Monday, May 12, 2008

I was watching Gangland on the History Channel

They talked about this Chicago streetgang and their control over a Chicago housing project known as Cabrini Green. A lot of people died there as this gang maintained their control over this territory. Thankfully they don't have the projects to be lords over unfortunately these guys who would normally be in the projects stake out new territory where there are people who are already in control. At that point there's an even bigger mess!

They talked about the history of public housing. As with most things initiated by government such as welfare, social security, etc. they all start with good intentions but after so long things change. Perhaps the resources aren't there or maybe someone is abdicating their responsibilities or perhaps people are gaming the system. In any event something went wrong in Chicago's housing projects where crime and violence flourishes.

They interviewed some police officers in this program and they called it something most of us has heard for years. That we enable fatherless homes because in order for these single women to get their benefits the daddy of her children must not reside in their home. Of course daddy might have to leave for a few days and then he might return because social workers might come by and do an inspection. After a while daddy stops coming around he found him another woman (this is me saying this) or indeed he got tired of that song and dance. Also the fact that welfare provides more benefits the more kids a mother had.

I'm against welfare in general, but it's easy to blame welfare. For that fact that young people turn to gangs for a bond and criminal activity for a living there are a number of factors. One thing is for certain I think it's great that these housing projects are being torn down in favor of much more smaller scale projects.

I often like to tell people, perhaps this is me oversimplifying it, these housing projects along Street to Cabrini Green and others around the city especially the high rises were more or less built with segregation in mind. White aldermen didn't want poor blacks in their wards and then Mayor Richard J. Daley agreed so up went these high rises where snipers resided and kids would meet an early demise. I wonder if one who observed these policies might have concluded that these high rise projects were shortsighted in the first place. The idea certainly at a bare minimum was to house the poor an obvious one of course although another idea was to segregate blacks and keep them concentrated away from white areas. I could also add that some aldermen lost last year because their trusted constituents no long lived their wards because their housing projects were being torn down.

Then the next step is what to do now that we're tearing down public housing projects? Well there are a lot of ways of attacking this problem. We could do work on the education system, I'm of the belief that the system needs to change. One way to change that system is make it work for the children and insure that they learn and then hold these schools accountable when they fail in their mission. I won't make a distinction between the principle and the teachers.

People always talks about jobs as the reason why young people turn to criminal activity. Obviously that's a difficult answer as well, how do we bring jobs into poor neighborhoods. Or better yet can we train these kids to be able to take on a vocation. We know young men like to work on cars so perhaps we can train them to be mechanics or at best we might encourage some to become engineers. I say schools public or private should provide this type of education for students in addition to preparing them for going to college.

There are so many ways to attack a problem so I won't pretend that I have anything resembling all the answers. Perhaps there's not an easy solution. One of the police in that History Channel said that as long as there are poor people there will be gangs and violence. I prefer to take a more optimistic view but I also realize that some people may just as easily be headed for a criminal life no matter how much opportunity exist for them to stay out of trouble.

I should mention I've seen several episode of this program that looks at gangs all over this country. I'm sure there are a few who gets an adrenaline rush from this program, but for me it's a bit depressing as to the state of humanity. Especially when one considers the ill of society that feeds these gangs and the crimes they commit. It almost reads as not only a historical program but a critique of society.

Gangland
on the History channel.

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