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Pass the Jobs Bill, or I'll Shoot this Puppy

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OK, that's not exactly what Vice President Biden said today, but it's not that far off either.  What he actually said, in campaigning for the proposed American Jobs  Act, was that Flint, Michigan needs the federal money the Act would provide in order to hire more policemen, and thus depress what has been a rising murder rate.  The story is here.

It's true that Flint has been laying off police officers, and that its murder rate has  gone up.  I'm also willing to assume, since the evidence nationwide supports it, that hiring more police depresses violent (and other) crime.

But the broader, underlying idea  --  that the recession and associated decrease in local revenue and spending has contributed to the murder rate  --  is baloney.  Instead, to the "bafflement" of inter alia the New York Times, the murder rate, and the crime rate generally, has continued to decline, and decline significantly, during the recession.  Kent and I (here and here) have discussed the main reason for this fact, and it's not all that hard to figure out.  Crime has gone down because the imprisonment of the people who commit it has gone up.  This has been true for a generation, in good times and bad.

I am thus pleased to be able to tell our Vice President that, while we might not need the jobs bill, it would be quite helpful if we kept our nerve and our wits and refused to give in to the anguished cries  of "incarceration nation."  

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