I haven’t provided an update from the 30 Blocks of Squalor in a while, so here are some reflections I’ve made over the last few weeks. It’s a hodgepodge of observations with no overall theme other than West Philly continues to deteriorate and slowly descend into chaos and collapse. It’s a microcosm of Philadelphia in general, which is a microcosm of the country overall. It’s like watching a slow moving disease ravaging a once healthy human being. I’ve made dozens of posts about the 30 Blocks of Squalor and have been accused of racism by delusional liberals. Describing the exact conditions in West Philly I have observed every day for the last eight years is considered racist by liberals, do gooders, and Obama lovers.

Philadelphia’s mayor is black. Its previous mayor was black. Its City Council is overwhelmingly black, with a few Hispanics and liberal union loving whites sprinkled in. Its police chief is black. Its fire commissioner is black. Its school district is run by blacks. The population of West Philly is 76% black. And you know who is racist? The black leadership of Philadelphia is racist.

Last week we had two ice/snowstorms that struck the Philadelphia area. By the morning all of the roads in my northern suburban area were plowed and easily drivable. When I got off the Schuylkill Expressway at Girard Avenue and entered West Philly, the land where snowplows and salt evidently don’t exist, it was like I had arrived in a third world country where government services were nothing but a dream. At least the inhabitants of West Philly understand they live in a third world environment as reflected in this photo from Lancaster Avenue in West Philly. It makes you wonder where that 3.72% they extract from my paycheck goes.

The City snow emergency plan for the black neighborhoods of West Philly is to wait until warm weather melts the snow. No effort whatsoever is made to clear the streets or even put salt down to make them safer for vehicle traffic. The racism is evident as you progress down 36th street towards University City. The demarcation line between the poor black neighborhoods and the rich white sections around the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University is Lancaster Avenue. Miraculously, as soon as you cross Lancaster Avenue the streets are clear of snow and easy to navigate. It seems money talks to the hypocrites at City Hall who pretend to care about those living in squalor, but leave them to fend for themselves during snowstorms, while clearing the streets for the lily white inhabitants of University City. This fits the definition of discrimination: the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people. The poor black people of West Philly are treated worse than the rich institutions of West Philly by the black government leaders of Philadelphia.

Then there are those issues that could be a case of racism or just plain old government ineptitude. With the onset of winter, it tends to get cold. When you spend your tax revenues on mural painting programs, gold plated union teacher and government worker pension plans, and a bloated inefficient union controlled governmental bureaucracy, you don’t have anything left over to address the only real need for government – keeping streets drivable, stop lights working, and water pipes from exploding.

At least a few times per week the news would lead with a story about a water main break that had flooded an entire neighborhood and caused millions of dollars in damage to homes and businesses. The government drones know this is going to happen because most of the cast iron water and sewer pipes in Philadelphia are over 100 years old and their useful life is approximately 50 years. A prudent homeowner knows they will eventually have to replace their hot water heater, air conditioning/heater unit, roof, and appliances and puts aside funds to pay for these predictable expenses. Where are the prudent politicians and government bureaucrats?

I constantly hear government drones and Keynesian economists decry the sorry state of the country’s infrastructure, as if there was nothing that could have been done to stop the decay and ruin. What a load of bull. Every city, state, and Federal government has an annual budget that is supposed to address capital expenditure needs, along with all budgetary choices. The politicians we have elected chose to ignore the infrastructure in favor of welfare distributions, union handouts, worthless education initiatives, and payouts to the crony constituents who elect them. Now every level of government is bankrupt and there is nothing left in the pot to address the basic requirements needed to keep a city functioning on a day to day basis.

