Monday, June 8, 2015

Take the biggest bite out of street crime: police union busting

Chicago's Stop-And-Frisk Rate Four Times New York At Its Worst, ACLU Says 
12Killed, 43 Wounded In [Chicago] Memorial Day Weekend Shootings 

Maybe Chicago should switch off from New York's now former macro intrusion on the poor to New York's continuing micro intrusion (to the last horizon) on everyone; so-called broken windows policing:
A woman puts her dog leash down for a moment to scoop up poop – a plainclothesman pops out of the shadows to ticket her;
A man leaves his car door open while gassing up, allowing his radio to be heard by others – a ticket;
Riding a bicycle on the sidewalk (ooh; pedestrians are killed by bicycles in the street – particularly crosswalks – do the cops tell 15-year-old boys to go bike in traffic?);
Riding a bicycle the wrong way down a one-way street (oooh; good way to avoid being doored – broken hip if you get one is 25% fatal; DVT becomes PE);
Walking between subway cars – will never get hit by a bicycle;
”Manspreading” -- the latest: spreading knees too wide in subway seat; not touching anyone.
If someone breaks a window and nobody repairs it that may invite others to break more windows – an out-of-control atmosphere supposedly may develop.

I was there when Times Square transformed from the Great White Way into Robert De Niro's Hell. It all began with the US Supreme Court protecting pornography under the First Amendment (which of course it had to do) which for whatever reason resulted in an explosion of naughty shops throughout the area, followed by an influx of massage parlors and the lowest supply and demand of the oldest profession.

This coincided with a heroin explosion that nobody who was not there to witness it can imagine.  Methadone quelled the panic in needle park – doppies now had a way to avoid getting sick that didn’t include crawling up your fire escape. 

During the 1990s 75% of robberies and burglaries, etc., nationwide faded away. Everything from less lead in the atmosphere to legalized abortion has been credited for the drop.  My first pick is the nationwide emergence of massive drug dealing street gangs.  Now a boy going wayward (and many who were not) has a criminal franchise right on his own block (often to join whether he wants to or not) which will put him to work immediately for sub-minimum wage ("Five-O!") and offer the promise of promotion to guns and more macho mayhem later.  No need to snatch purses or climb in your window for your costume jewelry.  

In Chicago, 100,000 out of (my guesstimate) 200,000 gang age, minority males are in street gangs: dealing drugs, shooting each other (along with an amazing amount of innocent bystanders) and doing hard time (where some catch up on robbery and burglary).

As long what starts in the Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Chicago stays in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, the city government seems content to leave the police department sitting on the lids on the garbage cans.  Conventional wisdom has it that there is not a lot that even progressive local officials can do about the national economic maladies underlying the permanent underclass.  There’s certainly not much police can do – macro or micro – beyond cleaning up messes afterwards (think Taxi Driver).

I came of age in an America where the federal minimum wage kept up with inflation – and -- economic growth.  In 1956, Senate majority leader Lyndon Johnson guided passage of an $8.75 minimum wage in today's dollars (which a Republican president duly signed).  In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson oversaw a $10.75 minimum wage – reflecting 23% average income growth in between.  Union density in that era was in the neighborhood of 35%.

Today, a $600 a week minimum wage coupled with an $800 normal expectation for everyday positions like supermarket employee would disappear the Crips and Bloods faster than they appeared.  I read Wilson’s When Work Disappears at the same time as Venkatesh’s American Project.  Project went on longer than Work and Chicago housing projects only descended into gang infested hell as the minimum wage descended to nearly half its 1968 purchasing power – double the average income later. 

Chicago has scheduled a minimum wage hike to $13 for 2019 – make that $12 with inflation (2% a year – 8 cents X 13 = 1.04) – a dollar more than LBJ's peak, half a century -- and -- double average income later.  The poor will still be poor but better off.  

Missing union density?  As easy as saying “lost employee price setting mechanism” – a restraint of trade wrought via ruthless economic pressure under the shadow of union organizing legislation that has gone practicably toothless in old age.  Simple enough resolution: new dentures -- make union busting a felony in as many states as possible to begin – which will make it subject to federal RICO prosecution also (33 states have RICO laws).

To take the biggest possible bite out of inner city crime: prosecute union busting.

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