At 01:52 PM 1/3/01 -0800, you wrote:
>Gosh. The notion that total crime rate (or other social indicators) in a
>city is a zero-sum game seems quite contrary to the evidence.
Assuming the distribution of predispositions in a population is roughly
constant, and assuming that the population lives in a free society, the net
result should be a fairly stable equilibrium of criminal activity. The
more non-free a society higher the deviation that is likely to occur from
the equilibrium state. It is not strictly zero-sum in an absolute sense,
but it is useful to view it that way, particularly if you are a proponent
of a free society (which does approximate a zero sum game over time).
Note that the overall crime rates for a given population tends to be flat
over time; only the distribution throughout the population
changes. Substantial changes in overall crime rates, for better or worse,
can be attributed to changes in the level of oppression or changes in the
makeup of the population. Or at least, I can't think of case where crime
rates have changed significantly where there wasn't a signficant change in
the level of individual freedom. Freedom in this context should include
cultural and social factors, not just governmental ones.
>Given that education, housing, income level disparity, presence of jobs,
>environmental factors in rearing, etc... can all affect the propensity
>towards crime, it would seem that this is far from a zero-sum system.
Chicken and egg. You are citing effects as causes.
>There are real benefits to be had, for example, by ensuring a higher
>quality education for residents of an area.
As someone who lived and went to school in the really bad part of town, I
know that it is quite possible to get an education that is just as good as
what you get in the "good" parts of town. Yeah, there are more losers at
the school, but losers are what makes the bad part of town "bad". If you
choose not to run with that crowd, you can easily get your education and
Again, that is how these polarizations occur. Intelligent/decent/whatever
people often don't like to live around people who are less so, and over
time, they move out of areas that have a high concentration of
riff-raff. That is one of the benefits of freedom; the ability to live
where you want and associate with who you want. Individuals who are
less-than-upstanding citizens generally don't want to live in places where
their behavior is aggressively combatted by society, so they tend to
associate with and live around others who have similar dispositions.
> From a purely economic standpoint, I suspect that the US incurs a huge cost
>in *not* devoting more resources to education, particularly in the most
>economically depressed and crime-ridden areas.
There is no substantial correlation between money spent and educational
results. Many of the most crime-ridden areas also spend some of the
largest amounts of money per student. The amount of resources spent on
education have nothing to do with the problem unless you are a lobbyist for
the teacher's union. Massive increases in funding for education and other
programs in the crime-ridden areas have not yielded any substantial
results, despite the promises that it would.
I went to high school in the Poway Unified School District in Southern
California, a school district that has a reputation for producing excellent
students and generally producing superior educational results. That
particular school district had a policy where, if you were determined to be
seriously anti-social in nature, they kicked you out of the normal schools
and paid to have you sent to another high school that had been set up
specifically to work with those kinds of people. The result was that by
removing the few percent of anti-social losers and sending them to a single
isolated high school (the standards for such were very reasonable in my
opinion -- it mostly applied to the usual set of thugs and disruptive
idiots that every high school has), they substantially increased the
performance of all the other schools in the school district. This produced
good results even in the relatively bad neighborhoods, but it wasn't
accomplished by making everyone not bad, rather it was accomplished by
segregating the problem individuals. And quite frankly, even at the high
school specifically set up to deal with those individuals, most could not
be converted in to normal social individuals.
You can't really eliminate the bad people, you can merely segregate
them. And given the choice, most "bad" people will congregate with their
own kind and stay out of everyone else's hair for the most part anyway.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:56:16 MDT