In a scene from the film “Gone with the Wind,” during the siege of Atlanta, Scarlett O’Hara runs out onto the deserted street to stop a lone soldier on horseback. She asks him if the Rebels are deserting the city. The soldier replies that they have to, “before Sherman catches the lot of us. Better refugee south right quick, ma’am.”
The last defenses of the blighted city of Camden, N.J., are falling. The cavalry – its police and firefighters – are evacuating the city. Camden announced that as of today, approximately one quarter of its workforce, mainly the police and firefighters, would be laid off in order to close a $26.5 million budget deficit.
Rated as one of the most dangerous cities in America, Camden will be laying off 43 percent of its police force, in addition to 67 firefighters and 150 other municipal workers in order to balance the budget.
Officials have been seeking concessions on areas such as health benefits from unions in the hope of averting some layoffs. The city’s $138.8 million budget for the fiscal year ending June 30 has been hard hit, like those of many other U.S. cities, by a sharp fall in revenues during the national economic downturn, at the same time as an increasing number of unemployed people have placed a greater demand on the city for services.
Campbell’s Soups Headquarters are still located in Camden, N.J., but they closed down their main factory years ago, throwing many unskilled workers onto unemployment. The rumor was that they’d moved their manufacturing facility to Mexico.
Glenn Beck and his radio buddies were laughing over Camden’s plight. No blame to them, there. The Reuters report (above) places the blame on the unions. No doubt, they drove Campbell’s soups away, the main business revenue producer and now the city’s law enforcement infrastructure is falling apart.
Camden’s school system is a shambles. It was a shambles ten years or more ago, when I visited it as a representative of my company. We were participating in a community beautification project. Meanwhile, Camden ranks as one of the worst school systems in the state, if not the nation. Their scores are dismal. Their streets, with miles of boarded up roughhouses, are dismal. Their crime rate is dismal. The remaining people are in a dismal state. I know – I spoke with some of them.
We were there to plant a garden on a street in one of Camden’s worst neighborhoods. A police escort had to supervise the operation and protect our volunteers, not to mention the governor who had come to the garden party, to congratulate the neighborhood residents.
Only the residents didn’t do anything. They didn’t lift a finger. They didn’t dare. As I was a photographer, not a gardener, I was free to walk about and ask questions. Most of the residents stayed resolutely on their steps. But a few brave souls wandered out as far as the sidewalk. So I approached them.
“Wouldn’t you residents like to help?” I asked as diplomatically as I could.
“No!” a man replied. “You all volunteered to come here. We didn’t ask you to come here.”
“But it’s your neighborhood,” I replied. “Don’t you care? Don’t you want it to look beautiful? We’ve come to help you, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could also help yourselves?”
“We can’t,” he said. “If we helped you, we’d be killed. The drug dealers won’t allow us. We shouldn’t even be talking to you. They’re watching us, even now.” He pointed down the street where some ominous-looking cars, with ominous looking occupants, watched the proceedings.
With that, he gathered the spectators together, and urged them to go back into their houses.
After everything was planted, I spoke to the police officers. One of them said that by morning the shrubbery would be gone, that no one would ever know we’d been there. The guy I drove down with and I were the last to leave the neighborhood. I told the officers we’d be all right. But they said the neighborhood was so dangerous that they didn’t dare leave us here, even for a few minutes.
That is the drug culture, the same drug culture the Liberals worship. Their business is hopelessness and despair. Prosperous residents, happy families, good neighbors, attentive students are of no use to them or the Liberals. They thrive on poverty, despair, and ruin. Their weapons are fear and violence.
Once the “impediments” of law and order, of education and success, of jobs and prosperity are removed, their field will be cleared and Camden will be theirs to rule, much like Somalia is governed by thugs and murderers. The residents of Camden are trapped much the way the victims of Hurricane Katrina were.
Those who could flee, did so long ago. The city is largely abandoned to its fate now, occupied only by those who can’t afford to flee and have no place to go. The manufacturing industry, as is the case in much of the United States, has vanished. The children are basically uneducated, now, save where philanthropic organizations can assist the few willing to learn. Without an even a marginally educated populace, companies will never return.
The city is going bankrupt and throwing off its last defenses in the hope of survival, although in fact, what they’ve done is run up the white flag of surrender. One of two things will happen: the drug vultures will assume complete control of a corrupted government, or that government will give developers license to throw out the remaining residents to build a new, gentrified city, a move which will benefit various building unions greatly. Then Camden might see a rebirth, a Phoenix-like rise from the ashes of its former self.
Meanwhile, it’s a sad spectacle to witness, and a lesson in the evils of union politics, bureaucratic corruption, and the abandonment of basic American principles and values. That’s nothing to laugh about, especially if you’re a New Jersey taxpayer.