So the gentry (and others) feel that “something must be done” about crime — although, of course, it’s someone else’s responsibility. But we are all citizens of the same city — so we are all responsible.
The gentry are responsible — through their business practices — for the fact that there is a neighborhood where half of the households earn, according to the Census Bureau, less than $10,000 a year. The only way to live on that kind of money is to follow then-Vice President Cheney’s advice and turn to the informal economy, out of the sight of official statistics. The trouble is that it involves cash transactions on street corners, something that — if you’re frightened enough of your neighbors — is going to look like crime.
So for local businesses, pay your workers more and within a couple of weeks, “crime” will start to decline.
How much more? Well the city’s ill-defined living wage isn’t enough. There are few if any $16-an-hour, 40 hours-a-week jobs around, so the $30,000-odd that it promises is a comforting illusion for the comfortably off and an insult to the struggling.
The rest of us are responsible for our neighborhoods. Sure, it’s the city’s job to collect trash dumped in the street: Report it immediately. Sure, it’s the city’s job to keep down the grass growing through the sidewalks, but it would only take 10 minutes with a trimmer for you to help out once a week. Sure, it’s someone else’s job to repair broken streetlights: Make sure they know about them. Walk to visit neighbors in the evening and walk back. You pay a lot to live in your neighborhood; show it some love.
Or, to put it more succinctly: If you want a better city, be a better citizen.
— Geoff Kemmish