May 27, 2011

James Q. Wilson on fall in crime

J.Q. Wilson reviews arguments for explaining the decline in crime in the WSJ. He gives some credence to the lead theory. It would be nice to see the lead theory both more fleshed out and more critiqued. 

What about popular culture? Are there movies today that portray criminals as sympathetic characters? The heist film -- The Town, Fast Five, Oceans 11, or Inception -- remains alive. But the heists in contemporary films are so complicated, require so much planning, training, and teamwork to pull off, that they send the message that you might as well become a second unit movie director. A lot of heist movies these days are actually metaphors about making movies -- Inception, most obviously -- and movies these days are ridiculously complicated to make. 

Moreover, movies promote themselves with "The Making of" documentaries about how complicated they are to make. How many young people have watched The Making of Inception documentary about how many hundreds of experts had to work together to make a movie about expert criminals?

It must be quite daunting for young would-be criminals to be told over and over again by their favorite movies that only by organizing superbly can they become successful criminals.

It's like the flip side of the CIS crime shows on TV that have taught a generation that cops have giant computer monitors that will instantly display the faintest clue that will prove the perp guilty. Heist movies teach the lesson that if you want to outsmart all that CIS technology, you'd better belong to a gang of genius criminals, each of whom is the master of some arcane field of knowhow.

I can imagine that a lot of 13-year-olds would think it cool to join a gang like that, but they don't know any gangs like that. They look around at the gang members they know, like their cousin Jesus, and most of them seem like doomed idiots.

My impression is that popular culture today has gotten rather authoritarian or militaristic. Cops used to be portrayed as big dumb Irishmen, easy to outwit. But now, they're portrayed as practically Seal Team 6, with lots of cool weapons and training. Authority has most of the glamor these days, while criminals seem like losers.

107 comments:

Fred said...

If you are smart, superbly well organized, able to build teams you can trust, and are ethically casual, you can make more money, more safely in business. So crime is left mainly to the reckless, and thanks to stiff drug-related sentences and three strikes laws, the reckless end up getting locked up for most of their prime criminal years.

It's sort of like that old Star Trek episode where Kirk exchanges places with his evil parallel universe doppleganger. Good Kirk can navigate the evil parallel universe, but bad Kirk can't do the same in the good parallel universe and immediately ends up in the brig.

Anonymous said...

1.Long prison sentences that get the most violent offenders off the streets as early as possible.

2.People are less naturally violent than they were in the 70s/80s/early 90s. These days, many people prefer to stay at home. Video games and porn, as has been pointed out elsewhere, also uses up lots of young mens violent and sexual energy, energy that had previously been directed at fellow citizens.

Contrary to the howling of feminists and conservatives, video games and porn bring the crime rate down. Trying to outlaw violent games or restrict pornography would end in disaster.

agnostic said...

The homicide rate fell not only during most of the Great Depression, after a peak in 1933, but right through 1958. This means it probably has little to do with what was going on just during the Depression -- the prosperous, booming world of Leave It to Beaver and Eames chairs was materially very different from the world of The Grapes of Wrath.

Another silly socialist argument about greater inequality causing greater crime is also wrong. (Not that it goes the other way either -- they are just not related at all.)

Sometime next week on my blog I'll post a graph showing the trendlines for income inequality and the homicide rate, for those who want to see.

Anonymous said...

Of course there is crime and crime.
One fact that never ceases to amaze in the WSJ and 'Economist' America of mass uncontrolled immigration, low wages and deprivation, is that we constantly read in the papers of young 'minorities' getting their heads blown off whilst committing robberies over trivial sums of money in ripping off covienience stors ans the like.You see, to the WSJ human life is cheap, so long as they can get cheap servants and cheap lettuce they couldn't give a f*ck.WSJ editors probably spend more on feeding their dogs each week than some 17 year old Lation buck lying bleeding in the gutter tried to pilfer from the till.
Of course, the criminals who DID succeed - and ripped off Joe Sixpack for untold billions (Joe Sixpack who hasn't had a wage rise in 40 years and can't pay his medical bills or college fund), were the pillars of Wall Street - and the WSJ defended and advocated their rapacious practices all the way.

agnostic said...

Wilson mentioned the over-time comparison with Canada to suggest that greater incarceration isn't all it's cracked up to be.

The link becomes even weaker when we look at *both* 20th C crime waves, not just the most recent one.

Homicide rate
Incarceration rate

The ups and downs are similar in magnitude for both waves, yet the rise in the incarceration rate was fantastically higher during the recent wave than during the earlier one. The two graphs don't match up very closely.

Anonymous said...

Was most interested when JQW invoked Canada. Would love to know how U.S. data on violent crime correspond to other neighbors, particularly ones into which we're helpfully running guns (in order to catch the real criminals of course).

I like the "cultural explanation" even as I suspect cultural changes are following the technological changes (fibers, eyelashes, ballistics). Emile Durkheim aside, it's probably more enticing for a morally underdeveloped person these days to become a deep-cover informant or conversely the above-board liaison who helps Saddam or Burmese general #7 keep the trains on time while goons downstairs are extracting fingernails.

agnostic said...

Last, as for cultural portrayals of cops and robbers, I agree that there's a greater glorification of bad guys, or at least a more sympathetic "he just came from a toxic background" way of seeing them. I covered that in the context of horror movie villains here:

Sympathy for the Devil

Also agree that the cops and lawyers are now portrayed as omniscient and omnipotent in the fight against crime. As long as we have the best and brightest minds working on it, and enough funds devoted to it, it's no more of a problem to solve than waste management.

These trends were also true in video games. You hardly ever used to play as the criminal, only as the crime-fighter. And that was never about having the right knowledge, training, and funding. And most times you played those games, you did not win.

Some examples: Double Dragon, Final Fight, Shinobi, Bad Dudes, N.A.R.C., Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, Lethal Enforcers, Terminator 2, RoboCop, etc.

sabril said...

I would be interested to see statistics on what percentage of crimes are solved today as opposed to in the past.

My impression is that modern technologies like video surveillance and DNA are making this percentage rise quite a bit.

This could account for much of the drop in crime.

Traveller said...

Well, the crime rate decreases because the usual illegal immigrant instead of stealing your wallet, he sends the cops and the politicians to tax you. And this, unfortunately, does not count as crime.

Exactly as I do not believe people killed and tasered by cops count as crime too.

Cops are seen as heroes only by the elite and the feminists.

stephen said...

I think the fall in crime is more influenced by modern science than modern tv. In other words, the numbers may be fudged.

http://www.villagevoice.com/2010-05-04/news/the-nypd-tapes-inside-bed-stuy-s-81st-precinct/

Gc said...

IMO Peckinpah`s The Wild Bunch (1969) contains some serious glorification of crime, which would not be possible anymore.

Jason Malloy said...

The most important thing driving crime rates isn't opportunity (as this post suggests) but criminality, the disposition to commit crimes.

And the disposition to commit crimes itself is simply one manifestation of the drive for short term sexual mating. A drive that is more powerful, for almost solely biological reasons, in males, the young, the unintelligent, and the poor.

Why is the crime rate dropping? Because the people themselves are changing. They are less crime-prone. Millennials are biologically and psychologically different than antecedent generations. They are less oriented towards short term mating and this manifests itself early. They lose their virginity later. They are more "nerdish," more "autistic," and less creative.

