How Baltimore is Killing Itself with Poor Public Policy


Steve Hanke and Stephen J. K. Walters have taken a look into what factors have lead the City of Baltimore into a 60 year period of population decline and economic stagnation. There are lessons to be learned right here in Evansville from the failures in Baltimore. Quite frankly with only a few exceptions we share Baltimore’s policies and fate. Perhaps both Baltimore and Evansville could use a lesson in doing things better.


“The city’s main streets will be closed so that IndyCar racers can compete in the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix. Much more than prize money is at stake. Nine days later, on Sept. 13, voters will pick a mayor, and incumbent Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is betting that the auto race will draw thousands of free-spending tourists and stimulate the local economy, thereby demonstrating her vision and competence. In fact, it will be an economic dud, a money-loser even for its promoters, and a logistical nightmare for residents. The race exemplifies the city’s development strategy: Subsidize big downtown projects with other people’s money—in this case, over $6 million in federal stimulus funds for the two-mile race course—and proclaim an urban renaissance.”

“Away from the waterfront, this strategy’s failure is apparent. The city has lost 30,000 residents and 53,000 jobs since 2000, marking the sixth consecutive decade of population and employment exodus. About 47,000 abandoned houses crumble while residents suffer a homicide rate higher than any large city except Detroit. The poverty rate is 50% above the national average.”

“To attract what little investment Baltimore has in recent decades, public officials awarded subsidies to big developers to offset the difference between the city’s confiscatory tax rate and that of nearby counties. But developers have to “pay to play,” which assures a reliable flow of campaign contributions to sitting officials—and invites corruption. Indeed, Ms. Rawlings-Blake took office only 18 months ago, after the previous mayor resigned as part of a plea bargain to resolve a scandal involving her allegedly accepting gifts from a developer seeking subsidies.”

“In modern Baltimore, the machine has exploited class divisions, not ethnic ones. Officials raised property taxes 21 times between 1950 and 1985, channeling the proceeds to favored voting blocs and causing many homeowners and entrepreneurs—disproportionately Republicans—to flee. It was brilliant politics, as Democrats now enjoy an eight-to-one voter registration advantage and no Republican has been elected mayor in 48 years.”


  1. During the Vietnam War someone once said that in order for us to save a village we had to destroy it. This wag must be the same clown who destroyed Baltimore.

    I suppose running a shriveled hulk of a town is better than thriving in a prosperous city run by Republican politicians and Tea Party activists…

  2. Wikipedia

    The relative size of the city’s black population grew from 23.8% in 1950 to 46.4% in 1970.[31]

    The Baltimore riot of 1968 occurred following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968.
    Coinciding with riots in other cities, public order was not restored until April 12, 1968.

    The Baltimore riot cost the city of Baltimore an estimated $10 million (US$ 63 million in 2011). A total of 11,000 Maryland National Guard and federal troops were ordered into the city.[32]

    Lasting effects of the riot can be seen on the streets of North Avenue, Howard Street, Gay Street, and Pennsylvania Avenue where long stretches of the streets remain barren.[33]


    White persons, 2010 Federal Census, Baltimore: 29.6%, State of Maryland 58.2%

    Black persons, 2010 Federal Census, Baltimore: 63.7%, State of Maryland 29.4%

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