The Road To Hell...
I work for a large ``scattered site`` property management company in St. Louis, and often visit the sleazy underbelly of the city as part of my duties. This job is not for the meek or squeamish; we occasionally find dead bodies, we ALWAYS find roaches and spiders, we go into dilapidated buildings full of mice droppings, etc. (People with Compulsive Disorder need not apply.) Although it can be disgusting and aggravating, I generally enjoy it; I never have the same day twice.
A while back I visited Hell; more specifically, I visited a crack-infested ghetto area of St. Louis. The current owner had been tricked into purchasing the building, which had been filled with drug dealers and prostitutes so it LOOKED like a good, income producing property. These tenants stole everything that wasn`t nailed down (and a good deal that was), and left the building in ruins.
Two weeks before my visit, our maintenance staff secured all of the doors with plywood to prevent squatters and prowlers from entering. At that time we had two tenants still living in the upstairs apartments, while the first floor units were vacant. One of the upstairs tenants had returned her keys to our office, and a co-worker and I went to check on things.
The building looked long abandoned. Every window on the first floor had been broken out, and all of the back doors were standing open; the vandals had succeeded in cutting through the plywood we had used to secure them. There was a huge hole in the wall on the side of the building where vandals had tunneled through the bricks. (It was obvious that they had thrown the bricks they removed from the wall through the windows of the building.) Trash was strewn throughout the yard, and the fence had been pulled down.
The basements had been stripped of copper and other hardware.
We went through the vacant units methodically. Inside was pure filth, with trash, dried food, used cotton balls and Q-tips and used condoms on the floors. It was obvious that people were using drugs and prostituting in this horrible place. (I cannot, in my wildest dreams, imagine performing a sex act inside this disease-riddled place!) Walls were down to bare studs in spots, or had food or human discharge on them. I feared accidentally sticking myself with a used needle.
Fortunately, since there was no heat and the food supply was exhausted, we weren`t met by an army of bugs, as is common. (Have you ever seen a living carpet? It looks like a ragged brown rug until you see it move!)
We went upstairs to the vacant apartment and found an electric heater running beside a bed, and realized that a squatter had just fled through the front door while we were coming up the back stairwell. This place was as trashed and filthy as the others, yet someone was living here! We went down the stairs and around to the back where our ``tenant`` was waiting for us to leave. He gave us some crazy story, and we chased him away. Of course, he would come back as soon as we left.
While we were talking to our squatter, the one remaining tenant came down to speak to us. She had been living in this apartment with no heat, since she couldn`t pay her gas bill. She had two school-aged children, who never seem to be in school, living in this hell-hole. Since the theft of her water lines (thieves steal them for copper) she had been without water, and hadn`t bothered to call us; she had continued to use the toilet, and the feces had formed a cone which rose above the toilet seat, forcing them to defecate standing up. When they grew thirsty, they walked two blocks to the nearby gas station and bought a bottle of water. No big deal!
Maintenance came with 30 pieces of plywood and extra-long screws to re-secure the building (at the owner`s expense) but it wouldn`t be long before they would come back to do it all again. We decided to give this tenant notice to vacate, and we contacted family services, because those children were obviously truant and neglected.
The plight of those children really struck me; they are the walking dead. The boy was undoubtedly going to join a gang in a couple of years and would either be dead or imprison by the time he was 17. The girl would probably become a drug addict (as I`m sure is true of her mother) and would go enter the family prostitution business. She would probably die of some easily treated illness after first spitting out a couple of children of her own, thus perpetuating the cycle. I see nothing but coffins in their futures.
This is not the only such place I`ve encountered in this business, and, although this was one of the worst I`ve seen, there are many nearly as bad. Once I walked behind a drug-infested building to find about 25 people smoking crack pipes. I waved to them, they waved back and I left! We had a drug-related shooting in one of our better properties not so long ago, and had to treat the floors to remove the blood. I`ve seen buildings where tenants pile trash in their stairwells until they can`t walk out their doors, I`ve seen places where they throw buckets of urine out of their windows because they don`t have working plumbing, and they break the toilets as fast as we can fix them. We`ve had burglaries, assaults, robberies, attempted rapes, arson. Once I witnessed what could only be described as a riot outside of a school (when I reported it to the police, they lost interest because I hadn`t see any weapons.)
Many of our tenants receive rental assistance and can live better, yet frequently even those we think will be good default on rent and damage the apartments. Why? Often we find drugs, pornography, or evidence of criminality (guns, etc.). Strangely, many of these tenants will have Bible tracts left amidst their debris, tracts referencing prosperity theology. What they are taking from their readings of the Bible is a kind of pseudo-Christianity, a primitive magical belief that God can be made to give them things through invocations and spiritual practices. They miss the whole point of Salvation, that it is a spiritual gift given freely by God for our souls and not some method of squeezing material things from the Divine by ritualistic practices..
