II era through slum clearance programs, the blasting of freeways through their neighborhoods and other state/local government initiatives.”

      so we started with a premise that is just plucked out of thin air -zero data to support it… then we now add the astounding assertion that tremendous damage was done to their “social capital” and “cohesion” – as an entire race – because of highway building and slum clearance….

      then notice – the narrative shifts from highways to social programs:

      ” It is widely acknowledged by scholars of all ideological stripes that misbegotten social engineering of the 1950s and 1960s not only demolished African-American communities but disrupted important social ties that ameliorated the condition of poverty.”

      so now – we’ve transitioned to “social programs” as the cause …

      then we go on –

      ” Since the early 1900s, when the United States first introduced public housing, do-gooders have mistaken material poverty for spiritual (or cultural) poverty. Material poverty reflects a lack of income, a predicament tied to the business cycle and the availability of economic opportunity or the lack thereof. Spiritual/cultural poverty amplifies the challenges of material poverty through single-parent households, teen pregnancies, child neglect and abuse, substance abuse, criminality, dropping out of high school and other notorious challenges often associated with, but not caused by, material poverty.”

      remember – we’re talking about closing a trailer park – and now we’re on to teen pregnancies and child neglect, etc… – not just the ones displaced – but the vast majority never displaced – all of them are now “destroyed” and have been driven into poverty and have had their social “cohesiveness” taken away.

      It’s almost as if there are no more black neighborhoods, or phones or cars, or sidewalks.. jesus H. Keerist…!!!!

      “It appears that the Latino immigrants living in material poverty in South Richmond have brought the resilience of their native cultures with them. They have not yet been fully acculturated to the American way of poverty. They own property. They grow their own vegetables. They collaborate to provide child care and transportation to work. They support one another in ways that the American poor typically do not.”

      so NOW – we’re talking about how NATIVE “cultures” are more “resilient” than our homegrown black cultures? How in the world did we get to this difference in cultures when BOTH are impacted by the SAME KIND of impacts?

      then we get on to the coupe-de-grace condemnation of government and do-gooders:

      “Now local authorities, mistaking material poverty for spiritual poverty, seem determined to disrupt these self-supporting communities. If this trailer-camp initiative is not thwarted, we can foretell the disruption of the Latino residents’ resilient culture and their conversion into “real Americans” who depend upon government for their subsistence”

      It’s as if highways and do-gooders have impacted each and every “self-supporting” community and DESTROYED all of it – none left .. no more black/poor/and now hispanic neighborhoods because their “social capital and “cohesiveness” have been – destroyed by misbegotten government policies of highway building, welfare and general do-gooding…. and now the are “atomized” to boot!

      I just invite folks to drive around Henrico and Richmond and tell me the the poor minorities neighborhoods have been nuked to extinction and the poor now live among us and no longer have communities with “social capital” and “cohesiveness”.

      sorry – as I’ve said many times – Jim is a good man – he has excellent insights and tolerance for folks like me … but this is beyond the pale… as any kind of reasonable narrative.

      It’s more typical of the propaganda we see coming from the right these days where they do everything they can to NOT deal with the realities and they construct these “plausible” narratives that their supporters swallow hook, line and sinker as “fact” when , in fact, we have right in front of us – a place like Ferguson in which the entire community is together .. in their churches, on the streets, in interviews with media … yes.. there are some imported rabble rousers as well as a dead petty street thug – but it is ALSO quite evident an INTACT community there and the people in it DO TALK to each other.. and are unified in their perspective about how their community is policed with largely white police – and across the country – blacks are up in arms about it ..

      that does not sound like they have lost their “social capital” at all.. even though they have indeed been seriously and adversely impacted in a variety of ways but the constant is a lack of education, low incomes, poverty, street dealing, and kids who grow up with no education and no hope of a job who then become street thugs who do really dumb things like physically attacking a policeman.

      I have no sympathy here for the street thug.. it is what it is – but the “community” he came from is anything but lacking social capital and cohesiveness.

      we have a blind eye to it. We deny it. we say it’s all caused by rabble rousers and move on… it’s a sad problem caused by do-gooders and bad govt… ipso facto.

      sorry – I’m not buy the narrative – put forth – at all… it has some elements of truth -yes – but it’s been weaved together into a totally false narrative that basically denies the realities..

      and .. I just disagree with it – strongly – if anyone has noticed.

      we cannot get to solutions on these problems if this is how we construct narratives about them.. we just divide ourselves.. further..