Of course, cultural trends have gone in the opposite direction. Marriage has declined and out of wedlock birth has increased along with rising female economic status. People "should be" increasingly calibrated for low commitment mating, but they are not. This suggests the fundamental causes of lower criminality (i.e. lower mating effort) are biological or hormonal. Possibly due to exposures like environmental estrogens.

Anonymous said...

Curious that with all this new crime-fighting technology, we still have no earthly idea who murdered Donald Young.

Or, for that matter, who murdered Lt Quarles Harris Jr.

Anonymous said...

Seems like a lot of unfalsifiable ideas around here today.
Robert Hume

Chicago said...

Most of what's called crime is the street level stuff that threatens people's physical safety. That's usually pulled off by lowbrows looking for an adrenaline rush and a desire to avoid the boring workaday world of the square types.
If someone wants to steal big they become a lawyer, which is mostly a legal criminal class. People don't become lawyers because they want to emulate Mother Teresa, they do it to grab money. Look at the ubiquitous advertising by ambulance chasers, all invites to fraud.
The real key to stealing big is to do it legally. Jail cells are for losers and dopes.

Anonymous said...

like inflation, the police, etc have been playing with the stats. Nicholos Styx, who often writes on VDare has documented this.

Our modern elite dont' fix problems, they fix the statistics of problems.

Anonymous said...

@stephen, yes that is true, my old office was robbed 3 times and each time the please refused to take reports (this was break an enter) (this is in NYC) because they claimed there was no purpose because there was no evidence..
they laughed when we suggested dusting for fingerprints.
(each time they were aggressive but stupid crimes since all we had around the office was petty cash of about 200.00 (it was an office /retail ) they rifled through desks, etc, but found nothing... and they were in such a hurry, or they were too stupid to recognize some expensive computer equipment we had lying around.

Wandrin said...

The crime that gets noticed is blue-collar crime.

Blue-collar crime is mostly young men.

In my experience the biggest determinant of crime is the proportions of young men from different ethnic groups in the blue-collar population. Each ethnic group has their own average rate and you'll be able to calculate the base crime rate by combining the group rates with their proportions in the population.

If you completely replace a white blue collar neighborhood with blue collar hispanics the crime rate will go up from the white average to the hispanic average. If you completely replace a black blue-collar neighborhood with hispanics the crime rate will go down from the black rate to the hispanic rate.

In the period where the original population is being cleansed from the neighborhood, violent crime, especially assaults and sexual assaults, will peak with a "diversity bonus". It will drop back down to the ethnic average once the neighborhood is mostly homogenous again.

Long prison sentences taking out the worst young men from the worst ethnic groups during their prime years will have a very disproportionate effect on this base crime level because the worst do the most of the worst crime.

Halting immigration, and reversing the immigration of the worst groups is the only affordable solution if you want to avoid a complete social collapse.

.
"The link becomes even weaker when we look at *both* 20th C crime waves, not just the most recent one."

The first huge jump in homicides was stopped by the 1924 immigration act. The post-1965 rise has been temporarily halted by building prisons with the unfortunate side effect of helping to bankrupt the country.

.
Also don't believe crime stats. A huge amount of what would count as crime in white collar neighborhoods or in white blue-collar neighborhoods is completely ignored in higher crime neighborhoods because there's so much more serious stuff to deal with.

.

Anonymous said...

Fear of prison rape:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ce5_1204324555

Anonymous said...

@Traveller

Don't tase me bro!

Polistra said...

Interesting pair of graphs from Agnostic. After mooshing them together with Photoshop (with matched year scale) I think they make a pretty good argument that incarceration is the main variable, and the leading variable.

http://ockhamsbungalow.com/blog26/homicide-incarceration.jpg

Wilson's stuff about lead is just silly, an example of our elite's urgent need for material-based explanations to avoid all natural facts. If people do bad things, it can't be because some people are bad; it must be the guns or the lead or the diet. If the world gets warmer for a while, it can't be a natural cycle; it must be CO2. In every case it must be something that an all-encompassing government can REMOVE to solve the problem.

bbartlog said...

Some other points:
- burglary and robbery don't have the returns that they used to. People carry less cash, the things you can steal aren't worth as much as they used to be, and the venues for disposing of them have shrunk (other than Ebay, which is both somewhat risky and requires a modicum of organizational skills... such that you'd probably be better of committing credit card fraud or something).
- internet porn may have reduced the incidence of rape (link to some paper to this effect was posted on Marginal Revolution a little while ago not going to dig it up right now)

As for the glamorization or lack thereof regarding criminals, yeah. Cool Hand Luke, the first Rambo movie, and many 1970s movies had people who just sort of got on the wrong side of the (corrupt and thuggish) law. A film like Oceans 11 is a whole different ball of wax, some sort of over the top Robin Hood fantasy. Last movie I can think of that portrays criminals in a sort of positive light that *isn't* an elaborate caper flick might be Point Break, though I'm probably forgetting something.

Anonymous said...

I really think it's the CSI factor--real and fictional.


Obviously I have no evidence for this.

Harry Baldwin said...

Heist movies teach the lesson that if you want to outsmart all that CIS technology, you'd better belong to a gang of genius criminals, each of whom is the master of some arcane field of knowhow.

The really hard part is lining up that indispensable black computer hacker.

Harry Baldwin said...

Wandrin said...A huge amount of what would count as crime in white collar neighborhoods or in white blue-collar neighborhoods is completely ignored in higher crime neighborhoods because there's so much more serious stuff to deal with.

There was an interesting example of this discussed on NPR a week or two ago. A robber broke into the home of Marc Fisher, a Washington Post editor while no one was home, stole some cash and valuables, and took a picture of himself holding the loot with his son's laptop and posted it at his son's Facebook site, as a sort of taunt.

Hardly need the CSI team to solve hat one, you think? However, Fisher was surprised to learn that the police didn't care much about the crime, as with so much murder in the DC area they can hardly be bothered with low-level burglaries. Fisher felt that it was only the spotlight he put on the case in his column that motivated the police to make an arrest.

Wandrin said...

Most blue-collar criminals are either stupid or have low impulse control or both.

That's why each ethnic group has a more or less standard left-side average crime rate. They have more or less standard rates of left-side criminal stupidity and / or impulse control.

Anonymous said...

24 comments so far, and no one's yet found fault with "the Jooooz?" What's up with that?

RKU said...

Wandrin: The crime that gets noticed is blue-collar crime.

Blue-collar crime is mostly young men.

In my experience the biggest determinant of crime is the proportions of young men from different ethnic groups in the blue-collar population. Each ethnic group has their own average rate and you'll be able to calculate the base crime rate by combining the group rates with their proportions in the population.


Exactly correct.

Also don't believe crime stats. A huge amount of what would count as crime in white collar neighborhoods or in white blue-collar neighborhoods is completely ignored in higher crime neighborhoods because there's so much more serious stuff to deal with.

Correct again. However, since homicide reporting is close to 100%, we can use the homicide rate to verify the reliability of the lesser crime rates.

Wandrin said...

RKU

"However, since homicide reporting is close to 100%, we can use the homicide rate to verify the reliability of the lesser crime rates."

In theory yes but in practise no because medical improvements have greatly reduced the number of violent attacks that end in death.

