Thursday, January 27, 2005

Social Programs and Crime Rates

This will be a short post, as I have to jump the train. But it just occurred to me that if America has the worst social programs of most industrialized countries, then this has may have a direct correlation with high crime rates. With the dismantling of Social Security, tax-cuts for the rich, and no plans for a national healthcare program, it seems that the Republican party is creating a two class system: the rich and the poor. The only way that the poor can live would be to steal, sell drugs, sell sex, etc. Has there been any studies that link a countries addition of a social program to diminishing crime rates? If social programs diminish crime rates, then, secondly, has there been an analysis of the cost of crime (court costs, housing prisoners, etc.) versus what the cost of continuing Social Security and adopting a national healthcare program would be?

I am not suggesting that the 65+ people that have diminished benefits in social security hit the streets with their AK's so that they can support their previous lifestyle, but maybe their younger family members are effected and turn to crime to support the elder members of the family.

Anyway, this is hardly developed, but I was hoping to have some comments on the issue. I will try to develop this further, and look around for anything linking crime rates to social programs.

No bloggers are addressing the social security dismantling and what it may do to crime rates. It simply talks about seniors living in poverty with Bush's proposed plan. Could the dismantling of social security increase crime rates if younger, poor family members turn to crime to support their elderly? Does lack of social programs increase crime rates?

This is a very undefended thesis!


Blogger klenk said...

So I just typed in Social investment and crime rate into google to see what happened. And those damn canadians were at the top of the list.

Oh yeah, a quick introduction, I'm klenk, I sit opposite praveen in his new much smaller office. He let me know about this after we were talking about blogs in general.

So back to the topic at hand, most of the research I saw as I looked around focuses on economics. My girlfriend is planning on going into social policy research with the hopes of developing new tools for understanding poverty (or something like that). But basically, she says that most research is done purely economically. more poverty means more crime.

I don't know how nationalized health care would affect poverty rates, intuition says it would help. The sell Bush is making with Social Security is that the poor would benefit from this, i love the quote about black men not living as long. So according to the administration i'm guessing here, private accounts will decrease the wealth gap and thus lessen poverty.

1:06 PM  
Blogger $mike said...

I think it’s very obvious that poverty and crime are linked. There are a plethora of examples and just as many reasons for why. But when you think about it a little deeper, I believe one finds that it’s not so much poverty as the state of not having material goods, as it is poverty as an outlook regarding your future well being within a society.

Take Palestine. That place is a shit-hole. People are dirt poor and their society claims there is no way to better their situation while Israel is around. And look what comes out of it, people willing to blow up themselves along with a busload of children, just to prove a point. You don’t see Saudi princes suicide bombing cafes. They just fund them.

Now take Mongolia. There are people in the plains and deserts who, by Western standards, are poor as hell. They live in yurts and herd animals and that’s it. Is there a lot of crime out there? Nope. Their culture doesn’t view them (and thus they don’t view themselves) as being impoverished. They don’t view their future with uncertainty.

Next think about Inner City, U.S.A. People live in structures that aren’t made of hides and most likely don’t fear soldiers in bulldozers. They have TVs, processed food, and probably reliable water and electric service. (I know, I know, some don’t, but my point is...) Is that poverty? It is in American culture. And our culture despises the poor. They are lazy, blood-sucking drains on precious tax funds. We make no real effort to educate them, keep them healthy, or provide opportunities for them to better their situation. Their outlook for the future is dim at best. Hence, crime.

Taking the above into consideration, it is my opinion that making the individual feel secure and useful in their society is tantamount to decreasing overall crime. Make that person believe they have a stake in something, and they will fight to protect it. It’s the mantra of the middle class and the key to keeping a nation humming along. What forms that stake takes, whether it’s a herd of goats or cable television, depends on your society.

I feel the problem with American culture is that it’s the ADD-inflicted child of Capitalism and Calvinism. The name of that ill-adjusted offspring is American Dream, and her motto is “work hard in the free market and you will be rewarded.” Anyone here still believe in that line of bullshit. Funny how well that corresponds to the Nazi use of “Arbeit macht Frei” on the gates to concentration camps, ain’t it?

We’re fed this line that everyone has the opportunity to become the next Rockefeller or Gates. What they don’t tell us is that those who do live the American Dream are either extremely lucky or very well connected. There are just enough people working their way up the ladder from dock worker to shipping magnate to keep the populace satisfied, which then is used as justification to keep a lid on social programs. The American Dream isn’t a rope for the poor to climb up, it’s a chain to keep them tied down.

Look at me. I didn’t get into Northwestern based purely on merit. I knew a guy, who knew a guy. I got to know that first guy because I was given the opportunity to go to UWM, because I had a good high school education, because I grew up in a middle class haven. It wasn’t the American Dream, it was connections, that allowed me in the end to attend that prestigious institution in Evanston. Yeah sure, I did the work. But we all know I’m a lazy bastard and I’ll be the first to point out that I am where I am more because of connections than hard work.

To wrap up, I agree in principle with Jason and our new addition. Poverty spawns crime. But as long as the establishment, as well as the society it adjourns over, feels like it can control the problem, it will do nothing radical or expensive to better the situation.

11:45 AM  

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