How we plan and build ghettos to make ourselves richer and richer

Chapter 43




In Philadelphia the street gangs have been replaced by floor gangs who now struggle with each other floor against floor, and it can mean death to get off the elevator on the wrong floor. More than 100 gang members aged 12 to 17 are killed there each year. One of them was my local street seller - peddling my book, American Pictures - just as one of my street sellers in Baltimore was killed.

I have several friends who have been held up at gunpoint by 10 or 11 year old kids shoot wildly around with Israeli Uzi's. By giving them a sentence often twice as long as their age we try to remove a part of the ghetto the same fashion as when we tear down the houses of the ghetto - without removing the causes of the ghetto.



Though five out of six housing code violations in slums are proven to be from the clear neglect of landlords and only one in six can be attributed to despairing tenants, nevertheless the popular blame-the-poor myth persists that "people cause slums." A couple of slumlords I lived with in huge mansions outside the cities were certainly helpful in spreading such ideas.



Yet having lived for years in those old dilapidated apartments handed over to the poor when they are already worn out and used up, I never witnessed any tenant destruction of the type which makes a slum: leaking roofs, sagging floors and stairways, defective plumbing, sewer pipes, and wiring. But never will I forget the pain and anguish I went through with my best friends in the Fillmore ghetto, Viliana and Lance, when their daughter died falling through a rotten window which their slumlord for years had resisted bringing up to code standards.



The underclass is constantly being squeezed and pushed around. Urban "removal"-supposedly for its benefit - is everywhere being used to get rid of, concentrate, or hide our undesirables. It often made me cry to see how old historic European-looking "slum" neighborhoods are being plowed under. 



In Baltimore's charming ghetto we try to eradicate the ghetto by plowing under the old cozy neighborhoods and standing them on end instead.

Stacked up, you feel even more confined, and accordingly crime gets worse and worse the higher we build these slum stories.



American ghettos stretch out in thick belts five to ten miles wide around downtown business districts as seen here in Houston - unlike in the Third World where the rich live in the inner city (like the new gentry) and the poor in shantytowns on the outskirts.



It is a paradox that we always look for the reasons for the ghetto within the ghetto, although it is implied in the concept of "ghetto" that the causes are outside.



Especially in this ring of affluent white suburbs encircling every city.



We have trees, swimming pools and all the possibilities for expanding in the world.



We always live outside the city limits so our children will not have to go to school with the undesirables and to avoid paying taxes to the city although we get our income from it.  In this way the cities get poorer and poorer.



And in this way we make blacks in America and Muslim immigrants in Europe poorer and poorer. When I first came to America every white owned 6 times as much as every black. Today we make 8 times as much!