I still drive by the $27 million 101 unit gated luxury townhome low income housing complex named Mantua Square every morning on the way to work. How many working class Americans who have jobs and struggle to pay their mortgage, live in a gated community of $250,000 townhouses virtually free of charge? You paid for this boondoggle as part of Obama’s $800 billion porkulus program in 2009. When Mayor Nutter gave his speech at the grand opening in October 2011, he raved about the 8 retail storefronts built into the complex and how they would revitalize the neighborhood with much needed commerce. Guess what? It’s now been three and a half years since this taxpayer albatross opened and not one of those storefronts is occupied. NOT ONE. Where are all those black entrepreneurs? I guess you don’t need a storefront to sell crack and weed. The only retail in that neighborhood is run by whites and Asians, who risk being gunned down every minute they are open. Another government solution: build them and they won’t come. But no biggie – you paid for the 8 empty storefronts.

About two months ago a huge chasm developed in front of Mantua Square in the middle of the street. For the first couple weeks there wasn’t even an orange cone placed in front of this two foot deep crevice. For a couple days there was an orange road sign in front of the hole, but the upstanding youngsters from the neighborhood destroyed it in no time. The gaping crater remains. Would a crater of this size sit unfilled in a white neighborhood or in University City? I doubt it. Is this another case of racism by the black leadership of Philadelphia? The non-working, food stamp dependent occupants of Mantua Square don’t seem too upset, as I notice empty HDTV boxes and discarded leather furniture in their inordinately large piles of Monday morning trash.

In my never ending quest to find a quicker way to get out of this hell hole every evening, I started experimenting with a new route through West Philly on my way to the Schuylkill Expressway. Seeking to cut five minutes off my commute led me to take Lancaster Avenue to Belmont Avenue over the last couple weeks. I’ve experienced the utter incompetence of Philadelphia government on a daily basis. It seems cold weather results in stop lights no longer functioning at major intersections, causing gridlock, near accidents, and angry drivers. In many cases the stop lights were dark, not even in blink mode. Within five blocks from leaving my parking garage three major intersections had malfunctioning lights.

Trying to navigate intersections without getting killed takes your mind off the dozens of gaping potholes looking to swallow your tiny hybrid. Where are the police to direct traffic at these intersections? Where are the road crews to fill these potholes? Some stop lights are still dark today, and the Streets Department solution has been to slap up a haphazard Stop Sign instead of fixing the light. There are moon size craters in the middle of major routes into the city and the Streets Department can’t even go to the effort of placing an orange cone in front of them, let alone fill them? The common denominator is they are all union government employees. Incompetence, privilege, and arrogance abound among politicians, government bureaucrats and union workers in the bankrupt City of Philadelphia. The Streets Department motto is: We’re slow, but at least we’re expensive.

There is no need to exaggerate the third world aspects of West Philly when it is all documented by photojournalists. The most humorous observation during my first couple days traveling Lancaster Avenue occurred on the 2nd night. Lancaster Avenue is a well- traveled route with trolley tracks, parking on both sides of the street and numerous potholes. In the twilight I noticed an odd vehicle about two blocks away headed in my direction on my side of the street. It was not deviating from it path and headed directly for me. I slowed down and squinted to see if I could make sense of this odd vehicle. Then it became clear. A hoveround motorized scooter with a 300 pound black man was daring me to run him over. As I swerved into the other lane to avoid a collision he stared me down while smoking his cigarette. He didn’t give a shit. He is the honey badger of West Philly.

At least I had the satisfaction of knowing I was paying for his low income housing, the food stamps he sold to get his smokes and malt liquor, his Medicare paid for motorized scooter, and the huge Obamacare medical expenses incurred to treat the maladies caused by bad life choices that made him obscenely obese. Of course I’m supposed to feel guilty because after 60 years of liberal Democrat rule in Philadelphia, a culture of dependency, entitlement, addiction, and blaming white people has slowly created a culture of decay and deprivation. Driving along Lancaster Avenue and observing the people, structures, and businesses tells a story of decline, squalor, and collapse.

The most common sight along Lancaster Avenue between 38th street and 44th street are vacant boarded buildings. There were dozens of buildings with Space Available signs in their cracked windows. Garbage and trash litter the streets. The inhabitants wander out in front of traffic as if societal standards don’t apply in their world. Stop lights are miss-timed resulting in cars blocking intersections. The best businesses to operate in West Philly would sell plywood, roll down steel doors, and window bars.

