It happened to me again last Sunday.
I spoke to a church in the northwest part of the Dallas side of the Metroplex. It amazed me as I drove through the rapidly developing area. It had been almost a decade since I had driven this particular stretch of Texas highway 114. What had been a country road is now an almost fully built up suburban community.
The obvious wealth and the economic development startled me.
As I drove, I thought about South Dallas and parts of far East Dallas. I thought of my own neighborhood. The contrast is, well, stark is the best way to characterize it.
Unregulated capitalism always results in dense concentrations of wealth and opportunity.
Unregulated capitalism always results in dense concentrations of poverty and economic dead ends.
I realize that I was just driving through.
But, I saw no evidence of any attempt to mix the housing stock. I spotted nothing that would qualify as "affordable housing," even given the very liberal definition used by government officials, planners and funders.
Again, my mind returned to the impoverished neighborhoods that I know so well here in inner city Dallas.
No one, so far as I can tell, is doing anything significant to incentivize new development in our poor neighborhoods. No one can be regarded as really serious about the problem.
Nothing will change without some intentional planning, funding and commitment to see things change.
Right now our larger community--urban, exurban and suburban--is being defined and shaped for at least a generation to come by unbridled market forces that allow for the most, the easiest and the quickest profit in all developments.
People who are attempting to bring new opportunities to low-income parts of the larger community are having to work super hard and are forced to take extraordinary measures and accept tremendous risks to get anything done.
Walter Rauschenbusch, speaking of the "profitableness" of evil wrote, "Ordinary sin is an act of weakness and side-stepping, followed by shame the next day. But when it is the source of prolific income, it is no longer a shame-faced vagabond slinking through the dark, but an army with banners, entrenched and defiant. The bigger the dividends, the stiffer the resistance against anything that would cut them down. When fed with money, sin grows wings and claws. "
Greed is a powerful force in a community like this one.
Impersonal greed--the kind created by an impersonal and thoughtless economic system, the type that provides respectable "cover" for individual participants and beneficiaries--grounded in similar economic theory is down right cruel and results in catastrophic outcomes for the poor people who also live and work here.
We must do better.
Mark Tooley interviews Bishop Will Willimon
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