For example the shift in ambulance drivers being simply drivers to being paramedics.

http://www.bmj.com/content/325/7365/615.2.extract

.
Differences in IQ and impulse control are one of the reasons violent incidents between young men are less lethal among some ethnic groups than others. In some ethnic groups the men only use their fists precisely because it minimizes the risk of homicide in the heat of passion.

Anonymous said...

24 comments so far, and no one's yet found fault with "the Jooooz?" What's up with that?

Hey, we've already had one brain-dead chump wander in and make an off-topic comment about "the Jooooz".

Since you're too brain-dead to figure it out, that chump would be you.

Wandrin said...

"24 comments so far, and no one's yet found fault with "the Jooooz?" What's up with that?"

If the MSM told the truth about ethnicity and crime the multicult would collapse within six months.

Anonymous said...

since homicide reporting is close to 100%, we can use the homicide rate to verify the reliability of the lesser crime rates.

That makes no sense. For one thing, there's no relationship between the homicide rate and the rate of other crimes. Louisiana is the state with the greatest homicide rate, but it lags other states in crimes like rape.

Unless you're trying to say "But that proves that the Louisiana rape stats are bogus!"

Anonymous said...

I was all ready to rip your popular culture hypothesis to shreds. Then I realised that I was basing it on my experiences and the experiences of my friends and family.

It's not about me - I'm on the duller side of normal IQ with a large, loving and intact extended family. I already know, no matter what films and TV say, that if I committed a crime I would be caught within the hour.

Are there really people out there who would be influenced by that? Could there be other trends in higher crime populations?

It is possible that a lot of young people growing now, particularly in black areas, have been scared off crime by seeing both the incaceration of older relatives, as well as the overall devastation that crime causes for individuals and communities.

Leaving aside the question of how much people trust the police, it would be interesting to see how people of various ages and races rate the chances of someone getting caught if they commit a crime. Also, you'd have to look at what sort of time they think that person would serve.

It would explain a lot if one found that younger people were being put off crime by seeing the older generations' examples, and because they're convinced they'd get caught and incarcerated.

Anonymous said...

Crime data by state.

Having lots of blacks means lots of crime. Having lots of whites means the lowest crime. Hispanics fit somewhere in between.

The state with the highest murder rate is Louisiana (not counting DC as a state). But Louisiana is very much middle-of-the-pack when it comes to stuff like forcible rape, aggravated assault, and robbery.

I guess it's possible that this means that crimes other than murder are under-reported in states with a high murder rate.

Anonymous said...

Of course if lead affected IQ or impulse control lead would be relevant also.

ironrailsironweights said...

since homicide reporting is close to 100%, we can use the homicide rate to verify the reliability of the lesser crime rates

Auto theft also has a near 100% reporting rate. Even if a stolen car is older and not insured, the owner still has to report the theft so the registration can be canceled.

Peter

Anonymous said...

"IMO Peckinpah`s The Wild Bunch (1969) contains some serious glorification of crime, which would not be possible anymore."

Rap music?

HEAT?

PUBLIC ENEMIES?

AMERICAN GANGSTER?

COLLATERAL?

Anonymous said...

"24 comments so far, and no one's yet found fault with 'the Jooooz?' What's up with that?"

Okay, here's one on Jooooz.
In the 60s, liberal media, intellectuals, public policy folks, and many ambitious Jewish lawyers took up the cause of criminals as an 'oppressed class or race' of people. ACLU turned into American Criminal Liberties Union. Cops' hands were tied. Journalism tended to portray criminals even as resistance fighters. BUT, what did this lead to? Rise in crime in cities where most Jews live. NY turned into hellhole. Also, rise in crime turned this country politically to the Right.
So, the Jooooz decided to support anti-crime Bill Clinton and Giuliani, and Jewish lawyers lent less support to black criminals.

Jehu said...

Trauma medicine in hospitals has seriously improved in the last 20 or so years. For example, my brother's wife is a nurse, and had a patient who attempted suicide by putting a shotgun in his mouth and pulling the trigger. Not only did he fail, but he made a more or less full recovery. A lot of cases that would have been murders in the past have likely been downgraded through the increased survivability provided by modern trauma care.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it had something to do with evolutionary forces. Prior to the 60s, all blacks had to behave and watch themselves cuz white cops were brutal and white society backed the cops and 'racist judges'. But 60s unleashed freedom on the black community, and all of a sudden, the toughest/roughest among the blacks began to shoot and kill one another. Over time, the toughest/roughest blacks died out or ended up in jail and mellower(relatively speaking!!!) ended up on the streets.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it was due to the Balkanization of crime. Why was Yugoslavia most violent in the 90s but more or less peaceful now--though tensions and periodic violence do flare up?

In the 90s, it wasn't yet decided which side owned which territory. So, they fought like crazy. But once all sides more or less agreed on set boundaries, violence decreated dramatically.

So, maybe the rise of drug trade in the 60s to 80s led to various gangs carving out their territory, and there was lots of violence. But over time, a lot of the gangs became more established, experienced, stable; and they agreed with other gangs as to the 'general' boundaries of their respective trade zones. So, even though gang wars still go on, they tend to be border clashes than all-out wars over entire turf areas.

Also, over time, a drug trade culture may have developed where gang members, through various rituals and signals, could negotiate problems better than in the past. Also, with the most reckless and crazy drug-dealers going to jail, maybe the ones in the street tended to be mellower and more professional--relatively speaking!!!

Anyway, this raises a question. When we speak of drop of crime, we should distinguish between:

gang/criminal vs gang/criminal

and

criminal vs innocent.

I don't care about the former since I say let scum kill scum--like 'let barbarian fight barbarian'.

Has there also been drastic reduction in criminal on innocent crime?
Has black on white crime gone up or down in the past 20 yrs?
Keep in mind that while whites have been trying to flee blacks, white liberals have been driving out inner city blacks into white suburbs and small towns.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the rise of gangsta rap paradoxically reduced crime by allowing lots of blacks release their excess rage through creativity. After bouts of singing about how they were gonna kill honkey, they were too pooped to actually kill honkey.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the rise of Hispanic crime had a unifying effect in the black community. I heard Crips and Bloods fight less than in the past cuz blacks gotta stick together against the browns. Since blacks are the most violent people in America, the Hispanic competition may have led to fewer blacks killing blacks. It's like the Japanese attack ended the war between KMT and communists, at least for awhile.

Of course, there's still the matter of black vs brown, but maybe both sides understand and respect each other's turfs better--at least outside LA.

Anonymous said...

Maybe interracism had a role? Maybe black guys who go with white girls tend to be mellowed out cuz white chicks are less crazy than black chicks. And maybe since black guys feel, 'we can now get white p____', they're less frustrated about stuff.

glib, facile and snarky said...

"Fisher felt that it was only the spotlight he put on the case in his column that motivated the police to make an arrest."

I have experienced a cop not wanting to respond to a break-in I considered serious because it's motive was obviously something other than theft.

I have observed while on civilian patrol just how much low level crime goes unreported in ethnic neighborhoods where crack and homicides are huge problems.

I have experienced the fear of being arrested and extradited to another state over failing to remember to pay a motor vehicle type fine by the deadline. (Worked out quickly w/ a credit card over the phone, I assure you.)

I have been told that many police recruits are what would have formerly been the criminal element whose deviant behavioral tendencies have been found useful in police work.

As for well organized criminals, I'd look to rogue cops and military for home based crime. Certain ethnic groups out of less stable countries can still be relied upon for civilian type organized crime.

Anonymous said...

