We Are All Heather Mac Donald Now!

 

As a contributing editor to City Journal, I would like to declare myself officially irritated to the point of irascibility by the fact that the rest of the journalistic world has now discovered what my CJ colleague Heather Mac Donald has been reporting for years – that poverty doesn’t cause crime – and isn’t giving Heather any credit for the discovery.  In a stupid article with the wonderfully stupid headline “Steady Decline in Major Crime Baffles Experts,” the stupid New York Times “reported” last week,

“The number of violent crimes in the United States dropped significantly last year, to what appeared to be the lowest rate in nearly 40 years, a development that was considered puzzling partly because it ran counter to the prevailing expectation that crime would increase during a recession.”

Yeah, well, this would not be considered puzzling if any of these experts or the Times editors had been reading the astoundingly great reporting Heather has been doing on this issue for a very long time. Here’s one of her ledes from 2009:

“The economic situation is proving challenging to “root cause” theorists—those who argue that social pathologies like crime arise from economic inequality and racism, not cultural dysfunction. The regular predictions that crime will go up as self-disciplined burghers lose their jobs continue to be dashed.”

I would suggest that the New York Times hire Heather in order to get all the news that’s fit to print while it’s still, you know, news…  but if I did, our mutual CJ editor would personally fly to California and beat my brains in.  Maybe the Times editors could simply roll up copies of City Journal and parade around Times Square smacking themselves and crying, “We’re not worthy!”  That’d amuse me anyway.

And by the way, even without Heather’s did-I-mention-astoundingly-great reporting, it’s always seemed to me that simple observation and common sense lead to the same conclusion.  If poverty caused crime, there wouldn’t be any Bernie Madoffs.  Ultimately, the human heart causes crime.   All poverty does is limit the sorts of crimes you can commit.

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  1. Profile Photo Member
    @Misthiocracy

    Totally inappropriate joke coming up. I apologize in advance.

    Andrew Klavan: Ultimately, the human heart causes crime.

    If we were all on Jarvik hearts there would be no crime!

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Inactive
    @MelFoil

    If you travel around the world, some of the happiest people are also the poorest. They don’t have much, but they have a stable extended family, they have friends, they have enough food, a place to sleep, and they know what’s expected of them each day. The rest is just icing on the cake.

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Member
    @Misthiocracy
    etoiledunord: If you travel around the world, some of the happiest people are also the poorest. They don’t have much, but they have a stable extended family, they have friends, they have enough food, a place to sleep, and they know what’s expected of them each day. The rest is just icing on the cake. · May 31 at 11:08am

    Research into the correlation between wealth and happiness is inconclusive, and often contractictory:

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Inactive
    @flownover

    Well you guys think you’re pretty smart,but I just read that global warming causes crime.

    Poverty is also caused by global warming. Episode #23 of South Park, or was it Discovery Earth ..? said that a creature named Man Bear Stearns Pig was proof that econometric history shows conclusively that global warming is to blame for higher prices of durable goods. Four out of five scientists at the Good Housekeeping Institute for Media Frenzy agree that Cadillac Escalades are responsible for more gunfire and have a larger carbon footprint than a hemp farm.

    What it is about Myron Magnet that attracts so many ironclad conservatives ?

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Member
    @WesternChauvinist
    Whiskey Sam

    Andrew Klavan: If poverty caused crime, there wouldn’t be any Bernie Madoffs. Ultimately, the human heart causes crime. All poverty does is limit the sorts of crimes you can commit. ·

    This really gets to the basic principle. Instead of looking externally for something or someone to blame for our actions, we should look internally and reflect on whether our fallen nature and own wickedness are to blame. · May 31 at 12:10pm

    Agreed. I’ve often thought the difference in world-views between left and right can be summarized by this opposite view. The left assigns the source of good internally (good intentions) and the source of bad externally (bad parenting or negative societal influences) while the right assigns the source of good to God or even founding principles and the source of bad internally (fallen or human nature).

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Contributor
    @TommyDeSeno

    A couple of points.

    Point One: I agree with Heather about cultural dysfunction causing crime. Though I do think that poverty will cause some crime (I’m not familiar enough with Heather’s body of work to know if she dismisses poverty as a cause of crime completely).

    I’ve seen people stealing food and that be the only mark on their record. That can be desperation, not cultural dysfunction (or both). But again, I agree the majority of crime is caused as Heather maintains.

    Point Two: Beware of drop in crime statistics. Sometimes there is a great deal of politics in the reported numbers.

    Where I come from, it was revealed that a drop in crime came after the Police Director ordered the police to stop arresting people for a variety of offenses. That’s not a drop in crime, it’s a drop in enforcement.

    We had another situation where our county prosecutor’s office questioned a reported drop in crime statistics based upon number fudging for political purposes.

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Inactive
    @TeeJaw

    Poverty does not cause crime, but crime does cause poverty.

    The New York Times also wrote (several years ago) that they couldn’t understand why there were still so many people in prison when crime had been going down.

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Inactive
    @WhiskeySam
    Andrew Klavan: If poverty caused crime, there wouldn’t be any Bernie Madoffs. Ultimately, the human heart causes crime. All poverty does is limit the sorts of crimes you can commit. ·

    This really gets to the basic principle. Instead of looking externally for something or someone to blame for our actions, we should look internally and reflect on whether our fallen nature and own wickedness are to blame.

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Member
    @tabularasa

    Heather MacDonald is terrific. As a religious conservative, I nonetheless have great respect for MacDonald’s non-religious conservatism. She is a principled conservative who has found those principles in reason.

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Inactive
    @flownover
    Tommy De Seno: A couple of points.

    county prosecutor’s office questioned a reported drop in crime statistics based upon number fudging for political purposes. · Jun 1 at 4:47am

    We can’t all go to Duke, or want to.

    My rule is just not to believe anything that’s written down, reprinted in large numbers. Rumors have a better rate of proof than most news in the past ten years.

    • #10
  11. Severely Ltd. Inactive
    Severely Ltd.
    @SeverelyLtd

    Western Chauvinist:

    Whiskey Sam

    Andrew Klavan: If poverty caused crime, there wouldn’t be any Bernie Madoffs.  Ultimately, the human heart causes crime.   All poverty does is limit the sorts of crimes you can commit. ·

    This really gets to the basic principle.  Instead of looking externally for something or someone to blame for our actions, we should look internally and reflect on whether our fallen nature and own wickedness are to blame.   · May 31 at 12:10pm

    Agreed.  I’ve often thought the difference in world-views between left and right can be summarized by this opposite view.  The left assigns the source of good internally (good intentions) and the source of bad externally (bad parenting or negative societal influences) while the right assigns the source of good to God or even founding principles and the source of bad internally (fallen or human nature).

    This is positively profound, Bravo. Every point you made is known to conservatives, but putting it into contrasting, almost epigrammatic form like this is inspired.

    • #11

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