Summer in the Cities

Black man’s got a lot of problemsBut he knows how to throw a brick.

Or so said Joe Strummer. Mark Schmitt thinks he may have forgotten, with the result that elites are no longer frightened into caring about urban poverty issues. Peter Levine in a related post calls me out as one of several prominent bloggers who ignores such topics. I’ll admit that I mostly let my topic selection simply be determined by the news cycle, so things that are off the national radar screen tend to drop off mine. I do post now and again on the topic of crime prevention, which I think bears some important relationships to the urban poverty issue. I also have a nagging, Atrios-esque sense that there’s something inherently futile in trying to have serious policy debates while George W. Bush is in the White House and the Republican Party is essentially devoid (outside of education, about which I promise to say more later) of people who are interested in substantive domestic policy debates.

More to the point, this is an issue area about which I have very little actual knowledge, but an extraordinarily large quantity of anecdote-based pseudo knowledge acquired from living for the past nine months in very close proximity to a lot of poor blacks and Latinos. This makes me very hesitant to opine on these topics because ont he one urban issue where I do have some knowledge (crime control) I know that anecdotes have wreaked horrible damage on public policy.