As you might expect, it didn’t take long for political opportunists and race-baiters to rally to Ferguson, Missouri, looking to leverage unrest over a teen killed by police into a platform for advocating their policy agenda. Writing at USA Today, Jesse Jackson would have been well-served to stop after calling upon protestors to refrain from further violence. Alas, he just couldn’t help himself:
Since President Lyndon Johnson, there has been no significant urban, suburban, small town or rural policy to rebuild America. Thus we should not be surprised that urban and rural communities, and all points in between, have significantly deteriorated during the past 46 years of neglect. Republicans are the party of “no” and Democrats are the party of “don’t know” because it hasn’t fought for bold ideas, policies or plans to turn us in a new direction. Policies of community development are being replaced with policies of community containment. The absence of a domestic Marshall Plan is being replaced with martial law.
Such rhetoric suggests that Jackson views America as a ravaged battlefield, laid waste by a destructive force on par with a major natural catastrophe or act of war. By what means has this devastation been wrought? “46 years of neglect” by government.
What a low view of humanity. In Jackson’s mind, without pervasive government activism, human beings are lost to destitution and despair. He goes on to lament “inadequate investments being made in our infrastructure… outdated public transportation… denial of capital investment for entrepreneurs,” and so forth. Apparently, government – an institution defined by its capacity to lawfully wield force against individual lives – is the only power capable of providing for people’s needs.
Conspicuously missing from Jackson’s consideration is the one place in the nation which best models his vision for “community development,” Detroit, Michigan. Once home to a peak population of 1.8 million, and now languishing at around 700,000, Detroit crumbles as a manifestation of precisely the kind of “investment” and “development” Jackson speaks of.
Such is the price of Jackson’s prescribed “equality,” a condition where individuals are actually treated differently under the law depending upon how productive they are. Such is also the price of Jackson’s prescribed “justice,” a condition where promises of provision are made by government on the backs of the most productive and successful, because nothing proves more “just” than seizing people’s property. In the final analysis, it appears Jackson supports looting after all.