If Democrats in general, and President Biden in particular, don’t take this opportunity to show real leadership on the crime issue, they could be in a world of hurt in next year’s election…
No one stops at stop signs any more but I never see a traffic cop make a stop. I finally pulled a cop over to ask him what the heck? He explained that they had to prioritize guarding schools. The world is still round and everything is connected. We could hire more police. We could hire better police. We could also elect Representatives that would vote to tax the rich to pay for it. Speaking of, if we in Washington state vote for an income tax could we get Bill Gates to pay a fair share? Bezos has already moved to Florida. Greedy bastard.
So . . . the rich can armor their limos, hire weaponized guards, shelter their vast wealth in the tropics, travel aboard luxo-yachts, moor at safer enclaves, build bomb shelters out of derelict ex-atomic missile silos on the Plains, gate their communities, and fly to other planets someday.
Meanwhile, in the Midwest, Hispanic meat packers (at the start of the Trump-Flu) in 2020, not only had to work in charnel houses, they had to, on occasion, up and die. Thereby providing a source of gambling and amusement for White management's lottery-of-death (who'd die next? Jose or Pepe?) and on-site, racialized entertainment.
What we have here is an Abomi-Nation.
"Stopping pedestrians who appear to be up to no good doesn’t mean harassing minorities for the pure fun of it."
With all due respect, Thom, that is a slippery slope that appears to be a distinction without a difference. How would one define "appear to be up to no good?" Not, at all, being flippant, but there are many in the United States (possibly most, especially European-Americans) that think that my "appearance" is "no good" in and of itself. My "appearance" causes them to make certain judgements; be they valid or invalid. You know me fairly well as an intellectual do you, honestly, think that the average person would have a clue just by looking at me? Looking like one is "up to no good" is not PeeCee (probable cause).
While I was in the police academy, almost every mock call (and even the actual ones in field training) was of a "black male." I am deeply concerned about the country being "blackmailed." Since I am a non-partisan, I am unsure if this article might be misinterpreted as Democrats should look more like Republicans, in this limited aspect.
Thank you for being such a great inspiration to me as a writer and thinker.
Please join Threads. I can’t support Elon!
More cops means more municipal funds which means less funds for education, health care and housing. I also have yet to see the "good cops" that you are referring to as more policing has no correlation with decreases in crime. Next you'll be saying Eric Adams use of "Stop and Frisk" at a rate equal to that of Rudy Guliani is different because it's a "good" stop and frisk, or that Biden's announcement of "funding the police" by adding "100,000 officers" to a militarized and unaccountable police force is progressive policy. The only answers to crime are enhanced social safety nets and a reduction in wealth inequality, and Biden's policies do nothing substantial regarding either of these. Love to see the nation's "top progressive talker" talking up more policing, can't wait to hear about his humanitarian Gaza policy.
Crime in society is one of the thorniest topics to address. It is full of extremely emotional pitfalls and when one looks into the statistics there is a virtual blizzard of numbers which can seemingly support any particular point of view, paradigm, or theory.
Paradoxes abound. Firearm homicide rates in the US are so high as to almost be in a class by themselves when compared to other developed nations. Yet overall crime rates in the US have been on a downward slide for the last 30 years, at least. We have the highest rate of incarceration in jails and prisons in the world. Yet I have constantly heard about the problem of high crime rates in the US all my life ( I am 81). Don't prisons help? Furthermore, crime has steadily declined , with oscillations up and down, since colonial times. For many years one crime annually took more wealth from the American public than all of the other crimes listed in the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) of the FBI put together; yet there was no public outcry about this crime. None. Paradoxes.
Mr. Hartman you have made some good points and suggested some good programs. However I cannot help but hear a powerful echo of the same common claims I have listened to all my life. Your comments are perhaps among the least misleading or offensive. I know from following your thoughtful blog that your intentions are always to help the community. I would not so frequently read your comments if I thought otherwise. But here they suffer from the same disorganized, occasionally foggy thinking inherited from the past. You seem to be lost in that blizzard of statistical numbers and you fail to begin with first principles, a not uncommon fist step.
