America very rough calculation of the day those who walk amongst us

by on February 20, 2017 at 4:32 am in Current Affairs, Data Source, Law | Permalink

…only a tiny fraction of all living Americans ever convicted of a felony is actually incarcerated at this very moment. Quite the contrary: Maybe 90 percent of all sentenced felons today are out of confinement and living more or less among us. The reason: the basic arithmetic of sentencing and incarceration in America today. Correctional release and sentenced community supervision (probation and parole) guarantee a steady annual “flow” of convicted felons back into society to augment the very considerable “stock” of felons and ex-felons already there. And this “stock” is by now truly enormous.

…Very rough calculations might therefore suggest that at this writing, America’s population of non-institutionalized adults with a felony conviction somewhere in their past has almost certainly broken the 20 million mark by the end of 2016. A little more rough arithmetic suggests that about 17 million men in our general population have a felony conviction somewhere in their CV. That works out to one of every eight adult males in America today.

That is by Nicholas N. Eberstadt, via Arnold Kling.  The broader piece is a useful litany of everything that has gone wrong since 1999 in this country.

1 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 5:06 am

‘Things out there in America are a whole lot different from what you thought.’

Yet, oddly, in February 2017, it remains true that a majority of Americans think things in America haven’t changed too much at all – a vocal minority possessing alternative facts remains able to override a majority of people who mock the very idea that such things as alternative facts can be called anything but a lie.

‘There is no way to sugarcoat these awful numbers. They are not a statistical artifact that can be explained away by population aging, or by increased educational enrollment for adult students, or by any other genuine change in contemporary American society. The plain fact is that 21st-century America has witnessed a dreadful collapse of work.’

Man, this sounds like Trump talking about carnage. Luckily, there are actually informed people who have been writing about this for more than a decade. A link from calculated risk last year – http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2016/02/a-comment-on-labor-force-participation.html provides a solid framework to see an ongoing debate between those with an axe to grind, and those who actually present data.

And here is a bit of current actual data analysis from McBride – ‘The following table tracks two cohorts over the last decade. Those people in the 50 to 54 year old cohort in January 2007, are now in the 60 to 64 year old cohort.

And those people in the 55 to 59 year old cohort in 2007, are now in the 65 to 69 year old cohort.

If we track these people over time, we see the large cohort in the 50 to 54 in January 2007 has seen their participation rate decline from 80.5% to 55.6%.

And the cohort in the 55 to 59 age group in 2007 has seen their participation rate decline from 71.9% to 31.8%. These people are retiring (being able to retire is a positive for an individual).

—————————————–

These are large population cohorts, and the decline in their participation has pushed down the overall participation rate.

A careful analysis suggests that almost all of the decline in the overall participation rate over the last decade is related to demographics and long term trends.

Perhaps Mr. Cohn doesn’t know how to normalize using demographics, but his assertions are nonsense.’ http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2017/02/gary-cohn-and-participation-rate.html

2 Lieutenant Leftout February 20, 2017 at 5:54 am

I disagree fundamentally. I have Eberstadt’s heroic book, A Nation of Takers, which exposed the massive scale of America’s contemporary and very very sick welfare state. Soon as I read it I said to myself this is the time bomb ticking away because of the American habit of ignoring Schumpeter’s lesson that an observable series of gradually larger systemic crises is a sign of the need for radical overhaul of capitalist structures.

The truly great economist of the twentieth century Joseph Schumpeter argued that ‘disharmony is inherent in the very modus operandi of the factors of progress’. The most pathological crises contain their own ‘restorative tendency’. During crises, the fruits of a preceding period of innovation can be harvested. It becomes cheaper to adopt new technologies. Downturns are the time to restructure inefficient business, to eliminate ‘dead wood’, recruit intelligent minds, find solutions to recurrent problems, and lay the groundwork for a future round of innovation. Recovery is a ‘painful process of modernization, rationalization and reconstruction’ (ibid.: 110). Fundamental ‘reorganization and adaptation’ are the means of overcoming ‘maladjustments and rigidities’. The ‘organic process’ of economic evolution, said Schumpeter, is a ‘perennial gale of creative destruction’ that destroys and recreates economic structures.”

Schumpeter and Weber — these guys were great, they were friends, colleagues, real sociologists, real economists — were both crystal clear in their opinion that welfare policy that extends the size of the state, the size of the destructive incentives, and the size of underlying economic inefficiencies is a primary target for ‘painful process of modernization, rationalization and reconstruction’.

Eberstadt seems a little lost about what to do. You can read for yourself:

“The idea (not without a measure of truth to back it up) was that people in America are free to achieve according to their merit and their grit—unlike in other places, where they are trapped by barriers of class or the misfortune of misrule.”

“Even though the American economy still remains the world’s unrivaled engine of wealth generation, those outside the bubble may have less of a shot at the American Dream than has been the case for decades, maybe generations. We have a lot of work to do together to turn this around.”

I hope we are entering the age of the end, I mean that people — THE END — of political correctness. So let me end by suggesting extremely provocatively that the wisest thing to do with and for this overflowing population of convicted felons, incarcerated or on welfare, undeniably a drain and source of present or future unrest and dysfunction, is to give them a compulsory work building a wall on the border with Mexico. This would be cheap labour, below the minimum wage (por supuesto hombre!), but the remuneration would be better than welfare, with the possibility of bonuses for the strongest or most productive and diligent workers. Incarcerated fellows would have something they currently lack, a method of creating savings and work ethics in the long term, possibly also work skills, preparing for the moment of their eventual release. I certainly don’t claim any originality for this idea. It’s as old as the hills .. and the ills.

Eberstadt and all the wonderful statisticians and students of societal decay need to think hard about small, practical, policy steps upwards or outwards. Work is better than counselling, consoling, codling, and condoning? Whayasay? Doable under Trump?

