Baltimore Riots: What really caused the city to go up in flames?Baltimore Post-Examiner

Baltimore Riots: What really caused the city to go up in flames?

Baltimore is a proud city with a great industrial past. Through no fault of their own, hundreds of thousands of its people were thrown into destitution and despair over half a century because of the collapse of the industrial base of the city.

Why did that industrial base really collapse? It collapsed because national administrations and congresses in Washington successively scrapped the tariffs that protected domestic American industries from unfair foreign competition. Other nations were not so scrupulous or so stupidly irresponsible. They maintained their own tariff walls at the same time against industrial exports from the United States and brazenly manipulated their foreign exchange rates against the dollar. This meant they could export and sell their manufactured goods and heavy industrial outputs to the U.S. and other major markets far more cheaply and competitively than American industries and companies could.

Police hold their ground during the aftermath of the Baltimore Riots. (Erik Hoffman)

Police hold their ground during the aftermath of the Baltimore Riots. (Erik Hoffman)

American workers were and are blamed for this state of affairs when it was not their fault at all. They were victims of immoral, selfish and plain stupid policies imposed by arrogant policymakers who followed a ridiculous, simplistic intellectual map of the world drawn hundreds of years ago before modern science and technology was even created.

It was the equivalent of scrapping the United States Navy because policymakers in Washington believed the world was still flat. Indeed, human rights advocate Thomas Friedman even wrote a book, still a highly influential bestseller with that title. It won the Financial Times and McKinsey Best Financial Book of the Year Award.

But those witless Free Trade policies became the false economic gospels of the Republican Party under Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. And they became the false economic gospels of the Democratic Party under Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Those disastrous bipartisan economic policies are the real reasons for the sufferings of the people of Baltimore over the past half century. They are the deeper reason, beyond the outrageous death of Freddie Gray, for the wave of rioting and violence the city has just endured.

One of the many signs that hang on the doors of businesses that were looted during the riots. (Anthony C. Hayes)

One of the many signs that hang on the doors of businesses that were looted during the riots. (Anthony C. Hayes)

If you drive millions of decent people to despair for generations through witless, irresponsible and plain incompetent economic policies, you will have enormous social pathologies of crime, alcoholism, drug addiction, and eventually rage and social violence on your hands. That is what the collapse of the national and urban industrial base has led to. That is what the collapse of any industrial base has always led to.

The loss of jobs and economic misery will be swept under the carpet in next year’s elections. That is what both parties want. Both parties want their same old lies, their same old meaningless empty slogans and catastrophic polices to be re-validated with no serious critical or intellectual scrutiny. Both want government as usual, government by K Street, government of the super-wealthy for the super-wealthy by the super-wealthy to continue forever.

Republicans want to go on telling the middle class and the poor alike that their sufferings and disasters are their own fault, or blessed by God and the economic fantasies of David Ricardo and Adam Smith 200 years ago. Democrats want every poor fool to swallow their own Big Lie that “Hillary Really Cares” and that she will have the “Brilliant Policies and Compassion” to transform everything, after a lifetime of getting rich from the richest while selling out the middle class and the working class by letting all their jobs pour away to Asia.

Tensions remain high in Baltimore with the death of Freddie Gray. (Erik Hoffman)

Tensions remain high in Baltimore with the death of Freddie Gray. (Erik Hoffman)

I really do not expect some romantic populist revolution to sweep America from sea to sea. In my economic views, I am an old Eisenhower or William McKinley Republican. There’s Evil Radicalism for you!

I am all for expanding trade. I am all for Fair Trade. Most of all, I am for Unfair Trade in America’s favor. We had that for more than 100 years from the 1860s to the 1960s and 1970s. But this is taught at none of our universities and colleges. All the theoretical economists in America are ignorant of this. They would rather swallow one column of absurd, ignorant nonsense from Thomas Friedman that read anything substantial about the economic histories of Britain, Germany, Japan, China and the United States.

Things continue to get worse, not better. I present the inevitable problems that the American people are going to face because of this in my most recent book Gathering Storm: The Seventh Era of American History and the Coming Crises That Will Lead to It. It is available from Amazon-Kindle and my web site www.martinsieff.com

Those disastrous policies are the real reason for the Baltimore riots. Those riots are a fire-bell in the night. Far, far worse will follow, not just in Baltimore but all across America, until America’s voters finally wake up and insist on electing economically literate senators and representatives, as they have not for generations.

Follow Martin on twitter at @MartinSieff  


About the author

Martin Sieff

Martin Sieff is an editor at Sputnik, the Russian-owned news organization. He is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East (2008), Gathering Storm (2014) and Cycles of Change: The Three Great Eras of American History and the Coming Crisis that will Lead to the Fourth (2014). Follow Martin on: @MartinSieff Contact the author.
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