Thursday, June 07, 2007


The latest statistics show that crime is going up again after over a decade of dropping. The question is "why"?

Some people feel that crime is linked to poverty, but if you went and did a line graph with one line representing poverty and the other representing crime, you wouldn't see any observable pattern. Just because mostly the poor commit crimes doesn't mean that crime is caused by poverty.

Others believe that crime is caused by illegitimacy. There's a little more support for this, as crime really started to skyrocket as illegitimacy increased from the 60s to the 90s. It's also well known that children, especially male children, without fathers tend to be more likely to get involved in unsavory activities. But illegitimacy is still increasing and crime went down from about 1993-2004.

Looking at an Excel file from the DOJ breaking down crime statistics by metropolitan area, I still can't find a pattern. Some places crime went up, other places it went down. It's not as if one region saw a major increase and others did not.

I guess the point of this blog post is to demonstrate that humans are sovereign beings who make individual choices and aren't as subject to predictable trends as we might like. Those who believe that all we have to do to change human behavior is implement policy on the macro level have a God complex. We don't have any idea what causes crime other than that for whatever reason, some people engage in criminal activity. Anyone who has known criminals knows that they all have their own reasons for doing what they do. There is no single, or even finite group, of national policies that can address the almost infinite different motivations for criminal behavior.

The only way to fight crime is at the personal level. Raise your children well. Be a good influence on those around you. Intervene when you think a friend or family member or acquaintance is sliding down a dark path. In the end, it's the 300 million individuals who make this country great, not our government. If we all decide to be assholes, not even the best government can make this country work. If we all treated each other as we would like to be treated, we wouldn't even need a government in the first place.