3 anon February 20, 2017 at 6:12 am

Google the pdf “On the Causes of Declines in the Labor Force Participation Rate” by Shigeru Fujita, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

Maybe the book does a better job than this article on the nuance, but retirement is definitely a factor.

4 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 6:15 am

‘I disagree fundamentally.’

Post some data, link to a few charts – it shouldn’t be that hard. McBride is a master at it, and he has is fairly clear in presenting his arguments backed by data.

Though in this age where the rule of Poe has become so widespread, one can wonder whether this is a delightfully subtle send-up – ‘So let me end by suggesting extremely provocatively that the wisest thing to do with and for this overflowing population of convicted felons, incarcerated or on welfare, undeniably a drain and source of present or future unrest and dysfunction, is to give them a compulsory work building a wall on the border with Mexico. This would be cheap labour, below the minimum wage (por supuesto hombre!), but the remuneration would be better than welfare, with the possibility of bonuses for the strongest or most productive and diligent workers. Incarcerated fellows would have something they currently lack, a method of creating savings and work ethics in the long term, possibly also work skills, preparing for the moment of their eventual release.’

5 Lieutenant Leftout February 20, 2017 at 6:29 am

And before anyone offers up any claptrap about the history of fascism which I DO know about from films and books, I’d like to offer up the suggestion that HUGE population of convicted felons, many of them muscular to the extreme, could work in the best of conditions. America’s best scientists and engineering innovators could add value to the economy and TO America’s technological prowess by recruiting them to build a dome of air-conditioned air all along the wall. The best chefs from New York city could be recruited to feed the workers. The best mobile hospital in the world could be operated on train tracks right the way along the border. Counsellors, psychologists, and so on could be recruited to provide therapy on tap. Heaven in hell man, prostitutes could be recruited too! Whayasay? No need for numbers. Man alive, the cost of building this wall is guaranteed to be a tiny fraction of the cost incarceration and welfare.

6 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 6:40 am

‘I’d like to offer up the suggestion that HUGE population of convicted felons, many of them muscular to the extreme, could work in the best of conditions.’

Poe’s law is an Internet adage that states that, without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, it is impossible to create a parody of extreme views so obviously exaggerated that it cannot be mistaken by some readers or viewers as a sincere expression of the parodied views. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe's_law

7 Lieutenant Leftout February 20, 2017 at 6:57 am

I pay a subscription to Wikipedia every month. Do you?

Topic today is:

Eberstadt says in a footnote to the article cited by Cowen above: “In 2013, roughly 2.3 million men were behind bars according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.”

In another footnote he says: “downturns born of major financial crises intrinsically require longer adjustment and correction periods than the more familiar, ordinary business-cycle downturn.”

Typically of his profession Ebdestadt has nothing to say about classical Schumpeterian solutions, which were popular IN THEORY among academic economists before the crisis, but strangely never heard about since in theory or practice…

Of the 2.3 million men behind bars I bet you any money that 50% would be capable and willing to go work under an air-conditioned dome with haute cuisine (Cowen can advise on delicious border-style grub) and prostitutes (ask Cowen about the economic theory of pimping) building law and order sealant along the southern border. What’s not doable about this? Yeah, I know, the media, the bleeding hearts, the intellectuals, and the politicians. And it’s a bleeding shame.

8 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 7:00 am

‘I pay a subscription to Wikipedia every month. Do you?’

Nope. I haven’t paid Stallman any royalties for the GPL, either.

9 chuck martel February 20, 2017 at 6:45 am

What’s required is CONFORMITY. Since the welfare state has the mission of catching those that “fall through the cracks”, it’s imperative that the receivers conform to expectations. A close relation to that conformity is submission, the quality of obedience to authority. The welfare state insists on providing but is perplexed by the ingratitude, nonconformity and lack of submission of the recipients, a common thread throughout human history. Even the powerful state educational system can’t seem to make those pesky humans into submissive, work-oriented consumers, at least not entirely.

10 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 7:49 am

I’m perfectly happy to have people conform to the norm that you don’t burgle people’s houses and rob convenience stores.

11 Jan February 20, 2017 at 8:04 am

If given enough taxpayer dollars and zero accountability, I’m sure private schools can turn all future poor people into good, conforming Christians.

12 TMC February 20, 2017 at 11:50 am

Jan, they already do a pretty good job with fewer dollars and the same constraints. How about we just expand on those?

13 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 10:57 am

This is bullshit too. We don’t need to assign all the convicted felons to some sort of massive work-project. What we need is a law that sunsets or automatically expunges criminal records after a period of years without any convictions. If someone successfully reintegrates into society and has no criminal record for 20 years, that felony conviction should stop following them around.

14 Floccina February 20, 2017 at 2:30 pm

+1 but it should be much less that 20 years.

15 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 6:26 pm

Maybe depending on crimes.

If Mr X1 was a little too forward with the GF back in 1985 and resulted in date rape charge, probably it’s not fair for him to have a cirminal record in 2017 if he’s otherwise kept out of trouble. But if the real situation was … I dunno … something really dark, then it’s probably better if employers or some others might have some possibility to access information like … there’s an axe murdered rapist working for you.

Something like “got caught with a joint” – ignoring that the related laws should be removed completely, it should be very easy to understand that the effects on presumed potential pathways accessible to the individual will be constrained due to a record, and that there is no particular value in maintaining this record for a long period of time. Say … automatically remove it after a few years.

But let’s say there’s some massive fraud … does it matter if it’s at the age of 20 or 50? How much should the insurance cost against the risk of finanical fraud this person might commit in a financial institution, for example?

Very possible, there is a strong case, then, to not expunge financial crimes for an extremely long period of time, even compared to things which affect us much more psychologically, like physcial violence or victimless crimes relating to ethical perspectives.