First: Crimes must not be equated with acts that harm the community. Conversely acts that harm the community must not be equated with crimes. A crime is an act which violates a legal statute. A statute that prohibits that act. Legal statutes are created by legislators. Do legislators cause crime? Some legally proscribed acts do not harm the community. As an extreme example: I lived in a community in Michigan which had a criminal ordinance against spitting on the sidewalk. It was enacted as a mechanism to arrest Native Chippewa Americans and was almost exclusively used against them. However, when I looked at the pollution pouring into the air and water coming from steel and pharmaceutical factories as my children were growing up; it aggrieved me that no corporate CEOs were indicted for a crime. There was no crime with which to indict them. Factory pollution was not a crime even though it was harmful to the community. Another, more familiar example is the Volsted Act of 1919. It took effect in 1920 when alcoholic consumption was outlawed nationwide by the 18th Amendment. The Act was repealed in 1933 by the 21st Amendment. Booze was a crime for 13 years, then not a crime again. Voila. The Volsted Act was the brainchild of rural fundamentalist women who successfully organized politically to force an unwanted criminal law on a booze-drinking public. My maternal Grandmother Martha Belle was active in the movement. Of course, the Mafia loved the law. It made them millions of dollars for 13 consecutive years until our legislators finally caught on. These two examples, spitting and booze should not be viewed as isolated examples, unrelated to all our institutions. It might be better to view them as metaphorical weather vanes, pointing us in the correct direction.
Secondly: We must ask why some people CHOOSE to violate a criminal statute. There must be reasons and we should be able to identify them. Looking for those reasons will help us more than accepting the old myth that police prevent crime. They do not. They chase criminals after the crime has been committed. Anyone who believes police act as a deterrent simply does not understand that there exist some among us who are willing to risk being caught and/or are not afraid of the police, prosecutors, and prisons. Attempting to deter these people by increasing police numbers is like whistling Dixie. There are, of course those among us who are deterred by police, prosecutors and prisons. What is more important; the vast majority simply do not CHOOSE to violate criminal statutes, most of the time. Why and how are these choices made? Under what conditions should we expect them to be made? What choices are people likely to select and act on?
Third: In any society with a sizable number of people who have very little stake in the community we should not be surprised if they violate community norms; whether these are formalized norms like criminal statutes or informal norms like trends and styles in music, language and clothes., etc. This is especially likely if these people feel as though the community offers little opportunity or reward for them to engage in "proper" normative behavior. If there are institutions in society which actually encourage and reward individuals to reap benefit from loss and harm to others in the community; we should not be surprised when some people take advantage of others, whether legal or illegal, even if the game seems to be obviously rigged and biassed.
Fourth: Look around you! What do you see?
A short note on past theories which purport to explain crime: Many theories of a ridiculous, outrageous, hateful nature are to be found in countless research and general, publications.
1)Its in our "genes" A biological-reductionist non-answer, which makes it easy to dismiss social
realities. All too often Whites claim that Blacks are genetically predisposed toward crime.
2) Lack of religion: Which means lack of MY religion.
3) Child rearing: Which means lack of MY child rearing techniques, usually middle-class-White.
4) Mental illness: Another bio-reductionist non-answer. If somebody is suffering a mental "disease"
which determines their behavior and renders them incapable of knowing the difference between
lawful and unlawful; or if the "disease" renders them incapable of controlling their behavior, these
people are sick but not criminal because they lack intent, Mens Rea. Furthermore, an extremely
small group of "criminals" falls in this category.
5) A simple statistical correlation between two clearly unrelated variables often substitutes for
explanation. The most recent ludicrous example is the claim that lead in our water causes crime.
Why not Chlorine? Bromine? also in our water..... Ridiculous.
Let us follow the weathervane!
I suggest starting with Differential Association Theory which is, in turn, based upon underlying Symbolic Interactionist Theory. It is incomplete, but a beginning.
Self-supporting prisons and poor farms are the answers. It is way too expensive to incarcerate the millions of lives that capitalism, Reaganomics, religion and the family unit has destroyed. Bring the textile plants back and put these incorrigible types to work. Reaganomics has caused this great gap between the rich and the poor and the liberals will get blamed for it as well. We need to fix another right wing caused problem. Shipping containers makes very good homes for homeless people. Shipping containers can be coated with elastomysteric to keep them cooler in the summer.
They don't burn down and bugs don't crawl through the walls. The self supporting prisons and poor farms need to be built cheaply and to last over 100 years. Penal colonies for life because prisons do not work, on repeat offenders. It is not affordable to build all the poor people new houses and all the police we need.
What do homeless people have to loose by stealing a car? Hello!
Thom, I like to ask why? Why the crime? The answer all around us is money. Why do crime if you cannot get a profit? Jubilee?