"My impression is that popular culture today has gotten rather authoritarian or militaristic. Cops used to be portrayed as big dumb Irishmen, easy to outwit. But now, they're portrayed as practically Seal Team 6, with lots of cool weapons and training. Authority has most of the glamor these days, while criminals seem like losers."

I don't think it's just popular culture. Back around the time that Janet Reno sent in a SWAT team to force that Cuban boy back home, NR had an article about the growing militarism of American police forces. Credited are trends such as hiring of ex-military into police forces, increased funding for equipment, and 'protect ourselves first' theory of policing.

Brent Lane said...

Here's another unfalsifiable theory that I'm surprised no one else has yet brought up: it used to be, a lot of crime was spurred by the perpetrator's own self-preservation instincts. In other words, if he didn't steal, he didn't eat.

With the increase in access to the modern "social safety net" in the form of automatically refillable EBT cards and other wealth transfer payments, an entire segment of criminal activity has practically disappeared.

Good thing we've got plenty of excess wealth in this country to keep that going. Right?

johnsal said...

August Comte: Demographics is destiny. Yes, almost all social phenomenon can be explained by reference to demographics and generational dynamics. A look at an incarceration table will show that the incarceration rates (per 100,000) began a steady ascent when - surprise - the Baby Boomers came of age. As the Boomers reach the age where crime becomes less attractive, the incarceration rates should level off, at least. Et voila, the incarceration rate levels off beginning at the end of the 1990s! Crime is committed preponderantly by the relatively young. For reasons not explained the high-priced intellect of Wilson can't figure this out.

"Policing has become more disciplined over the last two decades; these days, it tends to be driven by the desire to reduce crime..." He almost gets this one right. Yes, the justice system has gone to a more macro-approach to the problem of reducing crime. In addition, the science of forensics has made great strides, at least in the mind of jurors. Why has this kind of evidence become so persuasive? Because the news and entertainment media tell us so several times every day! The true crime documentaries and the CSIs hammer this point home constantly. And unlike war and sports the offense - the criminal - has been unable to match the technology advances of the defense - the justice system.

Anonymous said...

""However, since homicide reporting is close to 100%, we can use the homicide rate to verify the reliability of the lesser crime rates."

In theory yes but in practise no because medical improvements have greatly reduced the number of violent attacks that end in death."

Good point. Anyone know if hospitals keep records of the number of bullet and knife ER cases? I suspect that data would be hard to find, unfortunately.

Robert Hume

Anonymous said...

In terms of crime statistics, as much as I doubt official statistics on anything, I do know at least in NYC, it's true.

I've managed rental buildings for over 30 years in NYC. When I started, an apartment in any one of the buildings I manage was probably broken into once every 4 months (not each apartment, but each building). Now it's probably once every 2-3 years!

Many tenants don't even bother with safety gates anymore. Thirty years ago that was unheard of. Furthermore these buildings are not even in neighborhoods that have been transformed by gentrification in the interim. They were decent neighborhoods to begin with. This also holds true for smashed windows on parked cars.

Like others, I'm unsure of what the cause is but I have no doubt there is far less burglary.

beowulf said...

Wandrin, thanks for the link. The article makes a rather troubling assertion.
Murder rates would be up to five times higher than they are but for medical developments over the past 40 years.

Homicide is the one crime stat that the police can't fudge because the the CDC (National Death Index) and the SSA (Social Security Death Index) are keeping score too. So if the Homicide Rate is now around 5 per 100,000, the Homicide Rate ex medical advances rate could be as high as 25 per 100,000.
http://thepublicintellectual.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Homicides-1900-2010-2.jpg

JSM said...

"24 comments so far, and no one's yet found fault with "the Jooooz?" What's up with that?"

OOOOOPS! Sorry for that oversight.

IT'S DA JOOOOOZ!

Feel better now?
Ok.

Now, back to the discussion.

earthly idea said...

"Curious that with all this new crime-fighting technology, we still have no earthly idea who murdered Donald Young.

Or, for that matter, who murdered Lt Quarles Harris Jr."

Larry Sinclair has a pretty good earthly idea, and as a result, has had his earthly existence compromised considerably. There are reasons for these things, but it doesn't reflect on the capacity of the good people of the Chicago police force.

G.L.Piggy said...

What does lead exposure mean for HBD arguments? Research has found that young blacks have higher measures of blood lead than whites which could partly explain B-W IQ gaps.

Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

And again. Touches on both homicide reduction,private security measures and crime reporting declines. A little dated but still noteworthy.
http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/thornton4.html

agnostic said...

"I think they make a pretty good argument that incarceration is the main variable, and the leading variable."

Take another look. For incarceration to be the leading variable, it has to go up before the crime rate hits diminishing returns and ultimately falls.

In reality, the homicide rate shows a slower rate of increase (negative second derivative) already by the early 1920s. The first visible year of greater incarceration is around 1932 -- just a year before the homicide rate peaks, which had already been slowing down for a decade.

Then the incarceration rate is flat or slightly falling from about 1940 to 1960, whereas the homicide rate is falling throughout.

In the recent crime wave, we see the same thing -- the homicide rate is the leading variable, and the incarceration rate lags behind it by roughly 20 years.

If anything, greater incarceration is more of a sign that people are getting sick of crime and want something done about it. A delayed symbolic response. Because it lags so far behind the homicide rate, the incarceration rate shows how slow the response from the government can be.

By the time incarceration starts shooting up, the homicide rate has already hit a slower rate of increase and even plateaued for quite some time -- due to something other than higher incarceration rates.

jody said...

not a bad article by wilson. still no mention though, of the astronomical wealth transfer the national governments of all these "western" nations are currently performing, to create each modern welfare state where the NAMS can, if they want, be paid to sit around all day and play video games and jerk off to internet porn. which is exactly what they do now. the teachers at any high school can confirm that during the day, the teenagers are badly addicted to playing flash games on their phones and listening to studio produced, auto-tuned generic pop and rap on their ipods. at night, it's hours of internet porn instead of homework.

i mentioned before, during the pre-web era, study after study in the 90s found that NAMs were watching 7 or 8 hours of television per day. obviously in the web era that has changed, to playing video games and jerking off to porn, but the amount of hours flushed per day on media consumption hasn't changed.

why would you ever go do some stupid small time crime, when you know, you can drop out of high school, collect your government cash, and oh hey, there's a new video on brazzers every day and a new call of duty game coming out next month, not to mention madden '11, dog. just gonna chill, watch the heat win the NBA finals, do my drugs, jerk off, go to bed. crime? no thanks.

Anonymous said...

There is no fall in crime in the U.S. The people who hate the U.S. have simply realized that American's will ignore almost anything not in their own back yard. Look at the massive increase in sex trafficing of American white girls who are U.S. citizens. See the most recent Vanity Fair article on this entitled "Sex Trafficking of Americans: The Girls Next Door" and where they state that the left-wing of the U.S. is downplaying this massive increase. A friend of mine who's a cop laughed when I told him this and just said "They are just reporting less crimes to make themselves look better."

Anonymous wrote:
"Video games and porn, as has been pointed out elsewhere, also uses up lots of young mens violent and sexual energy, energy that had previously been directed at fellow citizens."

I think most people in the addiction arena would say just the opposite is true. That addiction is the catalyst for not only more addiction but more depraved forms of addiction.

agnostic said...