So, it would be very difficult to tailor all of these things. I don’t think you’d ever get many people to agree to 20 years across the board, due to special cases, and this would generally impede the progress towards more sensible practices relating to records some transgression or another at some former stage.

16 Jason Bayz February 20, 2017 at 2:37 pm

“If someone successfully reintegrates into society and has no criminal record for 20 years”

Like Josef Fritzl?

“In 1967, he broke into the Linz home of a 24-year-old nurse while her husband was away and raped her while holding a knife to her throat, threatening to kill her if she screamed.[29] According to an annual report for 1967 and a press release of the same year, he was also named as a suspect in a case of attempted rape of a 21-year-old woman, and known for indecent exposure. Fritzl was arrested and served an 18-month prison sentence.[30] In accordance with Austrian law, his criminal record was expunged after 15 years. As a result, more than 25 years later, when he applied for the adoption of one child and foster care for two others, of children to whom his daughter Elisabeth had given birth, the local social service authorities did not discover his criminal history.[31][32]”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritzl_case

You’re a libertarian, right? If an employer wants to discriminate against people with past criminal convictions, what is the libertarian justification for preventing that? In the age of the internet, the information will be made available unless specifically prevented by the government. That law would not create a single job, any benefit which went to the “ex-felons” would come at the expense of workers of similar skill set who they would compete with. The underlying issue is that automation and outsourcing have eliminated lots of low-skilled jobs(which immigration has increased competition for) and the standard response of the political elites(along with people like you) has been denialism. That the “ex-felons” have been “suffering”* from the unemployment makes this denialism easier. People can say “look, my 16 year old son got a job easily, there’s no problem.” The felons are invisible, or, when they are pointed out, one can point to the felony record as the problem.

The problem with the border wall idea is that, if you’re an unemployed guy with no criminal record, you want a job building that border wall. If you are employed in a low-skilled position, you want the option to quit your job and go work on that border wall. Increased demand for your labor increases your wage. One of the main reasons prison labor was scaled back** was because the labor unions saw it, correctly, as competition. It was phrased, of course, in more humanitarian terms.

We don’t, for obvious reasons, want to give the taxpayer’s money to these “ex-criminals.” This will be a major hurdle to any basic income proposal, the desire to exclude certain classes from receiving it. We want the criminals to, at least, earn their money through labor. But any proposal to put them specifically to work will receive opposition from people who want those jobs to go to them instead. We can’t give them money and we can’t give them work. So one can only address the problem through indirect ways. Increase demand for low-skilled labor, through wage subsidies or massive infrastructure and some of that demand will trickle down in the form of higher demand for people with criminal records. It’d be expensive, not worth it in my opinion. Wage subsidies would retard demand for robots. Japan would race ahead in what should be expected to be a crucial industry. Infrastructure takes a long time to go from planning to building, and the very areas which need employment the most are those areas, declining in population and economic activity, which need infrastructure the least. Or one could try reducing the supply of labor. Cutting immigration would be great for other reason, but we can’t do that.(we just can’t!) If a basic income were directed only to those without criminal records, it would lead to some reduction in labor force participation. But we would be opposed to any policy which has that effect, because of our view of work as necessary. Basic income advocates are forced to argue that it would have no effect whatsoever on labor force participation.***

And that’s assuming that those things would trickle down to people with criminal records. They may not. If wages go up it will lead people formerly not in the labor force to reenter it. And many of these people won’t have criminal records. They will be preferred to the “ex-criminals” and so the result may be no benefit to the ex-criminals.

* Many of these guys love having an excuse to not work. “Sure, mom, I’d love to work but no one will hire me because of my record.” But to our upper-middle class people, the view that work is a torturous drudgery is foreign. If someone can’t get a job, they see that as righteous punishment for that person’s previous crime.

**Contrary to what many think, it still exists.

***There were a few experiments which suggested this, but a few years worth of experimental income which the participants fear could be cut off if the politicians change their mind cannot be compared to a permanent policy which would see as a reliable source of income by the recipients.

17 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 3:46 pm

You’re a libertarian, right? If an employer wants to discriminate against people with past criminal convictions, what is the libertarian justification for preventing that? In the age of the internet, the information will be made available unless specifically prevented by the government.

The government provides the information to the employer, so I’m talking about just making it not publicly available. You can consider it a privacy issue.
If the employer wants to hire a private investigator to find out about criminal convictions, he should be free to do so, but it should be at his own expense. It should not be provided publicly by the government.

18 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 3:50 pm

We don’t, for obvious reasons, want to give the taxpayer’s money to these “ex-criminals.” This will be a major hurdle to any basic income proposal, the desire to exclude certain classes from receiving it.

Which is immoral, in my opinion, if someone’s criminal record has been clean for some period of years, he should be eligible for the same benefits as anyone else. There are many people who are “ex-criminals” who never serve prison time, whose crime was of a non-violent or victimless nature, and who only have a single offense on their record.

19 Jason Bayz February 20, 2017 at 3:57 pm

“If the employer wants to hire a private investigator”

Private investigator? What century are you living in? Never heard of the background check? There’s a whole industry built around it.

20 kevin February 21, 2017 at 8:43 am

One anecdotal story? There’s billions of people in the world. There’s absolutely no government law or regulation that won’t somewhere have a negative effect on someone.

21 Turkey Vulture February 20, 2017 at 2:59 pm

As Jason Bayz says, you have to be willing to ban employers from asking about criminal history (prior to X date) if you want to achieve what you’re going for here. And make sure that criminal history from before X date can’t be used against an employer in a civil suit to show that their hiring procedures were faulty.

I generally agree that we should. At less than 20 years. Making it more difficult for a previous felon to get work just makes it more likely they stay in the illegal economy and end up as a repeat offender.

22 Jason Bayz February 20, 2017 at 5:14 pm

Disagree strongly. Consider three people:

1. Alice chooses at 18 to drop out of high school
.
2. Bob chooses at 18 to not get a job or attend school, spending his days playing video games, thereby developing no work history.

