That’s the good news, for all of us.  Crime is down pretty much across the nation, in all sorts of environment.  But Richard Cohen notes that this has some ramifications for an enduring liberal assertion.

This is a good news, bad news column. The good news is that crime is again down across the nation — in big cities, small cities, flourishing cities and cities that are not for the timid. Surprisingly, this has happened in the teeth of the Great Recession, meaning that those disposed to attribute criminality to poverty — my view at one time — have some strenuous rethinking to do. It could be, as conservatives have insisted all along, that crime is committed by criminals. For liberals, this is bad news indeed.

I have always wondered how this assertion has endured when there was a very clear, very stark historical example contradicting it.  If it was true, crime should have exploded during the Great Depression with so many folks reduced to poverty who weren’t there before. 

Cohen asks the question:

What’s going on? A number of things, say the experts. As is always the case, the police credited the police for magnificent police work, while others cited the decline in crack cocaine usage. Those answers, though, are only partially satisfying because, believe you me, if and when crime begins its almost inevitable ascent, the very same police authorities will blame economic or social conditions beyond their control — not to mention the inevitable manpower shortage.

Whatever the reasons, it now seems fairly clear that something akin to culture and not economics is the root cause of crime. By and large everyday people do not go into a life of crime because they have been laid off or their home is worth less than their mortgage. They do something else, but whatever it is, it does not generally entail packing heat. Once this becomes an accepted truth, criminals will lose what status they still retain as victims.

Seems this economic explanation is more often a convenience used by liberals to create victims (and potential voters) of those they insist they care about.  Cohen wraps up, after a "West Side Story" reference you’ll need to Read The Whole Thing to see, with a conclusion that may be news to some, but shouldn’t be at all.

Common sense tells you that the environment has to play a role and the truly desperate will sometimes break the law — like Victor Hugo’s impoverished Jean Valjean, who stole bread for his sister’s children. But the latest crime statistics strongly suggest that bad times do not necessarily make bad people. Bad character does.

The good news is, crime is down.  The … good news is, it’s possibly another counter example that could (hopefully) soon fully discredit this liberal article of faith.

Filed under: EconomicsLiberal

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