Monday, December 14, 2015

The relationship between crime and poverty

Disclaimer: this is not justification for, excusing, or condoning crime in anyway. I am just pointing out that perhaps our focus is on the wrong things.

Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Memphis, Tucson, Baltimore, Fresno, El Paso, Indianapolis, Boston, San Bernardino. What do these cities have in common? They struggle with extreme poverty. There is also extreme wealth in these cities, but the gap between the two is huge!

“Poverty and crime have a very "intimate" relationship that has been described by experts from all fields, from sociologists to economists. The UN and the World Bank both rank crime high on the list of obstacles to a country’s development. This means that governments trying to deal with poverty often also have to face the issue of crime as they try to develop their country's economy and society”.
“Crime prevents businesses from thriving by generating instability and uncertainty (at micro and macroeconomic levels). This is true in markets of all sizes, national, regional, municipal and even neighborhood-al (okay the word doesn’t exist)”.

“That's why having a business in a ghetto is rarely a good idea”.

Political topics in this election cycle:
  • 1.      Abortion
  • 2.      Women and minorities
  • 3.      Same sex marriage
  • 4.      Public faith
  • 5.      Environment
  • 6.      Campaign finance
  • 7.      Crime
  • 8.      Guns
  • 9.      Obamacare
  • 10.  Schools
  • 11.  Energy
  • 12.  Drugs
  • 13.  Stimulus
  • 14.  Taxes
  • 15.  Immigration
  • 16.  Social security
  • 17.  Trade
  • 18.  Military
  • 19.  America
  • 20.  Foreign policy

I am curious but why are most of these topics are even a political discussion? Some of topics do not belong in a public forum, have already been settled, or are just distractions; yet politicians in both major parties keep rehashing some these things as if they are important. Quite a few of the issues are actually tied together and should not be separated.

“According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) (pdf), more than 49 million Americans lived in households struggling against hunger in 2012. Of them, 15.7 million were children (21.4 percent of all children). Previously, in 2012, 48.9 million Americans lived in food insecure households”. So more than 15% of the population of the richest, largest food producing country in the world struggle to eat every day?

Back to crime; we have this habit of approaching crime or perception of crime with a hammer:

·         “‘Not justified, but not criminal’: No charges for Paradise cop who shot motorist in the neck”

·         “Teen in jail for months over 'sarcastic' Facebook threat”

·         “From 1980 to 2008, the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled-from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million people. Today, the US is 5% of the World population and has 25% of world prisoners. Combining the number of people in prison and jail with those under parole or probation supervision, 1 in ever y 31 adults, or 3.2 percent of the population is under some form of correctional control”.

Here is my proposal, it is nothing new, nothing innovative, and it is just based upon educated ideas and common sense. Let’s make a war on poverty, I mean a real war because these numbers would actually be considered an epidemic according to the CDC. Let us bring the full weight, might of all branches or government, of the military, police, and citizens, and let’s eradicate poverty once and for all. No I am not talking about a handout, no I am not talking about socialism or communism (for those who love to argue). What I am suggesting is some simple changes.

1.      Fix our infrastructure, not patch it but fix it. Fix the buildings, roads, bridges, etc. Not only will that put a lot of people to work for a long time (because you have to give people jobs), but it will instill a sense of pride in where people are.

2.      Get rid of private prisons immediately, take those profits and actual create opportunities for prisoners to better themselves, teach them real skills, and set them up for jobs so that when they come out they can make a living wage. While you are at it, stop exploiting their labor, pay them minimum wage and put their money in a savings account for them so they can live when they come out and not go back to crime.

3.      Criminal justice system needs revamping now. By create a criminal class you are taking away economic opportunity, voting rights, and keeping the cycle going. Jail should not be the end of your life; it should be just a time in your life.

4.      There are pockets of extreme poor in this country and we know where they are. Do not forget those communities!

5.      We have warehouses of food rotting and we are paying farmers to keep it there: why is that? Need I say more on this? Let us stop wasting food on so many levels

Erasing poverty means people are eating, have homes, they are working, paying taxes, and just generally contributing to society. We have had the ability to do this for a long time; can we now develop the will?

Dr Flavius A B Akerele

The ETeam

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