3. Robert chooses at 18 to commit a crime.

All three choices are dumb ones, but only one has been judged by society to be criminal, even if, like selling drugs, Hazel thinks it’s “victimless.” In what universe is it fair to say “you can discriminate against Alice and Bob for their choices, but not Robert?” The fact that Robert is more likely to go commit crime in his spare time is not sufficient justification in my view. The government shouldn’t make it harder for him to get a job, but if employers judge it necessary to discriminate, they should be able to do so. And also, if employers can’t look at criminal background directly, they will try to use proxy factors like race, education, and gender.

23 chuck martel February 20, 2017 at 6:43 pm

If the US were truly a country founded on Christian principles, which some people maintain that it is, two of the most important tenets of Christianity would be more obvious, forgiveness and redemption. But they’re almost completely absent in the public sphere, where the warped ideas of the Puritans, those cuddly intolerants, endure to this day.

24 Floccina February 20, 2017 at 2:25 pm

If only there were a cheap way to get cheap labor to work. If there was we could put them to work cleaning up streets, waterways and beautifying neighborhoods.

25 anon February 20, 2017 at 6:00 am

And Google the pdf “The Wealth of Households: An Analysis of the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances” by David Rosnick and Dean Baker for much more detailed information on housing and investment equity.

Basically things are much lumpier and less linear than argued in this piece. The run-up 1980-2000 was great, but perhaps unusual.

Now .. it might not be anyone else’s fault that people over-invest in large houses and under-invest in non-housing vehicles(*) of all kinds.

* – the pun of automotive vehicle mal-investnent noted as well.

26 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 10:45 am

You realize that LFP only counts people in the 18-65 year old age group right? We would expect to see steep declines in the 50-59 year old group as they age past 65 and retire, but those won’t be counted in the overall LFP rate. Also the effect of felony convictions would be a very long-run trend over the past 50 years, which we do see. The last decade is not the issue.

27 Captain Obvious February 20, 2017 at 5:16 am

Thank you war on drugs. You replaced slavery for black people…with slavery for black people. Not even apartheid whites in South Africa were this ingenious. In the name of “security” obviously.

28 So Much For Subtlety February 20, 2017 at 6:41 am

The war on drugs does not make anyone break the law. Everyone knows what drugs are legal and what are illegal. Everyone knows what the consequences of breaking the law is. It is just the legacy of the Civil Rights movement is that some people think breaking the law is cool and they are justified in doing so.

They are not.

No one has a God given right to use drugs. No one needs to use drugs. Perhaps they should be legal. Perhaps not. Until they are, people who think they are above the law will be – should be – made to realize that they are not.

29 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 7:03 am

‘Everyone knows what drugs are legal’

Every 18 year old in America that has drank alcohol is consuming an illegal drug. Strangely, they rarely seem to get jail terms for doing it.

30 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 8:28 am

So what? It’s a petty misdemeanor in penal codes. Possession of heroin isn’t.

31 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 8:51 am

Admittedly, this is from a lawyer selling services, but this can happen in the Commonwealth of Virginia –

‘Underage possession of alcohol: Even if you are not behind the wheel, you could lose your license if you are convicted of underage possession of alcohol. You also don’t even have to have a drink in your hand to be charged with this violation. Public intoxication coupled with corroborating evidence, such as your blood alcohol content (BAC – which can be as low as 0.02 to trigger such charges) or an admission of guilt, can be enough to produce a criminal charge for possession.

Fake IDs: If you use a fake ID – or someone else’s to claim you are 21 or over – to buy alcohol, that, too, might produce a misdemeanor charge and, at the very least, the loss of your driver’s license. See Virginia Code Section 4.1-305(B).

Providing false information to a police officer: If you lie to any law enforcement officer about your age, you can be charged with a crime of moral turpitude, which is defined as “conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals.” This charge carries more weight; because not only did you break the law, you then lied about it.’ https://virginialawfirm.net/underage-drinking-lawyer.html

(Here is a sample of self-serving – ‘All the charges we’ve spoken of so far are misdemeanors, which typically involves a maximum penalty of up to twelve months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. In addition, most alcohol and identity related offenses will mandate a driver’s license suspension, even for first-offenses. But at this point; the real threat is how any guilty verdict affects your criminal record and your future, including whether you’ll draw a suspension from your university if your charge violates any honor codes.

Don’t Risk Your Future by Taking Underage Drinking Charges Lightly

College students who are convicted of any crimes risk being expelled from school or losing government grants or scholarships – even private financial assistance in some cases, since those involve your promise to refrain from behavior that reflects badly on yourself and the organization that is helping you. These fall under the wide umbrella of “honor code” violations and they are weighed on a school-by-school basis.’)

32 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 11:02 am

I’m with prior_ on this.
Also consider the effect on young black males, who have to endure the skepticism and hostility of the police at every turn. A cop stops a middle-class white kid and lets them go with a warning, but if it’s a poor black kid from the hood , chances are that kid is going to get at least an arrest record, which means the next time he gets caught he’s going to get the book thrown at him, wind up with a criminal record, which is going to screw up his chances of employment, maybe even college admissions, and down the road, he’s got a few arrests and a misdemeanor and he gets caught selling marijuana, and then he gets a criminal conviction and he’s fucked for life. One has to consider the cumulative effect of authorities consistently reacting in the most negative way possible and piling arrests and convictions on top of each other. These things cascade for young black men in a way that they don’t for young white men.

33 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 11:23 am

who have to endure the skepticism and hostility of the police at every turn.

They don’t, but there’s no end of the nonsense Canadians will traffick in about life south of the border.

34 Bob from Ohio February 20, 2017 at 11:24 am

“the next time he gets caught he’s going to get the book thrown at him”

Once he has been arrested, he could stop using drugs so there is no “next time”.

