Monday, January 7, 2013

Cars lead to crooks, it turns out

Crime and the attendant 'solutions' is such a mess.  Because people are so willing to sign up for any damn stupid thing to combat crime like paying for massive prison populations, distributing guns throughout the citizenry, or criminalizing harmless lifestyle choices it becomes a huge problem whenever you discover something real about crime.  The problem is that if you can actually prove that somebody's pet solution for crime doesn't actually work you cost them a lot of money and/or credibility.

Just recently I read a great article (followup article) talking about how a huge amount of the crime surge in the 60s, 70s, and 80s can be attributed to lead from gasoline.  Other sources matter, of course, but each other source is a minor factor in the big picture.  This information isn't brand spanking new; the research has been around for years and years now but it isn't yet well known either in public or political circles.  Despite it being true, you don't see it reflected in public anti-crime policy because it isn't sexy.

"I'm going to get tough on crime and slam more people behind bars!"

Now that has sex appeal; who doesn't want to see evil people get their righteously deserved punishment?  Instead of spending 70k a year to lock them up though we could instead spend that money getting the lead out of our environment so we don't create more criminals in the future.  One way ruins lives, the other heals them.  Seems like an easy choice to me but these days I seem to be lacking in that thirst for vengeance that is so popular on the right side of the political spectrum.  Not that I can be too smug since an awful lot of my policies were seriously right wing when I was younger.

Not every problem can be solved by a vigilante armed with a bad attitude, a need for revenge, and a cinematic invulnerability clause.  Most of the good that gets done in the world isn't with splashy revenge but with very unsexy but very effective tasks like cleaning things, building things, talking about things, and helping people even when their problems are largely their own fault.  Let's do some of that.

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