About the police fudging statistics, this cannot account for the decline of things that are not tallied by the police. For example, the prevalence of STDs among pre-pubescent children has fallen off a cliff, a sign that sex crimes against them have declined.

Here is David Finkelhor's review of why violence against children has declined, which talks about STD rates:

Decline in child abuse

This was also a big problem in the earlier 20th C crime wave. Especially during the later half of it, around 1915 through 1932, major cities used to have special clinics or places in hospitals for treating STDs in pre-pubescent children. Editorials and moral campaigners exploded over how shameful this was for our society.

You didn't hear about that during the era of the Great Depression, WWII, and Leave It to Beaver, certainly because the kind of pervert that Fritz Lang profiles in M had become much rarer. Of course they would re-emerge during the next crime wave.

And what about property crime. Are you going to believe some conspiracy theory or your own lying eyes? The New York subway used to be covered in graffiti, and that's 100% gone.

Now the only graffiti you see is in-demand pretentious crap by Serious Artists like BLU and Banksy. Like breakdancing, it's now a goofy hipster thing, not a ghetto thing.

jody said...

if this was 1980, gabrielle giffords would be dead. not impaired for life and on a long road of recovery. just plain dead. she took a 115 grain FMJ straight through her brain and would have easily died with the emergency medical technology available 30 years ago.

the handgun murder rate is certainly down due to great advances in emergency medicine. i talked before about how the FBI spent 10 years between 1986 and 1996, trying to make handguns MORE dangerous. google the 1986 miami shootout. this lead directly to the FBI 12 inches of penetration protocol, better hollowpoint bullets, 10mm handguns and then a few years later, to .40 smith & wesson and .357 SIG. 40 smith & wesson is now the dominant law enforcement handgun caliber in the US in 2011.

in a strange twist, blades are now much more dangerous than handguns. EMTs and surgeons fear knife attacks, because it's way harder to save the lives of people stabbed and slashed over and over. if you've ever seen photographs of how serious a knife attack really is, it blows your mind thinking about year 1300 war, with a thousand guys swinging swords and axes at each other.

jody said...

do you guys remember a few years ago, that "One laptop per child" initiative? the idea was to make cheap laptops for all third worlders. 100 dollar computers that everybody could afford so everybody could be on the internet. the "digital divide" could be closed. even intel was in on this.

well, after a few years, they finally did field 150 dollar laptops in africa (100 dollars they learned, was just not enough computer to do anything). do you know what they found out after they brought the laptops to africa? the africans just used them to surf for porn.

no word yet on how badly the "One laptop per child" project increased the rate of nigerian scammers, but it couldn't have helped. captcha is now perhaps the only thing saving all of us from third world spammers flooding every site on the web with stupid bullshit. captcha is getting increasingly hard to read, in response to captcha-reading (captcha defeating, more like it) programs. that's why now when you go to some site and it's like "Type this phrase to continue" you look at a line of text that's nearly incomprehensible and you're like "WTF even I can't read this stuff now."

kurt9 said...

The reduction in crime brings up the related matter of the reduction in religious belief. Religious right people would have to believe that a decline in religious belief will result in society's degeneration into a "Mad Max" scenario. This decline in violent and property crime, along with related declines in drug abuse and teen pregnancy, suggests that this fear is without merit.

If society can function and people are able to behave civilly towards each other without religious belief, then why is religious belief deemed necessary for society? I fail to see any need for it.

kurt9 said...

Is not the decline in crime a big hole in "declinist" arguments about society in general? If social behavior is actually getting better, in general, how can anyone argue that society, and morality in particular, is "declining"? It sounds like it is improving to me.

Anonymous said...

"Contrary to the howling of feminists and conservatives, video games and porn bring the crime rate down. Trying to outlaw violent games or restrict pornography would end in disaster."

For conservatives, banning pornography was more about preventing illegitimate births and fornication (and a decline in public morals) than about preventing rape.

And everybody knows porn stars are mostly damaged goods whose ability to consent is questionable. Even some street prostitutes have more freedom to refuse to perform a sex act than porn stars under a director.

alonzo portfolio said...

However bright they might be, non-lawyers just have no earthly idea about law practice and economics, as Chicago, above, yet again proves. "Ambulance chasers," i.e. plaintiff-side tort lawyers, don't do very well these days. No only are you saddled with costs like $800/hr. doctor experts needed to put on a case. but the courts are so choked (with case types that didn't even exist in the '70's), that you can't get a courtroom, meaning the likely payor, an insurance carrier, simply has no incentive to settle. Incidentally, Chicago, as I'm typing here in the library Mel Belli's son is across the room - he can't even afford an office. No, ambulance chasing isn't much fun these days. In law the money's elsewhere - let me know if you'd like further elucidation.

josh said...

Re "cops...portrayed as big dumb Irishmen.." Marlon Brando's weepy comments come to mind.

Forty percent said...

I also have my doubts about the extent to which crime has declined. Homicides are down, but lesser crimes are probably higher than the usually reported statistics would have you believe.

For example, in New York

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/28/nyregion/28crime.html

Assault Statistics of Hospitals and City Police Seem to Differ

Felony assaults, along with all other major crimes in the city, have sharply decreased over the last decade, according to the New York Police Department.

But during much of that period, the number of assault victims taken to emergency rooms nearly doubled, according to the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. …

[M]any retired officers said pressure to reduce crime led some managers to alter crime data to show annual decreases in the seven major felony categories measured in the department’s CompStat program. …

Hospitals reported 47,779 assault victims in 2006, the latest figures available, a 90 percent increase from 1999. By comparison, the Police Department reported 19,173 felony assaults in 2006, a 33 percent decrease from 1998. … The hospital numbers also show that assaults in which a firearm or cutting instrument was used, almost always constituting a felony offense, also grew, to 5,502 from 3,468, Mr. Eterno said.

So in 1998/1999 hospital visits were slightly less than police reported felony assault (25k vs. 28k), by 2006 hospital reported assaults were 150% larger than the police numbers. And why don’t the hospitals release numbers every year?

There are also discrepancies in hospital and police reported rape statistics.

http://theuptowner.org/2010/11/30/the-numbers-game-does-the-nypd-manipulate-crime-statistics/

Notice how the woman in that article is a swiple living in a gentrifying neighborhood. Most people, especially those living in the worst neighborhoods, wouldn’t challenge the crime downgrade.

The police told her that the incident would be classified as “forcible touching,” a misdemeanor. Nathan, a 59-year-old freelance journalist, was surprised, believing she’d been the victim of attempted rape, a felony. She was further disappointed when she received a copy of her police report, and discovered that most of the details she’d provided weren’t included.

The next morning, an indignant Nathan posted an account of her experience on an Inwood blog (and subsequently told it to the Village Voice). Her story soon reached Adriano Espaillat, then the district’s state assemblyman, and the same afternoon, Nathan’s police report was changed, the crime upgraded to attempted rape, a felony.

Forty percent said...

Cont...

Anecdotally, I personally know two people in New York City who have been mugged and hospitalized within the last year. These are two separate incidents, in different neighborhoods. Neither of these places are ghettos/ particularly high crime areas. Both were hit in the face with a blunt object. In both situations the criminals got away with a cell phone or very small amounts of cash. One of the victims has permanently lost most vision in his left eye.

