One of the most important jobs of journalism is to explain the way things work. Or, in the case of St. Louis County and its many municipalities, how they don’t work. Radley Balko explains it all in this long and hugely worthwhile Washington Post story, which does a masterful job of making one feel the aggravating and humiliating context of the Ferguson demonstrations, as well as lining up a surprisingly bureaucratic and appalling series of villains.
In this case, a history of white flight, a checkerboard of self-serving municipalities that rely on legal fines to pay for themselves, and the slow development of a social culture that results in outstanding bench warrants that stifle the efforts of citizens to get a job or job training, or most egregiously, to run their own businesses.
Click the image to see the map of numbered municipalities larger. Each given its own stretch of highway from which to profit.