      • Gee, Larry, I’m sorry if I threaten your smug narrative of the causes of poverty in our society, but we’ve been combating poverty your way for fifty years and poverty is just as entrenched and endemic as ever. Maybe your analysis overlooks something. I’m trying to figure out what that might be.

    • Its interesting that I had the same thought when men were writing on this blog about how “safe” or “unsafe” women presumably felt in decades past and what women believed constituted rape in regards to the UVA story.

      • ditto. and in both cases – we have older white guys regaling us with their perspective – and I do wince at the thoughts expressed at times – as an older white guy myself! But that’s a good and legitimate purpose for dialogue and exchanging views.. just keep it on the issue not the person expressing.

        But what I have learned is that when a Woman or a minority tells me something – I tend to put some stock in it.. if for no other reason than – to deny their view is not a good way to try to find common ground resolution is not what a guy decides is right about – issues that affect women – and I could go on to other issues affecting women in our current world where men decide. I don’t want a world where we not only do not agree but we further divide ourselves… common ground is worth trying to find ..

        • Gee, I guess I have to apologize for being an older white guy. That’s who I am and I can’t make myself into something else. But I can invite other points of view to this blog and engage with them, and that’s what I try to do. Everybody is welcome to express themselves here. I wish more would.

        • Amen to this last post. Common ground is worth trying to find. Indeed it is the essence of conversation, which we have too little of, especially on race.
          Let me try this. Larry, the reason I think you are wrong about the pernicious influence of misguided social-engineering policies in the 60s etc. is because I grew up in the city in an old neighborhood where we did have folks from all walks of life around, where neighbors did have a support network in other neighbors, where the devastating effects of “slum clearance” and roads punched through communities were nearby and obvious lessons in civic failure. So your answer is “I’m not buy the narrative – put forth – at all… it has some elements of truth -yes – but it’s been weaved together into a totally false narrative that basically denies the realities.” OK, I get it, that’s how you feel, but maybe you should be more open to the possibility that others have a different perspective than that of semi-rural Spotsylvania and don’t feel so confident that Jim’s comments were a “totally false narrative” when it comes to Richmond, or even, for that matter, eastern Henrico. Let’s look for that common ground.

          • re: common ground and facts.

            they work together.

            statements and narratives that have obvious conflicts with facts and realities – don’t.

            When we say 50 years of programs – does it mean total failure across the board or does it mean some successes, some failures and not enough progress?

            re: code violations –

            are we talking about health and safety or something else?

            further – are we saying that these things more directly and adversely affect the poor or is it the poor just don’t have the money to be as safe and healthy as the code strives …to protect people? kids?

            false narrative – when you put together the pieces and the totally unproven .. zero evidence presumptions that poor blacks have lost their social capital – it’s just heaping false things on top of each other so yes.. the final conclusion might have some element of truth but how you get there and what you deny as truth is not valid at all.

            lets agree on the presumptions that go into those narratives FIRST – find that common ground before conclusions are leaped to.

            Jim has been through this .. he see’s state level racial gaps without looking at the underlying neighborhood school data… and similar..

            and he cites the “exception” of Churches where the poor do meet up… does he think these churches are not neighborhood churches where neighbors who know and talk to each other in their homes – also go to church together?

            how do you say “with the exception of church” that the poor are atomized and have lost their social capital? Does Jim recognize just how the civil rights era worked – through black churches?

            it’s just wrong pre-conceptions.. going into narratives that sound “plausible” to those who don’t look hard at them.

          • re: ” Larry, the reason I think you are wrong about the pernicious influence of misguided social-engineering policies in the 60s etc. is because I grew up in the city in an old neighborhood where we did have folks from all walks of life around, where neighbors did have a support network in other neighbors, where the devastating effects of “slum clearance” and roads punched through communities were nearby and obvious lessons in civic failure. ”

            why do you group roads into the “misguided social-engineering” stuff? Do you think the roads had the same goal as social engineering? Slum clearance? was that misguided efforts to help the poor or just displace them for something better than a slum?

            these are totally conflicting realities – being grouped together as if they are the same .. why?

  7. By the way, Larry, what do you think of the City of Richmond policy of shutting down trailer parks for code violations. Good idea or bad idea?

    • depends on the reason.. if it is health and safety – what are you going to do – just waiver the slums because they are “affordable”?

      how do you feel about allowing the use of basements, attics and attendant structures for housing the “poor”?

      TMT hates that idea… right?

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