Criminals may have adjusted to stiffer penalties for knife/gun possession, and more stops & frisks, by smacking people in the face with bats/pipes etc. So while chances of getting killed by a stranger on the street have declined the chances of being injured/hospitalized/maimed/disfigured have increased.

Perhaps the criminals feel less safe asking for someone’s wallet armed only with a stick/brick as opposed to a gun/knife as in the old days, especially if they are not particularly big or strong. This makes them more likely to batter the victim first and then, when the victim is in no condition to fight back/run away, ask for the valuables.

This happened to one of the people I mentioned above. Without any warning, he got smacked in the face with some sort of blunt object and knocked to the floor, only then did they ask for his wallet. The criminals would probably prefer to do it the old fashioned way of waiving a gun/knife and asking for your wallet, then letting you go. But then they would have to walk around with a weapon and run the risk of getting stopped and frisked. It’s better to just pick up a rock/stick, 15 minutes before the crime, and throw it out afterwards. Or to carry a bat/pipe and then if you’re stopped pretend you’re not up to no good. Of course if you’re 6’ 3’’ 250lb you probably don’t have to bother with any of that.

The other mugging, took place when the victim was jogging and two short young Hispanics asked for his phone. One of them was holding some sort of rod. The jogger didn’t take them seriously, he figured just some little punks, and tried to get away. They quickly caught up and bludgeoned his face with the rod. Made out with his cell phone, while he lost vision one of his eyes.

(The phone is worth approximately $100. The victim’s medical bills must be in the tens of thousands. Also, he was training to be a surgeon. That’s not going to happen now since he has no depth perception. He’ll probably become some sort of other, lower paid, doctor. I have no idea how much the lifetime earning difference would be, but potentially it could be a couple of million dollars. This is a mind boggling difference between how much the criminals make vs. how much damage they can do. And what are the medical bills for the 48 thousand yearly assault hospitalizations in New York. )

I’m sure the thugs learned their lesson, since they’re young and short, a lot of people aren’t going to be intimidated. So rather than having the victim fight back or run away, they’ll attack first then take the valuables.

The stop and frisking might be causing a reduction in the number of guns/ knives on the street while at the same causing more robberies to result in violence/hospitalization. (Even that may be optimistic since “ hospital numbers also show that assaults in which a firearm or cutting instrument was used… also grew, to 5,502 from 3,468.” So that’s a 60% increase versus a 90% increase in the overall number of assault victims. I guess we can say that knives/guns in the hands of criminals is growing at a slower rate than the overall number of serious violent assaults.)

Forty percent said...

The police are under pressure to generate numbers- more stop and frisks, less murders/felonies. This is a lot easier then lowering crime / criminality. So stop and frisks can increase 50%, 100%! And while murders can’t be covered up rape, robbery, and assault numbers can be decreased by not filling out a report, or downgrading felonies to misdemeanors. (Of course that does nothing for actual safety. Since most murders are rival drug gangs, most law abiding people have almost zero chance of getting murdered anyway. )

This works relatively well except that there are occasional whistleblowers, people still go to the hospital, and there are all these bloggers and freelance journalists who started to live in, and become crime victims, in the neighborhoods where traditionally the people getting mugged were janitors coming home at night.

Kent Brockman: Mr. Simpson, how do you respond to the charges that petty vandalism such as graffiti is down eighty percent, while heavy sack-beatings are up a shocking nine hundred percent?

Homer: Aw, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forty percent of all people know that.

TGGP said...

Polistra, you really don't know who James Q. Wilson is. Read "Crime and Human Nature", co-authored by Herrnstein.

Anonymous said...

What Wilson didn't tie into his drug-use analysis is that marijuana has become the "it" drug among rappers, NBA stars and black entertainers--who sing about it, talk about it and portray MJ use in their films and literature.

Compare this to the mid-80s, when Grandmaster Melle Mel felt compelled to release "White Lines," a track that warned young blacks against the use of cocaine.

Anonymous said...

My impression is that popular culture today has gotten rather authoritarian or militaristic.

Popular culture is only reflecting that the country has gotten more authoritarian and militaristic. I can't think of a single quality movie celebrating that trend.

Anonymous said...

Well... looks like white collar crime on Wall Street goes unpunished and keeps going up. The bail out was the biggest heist in world history.

Anonymous said...

The big advantage to society of weed as the drug of choice over CNS stimulants is that tokers get the munchies, then fall asleep. Stimulant abusers go out and attack people.

I prefer criminals to abuse weed because it diminishes, rather than fuels, their ambitions.

Chicago said...

Dear Alonzo, your boo-hooing for the poor ambulance chasers, how they can't make any money, makes me feel sorry for them. They've got enough money to fill the airwaves with their ads, don't they? They are obviously encouraging a come-on-and-sue attitude; everyone with eyes and ears can see that.
I agree with you, though, ambulance chasers (plaintiff-side tort lawyers) are the bottom of the lawyer pecking order.

agnostic said...

The self-interested incentives of police are to report a fake decline.

Why? To make it look like they're getting the job done, to get praise, a bonus, etc., as a way to get more goodies for themselves.

The self-interested incentives of police are to report a fake surge.

Why? To make it look like they're underfunded, out-manned, etc., as a way to get more goodies for themselves.

Take your pick. They're equally stupid.

Plus why would the police start lying only in 1993? Why not 1983? Why not 1973?

Anonymous said...

Medical advances mask epidemic of violence by cutting murder rate
Roger Dobson
BMJ 2002;325:615 (21 September)
bmj.com

...Without this technology, we estimate there would be no less than 50,000 and as many as 115,000 homicides annually instead of an actual 15,000 to 20,000...

The aggravated assault rate was, by 1997, almost 750% higher than the baseline figure. The team also described the dramatic overall decrease in trauma mortality in the second half of the 20th century...

The period of greatest change came between 1972 and 1977, on the heels of the US involvement in the Vietnam war, which triggered big advances in trauma care...

jtg said...

The entire Jackass series of tv shows and movies is pretty much a celebration of criminality, violence and vandalism. The "heroes" are all basically violent sociopaths -- although they don't hurt other people. They destroy a lot of other people's property, though.

Anonymous said...

The reason the murder rate went through the roof with the advent of crack cocaine was that it was sold on a retail basis. Prior to that coke was sold through a referral system. Retail sales depend on foot traffic. In a shopping mall where there are three shoe stores but only enough traffic to support two, one will go out of business. In a neighborhood where there are three crack dealers and only enough traffic to support two, one will die.

David Davenport said...

Auto theft also has a near 100% reporting rate. Even if a stolen car is older and not insured, the owner still has to report the theft so the registration can be canceled.

It's harder to steal cars than it used to be, because of the electronic systems embedded in ignition keys. Reaching under the dashboard and somehow "hotwiring" the car to start it won't work on a newer car.

This is a good thing, because the police in most US cities won't investigate a car theft.

kurt9: Religious right people would have to believe that a decline in religious belief will result in society's degeneration into a "Mad Max" scenario. This decline in violent and property crime, along with related declines in drug abuse and teen pregnancy, suggests that this fear is without merit.

Kurt#9, what proof do you have that there is any longer-term decline in teen pregnancy, drug abuse, or violent crime in the VIBRANT parts o' town? Do you accept the official statistics at face value?

Skip G. said...

"doomed idiots". That's a great phrase, Steve. It could encompass entire nations.

Forty percent said...

"Plus why would the police start lying only in 1993? Why not 1983? Why not 1973?"