“he’s got a few arrests and a misdemeanor and he gets caught selling marijuana”

In other words, after a “a few arrests and a misdemeanor ” he becomes a drug dealer.

35 TMC February 20, 2017 at 11:53 am

Prior and Hazel – The soft bigotry of low expectations.

36 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 11:54 am

Well, when you have no employment prospects, being a drug dealer might be an attractive option.
The unemployment rate for blacks is high enough, even without a misdemeanor on one’s record.

@Art Deco, half the time you’re arguing that cops are totally justified in treating blacks with more suspicion because blacks are more likely to commit crimes. The other half of the time, you’re saying that they do no such thing, they treat blacks *meticulously equally* without regard to race. Which is it?

37 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 12:44 pm

What low expectations? Anyone who thinks that white suburban teens are a. unaware it is illegal for them to drink and b. that they will mess up their entire life (self-serving lawyer marketing aside) by using an illegal drug would seem to have no awareness of white American suburban teens – not to mention their low, low incarceration rates.

38 Bob from Ohio February 20, 2017 at 1:09 pm

“when you have no employment prospects, being a drug dealer might be an attractive option”

Fine, but then you have largely forfeited the sympathy of decent people and you don’t get to whine [or have others whine on your behalf] that your prison time has affected your job prospects.

39 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 4:20 pm

@Art Deco, half the time you’re arguing that cops are totally justified in treating blacks with more suspicion because blacks are more likely to commit crimes. The other half of the time, you’re saying that they do no such thing, they treat blacks *meticulously equally* without regard to race. Which is it?

It doesn’t seem to occur to you that (1) race can be associated with criminal behavior, and the association be autonomous from other variables while (2) black men go about their business routinely without being harassed by cops. Blacks are arrested about 2.35x as often as non-blacks. There’s nothing terribly suspicious about that statistic. If you’re a white male, your chance of being arrested in the next month is about 0.5%. If you’re a black male, it’s 1.3%. Lots of people are being left alone.

40 So Much For Subtlety February 20, 2017 at 6:03 pm

Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 11:54 am

Well, when you have no employment prospects, being a drug dealer might be an attractive option. The unemployment rate for blacks is high enough, even without a misdemeanor on one’s record.

Young Black men would make more at McDonald’s than dealing drugs. They are not doing it for economic reasons – at least not the sort of economic reasons usually produced by White middle class middle aged Canadians determined to excuse drug dealing.

41 Jan February 20, 2017 at 7:39 am

I’m not sure that framing this as a problem caused by the Civil Rights Movement helps your case here.

The relevant question is not whether people “think they are above the law,” but if what they are doing is indeed harmful enough to society that it should be illegal and whether prison is an effective deterrent. Most analysis has concluded the war on drugs has been a complete failure and has had a disproportionate impact on black people. “Oh well, it’s illegal” is not a thoughtful response.

My cursory looking into this a while ago was that most offenders who have been to prison were in fact in for violent crimes, rather than simple possession, but that what are legally categorized as violent offenses often go well beyond what many would consider violent crimes, including things related to drugs. Maybe someone more expert in this topic can weigh in.

42 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 9:10 am

Most analysis has concluded the war on drugs has been a complete failure and has had a disproportionate impact on black people.

Most? You put together a bibliography? And how is this ‘analysis’ separable from the values of the researchers (or of the twits who post here banging on on this subject).

43 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 6:44 pm

There are resources from dedicated ant-drug groups funded by who the hell knows … and there are also resources by relatively independent outlets, for example within the UN or numerous independent academic and scientific bodies.

Somehow … the ones who don’t get money from dedicated anti-drug outfits seem to agree that it’s all a huge waste of money and mostly has negative effects, if they are to express an opinion on the matter. (Which they don’t usually do, because they are pre-occupied with some relatd subcomponent of some subissue).

Maybe start with some reports from the UN anti-drug lobby? They’re more independent than anything you’ll find within anti-drug information and misinformation resources within the US government.

Anyways … you’re just hoping that someone will agree with you because another person has not provided the requested bilbiography. Turning the question around, how about this? How much money has been spent on the war on drugs and what outputs and results were achieved as a result of those expenditures?

Ridiculous billions and billions of dollars thrown away, the potential of millions of lives drastically cut due to the mere presence of a record and … the variable of interest (number of users, under the assumption that it’s a big deal if it’s higher or lower) – little or no change.

At least the money throw at poverty, it beneiftted someone in the meantime. This is throwing money into pain.

44 Bob from Ohio February 20, 2017 at 11:28 am

“most offenders who have been to prison were in fact in for violent crimes, rather than simple possession”

Then why all the pearl clutching? Violent people going to prison is good.

If they weren’t selling drugs, they would just be doing other violent acts.

45 So Much For Subtlety February 20, 2017 at 6:08 pm

Jan February 20, 2017 at 7:39 am

The relevant question is not whether people “think they are above the law,” but if what they are doing is indeed harmful enough to society that it should be illegal and whether prison is an effective deterrent. Most analysis has concluded the war on drugs has been a complete failure and has had a disproportionate impact on black people. “Oh well, it’s illegal” is not a thoughtful response.

No, that is your question. It is not relevant here. The discussion of whether or not drugs should be legal is the sort of thing people who never grew out of college do. Usually not throwing back some beers in their dorms. It belongs, at best, in the world of policy wonks. For your average Joe, it is irrelevant whether the law should be there or not. It is there. They need to obey it. The law is not a buffet where you get to choose to pay your taxes with some little light rape on Tuesdays. It is there to be obeyed. If you don’t like it, you become a policy wonk and petition Congress or something. In the meantime, you obey the law. Simple.

