Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Drum: Sessions Is Right About Violent Crime Spike

Some on the left (e.g. the Brennan Center) have been denying this--e.g. arguing that it's isolated a few big cities. E.g. Moskos has been all over that, though. 
   The obvious hypothesis is: the Ferguson effect. Is that it? Maybe. Maybe not. This is a question we should be able to answer...but IMO political bias is typically more powerful than scientific methods. We could, theoretically, figure it out...but we probably won't. Because figuring it out would require political objectivity and intellectual honesty.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know, Peter Moskos makes a damn compelling case here. When you see a graph that is that discontinuous, it's hard to weasel out of the obvious explanation, in this case that police reform post Freddie Gray significantly increased violent crime (and to my knowledge did little to effect police shootings which are not particularly common in the first place).

4:58 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Oof...I did not see that post.

Thaaat's gonna be hard to explain away.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's frustrating how hard it is for us to think outside of exclusive disjuncts. The pedant in me wants to say this is still somehow a result of our living in the long intellectual shadow of Parmenides, but that's a separate and not entirely helpful story. The right blames the Ferguson effect, the left blames structural inequities, etc. Of course, it seems fairly obvious that both are to blame. In the short-term, the available evidence points to the Ferguson effect being not unrelated to the spike in violent crime. And yet, in the long term, of course structural problems are to blame for the pockets of extreme poverty and segregation that disproportionately feel the brunt of this uptick in violence. Consider the following from 1968's Kerner Commission, established by LBJ to investigate the cause of the previous year's race riots: "What white Americans have never fully understood but what the Negro can never forget--is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it." That was written by a mixed race, bi-partisan panel in the 60s, and yet you'd be considered some kind of radical for saying it today! Of course, essentially none of the panel's suggestions were followed, and thus the trend they worried about deepened--we have, at least, two America's, and Plato already realized the pitfalls of that in the Republic. The point is, it should be obvious to people that policing is a mere bandaid on a problem that we've never been serious about addressing. Policing--good, legal, robust policing--can only be a short term fix that can help slow the bleeding--literally--while a concerted effort as profound as something like the Marshall Plan would be needed to truly address the underlying causes. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed around the time his efforts shifted to this more explicitly economic focus. Tldr: these are not mutually exclusive issues! I do not doubt that post-Ferguson police behavior has played a role in increased violence; I'm almost sure it has. But our options should not be more/better policing OR attempts to address larger, societal inequities. We obviously need both, and yet that does not seem a very popular position. The police are in a tough spot, as they're asked to watch over a powder keg we all know is extremely volatile. And while we do need them to watch over it, not least for the people who live closet to the keg, the police are never going to be in a position to get rid of the keg. The problem, of course, is a lack of resolve to truly want to address that issue. The proverbial keg is isolated, and intentionally so. If the increased violence was felt by a larger swath of the population, I'm sure we'd be serious about addressing it, and I'm sure we would realize that all the policing in the world would still only put a dent in the problem. As Moskos himself points out, the situation antecedent to this recent uptick was not acceptable, either. By focusing on the Ferguson effect, we indirectly endorse the view that, for example, 200 murders a year in Baltimore is ok, and that that's the benchmark we should strive for. That's insane, but by now I'm just ranting, though, so I'll stop...

9:53 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I dunno, man, I think you should keep saying that stuff.

I, personally, have been so focused on the left refusing to even consider the possibility of the Ferguson effect that I've let the other stuff partially slip out of my head.

Though I do have the recurring thought: imagine we'd spent the $3 trillion (or whatever) cost of the Iraq war on inner cities...

But I don't think that attributing the recent spike to the Ferguson effect is to think that 200 murders/year in Baltimore is ok...it's just to put the recent spike front-and-center for the time being. 200 murders / year is *insane.*

12:02 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home