In response to the most recent Rabble Rouser feature from the Courier Post, there is just so much to say and deconstruct. I hope I hit all that needs to be dealt with…
Before we suggest that a mass exodus of Camden is the best method of revitalization, I must suggest that we take a step back for a moment. We must, as a State, understand some very important things that obviously never cross the minds of Camden-outsiders. Let’s begin with the notion of when it is appropriate to feel sorry for Camden residents.
It is appropriate to feel sorry for Camden residents whenever the notion is merited. It is not, however, in any way, acceptable to lose sympathy for Camden residents due to voting results. Indeed, the Democratic party regularly, if not all the time, wins in Camden City. But this right here is something that all of New Jersey needs to understand about our political structure. New Jersey Democrats are not what I would consider as the typical definition of Democrats. As long as the entire party is governed under the aging machine it has been for decades, true democratic ideals will not be realized in New Jersey. By removing more residents from the city, the oligarchical machine would simply be better able to operate, just like what continuously happens in South America with drug cartels. The more people who flee, the less opposition there is to deal with.
Most importantly, I must comment on the proposed notion that there are better places to live in other than Camden. Although it may be true that Tabernacle is a more favorable town to raise a family in than Camden, such ideals come down to personal opinion, and most importantly public policy. I’m certain that thousands of Camden residents would love to leave Camden tomorrow. But, because of the continuous suburban refusal to adopt the policies brought forth by the Mt. Laurel Doctrine, Camden City holds 75% of all of Camden County’s affordable housing developments. Within Camden County alone, Berlin Borough, Gibbsboro Borough, Berlin Township, and Cherry Hill Township each owe the State of New Jersey more than 100 units of affordable housing with Cherry Hill owing a total of 589 units. Meanwhile, according to COAH, Camden City holds 3,780 units more than it was obligated to construct. There simply isn’t a diverse assortment of places in New Jersey for low income families to live in due to the improper implementation of affordable housing.
Botched housing policy does not just plague Camden, but also Trenton, Newark, Paterson, and Vineland among others. These are all areas of high concentrations of poverty, which yield hunger, home insecurity, related health risks, and poor academic performance. Therefore, I must say good luck with trying to find, “20 or 30 cities [in New Jersey] where the unemployment rates are low”, which would supposedly serve as new homes for Camden residents. What we see in Camden is a reflection of several greater problems that all of New Jersey is dealing with. All while politicians refuse to act on the root causes of poverty, and while they refuse to suggest tough and unpopular answers to difficult problems, these issues simply perpetuate into oblivion so that individuals can easily seek reelection. New Jersey is a tough problem to tackle, and under no circumstances will a mass exodus come close to solving such issues. After all, population decline from the 1950’s till now (roughly +/-40,000 residents) is the root cause for the large void in Camden City’s tax base, a theme which is now reflecting over the entire state as many families cross the Delaware River with one-way tickets.
I’d like to end this letter by inviting the author of the original letter to Camden in order see things that the newspapers and related media will never highlight. Camden can actually be a very great place to live, learn and work.