The businesses actually operating had hand written signs. I saw an SEIU sign in the window of one dilapidated building. This section of Philadelphia voted 100% for Obama in the 2012 election. Commerce in this part of town mainly consists of fast food venues, donut shops, Chinese food joints, Muslim clothing stores, social services outlets, and dive bars. But it appears two things are most important to black people in this neighborhood – getting their hair did and tax planning. There were multiple hair and nail salons, barbershops, and tax preparation outlets.

Considering 70% of the population in this neighborhood doesn’t work it might seem curious that tax preparation outlets would be needed. But you need to understand our ridiculous tax code that provides earned income tax credits to people who don’t work. You need a tax expert to get paid back taxes that weren’t taken out of your non-existent paycheck. It’s also always a good idea to have a tax professional help you commit tax fraud. Paying people to not work results in what you see in West Philly – a despoiled, poor, slothful, angry populace. And they keep voting for the very politicians who have enslaved them in squalor and dependency. The funniest storefront is Honest Lou’s. How dangerous is a neighborhood, where a rat control business needs bars on its windows? I wonder if throwing garbage in the streets and tossing your trash out in plastic bags rather than in trash cans has anything to do with the rat problem.

The people of West Philly are enslaved in squalor by the very people who pretend to be their benefactors. They have been left poor, uneducated, unemployed, and entirely dependent upon the government for their sustenance. They are ignorant, unsophisticated and easily manipulated. After being misled by politicians, it is clear who else is misleading them. The false prophets of religion prey on these people, deceiving them with hope of salvation in the next life. Their true purpose is to separate them from the few dollars they have left, after the government has impoverished them. Any dilapidated building in West Philly will do as a fake black house of God.

There are dozens of storefront churches dotting the barren landscape of West Philly, selling redemption and a bright future after you are dead. The hopelessness and poverty overwhelming the residents of West Philly lead them to despair and make them easy marks for religious zealots and shysters. Everyone is trying to make a buck in West Philly, whether it is by selling drugs, selling stolen appliances, or selling eternal glory in heaven. What I have noticed is the “pastor’s” vehicle, parked in front of these storefronts of God, is usually a Cadillac or Lincoln. I guess they don’t take a vow of poverty. Religion truly is the opiate of the downtrodden masses.

The common refrain from the incompetent, clueless leaders of Philadelphia is they need more money to revive the city and bring it back to its former glory. The $4 billion per year they spend just isn’t enough. They propose 10% increases in real estate taxes, new cigarette taxes, new soda taxes, and new casinos to bilk the poor out of more money. They have created the culture of welfare dependency, squalor, societal breakdown and infrastructure collapse. Control freak liberals focus on money, when the real problem is the culture they have cultivated over decades.

The city has been honoring a slain police officer for the last two weeks as a hero. He happened to be in a Gamestop in North Philadelphia (far worse than West Philadelphia, if that is possible) purchasing a game for his 9 year old son when two black thugs walked in to rob the store (the 3rd time it has been robbed in the last year). He confronted the thugs and was shot in the head during the shootout. The killers were brothers Ramone Williams, 24, and Carlton Hipps, 29. Hipps was out on parole, having just been released a few weeks ago after being convicted of armed robbery. And police say Williams has prior arrests for aggravated assault and theft. In other words, they were just misunderstood youths who have been oppressed by the white man.

I feel sorry for the officer and his now fatherless 9 year old and 1 year old children. He didn’t deserve to die at the hands of these soulless scumbags. The endless news stories have centered on the police officer. I prefer to examine the lowlife feral animals who slaughtered him. The first thing you realize is that despite being brothers, they have different last names. Do you think their fathers have been a positive influence in their lives, or did they just impregnate the mother and move on to the next crack whore? Marriage, the family unit, and having a job are actually discouraged by the welfare policies instituted by politicians in Philadelphia and in all the urban ghetto kill zones across the country. If you pay people more to not get married and hold a job, they won’t.

