Mobsters, drugs, and violence sounds like a plot for a 50’s gangster movie but it is the everyday life for people living in Camden County, New Jersey. The city is portrayed as falling apart, over run with corruption and violence in Chris Hedges article “City of Ruins.” Soon Camden County will become a forgotten ghost town if they do not make drastic changes with the government, education system, and bring jobs back to the county.
This article is about the city of Camden and how they went from being a thriving city to a city that is now in economic crisis. The city has a population of 70,390 and is the poorest city in the nation (16). Camden has an unemployment rate of 30-40% and has an average household income of 24,600 (16). In the past Camden was an industrial giant with several large companies like Campbell’s soup and RCA having factories there, which employed 36,000 people (17). Closing of the factories is one of the main reasons for Camden Counties' high unemployment rate. Over the past few years Camden has been forced to make “$28 million in draconian budget cuts, with officials talking about cutting 25 percent from every department, including layoffs of nearly half the police force” (16). With the lack of funds the counties education system is beginning to suffer with them having to cut the library rate by 2/3, now they have a“70 percent high school dropout rate, with only 13 percent of students managing to pass the state’s proficiency exams in math” (16).With all of the empty factories, empty houses, and vacant lots Camden is beginning to become a very unappealing and unhappy place to live.
Living in Camden is becoming an unhealthy place to live. It has become over run with homeless people and “the only white people visible daily on the city's streets are the hookers…most are heroin addicts and nearly all are infected with AIDS, hepatitis C or other sexually transmitted diseases”(18). Camden has several plants that are still in operation and they produce 58 million gallons of waste a day and you can often smell sewage when you are outside walking around town (16). The article also talks about how the air is unhealthy, they have several plants constantly producing smoke it releases all kinds of bad chemicals into the air which is unhealthy for anyone to breathe in.
Not only is Camden over run with the homeless but they have a problem with gangs running the town dictating everything that happens, “the city is dominated by an old-time party boss, George Norcross III…he decides who runs for office and who does not, who gets city and state contracts and which projects get funded”(16). The streets of Camden are not safe with most people owning guns; they had several children killed last year. The fact of the gangs is bad enough but they also have a problem with corrupt government officials with 3 of the former mayors being sent to...