Black people disproportionately commit crime. The more laws there are, the more there are to break and hence the more likely it is a Black person will be arrested for breaking them. If you are a libertarian I would take that argument seriously but you are not. So in the meantime Black people, like White people or Purple people or Aliens from Outer Space, need to obey the law. All of them.

46 Benny Lava February 20, 2017 at 1:34 pm

“No one has a God given right to use drugs.”

And here we see conservatards side conveniently with the side of big government. It is the government which decides what you can and can’t do with your body. Not your decision at all! I told you libertarians were a fiction.

47 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Well, your side has of late been promoting the idea that the vice crime which merits our attention is committed by tradesmen who refuse to genuflect to self-dramatizing homosexuals.

48 Benny Lava February 20, 2017 at 6:48 pm

That’s your argument? Liberals fined someone who broke a law? Pathetic!

49 So Much For Subtlety February 20, 2017 at 6:12 pm

I am not a libertarian. I have never claimed to be a libertarian. I am more of a Divine Right of Kings person. Nor are drug laws on the side of big government. It is perfectly feasible to have drug laws and a small government.

Drug laws may be stupid. They are certainly hard to enforce. But it doesn’t matter. They are there. They are not morally unjust. They need to be obeyed. No one is obliged to break them. People choose to do so.

50 Floccina February 20, 2017 at 2:51 pm

I do not understand it myself, but some people have a very strong desire to use drugs. We need to try legalizing it all, what we are doing is not working great.

51 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 4:24 pm

The rest of us will have to struggle to stuff the toothpaste back in the tube when your social experiment fails.

52 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 6:46 pm

If any toothpaste needs to get back into the tube, and the only way to due it is heavily laden with chains and whips, then you wlil be able to make a pressing case at that time and we will listen.

In the meantime, billions of dollars are flowing down the toilet annually with zero beneift, and in fact destroying millions of lives at the same time.

53 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 7:39 am

The mean time served in this country for one remanded to a state or federal prison is 30 months. (Jail sentences are measured in weeks). For about 60% of all convictions, there is no prison time incorporated into the sentence. The share of the prison census who landed there on a bill for which the top count was a drug charge is 20%. Quit talking rot.

54 Jan February 20, 2017 at 7:43 am

Interesting. Could you link to sources?

55 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 7:48 am

There’s gobs of data issued by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, as well as state level data in loci like the New York State Statistical Yearbook.

56 P Burgos February 20, 2017 at 10:10 am

I think even Vox has an article that has that info, their being too out of touch to realize that if more Americans understood that mass incarceration is driven by people committing acts of violence, fewer Americans would have a problem with mass incarceration.

57 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 11:04 am

So? Even without serving time, a felony conviction still goes on your record, which severely harms employment prospects.

58 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 11:26 am

It harms employment prospects. You have blank years. It doesn’t destroy your employment prospects. We have a family in our circle of friends whose son is employed as an accountant (after a felony conviction and a long spell in prison). I do not think he has a CPA license, however so works for someone else. His parents aren’t well-connected, but they had friends and friends-of-friends who were willing to give him a shot when he was released.

59 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 11:57 am

And your point is? That having a felony drug conviction on one’s record is just fine and dandy because you didn’t serve any time? I’m pretty sure that empirical facts will contradict you.

60 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 4:06 pm

Lots of things reduce your income stream. Your argument is that we cannot enforce the law because someone’s future prospects might be injured by it. I’m sure that makes sense to you.

61 Floccina February 20, 2017 at 2:58 pm

That is 20% too much. What a waste.

62 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 6:47 pm

How about you go spend 30 months in prison, then go try to get a job with a criminal record, and then come back and explain to us how it’s just not a big deal.

63 The Other Jim February 20, 2017 at 8:24 am

>Thank you war on drugs.

Sigh. Yes, the CIA invented crack cocaine for the sole purpose of putting minorities in prison. Everyone knows that.

But what about the war on Chicago murders? That one is harder to explain.

64 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 11:59 am

Nobody is saying that. We’re saying the the WoD kills the employment prospects of many harmless people who committed victimless crimes, and this imposes a cost on society. There’s a class of people who would otherwise be productive but are unproductive and a drain on society because nobody will hire them because of their felony drug convictions. Not all of them are black, you know.

65 Jason Bayz February 20, 2017 at 2:49 pm

“Not all of them are black, you know.”

Yes, they aren’t all Black, but that’s the only reason anyone demands legalization. If it was White men being imprisoned, would people be demanding the legalization of dangerous drugs just for the benefit of a bunch of criminals? Can’t do the time, don’t do the crime! Soft-on-crime liberals would demand merely reduced sentencing. They like banning things as a matter of principle. Only the most “radical” of libertarians would advocate it. The “lean libertarian” people wouldn’t.

66 Floccina February 20, 2017 at 3:05 pm

If it was White men being imprisoned, would people be demanding the legalization of dangerous drugs just for the benefit of a bunch of criminals?

Me for one. I am against the drugs being illegal because I as a foolish youth I and most of my friends used and therefore could have been imprisoned.

67 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 3:52 pm

Maybe we can start with just marijuana and then work our way up.

Does it have to be “OMG, we have to ban weed, because heroin!” ?

68 Jason Bayz February 20, 2017 at 4:03 pm

Hazel, they did, in many states. If you’re argument is “legalize pot and heroin” of course people are going to focus on the heroin angle, especially now that legalization of pot is the reality in a lot of places.

69 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 6:48 pm

If there is no turf there is no war.

Open the market and ensure that every sale comes with good information about access to support services for the small minority of users who develop dependency issues which constrain their potential.

70 Jason Bayz February 20, 2017 at 2:43 pm

Here’s a map of countries where selling drugs is illegal, they are marked in grey.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d3/BlankMap-World-2005.png

71 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Which drugs are you talking about?
Define “drug”.

