Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Washington lies matter
On your right
Now, a dispatch from the wilder shores of grim nonsense: Barack Obama’s Justice Department is suing the city of Ferguson, Missouri.
You remember Ferguson. It’s where the August 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown — budding strong-arm robber and “Thug 4 Life” trainee — sparked a week-long orgy of destruction that ended with a federal investigation and threats of civil-rights lawsuits against the city.
There was another wave of violence after a grand jury refused to indict police officer Darren Wilson when it became clear that the anarchist Left’s “hands up, don’t shoot” claptrap never happened. But much else, including Brown’s assault on Wilson, his attempts to get the officer’s sidearm and at least two charges at him in the street, despite repeated warnings, did. All this carefully corroborated by eyewitness testimony, most of it from black Fergusonians.
None of which made the slightest difference to the DOJ, which seems to be acting as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the “Black Lives Matter” mob. Under threat of federal intervention and lawsuits, the city negotiated for half a year over “acceptable” changes to police recruiting, retention and training. Last week, the city council rejected some federal demands, noting they would cost the city an additional $3.7 million in the first year alone. The results were sadly predictable.
Loretta Lynch, Barack Obama’s Attorney General, was in high dudgeon as she thundered at the beleaguered city. Ferguson’s “citizens have waited decades for justice” was just one of her disconnected yawps. Policing and police practices are everywhere the stuff of politics; nationally and locally, the chief task of a government is to insure the security of citizens, in accordance with their wishes. Ferguson became a black-majority city in 2000, so one would assume that, if there were major problems with policing, its citizens would have done something about it that didn’t involve destroying a major part of the business district. Changing the composition of the city council comes to mind. Certainly one would have expected this if the pervasive constitutional violations the Department of Justice now alleges were real.
Given the apparent incapacity or disinterest of the citizenry of Ferguson, paternalism will now descend as the Obama administration takes matters in hand. They will begin by punishing the rubes on the town council who had the effrontery to suggest that the Justice Department’s demands were too expensive. Because as we all know, nothing must stand in the way of a beautiful theory. And since the racism of the Ferguson police is a given for the ruling elite of Washington, the town must be made to pay.
Except they can’t. The briefest review of Ferguson’s budget shows deep red. Its projected budget expenditures this year are $24 million, against income from all sources of about $17.5 million. The city has been in deficit for the past four years and anticipates this year’s income will decline by about $200,000. When your tax base has a median family income of $36,000 — only 1.5 times poverty level — there’s not much more money to squeeze out. Debt is already so great and additional revenue so paltry that the city council projects bankruptcy in the 2017-18 budget cycle. And that was before the federal lawsuit.
Half of the city’s $24 million is allocated to personnel costs, including recruitment, retention and training. It isn’t enough. Ferguson has had five positions open in its police department for two years; these could go some way toward making the department more like the community it serves, but … there’s no money for new hires.
Not that ideologues like Loretta Lynch and her boss care one iota. There may be a racial problem, ergo, money must be thrown at it. No matter that said money doesn’t exist; it must be flung regardless. So Ferguson, Missouri is headed for Chapter 9.
Missouri won’t help — it has problems of its own, with only $7.6 billion worth of assets to cover $13.9 billion worth of debt. Each and every taxpayer would have to fork over an additional $3,400 to get even, and that’s without bailing out Ferguson. So it’s likely that town will be driven into receivership by the Obama administration. Police patrols will be fewer, crime more prevalent. Garbage will pile up, streets will deteriorate and eventually services will halt. St. Louis will have a suburb that resembles other Democrat-heavy failed paradises like Flint and Detroit or San Bernardino and Stockton, California. How will this help anyone but the poseur class in Washington?
Which doesn’t matter. There’s political hay to be made here, so the administration will channel that anonymous Lieutenant standing amidst devastation in longago Vietnam and say with perfectly straight faces, “It was necessary to destroy Ferguson in order to save it.”
And, yes: That’s still absurd today.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News.
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