Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley went on Reddit on Monday to participate in their “Ask Me Anything” feature. It’s something a lot of celebrities and politicians do these days to engage a hip, young demographic. Done right, it can really be a big boost when promoting a movie or running for reelection.
I imagine O’Malley thought that this would be a fun little way to help bolster his national profile as he gears up for an expected Presidential run. He had just signed a bill into law that raised Maryland’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and he had to imagine that that, combined with Maryland’s decriminalization of marijuana, had to earn him points with the young, left-leaning crowd on Reddit. But instead, he got absolutely hammered.
People asked the governor tough questions on things like Maryland’s recent ban on assault riffles to the so-called “Rain Tax” to the legalized gambling that was supposed to bring more money into the failing schools, but hasn’t. The governor dodged a lot of questions and the responses he did offer up were “downvoted” by the community in order to bury them under layers of people attacking him more. It’s the most hostile AMA I’ve ever read. (Seriously, I think even the Governor on The Walking Dead had a less tumultuous AMA after he stormed the prison.)
Combine that with a recent Gallup poll that found that 47 percent of residents said they wanted to leave Maryland and it paints a dire picture of my home state.
So even though I am one of the people who did actually leave – first to Boston for two and a half years, then two years in Richmond, Virginia – I eventually came back to this crummy place. And I can’t help wanting to fix it. So, this week, I’m offering a few solutions to improve morale and to keep people from wanting to flee.
1. Do something about the crime
How bad is crime? Allow me to quote from last November’s Law Street “Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities,” which ranked Baltimore seventh:
Baltimore maintains its status as the seventh most dangerous large city in America for the second year in a row. Although Baltimore is near the bottom of the list in terms of violent crime per capita, it ranks third in murders per 100,000 residents among all large cities. Although the violent crime rate in Baltimore actually dropped between 2011 and 2012, murders in the city increased notably. Murder is not Baltimore’s only problem; a recent ABC News article called it the “heroin capital of the United States.” Baltimore has more sworn officers than most cities, ranking second highest among all large cities, and the highest among cities on this list. even with one officer for every 211 residents, the city’s large police presence has done little to prevent violent crime and murder. Recent numbers indicate that murders in the city remain high in 2013, as Baltimore just witnessed its 200th murder this year.
Things are bad. Not Detroit bad, but certainly not good. The worst part is that Baltimore is laid out in such a nonsensical way that there isn’t a safe part of town and an unsafe part, there are just pockets of both randomly intermingled so that if you take a wrong turn leaving a hip bar in Canton, you could end up getting mugged in front of a heroin den.
Luckily, the solution to Baltimore’s crime problem was already laid out in the fictional-but-just-barely television show The Wire. What Baltimore needs is Hamsterdam. Just say fuck it, Baltimore, and devote one central area as an anything goes sin palace. You already have a red light district, you might as well go all out with the debauchery. It’s got to be better than the current system.
2. Give every resident a $20 Chipotle gift card
Look, I’m not saying it would fix everything, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt.
3. Enough with the taxes already
Taxes were the most common reason given in the Gallup poll for people wanting to leave the state. That’s because Maryland is tax-crazy. As I mentioned above, they even drafted up a “rain tax” that charges businesses based on the amount of their land that is impervious to rain water, which, you know, is most of any city.
But worst of all is the toll on the Harbor Tunnel leading into Baltimore, which used to be $2 just a few years ago, but IS NOW FOUR FUCKING DOLLARS THANKS TO O’MALLEY THE ASSHAT WHO FEELS THE NEED TO BLEED ME DRY IF I WANT TO DRIVE 25 MINUTES SOUTH TO RECORD MY PODCAST AT MY FUCKING CO-HOST’S HOUSE! Seriously, I hate traffic to begin with, but I go into a blind rage every time I go through one of those booths.
4. Just put Old Bay on everything
Marylanders are looking for something to call their own thanks to our raging inferiority complex in regards to DC (which, frustratingly, just got named one of the funniest cities in America thanks to Veep, a show that’s actually filmed in Baltimore, just like the critical-darling House of Cards is). People who shouldn’t rock spandex will stretch that shit out across their guts just to support Under Armour. They drink Natty B’oh tallboys even though the beer is no longer brewed in Maryland. And they all cling to Edgar Allen Poe, even though half of the East Coast tries to claim him thanks to his booze-soaked writing journey up and down it.
But by far, Maryland’s greatest creation is Old Bay seasoning, the delicious spicy crab seasoning that makes everything from chicken to chips to popcorn better. Flying Dog announced they are making an Old Bay beer, but that’s not enough. Let’s put it in everything. Let’s do lines of it off of strippers. There’s no such thing as too much.
5. Fuck it, let’s just turn the state over to John Waters
Honestly, I’m not sure if any of the previous solutions will actually work. But one nice thing the state has going for it is John Waters. There are only two things people ever really associate Baltimore with, either The Wire or the kitschy John Waters films. Obviously, this place is enough like The Wire, so just doing a 180 and turning it into a big haired, pink flamingoed florescent dreamscape seems like a better alternative.
In short, let’s just turn the whole state into Hampden.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.