72 anon February 20, 2017 at 5:18 am

I dislike the “nobody knew” meme in the Eberstadt piece. Tremendous amounts of ink were spilled on the crashes since 2000, and the slow and uneven recoveries. There were reams of articles about what to do about or for deindustialized regions. People have absolutely been taking about increasingly concentrated wealth that whole time.

There are of course a few books in the sidebar to the left on these very topics.

I am afraid that Eberstadt essentially leads with a campaign myth that nobody knew or nobody cared, and that is why the forgotten rose up. That claim is lazy, and anti-intellectual, because it doesn’t do the Google. It doesn’t bother with all that was written.

Hell, it ignores the relatedness of Occupy, and that blue staters did “get it” long ago.

73 anon February 20, 2017 at 5:20 am
74 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 5:23 am

There is a strange irony at reading an article that talks about how real Americans aren’t those living in the bubble, and decrying how the government has become a giant drug pushing enterprise (‘thanks Obamacare’ is just implied, not explicitly stated ) while the sponsored content ad underneath the article is for how to travel with a pet, from seeing a vet to having the pet declared to provide ’emotional support’ to medication to bringing things like food and water along.

I’m sure that Commentary’s readers are the sort that would never, ever, never consider themselves in a bubble.

Whereas those buying the sponsored content slots are laughing all the way to the bank, as real Americans are undoubtedly desperate to learn ‘The Best Ways to Travel With Your Pet!’ Particularly those 11% of Ohioans being prescribed opoids.

75 dan1111 February 20, 2017 at 5:34 am

You see an ad for emotional support pets because your data profile with the advertiser suggests you are the kind of person who would want that. We don’t all see it.

76 Jan February 20, 2017 at 5:58 am

My ad blockers ensure I rarely see any ads online. In the rare cases of websites that slip through the filter, I’d like it if they’d use that space to market even better ad blockers to me.

77 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 6:19 am

Well, I normally don’t use an ad blocker – I just turn off javascript in its entirety, and don’t use flash. However, seeing ‘Print’ at the bottom of the article’s opening paragraph, and after clicking on that (non-functioning) button, I did turn on javascript – and the print button did not actually deliver a print suitable copy, unfortunately.

78 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 6:31 am

I don’t have much of a data profile – I rarely turn on javascript, cookies are not accepted for 3rd party servers and are only accepted for the session, I don’t use flash (plus its tracking directories are set to ‘forbidden’ even to root), I don’t accept images, send http-referer is set to ‘no,’ along with the fact that though the .de top level domain is accurate, my location isn’t. Plus I have never been a member of facebook or twitter or instagram or youtube or google etc.

But sponsored content is a broad term – I just assumed it was not quite so deterministic as to be delivering different content to different people. Admittedly, after clicking on the link – I rarely bother to watch ads so it is interesting – it turned out to be some sort of 5 minute loop, so it is quite people that different people see different parts of the loop.

What really made my click the link was expecting the part about dogs, travel, and car sickness combined with ‘medication’ to be an ad for a pharmaceutical product – which turned out not to be the case.

79 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 11:06 am

My advertising profile keeps telling me about carribean vacations I might like. 🙂

80 dan1111 February 20, 2017 at 11:56 am

Mine was for chocolate mousse…mmmmmmm!

81 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Well, I see what kind of a person YOU are then.

82 So Much For Subtlety February 20, 2017 at 6:15 pm

Damn. I am jealous. Mine are always for Filipina brides.

I guess those computers have me figured out.

83 rayward February 20, 2017 at 6:15 am

How is creating fear among Americans with stories of millions of felons among us different from creating fear with stories of millions of Muslims and Mexicans among us. Of course, we all know who those felons are, and like their Muslim and Mexican counterparts, we all know they are after our women. Fear, it’s what works. America, home of the afraid.

84 rayward February 20, 2017 at 6:45 am

Of course, fear is the opposite of complacency. And I get it: there is no motivation quite like fear. It motivated me when I was a young man. It’s one thing to acknowledge fear as motivation, it’s quite another to destroy our institutions with the irrational belief that the resulting fear across the land will unlock creative juices not seen since those institutions made us complacent. More likely the chaos will return us to a primitive existence, a Hobbesian hell-scape from which there is no escape. I would define complacency as the irrational belief that destroying the village will save the village.

85 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 11:09 am

Obviously, when someone writes something about convicted felons, he’s goal is to scare you that they’re coming for your women, not, say, imply that a lot of perfectly normal harmless people are convicted felons. Obviously.

86 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 11:39 am

Very few ‘perfectly normal, harmless’ people are convicted felons unless they’re over 35 and their conviction occurred at least half-a-generation ago. See James Q. Wilson on this point: people age out of the criminal subculture, but the ones who do not are very dangerous.

87 JWatts February 20, 2017 at 1:43 pm

“Very few ‘perfectly normal, harmless’ people are convicted felons ”

I had an acquaintance who just got out of Federal prison for an EPA asbestos violation. Improper removal of a hazardous substance. He was using a disposal technique that was legal 20 years ago. It’s questionable that any harm was done, and it’s virtually certain not enough harm was done to put him and 6 other people behind bars for incorrectly removing asbestos. But that’s what happened.

88 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 4:01 pm

About 11% of the prison census is there consequent to federal courts. I’ve had discussions online with gung ho state prosecutors who are puzzled by some of the shenanigans in federal court. Have a gander at the New York Penal Law. You will find almost nothing equivalent to ‘improper removal of asbestos’ defined as a crime.

Congress needs to scarify the federal Criminal code to put an end to this sort of thing. Of course, Congress accomplishes nothing.

89 Turkey Vulture February 20, 2017 at 3:04 pm

Yeah it depends on the crime and the age of the crime, for most felonies. A 45 year old male who just got a felony is probably not a perfectly normal harmless person in most cases. A 45 year old male who got a felony at age 20 may very well be, if they’ve stayed out of trouble since.

