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IN THE BUSINESS section of USA Today, a story appeared that described how businesses are returning to the inner city to set up shop. The article is encouraging. Real estate is plentiful and prices are low. Many who work downtown live there as well. Of course, once these companies become successful, politicians will tax the daylights out of them. It's these taxing policies that end up killing the goose that lays the golden egg.
In addition to the upbeat nature of the story of small companies making it big downtown, there was an educational statistic that was shocking: "The inner harbor of Baltimore has a 20% poverty rate and a 50% high school dropout rate." Uneducated teenagers have few marketable skills. Further in the article we learn that "unemployment and poverty were at least 50% higher than in the surrounding area." Poverty is a self-inflicted disease.
The irony here is that it will be private industry that will save the inner city. Jobs will be plentiful and high paying. Of course, this will require skilled, mostly college educated workers. But companies cannot survive on computer programmers and engineers alone. They need a diverse work force. One of the companies has started a mentoring program for 30 at-risk Baltimore high school students. None of the students has dropped out. Where government education and public policy programs fail, private enterprise succeeds. Time will tell if these inner city businesses will make it. Politicians, social theorists, special interest groups, and unions are perched like vultures ready to pick the place clean. Envy is a terrible sin.
 Del Jones, "More companies tap location, location, location of inner cities," USA Today (August 31, 2004), 1-2B.