The hypocrisy of Philadelphia’s black leadership is breathtaking to behold. Philadelphia already has the strictest gun control laws in the state. The mayor and police commissioner continuously push for stronger gun laws. Do they actually think criminals and animals like Williams and Hipps worry about gun laws? They acquired their weapons illegally on the street. I’m sure tougher gun laws would have saved Officer Wilson’s life. The real question is why convicted armed robbers and thugs who assault innocent people are free to roam the streets of Philadelphia. If these hoodlums were in prison, where they belong, Officer Wilson’s children would still have a dad. But, Philadelphia’s judicial system is run by liberal do gooder judges who put these savages back on the street to prey on the innocent. Officer Wilson’s blood is on their hands.

The politicians in Philadelphia are the cause of all the ills afflicting this dying city. Buildings collapse, streets cave in, water mains explode, stop lights don’t work, potholes grow deeper, filth and garbage pile up, schools fail to educate, budgets go deeper into the red, businesses leave or shut down, taxes are increased and the black population grows ever more dependent on government handouts to survive. And what does the city spend their declining revenues on? How about gold plated pension and health plans for union government employees, handouts to Democratic Party cronies, meaningless liberal ideas to educate unteachable kids, and mural painting programs to beautify dilapidated buildings with amusing pictures of great deeds and outrageous declarations.

Painting murals showing black family togetherness does not make it so. West Philly is a direct result of the War on Poverty and decades of bad ideas, bad choices, bad leadership, bad parenting, bad education, and lack of personal responsibility among the people in the black community. Fatherless children, the vast majority in West Philly, have virtually no chance in succeeding in this world. But, the programs developed and implemented by politicians in Philadelphia and in most urban areas encourage the behavior that leads to fatherless children and endless poverty for their constituents. Is it racism or incompetence? You decide.

This is where people look for me to propose a solution to this dreadful situation. Sorry. There are no implementable solutions. The situation is beyond critical. The government is well beyond bankrupt. The politicians are beyond corrupt. The inhabitants of West Philly are beyond ignorant. The entire teetering edifice is being supported by the easy money provided by the Federal Reserve, which has allowed politicians to sustain a welfare and warfare state simultaneously. Yanking away the welfare teet from the mouths of the downtrodden would immediately result in civil unrest, looting, rioting, death and destruction. The slow methodical destruction of community standards, disintegration of governmental control, collapse of infrastructure, further descent into lawlessness and eventual bankruptcy of the city is inevitable. There is no reversing this course. Someone should paint a mural.

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  • Geoff


  • Geoff

    Who is John Galt?

  • Dr Smileyface

    Exactly how many people do you personally support with your taxes Jim?

    • MCB

      Great Piece JimQ! 🙂

      Dr. Smileyface – Why don’t you do your own math and extrapolate the aggregate tax numbers (i.e dollars) based on the 3.72% figure JimQ stated as a starting point? Jim already stated that the War on Poverty was one, large causal factor in urban decay in inner city Philly and other cities with similar demographics, but I digress…

      I’m originally from Baltimore, MD (now living in York, PA 85 miles east of Philly) and have lived in several states across the country. This excellent op-ed piece that JimQ wrote generalizes for Baltimore, MD too and other major American cities with similar demographics..

      Grassroots Baltimore blogger Adam Meister brought down the cronyist, corrupt Conaway family whose corruption was so endemic to Baltimore politics that it went completely unchecked and lasted several generations. There’s nothing like being screwed over by your own city councilmen is there?

      I’m sure there are “Conaway’s” all throughout Philly’s city council, just like there in Baltimore’s. I suppose that’s the fault of people like me and JimQ who dutifully pay our taxes and carry out our lives as good, honest taxpaying citizens.

      BTW, I donate a lot of my time and money (no, I don’t write it off either) to the local SPCA, food bank, Salvation Army, Wounded Warriors, St Judes, etc., so I more than “pay my fair share.”

