Recently in Social Factors Category
Two summers ago a home invasion by gang members on the city's South Side went wrong when one of the robbers shot another one in the back of the head, according to Chicago police. Sixteen-year-old Douglas Bufford was killed, and 19-year-old Jermalle Brown was charged with first-degree murder. His trial begins on Aug. 15, and it may attract more attention than usual in a city plagued by violent crime, just as his arrest did. Why? Because at the time of the shooting, Douglas Bufford and Jermalle Brown were also on the Illinois state payroll, earning $8.50 an hour to hand out antiviolence pamphlets.We should be extremely skeptical of anyone claiming "to take on root causes" of crime. The primary root cause is cultural decay, government's ability to change that is limited, and few of the people using the term "root causes" have any intention of addressing it. Mostly they seem to be interested in diverting the government program that has actually worked in reducing crime -- strong law enforcement.
Such are the bitter ironies of Gov. Pat Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, a now-defunct $54.5 million program whose failures are under new scrutiny as the Illinois governor, a Democrat, campaigns for re-election in November. Mr. Quinn launched the anticrime plan four years ago to "take on the root causes of violence in neighborhoods all across the city of Chicago." That didn't happen. Over the first two years of the initiative, the Chicago murder rate rose 20%, and the murder rate within city limits today is triple the national average. A state audit of the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, or NRI, suggests that as much as 40% of the program's funding was simply wasted.
"In the roughly 84 hours from 3:10 p.m. Thursday until 3:30 a.m. Monday, gunfire struck 82 people, 14 of them fatally," reports the Chicago Tribune. "Both tallies include two boys shot by police: a 14-year-old who allegedly pointed a long-barreled .44-caliber revolver at officers, and a 16-year-old who--after first eluding cops who had responded to a report of shots fired--allegedly refused officers' instructions to drop a .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun as he crawled out from beneath a car. That's right, a 14-year-old wielding a .44-caliber revolver and a 16-year-old with a semi-automatic handgun."
So here we go again. Another spate of shootings that feature, almost exclusively, young black and brown men. Another liberal clarion call for more gun control. And another collective dodge of the real problem, which is ghetto culture.
Gary S. Becker received the 1992 Nobel Prize in economics for "having extended the domain of economic theory to aspects of human behavior which had previously been dealt with--if at all--by other social science disciplines such as sociology, demography and criminology."* * *Not even crime escaped Becker's keen analytical mind. In the late 1960s he wrote a trail-blazing article whose working assumption is that the decision to commit crime is a function of the costs and benefits of crime. From this assumption he concluded that the way to reduce crime is to raise the probability of punishment or to make the punishment more severe. His insights into crime, like his insights on discrimination and human capital, helped spawn a new branch of economics.
The latter point seems so obvious now, yet the people running around proclaiming themselves "smart on crime" today apparently don't get it. The genuinely smart people do.
Mark Lewis Taylor, a professor of theology and culture at the Princeton Theological Seminary, identified [a major difference] between Abu-Jamal and King, saying the former radio journalist has worked more obviously than the assassinated civil rights leader within an "international framework of justice struggle."
For the first time ever, this year psychologists will be stationed along the Boston Marathon route to talk with people who may feel emotionally overwhelmed.
Between now and race day, Dr. Chris Carter of Spaulding Rehab Hospital says it's likely we'll feel a range of emotions.
Carter believes people may be more reactive.
"They may be feeling a little more on edge. A little more tearful perhaps or a little more irritable and less patient," he said.
When justice is replaced by psychobabble, this is what you get.
Sean Canning, a former police chief, admits that he was better at laying down the law with the officers under his command than with his own daughter.
"I'm a liberal, liberal parent," Sean told the New York Post. "I wish I could have grown up in my house."
You have to wonder if the chief has figured out that, with young people, being too lenient often does more harm than being too strict.
From media reports, it seems that the Cannings wanted to raise a child with a lot of self-esteem.
Mission accomplished. When you sue your own parents, you're no shrinking violet. The trouble is, what Rachel Canning has is what psychologists call "cheap" self-esteem. The real thing comes from striving, failing, persevering and eventually succeeding -- not from having your parents clear a path for you.
What is astonishing and disheartening to me is how many educated and intelligent people do not know the basic fact that permissive parenting is just as bad as authoritarian. We have known that since Diana Baumrind's pioneering research in the 60s.
This guy was a chief of police and he didn't know that.
The optimum balance, BTW, is what Baumrind called "authoritative" parenting, the kind we saw modeled on television from Father Knows Best to Andy Griffith to The Cosby Show.
Chinese-Americans make more money, on the average, than white Americans, the "income gap" between Jews and Gentiles is wider than that between whites and blacks, and I believe Iranian-Americans have recently surpassed Jews as the highest income group of all. The issue here is not being a "minority." On the contrary, if one sincerely wanted to help young African-Americans, an obvious starting point would be to ask why other Americans "of color" have done so much better.
There is no mystery here. African-American men are disproportionately imprisoned because they commit an extraordinary number of crimes. They are disproportionately raised in poverty because their fathers usually don't marry their mothers. Also, drugs. That is really all there is to it.