Economics @ ITT

Crime Rates Are Plummeting—And No One Knows Why

Posted in economics, Policy Issues by ittecon on March 21, 2011

Alternet’s piece Crime Rates Are Plummeting—And No One Knows Why poses the question, “Could it be that America is actually turning less violent? Or are we as violent as ever — but have simply found different ways of assuaging our urges?”

It posits that crime is a choice, and when options are limited, the choice becomes crime. Economics is about choices such as this. It also separates Conservative and Progressive worldviews. Conservatives tend to believe that people are inherently bad. Therefore, our criminal justice system is based on punishment and on the Christian concept of penance, hence penitentiary. Progressives tend to believe that people are inherently good. They believe that people react to fairness, and where the deck appears to be stacked against someone, the reaction may be to act out or to commit a crime to take what’s owed them. As animals, humans are opportunistic, so there is more than one motivator; nonetheless, the concept of equity is important.

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