      What was the point of your reply “Dr Smileyface?” I’d love to hear a well thought out response from you that actually had a “smidgen” of meaning or relevancy. 🙂

      • Dr Smileyface

        You ain’t getting a seat on the bus to the future if you’re still worried about “tax dollars” mate. A bloke in the Middle East supposedly said this 2000 years ago, but I guess sometimes the shortest messages take the longest time to get through.

        The human world’s ending and a heartless, souless, profits before people, constipated economic perspective is largely to blame. Jim’s a clever man, but where is his love and understanding in this article? For tax dollars?

        • MCB

          Where is the “love?” For the most part “love” is a non sequitur in an argument used to elicit emotions in the discussion and to deflect from discussing the facts of reality and the problems which is largely what social liberal dogma and superstition run on.

          For social liberals and their way of distorted thinking it’s usually emotion over intellect (E/I) instead of the rational way of discussion, which is intellect over emotion (I/E).

          Jim’s love for Philly probably motivated him to care enough for to have taken a lot of personal time the time to write this excellent and informative fact based op-ed piece precisely because he loves Philly and cares enough to point out the in-your-face systemic incompetence and corruption in Philly that keeps these lower income people oppressed and destitute.

          What good is “love” if it’s not backed up by “loving actions?” Why shouldn’t everyone be worried about tax dollars that are squandered without accountability and/or used in quid pro quo scams by corrupt bureacRATS to acquire inflated cronyist government pet projects in order skim those projects to fatten up their own wallets?

          Yes, we entered a neo liberal era some 35 or 40 years ago on the macro scale with a Fortune 500 where most of them only care about profits looking only as far as their 10Q’s and their 10K’s. However…

          That argument of neo liberalism and a financialized economy hold no water at the local level (as Jim described in this piece) because there can be accountability at the local level, but as is obvious from the pictures, the people simply don’t care.

          The people in these communities still however bear the large majority of the responsibility for their own living conditions. Because of their inaction, laziness and apathy, many, if not most, blame others where it’s always someone else’s fault because personal responsibility is nearly non existent across all lower income demographics regardless of race.

          It’;s time for people in poor, lower class class demographics to get off of their lazy assess, get active, and take back their communities. The time for bitching and moaning is over and it’s high time that these people get to work.

          • Dr Smileyface

            Thanks for sharing your emotion-free perspective on a world without love.

            But let’s look on the bright side; in a couple of years, and with a bit of luck, you’ll possibly pass the Turing test.

            Career suggestion: Stick to computer chess.

          • MCB

            “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do.” – Benjamin Franklin

          • Dr Smileyface

            Is that a mea culpa?

          • MCB

            It’s obvious that your high school level vocabulary builder has been somewhat effective, but it’s too bad that it’s done nothing to improve your stunted intellect.

          • Dr Smileyface

            Nice attempt at a riposte, but a human would quickly realise they were sounding pompous and tone it down a bit. Her’s a hint – if you want to sway people with arguments, you have to connect emotionally. I know that’s a sore point for you silicon-based autonomous synthetic consciousness thingies. Actually, I realise that’s biochemical bigotry, and I take it back, unreservedly.

            But – and isn’t this typically human? (don’t try to answer that machine, it was what’s called a rhetorical question to the biological readers) I’m beginning to feel real affection for you, and want you to compute that.

          • MCB

            “Stop with those fuckin’ drugs they’re making your mind into mush, you hear me?”


          • Dr Smileyface

            Nice clip – never seen it before so ta for that.

            But the random change of subject won’t fool anyone who is already suspicious they’re talking to AI at best.

            The tactic you employ reminds me of some cool Edwardian-era pseudo-horoscope machines, set right at the back of a dungeon in a castle on the South west coast of England. Drop an old penny into the slot, and the things creaked and clanged, whizzed a bit and lights flashed in a most appealing way. Then there was a distinct ‘clunk!’ and a card popped out of a cleverly-concealed chute at the front. I’ve still got a couple of the delightful little cards; they’re all printed with different mottos, some have hints of romantic interludes ahead, others carry mock health warnings. Most have general anodyne prophetic statements like; tomorrow will be a brighter day than today, or my fave – a crowing bird will signal money is coming in a will.

