Slay Poverty

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Paul Berry III made me laugh out loud. “Francis Slay hung out the vacancy sign but he’s running the Bates Motel.”

We were talking about the Syrian refugees and Francis Slay’s insistence that hosting a lot of them is in the city’s vital interest.

Leaving aside the question of security and vetting for the refugees, why does Francis Slay want so desperately to host more people who have no jobs, no language, and little hope of flourishing in a city that, on most measures, is failing.

As Paul Berry says in this video:

Failing schools, failing STD rates, failing jobs, failing home ownership. And at some point we have to take a stand.

Berry rattles off facts on the many ways the city (and border cities in the county) are failing:

  • Four-year high school graduation rate is just 72 percent in the city versus 87 percent statewide. (St. Louis is hurting Missouri’s perception on education)(DESE)
  • Poverty in the city is 27.4 percent versus 15.5 percent for the state. (Again, St. Louis drags the state down.)(city-data)
  • City population fell 0.6 percent from 2010 to 2014 (US Census)
  • St. Louis leads the country in two sexually transmitted disease cases, chlamydia and gonnorhea (stltoday)
  • Unemployment, business formation, and crime in St. Louis all rank among the worst in the nation

But there’s more. Mayor Slay presides over a homeless veteran problem, and his only solution is to shut down Reverend Larry Rice’s New Life Evangelistic Center. (Rice’s building is in a prime development corridor, and the mayor’s friends would like to build something there.)

Oh, I’m sorry. Almost forgot. One-third of the Mayor’s tweets in the past few days have been dedicated to his campaign to bring a lot of Syrian refugees to the city. So immigrants to St. Louis must be doing pretty well, right?

Wrong. According to city-data.com, 28 percent of persons born outside the USA lie beneath the poverty level in St. Louis. That’s more than the poverty rate for all St. Louisans.

So why does Francis Slay make refugees his number one priority for his dying city? Because he needs the votes? Because he wants to stem the population drain?

It won’t work to bolster the city’s population in the long run. Bosnian refugees quickly migrated out of the city to Affton, Oakville, Ballwin, and other suburbs. Just like the Germans and Irish did in the 20th century. Syrians who find work will move to the burbs just as fast as their European predecesors.

Mayor Slay, according to his blog and tweets, wants to bring refugees to the city because it’s a “humanitarian principle.” But doesn’t the mayor have a humanitarian principle to lift current residents out of poverty, out of crime, out of ignorance, and out of STDs before flooding the city with refugees?

There are hundreds of other problems with the Slay-Obama refugee plan, not the least of which is security. If St. Louis were a thriving, growing city with people clamoring to move here and work here, we could discuss the vetting process.

Right now, though, St. Louis is a dysfunctional, failing city. Asking for refugees is a knife in the back of the city’s struggling poor and a disservice to the refugees.

If the mayor is looking for a humanitarian mission, slay poverty instead.