September 2, 2012
For a number of years, I've been predicting that, all else being equal, crime should decline as ubiquitous information technology powers us into the This-Will-Go-on-Your-Permanent-Record era. And, indeed, crime rates appear to have fallen during the recession (demonstrating once again that very little crime in modern America is driven by Les Miserables-style stealing-a-loaf-of-bread-to-feed-your-familyism.)
On the other hand, the spread of technology has encouraged some people to draw the opposite conclusions: e.g., that Twitter is great for organizing a flash mob of convenience store looters and that the resulting high def surveillance video will look good on World Star Hip Hop.
In recent years, we've seen a surfeit of video of Blacks Behaving Badly, validating the crime statistics at the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. The new availability of these countless videos has caused much unease in the Mainstream Media, and was likely an underlying factor behind the prestige press's kamikaze hyping of the Trayvon Trayvesty.
On the other hand, where are the Latino-American flash mob videos? Is there a Spanish-language equivalent of World Star Hip Hop that nobody I know knows about?
I have several vague hunches. One is simply a bell curve explanation: people who want see their crimes displayed online come from the far edges of various bell curves and the black curves are more skewed in those directions.
Another is that the vast growth in criminality in Mexico keeps the scariest Mexicans employed in Mexico and even sucks in some of the worst Mexican-Americans. When my dad and I would travel in Mexico in the 1960s-1980s, it was pretty safe. By the 1990s, there were guys standing around with AK-47s everywhere. And they were supposed to be the good guys.
Another possibility is that the traditional Los Angeles-style gang life is passe, that it cuts too much into video game-playing time.
Another idea I don't hear much of is that the 1996 GOP reform that cut down on welfare for immigrants has attracted a better class of immigrants.