Sunday, May 29, 2011

Remedy for American Crime: no-lead gas, abortion or rebalancing our labor market?

My comment to Angry Bear post "Get the Lead Out II" at

For those of you who have not spent enough time in New York's slums and other badlands (Times Square was the a**hole of the world in early '70s) here are the origins of crime -- which led paint or abortion may or or may not add to or subtract from -- where it begins.

Five esoteric things in a row on juvenile delinquent boys:
Boys until 18 1/2 are in the emotionally dependent stage -- for all practical purposes -- as much as if they were 12.
This turns off over a week's time in my personal observation -- pure social instinct thing.
THE CORE: If they perceive nobody cares about them (wrong about half the time) they literally wont care about themselves -- no penalty can deter them. Any street temptation at all, they are gone.
This is easy enough to accept with a badly neglected 12 year old -- just as crazily true for an 18 year old who has simply been out of control for a long time -- every bit as hysterically alienated as I call it.
Unlike the decades of positive socialization it takes to wind down the paranoia underlying heavy heroin or alcohol addiction -- only 5 to 6 weeks of normal adult attention (teaching to drive) -- slowly brings the kid into the normal supportive orbit (have to kiss his toes and tell him everything he wants to hear first 7=10 days) -- but the crime doesn't slow one bit until a new kid wakes up one day (invasion of the body snatchers day ???).

Very simply the Crips and the Bloods could not whip a decent paying Ronald McDonald.

While reading When Work Disappears by William Julius Wilson and American Project by Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh side by side I noticed that after Wilson's book ended the project only descended into a completely gang infested hell as the minimum wage dropped in half from LBJ's peak -- as average income doubled.

BOTH OF THE ABOVE -- certainly and totally the latter -- CAN BE BLAMED ON AMERICA'S AMAZING, INCREDIBLY SQUEEZING LABOR MARKET. A $15 minimum wage would add about 3% (earlier figuring here *) to the cost of living (not counting other wages pushed up -- good), give half the country a raise and send a lot more low end customers (me ;-]) to McDonalds. Needless to say with a labor market where the median wage grew 20% while average income doubled and left a quarter of the workforce below LBJ's minimum wage by early 2007 (under performing Malthus) many more fatherless homes(massively more in our inner cities) leads to many (massively) more neglected or thinks they are neglected, hysterically alienated kids (for those of you who have not spent enough time in the badlands). *

America's great wage depression also leads to schools that don't work because nobody can be bothered trying to excel when they know they are not going to get paid anything like adequately when they leave school to finally go to work -- according to a professor Martín Sánchez-Jankowski who spent 9 years on the street observing in 5 inner city neighborhoods (slums): read his book Cracks in the Pavement.

So to me crime in America all boils down to what to me almost every other problem in America all boils down to: the totally missing bargaining power (or even any awareness of the need to bargain) of down at the heels American labor. And to me the answer is the only answer that has worked all over the better paid world: SECTOR-WIDE LABOR AGREEMENTS. Never, ever hear this spoken anywhere in supposed progressive forums though this answer is the only one guaranteed to work and everything else put together is guaranteed not to work. When are you going to wake up and start discussing legally mandated sector wide agreements progressive so you can wake up everyone else?

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