"Former Police Commissioner William Bratton introduced Compstat in the 1990s. For the first time ever, precinct captains were required to account for their progress, or lack thereof, in battling crime. They were expected to track and respond to trends, such as an outbreak of car thefts here or gang activity there. The captains had to report to headquarters monthly for a grilling in front of the brass and their colleagues."

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2010/02/11/2010-02-11_mugging_compstat.html

“Those people in the CompStat era felt enormous pressure to downgrade index crime, which determines the crime rate, and at the same time they felt less pressure to maintain the integrity of the crime statistics,” said John A. Eterno, one of the researchers and a retired New York City police captain.

His colleague, Eli B. Silverman, added, “As one person said, the system provides an incentive for pushing the envelope.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/07/nyregion/07crime.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1306604739-PC/DCJ6ZB4k9nWnNPVw6Xg

Wandrin said...

"In terms of crime statistics, as much as I doubt official statistics on anything, I do know at least in NYC, it's true."

Sure. If you move the people you move the stats. The crime still happens it just happens somewhere else. Where i grew up was a very high crime area at the time but since then the black population has been pushed two miles down the road and now it's gentrifed and perfectly safe.

The underlying crime rate is the number of left-side young men in an area multiplied by the average crime rate for that ethnic group. There may be other factors as well but that's the base.

The white population of most western countries has been aging so the number of left-side young white men has been going down so that component of the crime rate will have been going down for years across the whole country.

At the same time immigration has been increasing it back up again but in different amounts in different areas in proportion to the number of immigrants, the number who are young men, where the immigrants are from and whether they're left-side or right-side.

(For example a lot of immigrants from some African countries are actually drawn from their version of preppies. Somali refugees not so much. Neither has money so they might be living in the same neighborhood but the crime rate will differ greatly.)

When they make prison documentaries they need to find intelligent prisoners to talk to to make the program interesting. However if they randomly picked prisoners to talk to then it would be a lot more obvious.

Low IQ. Low impulse control.

Whiskey said...

My criticism of the culture argument is that Mexican kids live entirely outside it. Mexican culture does not view narco trafficantes as a bunch of doomed losers, rather the ones who win. And visibly in real life, win fairly big.

Whiskey said...

American society is the least militaristic it has ever been. Military spending is about 2.8%, down from Reagan's 7% of GDP at its peak and the Cold War average of 9% of GDP. America has only 4 more Aircraft carriers than it did in basically disarmed 1940 (12 today vs. 8 in 1940). America gutted the military in the Clinton years, had only a modest restoration during Bush, and has gutted the military further under Obama while signing up for "R2P" instead of actually, winning a war decisively. The F-22 was canceled, another engine for the F-35 canceled, and more F-35's cut from procurement.

If money measures military (and it does) America has the lowest amount of military sentiment since the 1930's.

Whiskey said...

About the crime rate, Victor Davis Hanson has a number of posts, including one Mark Steyn just referenced on what amounts to ethnic cleansing, against White Rhodesian farmers, all with no police action.

Mexicans in rural areas routinely trash the property of Whites to drive them off the land. This happens at the border, and in Central California. Dumping, pit bulls, random attacks, vandalism, and so on make up a constant grind of crime, outside of murder.

For that matter, Drudge yesterday had notable criminal cases: DC highways going dark as criminals posing as road crews tore up and absconded (value: around $34K) with copper power lines. They posed as road crews! Thieves stripping RAILROAD LINES! Here at home the beating of Bryan Stow at Dodger Stadium for no discernible profit and no reason save territorial (a White no-go zone).

Anonymous said...

Maybe it owes something to Australization of blacks.

Remember UK had too many people in too little land, and crowding led to rise in crime. So, lots of criminal elements were shipped off to vast Australia. Thus, UK got less crowded, which lowered crime, and criminal elements relocated to Australia committed less crime cuz they were more dispersed from one another.

Especially since the Clinton administration, many inner city slums were torn down and black population was dispersed into other communities(because 'warehousing the poor' was supposedly a failed policy). Reduction of concentration of blacks in cities also could have reduced tensions in black neighborhoods. A black neighborhood that used to have 50,000 residents but now has 25,000 residents is gonna be more peaceful.
As for relocated blacks, they may have been less prone to commit crime cuz of:

1. positive white influence from the surrounding community

2. isolation from other blacks

3. better policing in suburbs and small towns

4. fear of white majorities in new neighborhoods

Anonymous said...

" what proof do you have that there is any longer-term decline in teen pregnancy, drug abuse, or violent crime in the VIBRANT parts o' town? Do you accept the official statistics at face value?"

and

"About the crime rate, Victor Davis Hanson has a number of posts, including one Mark Steyn just referenced on what amounts to ethnic cleansing, against White Rhodesian farmers, all with no police action."

VDH's posts about the backwoods of California are a good example of the process. Once an area goes past the point of no return the cops are too busy with big stuff to even notice the little stuff.

keypusher said...

J.Q. Wilson reviews arguments for explaining the decline in crime in the WSJ. He gives some credence to the lead theory. It would be nice to see the lead theory both more fleshed out and more critiqued.

Well? What are you waiting for?

David Davenport said...

..
Remember UK had too many people in too little land, and crowding led to rise in crime. So, lots of criminal elements were shipped off to vast Australia. Thus, UK got less crowded, which lowered crime, and criminal elements relocated to Australia committed less crime cuz they were more dispersed from one another. ...


That's one of my big ideas: that the USA ought to set up penal colonies in Afghanistan, and thereby empty out Stateside prisons.

I wouldn't drop prisoners off naked and helpless in the middle of Wazzooland.

Give the deportees a starter set of weapons and vehicles, and tell 'em they're free free free to practice private enterprise and seek their own salvation.

Mr. Anon said...

"kurt9 said...

If society can function and people are able to behave civilly towards each other without religious belief, then why is religious belief deemed necessary for society? I fail to see any need for it."

After having used a ladder to climb up to the gently sloped roof of a two story building, I find that I am able to walk around quite comfortably. I have no need of a ladder. Get rid of it.

Mr. Anon said...

"Forty percent said...

But then they would have to walk around with a weapon and run the risk of getting stopped and frisked. It’s better to just pick up a rock/stick, 15 minutes before the crime, and throw it out afterwards."

I believe the same logic led to the adoption of the box-cutter as the street-thug's weapon of choice about a decade ago. If stopped by the police, the suspected thug can always just say he has it for his job in the supermarket stocking shelves.

By the way, 40%, I found your posts very interesting and informative. Thanks.

Mr. Anon said...

"Whiskey said...

American society is the least militaristic it has ever been. Military spending is about 2.8%, down from Reagan's 7% of GDP at its peak and the Cold War average of 9% of GDP."

I don't believe this. We now routinely see PSA's on the TV about "Supporting the Troops" (whatever the hell that means) - the message of which seems to be: only an unpatriotic scoundrel questions our perpetual state of war. One never saw these in the 80s, despite the higher spending on the military.

Also, law enforcement has become militarized to an alarming degree - every podunk town and county in America now seems to have a squad of heavily-armed black-suited ninja-cops kicking in people's doors unannounced. And our popular culture has become enamored of authoritarian police-state heroes and themes.

Even the nature of our military heroes has become creepier - we no longer revere the citizen soldier (like Audie Murphy), but rather the elite, secret, silent killers of the Seals.