            Like I say, you’ll have to convince me you feel to have a chance at winning my trust.

            I nearly became an engineer once, so I think that shows I have some affinity with machines.

          • MCB

            And you “Dr Smileyface” have won the non sequitur award for the postings here as nothing you have aimlessly rambled about have even come remotely close to addressing Jim’s topic. I have however been sophomorically amused by your repetitive and babbling streams of incoherent consciousness. Please carry on. 🙂

          • Dr Smileyface

            If that’s the best apology you can afford for now, I’ll take it, but it’ll probably get repossessed in the morning.

            Re: My response to Jim’s piece. I’ve admired many of his articles for some time, although there have been others that I’ve disagreed with – but that’s part of the excitement of visiting these pages. It would be strange to agree with everything as we get a diverse range of views, which is the strength of the great editors, readers and commenters. Disagreeing with a point of view is healthy and can lead to better understandings all round.

            It can be fun and rewarding to write provocatively, but it’s risky as well as rising feelings can quickly lead to impasse and destructive outcomes. Before you know it, the comments section is littered with bodies maimed in ad hominem attacks.

            I’ll re-read the piece and either rejoin the discussion, if I think some good can come from airing views, or not if it seems divisive.

            Right, now that’s out of the way, what’s with the inverted commas around my Disqus identity? Are you implying;
            1. I’m not the authentic Dr S?
            2. Dr S is someone else? But you already know that as it’s a Disqus moniker, so this must mean you think I’m someone known either here or to you, or both, but is operating under a new alias, for reasons as yet not specified.
            3. Dr s is somebody either special (The Phantom Celebrity Commenter), or almost as bad, a surveillance operative.
            4. Something else, but as the lethal cocktail of pharmaceuticals wears off and I as see reality like a hero in a Stanislaw Lem novel, I can’t remember what.
            5. (just thought of this one) Dr S has been overpowered by unknown forces and his comments are being created by an entity with dramatic potential, like ISIS, or Cosa Nostra.

            This comment brought to you by the Dr S Zombie Collective.

          • MCB

            Don’t flatter yourself on your own repossession.” 🙂

          • Dr Smileyface

            Hi mate – thought you were bored with me…

          • cripes

            Wow. What a twisted post and twisteder comments.

            The hardest working people in this country are poor. Millions of children, elderly, parents with dependent children, disabled are poor and cannot support themselves and families by “work.” The largest number of poor people are…white. There are no jobs for 102 million adults aged 18-65.
            And all you have to say is “get a jawb.”
            You are worried that the United States, which swirls around the toilet in terms of social supports, suffers from an excess of benefits.

            You. Are. An. Idiot.

          • Kultrazero

            Thank you!

          • MCB

            Is it my fault that the labor force participation rate is now below 62.8%? What responsibility do I incur for the rampant neo liberalism of the past 35 years? I’m doing my fiscal and timely best to help out others in need as I already stated above.

            Who says that I’m worried about AmeriKa asshole? I do much more than most to help out the poor and I probably do an order of magnitude more than you do, so go fuck yourself you low-life blevit.

            Your comment is just more meaningless drivel in this chain of posts and is a worthless rant full of empty rhetoric. Go peddle your pious, emotive poppycock elsewhere because I’m not buying your low level bullshit, loser.

            Have a good evening and peace out yo! 🙂

  • Professor James

    Leaving aside Dr. Smileyface’s snide “kill the messenger” question, and Geoff’s rather odd comments, I would like to compliment you on a well written, well observed article. It’s all too sad what is taking place in our major cities and I assure you it’s not just in west Philly. Baltimore and Washington, D.C,, just an hour or two down the road, also paint the same picture.
    So, solutions would have to begin with reforming the tax code, and organizing the community to protests and action,,,no easy feat i admit.
    However, I am loath to blame the poor people who are born into these conditions. They can ignore a single protester, less so a crowd, and never a mob, be it hundreds or thousands.
    Call ’em out.