Kinder Piece

In her “Re-Wiring Baltimore” piece Marsha Kinder states: “All three schemes demonstrate that individuals can make a difference, even if they can’t single-handedly solve all of Baltimore’s systemic problems.” I thought this was interesting in light of our discussion on Wednesday about how The Wire’s systematic focus and cynical outlook may make people feel helpless to change societal problems.

I have to admit I don’t really follow Kinder’s logic since in the sentence right before that statement she admits that once the authorities discover the schemes the outcomes are reversed, showing that “there’s something terribly wrong with public policy.” It seems that here she’s trying to claim that the problems of the city are primarily rooted in public policy, and that poor public policy impedes individuals from making permanent, positive changes. In other words, at the end of the day, it’s public policy that keeps individuals from triumphing over failed institutions. Is this really a take-home message of The Wire? I’m not at all convinced, but what does everyone else think?

2 responses to “Kinder Piece

  1. I too found the Kinder piece a little confusing and disconcerting. Public policy is deliberate and its outcomes are figured out in advance (side-effects notwithstanding). I see public policy and institutions as one and the same rather than separate entities. Public policy supports institutions and vice versa. Individuals cannot triumph over failed institutions. Failed institutions diminish in influence and eventually crumble. However, like the down and out and criminal characters in The Wire, another comes along to take its place.

  2. I think this is the take home message of The Wire, maybe with the change that it is bureaucracy and interpersonal politics in these failing institutions, rather than public policy, the impedes individuals seeking change. While McNulty is never admirable but at the beginning of the show we can identify with him and hope he can succeed in catching Avon and Stringer. By the end, we can’t help but feel revolted at his schemes to nail Marlow. I think McNulty is supposed to serve as our primary example of an individual hampered by the system.