Our military culture has come a long way from Lexington and Concord, and now seems to be hostile to the ideals of a democratic republic.

David Davenport said...

Even the nature of our military heroes has become creepier - we no longer revere the citizen soldier (like Audie Murphy), but rather the elite, secret, silent killers of the Seals.

That's not true Mr. Anon. Lots of us still know and revere today's citizen soldiers. You're the one who is trying to slur and cast aspersions on them.

And what did SEAL Team 6 do that was wrong? Please tell us.

What do you think about the ethics and morals our citizen-soldier airmen's interception of Admiral Yamamoto in 1943 .. the Audie Murphy era?

How did shooting down Admiral Yamamoto's transport airplane with foreknowledge that he was aboard differ from the SEAL's 2011 mission in Pakistan? Tell us, please.

... Following the fall of Guadalcanal in February 1943, Yamamoto decided to make an inspection tour through the South Pacific to boost morale. Using radio intercepts, American forces were able to isolate the route of the admiral's plane. On the morning of April 18, 1943, P-38 Lightnings from the 339th Fighter Squadron ambushed Yamamoto's plane and its escorts near Bougainville. In the fight that ensued, Yamamoto's plane was hit and went down killing all on board. The kill is generally credited to 1st Lt. Rex T. Barber. ...

http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/naval/p/Yamamoto.htm

Svigor said...

NR had an article about the growing militarism of American police forces. Credited are trends such as hiring of ex-military into police forces, increased funding for equipment, and 'protect ourselves first' theory of policing.

Post-riots and post-those-Heat-copycats (at least, those are two of the justifications I read), LA cops now carry an AR-15 type weapon in the trunk of every squad car.

TGGP said...

"American society is the least militaristic it has ever been"
Before we had a standing army, it just wasn't America.

Svigor said...

in a strange twist, blades are now much more dangerous than handguns. EMTs and surgeons fear knife attacks, because it's way harder to save the lives of people stabbed and slashed over and over. if you've ever seen photographs of how serious a knife attack really is, it blows your mind thinking about year 1300 war, with a thousand guys swinging swords and axes at each other.

This has probably always been true. Guns are easier, not necessarily that much more deadly, than blades. And they have range. I really liked how Deadwood took murder away from the pistol and put it back where it belonged, with the knife. Guns are great for self-defense, but they make a lot of noise so they're not as good for murder. Knives are great for murder, but they're messy and have no range, so they're not as good for self-defense. And contra Hollywood, they're both at least an order of magnitude better than your bare hands.

Truth said...

"And contra Hollywood, they're both at least an order of magnitude better than your bare hands."

Unless you're Jennifer Salt, chump. I think she'd grab you by your golden-red speckled beard and pummel you senseless!!!!!!!!!!

Mr. Anon said...

"David Davenport said...

""Even the nature of our military heroes has become creepier - we no longer revere the citizen soldier (like Audie Murphy), but rather the elite, secret, silent killers of the Seals.""

That's not true Mr. Anon. Lots of us still know and revere today's citizen soldiers. You're the one who is trying to slur and cast aspersions on them.

And what did SEAL Team 6 do that was wrong? Please tell us."

In killing Osama bin Laden? Nothing. I was all in favor of that. But listen to this interview:

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/19189482/ns/today-today_people/t/he-knew-his-vote-would-sign-their-death-warrant/

Bear in mind that several of these Seals voted to execute these civilians - Afghani goat-herders, herding goats in Afghanistan, which now is apparently a capital offence (way to go in winning hearts and minds!). And this sailor berated himself for NOT voting to kill them. Do you think Audie Murphy woulda done that? Ironically, some other Afghanis saved his life. Do you think they would have done so if they had killed those goat-herders?

I have nothing against our armed forces. I lay the blame for any such crimes they may commit on their leadership which should no better than to fight a pointless war in Afghanistan - a country that Steve has described as having the World's strategic supply of gravel. But I think we are being blind if we don't admit that such wars are changing the nature of our military, in a very sinister way. How long before we have soldiers who would willingly follow orders to kill us?

You reap what you sow. And were sowing some really ugly shit.

Svigor said...

Unless you're Jennifer Salt, chump. I think she'd grab you by your golden-red speckled beard and pummel you senseless!!!!!!!!!!

I keep it short in fear of just that eventuality.

Who's Jennifer Salt?

Truth said...

Oh hey, Evelyn Salt, excuse me.

RKU said...

Wandrin: "However, since homicide reporting is close to 100%, we can use the homicide rate to verify the reliability of the lesser crime rates."

In theory yes but in practise no because medical improvements have greatly reduced the number of violent attacks that end in death.


Actually, I was focusing on something slightly different, namely the use of homicide rates to check the validity of other crime rates across different cities and states but within roughly the same time period. For example, if you look at robbery rates, they tend to track pretty closely with homicide, but rape rates follow a totally different pattern. This leads us to suspect that rape reporting is pretty variable and unreliable, which simply confirms the conventional wisdom.

But to some extent homicide rates can serve as a reasonably effective crime metric even across different time periods, since as someone mentioned above, the big changes in medical treatment mostly occurred 30-40 years ago. So while it's probably risky to compare today's homicide figures with those of the 1960s, they're probably a pretty good yardstick against the 1990s numbers.

Laban said...

"Authority has most of the glamor these days, while criminals seem like losers."

That's because what Peter Hitchens called 'the suburban revolutionaries now occupying the corner offices' have mostly won their cultural revolution. Criminals were romantic when the old pre-60s culture was being attacked - I can remember a Guardian piece during the Thatcher/Reagan years, also boom years for crime, on (white) low-level criminals on a Manchester estate/project. Their criminality was explained (and indeed glorified) as a response to Mrs Thatcher's "attack on the working class".

The most working-class political movement in the UK at present is the English Defence League, a grassroots bunch of street demonstrators organised via social media and basically anti-radical Islam, particularly against what they see as creeping Sharia in the UK. Practically zero middle-class membership - and they are portrayed in the UK media (with no exceptions that I've seen) as uneducated thugs. No understanding from the Guardian for them.

Now that the UK cultural left are now in power, and the old culture destroyed, most criminality has served its purpose.

Silver said...

But to some extent homicide rates can serve as a reasonably effective crime metric even across different time periods, since as someone mentioned above, the big changes in medical treatment mostly occurred 30-40 years ago. So while it's probably risky to compare today's homicide figures with those of the 1960s, they're probably a pretty good yardstick against the 1990s numbers.

Right. Just how much has medical technology improved since 2002, when that study linked by wandrin was produced? I don't really know, but I'm skeptical that it's saving all that many more lives today than ten years ago. Yet the homicide rate has decreased markedly since 2002 (and not just in NY!).

Anonymous said...

Beneath the stats, it might be possible to find inklings of useful information from among the abler criminals themselves?? Reportedly, there has been a vast expansion of police "trade offs" with criminals as part of (as an off shoot of ? )
Homeland Insecurity. IF IF, quite a lot more crime is being sealed up and unacknowledged as such in the interest of "trade off" cooperation-- this might cook the books??

Wandrin said...

"Just how much has medical technology improved since 2002"

All i know for sure is the introduction and expansion of paramedics made a big difference.

Tod said...

Silly to think they are worried about getting caught at that age.

It's good for a young crook's rep to do time.

No way in hell would anyone want a crime partner who had never done serious time. That would be like having "informer" tattooed on his forehead