Far too frequently, these families have a mother and numerous children, children with different last names. They are matriarchal, frequently include aunts and grandmothers, but few men. Males who co-habitate with these families are generally young, generally school dropouts, and are rarely around past the age of 16. Too often, illegitimacy and criminality are dismissed by the elders as unavoidable indiscretions of youth.
To many such, a trip for groceries is a major undertaking, necessitating most of their day be devoted to the journey. They must obtain medical care from a free clinic, or the hospital emergency room, and frequently have civil judgements from the Fire Department because must take an ambulance to get there. Their lives are restricted to the few paltry blocks surrounding their homes; they get their food from gas stations.
Utilities are hit-and-miss; when their bill becomes unpayable they transfer service to another name (often a child). If they cannot find someone to sign for them, they do without. It`s amazing how many tenants in such areas use candles for light, or kerosene heaters to keep warm, or electric space heaters. Blankets are tacked to the doorframes to keep heat in one room. If they can afford pagers, they can walk to local pay phones to return calls-otherwise they are unreachable.
Life is especially Hobbesian; poor, hard, brutish, and (mercifully) short.
...With Good Intentions
This is what ``progressive`` social policies and good intentions have wrought! (What is paved with good intentions?) Feminism, welfare, and the sexual revolution, along with the explosion of narcotics, have completely destroyed the black family. This woman had a father, who was probably a drug addict or alcoholic and who likely lived on welfare. In another time, he would have been poor and uneducated, but would have worked and cared for his children. Thanks to the compassion of the Left, he was freed of any responsibility and could destroy himself and everyone around him at his leisure. Because more children mean more government largesse, poor women frequently become baby factories, spitting out more hopeless welfare recipients and keeping our prisons full. These children will grow up sitting on their front stoop, waiting for drug customers or johns, just as their mother sat on hers, her mother on hers, and their children will sit on theirs. It becomes an endless cycle of si tting and waiting, waiting to die.
Those children deserve better. They deserve an education, a clean home, hope. The nanny state steals hope. It offers the easy path at the expense of self-esteem and upward mobility. Sloth is the hallmark of the welfare state, and sloth leads to ignorance and despair.
The physical environment is not the problem, but rather a symptom of a deeper malady. It is, as Dan Quayle said, a poverty of values. Secular Humanism and progressivism have taken personal responsibility and familial bonding out of the equation, and the very poor are left to their fate. They have been told they are animals, ugly and ruled by their lusts, incapable of raising themselves beyond their station. They have substituted the government for the father, have excused drug abuse and other destructive behavior in the interest of tolerance, have assured these people that institutional racism and greedy capitalism have conspired to rob them of a better life. Is it any wonder that a poor youth turns to crime, when he looks around and sees apathy, poverty, and despair, and hears that it is the fault of wealthy white men?
That`s where multiculturalism comes in; the Left encourages pride in one`s faults, demands the right to continue a morally impoverished lifestyle. Multiculturalism and Moral Relativism produce practices and beliefs that are ultimately highly destructive to society as a whole and to the poor in particular. The concept of ``blackness``, the idea that crime, drugs, and violence are authentic to the African-American experience, prevents an honest look at public policy-and how we deal with the poor. It has become chic to live in squalor.
That is what is so dangerous about the racial divide in this country. African Americans now have what they have always sought, what Booker T. Washington asked for; the freedom of upward mobility. Doors are not closed to educated, articulate black people. The barrier now is self-imposed by an antipathy towards education in much of the poor segment of black America and a lack of enculturation into the mainstream as part of the authenticity of ``blackness``.
Unfortunately, many have a vested interest in maintaining this racial plantation; the worst racism in America comes from people who claim to champion the African-American community-civil rights leaders, compassionate liberals, etc. They steal more than money, they steal hope.
As a result, crime, drugs, illiteracy, poverty, and hopelessness curse many African-Americans. Nothing is done because those who should be acting have nothing to gain; Bill Cosby was right when he chastised the Black Community for separatism in the name of ``Blackness``. They have to take responsibility for what is happening to their poor.
There is absolutely no reason for these places to exist; they are a monument to the insanity that is Liberalism. Without decades of leftist social experimentation this place would never have existed, and everyone would have been the better for it. Those children are living a nightmare, a demonic version of the American Dream.
But Liberals mean well, they are always well intentioned.
We know what is paved with intentions; I visited that place.
Timothy Birdnow works in property management and is a frequent contributor to American Thinker magazine.
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