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Crime Conundrum?

In The New Republic, Bradford Plumer has another article about left-leaning crime experts scratching their heads over how crime could possibly go down in a time of high unemployment, given the unquestionable truth that poverty is the root cause of crime, yada, yada, yada.

To Plumer's credit, he does actually mention the elephant in the living room that most others consider unmentionable:

Writing in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year, Heather MacDonald noted that the recession "has undercut one of the most destructive social theories that came out of the 1960s: the idea that the root cause of crime lies in income inequality and social injustice." What this recession proves, MacDonald argued, is that we needn't worry about alleviating poverty to fight crime. As long as cities continue practicing savvy policing (such as deploying foot patrols to high-crime areas, a technique pioneered by William Bratton in New York in the 1990s) and locking people up for long periods of time, crime will keep dropping. Conservatives, you see, were right all along.

But of course TNR can't possibly actually admit that conservatives are right about anything, so it is necessary to roll out other explanations.  It's not high unemployment that causes crime but high inflation, which we don't have right now.  Or maybe crime goes down in recessions because there are fewer targets when people don't have as much stuff. Uh-huh.

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