The Unintended Consequences of Looting and Burning Baltimore
Watching the events unfolding in Baltimore prompts me to put on my business hat and discuss what these riots mean from a business perspective.
Walk A Mile In Their Shoes
Imagine you are a law-abiding citizen living in Baltimore. You go to the neighborhood market, hardware store, and pharmacy. Your kids play on the local schoolyard.
You work, you play, perhaps you’re an Orioles fan.
Yesterday your Orioles just played the first baseball game in history to an empty stadium.
All of sudden in one night of senseless violence all those places are gone. No more grocery, no pharmacy, none of the places that you frequented and depended on no longer exist.
One hundred and forty automobiles burned and 150 small businesses gone.
So What Do You Do?
How far is it to the nearest pharmacy that may or may not have your prescription on file? The nearest grocery, gas station, etc.?
How will you get there? Chances are you rely on public transit in the inner cities. Will that even be running?
If you’re elderly how mobile are you? How far can you walk if you have to? What side effects could your medications have?
Some Baltimore Info
You find yourself in a city whose population peaked in 1950 and has declined 30 percent ever since. The unemployment rate is 8.4 percent and 25 percent of the population live below the poverty line. Chances are you're one of them.
No Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Baltimore and there are only four in the entire state of Maryland.
Even with the eighth largest police force in the US, crime is off the charts in Baltimore.
Some Final Thoughts
Let’s look at the future if this behavior continues to occur in other cities.
First, no business is going to locate in a city without a future. Detroit and Baltimore are just the latest cities in economic decline.
How much will fire and vandalism insurance premiums be for a business that wants to open in these kinds of areas in the future? Or any such area?
What about the property values for those who own land in the devastated area?
Events of the past few days will have unintended consequences in Baltimore for years to come. Maybe the neighborhood will come back or they may just be a bombed out memory.
The only silver lining, if there is one, is that some workers will more than likely be paid to clean it all up.
In Ferguson, volunteer residents did most of the cleanup.
Lost jobs, lost businesses, lost economy, lost sales and local taxes.
But there is a nice new big screen TV and there is still a demand for illegal drugs so the looter and arsonist still have it pretty good.
I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. Are you on the inside looking out, or the outside looking in?
Either way the future of Baltimore is quickly dimming.