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On ‘The Corner’ with David Simon

If you drive through almost any inner city neighborhood across America, you’ll likely see young men on the street corners and front stoops in the middle of the day. Unemployment among adult black males is more than 15 percent, and is even higher in the inner city. That’s been a fact for decades. And yet, it’s often not a news story. It’s somehow become a fact of life.

Writer and producer David Simon has focused on life in the inner city. Need to Know traveled to Baltimore recently to meet up with David Simon, and the man who inspired one of his most memorable characters in the HBO series “The Wire.” Host Scott Simon talked to some of the young men out on the streets.

Poll: What is to blame for high unemployment?

Watch the rest of the segments from this episode.

  • thumb
    Main Street: Findlay, Ohio
    Need to Know travels to Ohio to assess how workers are faring after the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs over the past 35 years.
  • thumb
    Following the money: Tax breaks
    New CBO report echoes the findings of Need to Know's "A tale or four tax returns."
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      Certifiably employable
    Rick Karr recently visited Seattle to look at a program designed to give the unemployed the skills they need to find jobs in one of the country’s fastest-growing industries.


  • AdamSmith

    The congressional black caucus has sponsored job fairs in inner cities all over the U.S. recently. Thousands have lined up, many have passed out from heat. Won’t be on Fixed News though; this doesn’t fit the script.

  • jan

    I think things have disintegrated enough that living wage jobs are tough just about everywhere.  

  • Anonymous

    It’s a shame that the public and media are so concerned about the middle class but ignore the poor.

    Mr. Simon makes an excellent point about how inner city economies provide few options for making a living beyond crime.  A person’s fate is pretty much sealed once they get caught up in the justice system and have a record.

    Thanks NTK for shining a light on this.

  • Earl

    LORD, give
    our people hope.

    Thanks to
    PBS for keeping us aware of the plight of our nation’s most vulnerable and more
    importantly a call to action for all of us.

  • Mukema

    Proves the point that we are not aware of the suffering of others- even those in our backyards. I am almost always reminded of the idea of ‘banality of evil’ (Arendt). Somehow, we insulate ourselves from the evil that we perpetrate: good and decent people, christians and non-christians, democrat or republican, clearly ignore the plights of those we have always devalued  or deemed undeserving- or simply identified as nonpeople. When capitalism is working for us, we lose sight of what it is doing to the billions of human beings in the periphery- as long as WE are comfortable. Today, there is a concerted effort to take from the Other by force or otherwise- the Afghan, Iraqi, Libyan sheenanigans all point to a new dispensation by US and our so-called European allies. The utter brutalization of the palestinians passes without a whisper- what about all those ideals we loudly proclaim as sacred and inviolate- if not the warrant of every human being? The gangsterism that passes for protection and spread of democracy (by the big powers) against little countries is what we call bullying: the western powers have crafted a new policy- bully and take from the weak- another perfect pillar for capitalism.

  • Pace

    Congratulations PBS, you told a real American story … finally.  Do you understand how all that bullsh you peddle about the latest polls and whether what somebody said means something for the next election is essentially meaningless?  Can you take it one step further?  The number of poor people with no hope is increasing rapidly all around you.  Do all the wealthy people–and your TV personalities are included in that group–really think that they are going to be able to keep what they have no matter how poor everyone else around them is?  One day in the not so distant future the poor people are going to welcome you to the other America.  And you don’t get to leave just because you ran out of film.  You should understand that this isn’t just the situation in urban areas.  It’s the same in rural areas.  People are getting desperate.  And they are sick of everything being stacked against them and in favor of the wealthy.  These morons who talk about “class warfare” as if it was about taxation are clueless … but not for long.  As Bob Dylan put it, a hard rain’s gonna fall.    

  • AdamSmith

    David Simon, what “post industrial” society?  These guys need to make stuff. Why not? We can do what China does with it’s state owned enterprises, with the help of Wall Street. How about this, open a solar panel factory in Baltimore, sell them to the U.S. government, subsidize training, etc. THIS IS THE KIND OF STUFF CHINA DOES. THIS WOULD BE COMPLETELY WTO  COMPLIANT!(Though China clearly is not) It’d be a lot cheaper than policing and incarceration, and these guys would have some hope and pride. NOTHING ELSE WILL WORK. LET’S START RECYCLING THOSE DOLLARS, FOLKS! Baltimore’s manufacturing base has shrunk by 500% since the 50′s, yet the U.S.  is OUTSOURCING to a communist dictatorship, CHINA, military hardware and clothing, satellite technology, AND SOLAR PANELS! THIS IS BAD FOR AMERICAN SECURITY and  totally asinine.

    Eamon Fingleton, A former editor for Forbes and the Financial Times, Peter Singer of the Brookings institution and Former  Chairman on the House Armed Services Committee Rep.Duncan Hunter write about the stupidity and DANGER of outsourcing to foreign governments; ESPECIALLY with regard to military and government procurement.

    This documentary was the usual PBS neo-liberal “nothing can be done” gibberish. PBS is as clueless as the worst right wing politician at times, and they don’t even realize it!

  • Anonymous

    How to create jobs:

    “Wärtsilä’s Dutch CEO Fred van Beers said earlier this week that the
    Chinese had left his company with no other option: “They only want to
    use local manufacturers these days. So if we don’t move to China, they
    won’t be using us anymore. It’s a tough decision, especially for our
    employees here in the Netherlands”.“The rules for international trade are clearly spelt out in the WTO hand
    book. These practices clearly don’t meet the standards set by the WTO”.

    it’s difficult to detect, as most companies that have to deal with this
    kind of pressure rarely speak out. If they do, they fear their access
    to the Chinese market will be more difficult,” Mr Smit says.