Like most people who grew up here, I cursed Albany as an awful place. Anywhere was better. Like a lot of folks, I fantasized about moving to Atlanta, a city with everything I could possibly want (including my beloved Atlanta Falcons…who I still love despite their play yesterday). Instead, I joined the Navy and learned a valuable truth. Everyone’s hometown sucks.
Albany, I learned, is chock full of wonderful people. While many have lamented the number of non-profits in this town. I understand the frustration, since those non-profits don’t pay property taxes which puts the burden on the other tax payers in our community. But it also represents something else. It shows how many people we have in this community that care about their fellow man.
Unfortunately, we also have a town chock full of criminals and other lowlifes. A look at our weekly jail list shows how many people get locked up in Dougherty County each week. It’s kind of sad really.
My question is how does a town with so many churches, and so many people who have dedicated their lives to helping their fellow man also have so many criminals?
Part of it is the need. The fact that there are so many people who need the help of non-profits means we are not exactly thriving as a community. Non-profit organizations are also beholden to the free market. When there is a need, the proliferate. When there isn’t, the go away. The fact that we have such need also means that the conditions are right for making up the criminal element.
There are many who would have turned out to be criminals no matter what, but many others are there out of desperation. Now, I’m not excusing what they’ve done. They’re responsible for their actions, and no one else is. However, it also appears to be a given that a depressed economy will create more criminals than a thriving one. When people feel they have options, they don’t “go rogue” and break the law.
While we have a town full of well meaning people, a true asset by anyone’s definition, we also have a town full of those who see no problem in taking what you have. As such, it looks like the only solution to both getting rid of the criminals in this town and reduce the percentage of non-profits we have in our community – more importantly, their impact on our tax base – is to grow the economy.
So far, I haven’t seen nearly enough efforts from any of the powers that be to that effect. If they would like to sit down and, off the record, discuss what they’re doing then I’m more than willing to listen. Somehow, I doubt they’re interested because I doubt there’s much going on.
It’s a shame too. This town has a lot of good people. Those good folks deserve better.