Crime and Poverty
Walmart announced in April that it is shutting down four stores in the city of Chicago because those stores lose tens of millions of dollars every year and their annual losses have nearly doubled in the last five years. In response to this announcement, newly elected Chicago Mayor, Brandon Johnson gave a fiery speech in which he said, “wonder why our communities look like they look? We have violence every single day. It is just not on us; it is on the corporate citizens that come into our community and ravage our community. And Walmart, you should be absolutely ashamed of yourself. You are the reason why our communities lack the investment that they have … We deserve to be able to shop, work, play in our own communities.”
Mayor Johnson is blaming the crime crisis in Chicago on the poverty that he claims was produced by the lack of capital investment into the city by corporations like Walmart. But he has it backwards. Poverty doesn’t cause crime, crime causes poverty. Are entrepreneurs more or less likely to invest in a crime-infested community vs a crime-free community? When looking at dying or dead cities, crime usually comes first. If a community starts seeing a significant uptick in carjacks, burglaries, muggings, people will move. No one wants to live, work or invest in a dangerous, crime riddled city. People are fleeing cities like San Francisco in droves because crime has risen 50%, shoplifting was made legal, and homeless encampments are strewn throughout the city.
Walmart did not leave Chicago because it is prejudice against black and brown people. Walmart left Chicago because of crime. That’s it. Walmart is not a charity; it is in business to make money. Walmart would put up a store in any part of the world if it believed it will turn a profit. If a corporation opens a business, and the business is getting robbed to the point that it is no longer profitable, the business will shut its doors. The jobs will leave. The tax base will disappear. Property values will plummet. And the city’s economy becomes hollowed out. And that is the problem with many of our major cities. The problems that politicians blame on race are really problems due to the failure of government, whether it is in dealing with crime or homelessness or corruption.
This problem is not unique to Chicago. It is in most of our major cities. A wealthy suburb of Atlanta, Buckhead is pushing to de-annex itself from the city because the crime there has become so dangerous. Buckhead wants to separate itself from Atlanta, so it can create its own police force to make it safe again. If Buckhead succeeds, Atlanta would lose a large part of its tax base. It would become a poorer city as a direct result of the rampant crime in Atlanta. In Philadelphia, businesses are “closing left and right” because of the dramatic increase in shoplifting and theft, as well as the increase in violent crime in many neighborhoods.
A clothing store in Portland, Oregon, ‘Rains PDX’ closed shop last week after it had been burglarized 15 times in the last year and a half. Its owner, Marcy Landolfo, left a note affixed on the door stating, “Our city is in peril. Small businesses (and large) cannot sustain doing business, in our city’s current state. We have no protection, or recourse against the criminal behavior that goes unpunished… We have sustained 15 break-ins … It’s just too much with the losses that are not covered by insurance, the damages, everything. It’s just not sustainable.” If crime is so bad that businesses cannot stay afloat, then that city will become poorer.
Gary, Indiana which was once a thriving midwestern city of 175,000 people in the 1960’s and 70’s, a mecca for the US steel industry, has seen its population drop by 10-20 percent every decade since, and is now all but abandoned because of the rampant crime that terrorized that city for decades. In the 1990’s, it was labelled “the murder capital of the world”. Today, over one-third of the homes in the city have been abandoned.
Last week, White House Press secretary, Karine Jean Pierre proudly announced the specifics of the new DC crime bill. She said, “It reduces maximum penalties for offenses like murders and other homicides, armed home, invasion, burglaries, armed carjacking, as I mentioned, armed robbery, unlawful gun possession, and some sexual assault offenses.” Her statement shows how clueless she really is. The only people outside of Washington, DC who want murder, armed robbery, carjacking and sexual assault to be punished less are the murderers, armed robbers, carjackers and rapists. Reducing prison sentences will always increase crime. On Friday, a convicted drug dealer, Alton Mills, who had his sentence commuted by former President Barack Obama is now facing three counts of attempted murder in Chicago. He will end up serving the equivalent of the sentence Obama commuted, but he was just able to get out of prison long enough to shoot three people.
Most Democrats fail to see how their soft on crime policies contribute to the suffering of the people in ways other than being a crime victim. In 2020, Chicago Mayor Johnson was an outspoken critic of Chicago’s police force and pushed for defunding the police. He said, “Defunding this failed system of incarceration and policing was not just admirable, but necessary.” He believed that reducing law enforcement will make citizens more law-abiding, but there has been a 41% increase in crime in Chicago since 2020, and that’s why businesses and people are fleeing the city. Earlier this year, as packs of teenagers were terrorizing downtown Chicago, looting stores and rioting, Mayor Johnson reacted to the negative portrayal of these rioting teens when he said, “demonizing children is wrong. We have to keep them safe as well… they’re young, sometimes they make silly decisions. They do. And do we have to make sure that we are investing to make sure that they know that they are supported.” He failed to speak out against this mob of looting teenagers, that they will be more emboldened next time.
Instead of calling Walmart racist for removing their stores out of a crime-ridden city, the local citizens should come together as a community to support their local law-enforcement, and elect politicians who are willing to fight crime, and make your community a much safer and better place to live. Companies like Walmart will bring their stores back to your community, if they believe it will be safe and profitable. Every time you rob, you are robbing from yourself. Every time you assault, you are assaulting yourself. Every time you kill, you are killing a piece of yourself. The wounds that are agonizing the city of Chicago were primarily self-inflicted.
Judd Garrett is a graduate from Princeton University, and a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He has been a contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.