There are the occasional ones like JWatts mentions, but that is a pretty small minority.

90 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 6:54 pm

I thought the article was about how ridiculous it is to consider that 20 million Americans are actually deserving to still have a record whereby you can identify them as “a felon”, and not fearmongering about the 20 million Americans who might break into your house and strangle you while you sleep tonight.

First, not second, right?

91 carlospln February 20, 2017 at 6:16 am

” Very rough calculations might therefore suggest that at this writing, America’s population of non-institutionalized adults with a felony conviction somewhere in their past has almost certainly broken the 20 million mark by the end of 2016. A little more rough arithmetic suggests that about 17 million men in our general population have a felony conviction somewhere in their CV. That works out to one of every eight adult males in America today”. [SNIP]

That’s not good – for the people themselves, their families, the population as a whole & society

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/02/the-opioid-epidemic-and-the-face-of-long-term-unemployment.html

The Spanish Inquisition had nothing on 21stC US business: a ghastly nightmare.

92 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 7:03 pm

When you account for the fact that most aggregated stats on the Spanish inquisition are summed across an entire century, very possibly more harm has been done through retarded laws in any given year in the US alone than was done through unjust application of authority throughout the entire century of the Spanish Inquisition.

93 Thiago Ribeiro February 20, 2017 at 6:46 am

So this is what America has become. A nation of people besieged by their our neighbours. As an old Brazilian poem says,

We will be lost among monsters
We ourselves created
We will spend our nights awake
Scared by the darkness
Trying to figure out a way
To prevent our selfishness
From destroying our hearts

As an old Brazilian anthem says, “a people that lacks virtue will end up enslaved”.

94 So Much For Subtlety February 20, 2017 at 6:56 am

Well it is the anniversary of the Brazilian defeat by the Dutch at the First Battle of Guararapes in 1648.

I guess them Brazilians lacked virtue.

95 Thiago Ribeiro February 20, 2017 at 7:30 am

It only happened thanks to rhe failures of the nefligence and belliigerance of the Spanish-Portuguese leaders. They were to blame. Brazilians in the Nirtheast was like lions led by asses. Everywhere throught he country Brazilian repulsed the Dutch aggressor (in my home state, the common people sropped the Dutch soldiers throwing garbage, hot water and urine) umril reinforcements could get there. Brazilian selfless heroism in the fight avout the Dutch oppressor is well-known and the subsequent victory in Guararapes, thanks to Brazilian courage is considered by many as the birth of a Brazilian nation with a separate identity from the colonial power. Blacks, Whites and Imdians fought together agains the invasion of Brazilian soil. At the end the Dutch tyrant was not able ro hold whatever little territory it was able to conquer. ONe can’t keep a good people down.

96 JWatts February 20, 2017 at 1:46 pm

Brazil, always a potential future Great Power, but never destined to be a current Great Power.

97 Thiago Ribeiro February 20, 2017 at 4:52 pm

According to Prophet Bandarra’s ( https://pt.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gonçalo_Annes_Bandarra#/media/Ficheiro%3AEst%C3%A1tua_do_profeta_Bandarra_-_Trancoso_(Portugal).jpg ) teachings, Brazil will become the lone superpower.

98 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 7:05 pm

A serious contender for a permanent UNSC seat (which comes with a veto), if such discussions are ever to be opened at all.

99 So Much For Subtlety February 20, 2017 at 6:19 pm

Thiago Ribeiro February 20, 2017 at 7:30 am

It only happened thanks to rhe failures of the nefligence and belliigerance of the Spanish-Portuguese leaders. They were to blame.

Well no they were not. For one thing they won. The Dutch lost.

As anyone who ever attended a Brazilian High School and had to sit through boring History classes would know.

100 JMCSF February 20, 2017 at 6:52 am

Tyler wrote in The Great Stagnation, “a lot of potential geniuses didn’t get much education, but rather they were literally kept down on the farm.”

How many smart and productive people are locked up? Is the sentence of proportional to the crime? Is there an alternative punishment rather than sending people to prison where they often become hardened crimanals? A lot of kids make stupid mistakes – especially involving drugs. The statistical racism in our criminal justice system should give every one pause.

I think we really need to look at the costs to society, both to tax payers for incarcerating people (I think I read that in California it costs about 50K per person per year!) and the costs to the individual. Is our system better than other developed countries?

I think that violent and awful criminals should be locked up, but I also personally know a felon who served his time – for a drug related crime, and it’s really terrible to see the impact on this persons life. A good family, smart and successful older brother and he is a nice smart guy and served his time but he will never have a real career.

At the same time, what is causing the increase in violent crime?

101 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 7:35 am

‘Statistical racism’ is a nonsense concept.

102 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 7:06 pm

Your (typically) content-free counterargument is lacking in its usual verbal qualities.

103 anon February 20, 2017 at 7:43 am

I sometimes think that “felon” is too wide a classification, leading to category errors when they are denied jobs.

That said, I think violent crime is down.

104 The Other Jim February 20, 2017 at 8:35 am

>I sometimes think that “felon” is too wide a classification

Well, it took 36 posts, but someone finally got the right answer.

Not long ago, a felony meant you got sent away for life, or nearly it. Most were not expected to get out, and if they did, there were hefty restrictions – no voting, no firearms, certain jobs were forbidden, etc. A misdemeanor meant a jail term you were expected to survive, and upon release, all was forgiven.

But then the Government decided that locking people up was mean, and a waste of money with few opportunities for graft. Misdemeanors were given zero jail time, so the only way to lock anyone up was to convict them of a felony. So politicians campaigned on, and bragged about, classifying XYZ as a felony. Three strikes laws; possessing an eagle feather; being a drug dealer… more felonies.

But locking people up was still mean, so felonies no longer meant life in prison. For all but the worst ones, you would be released.

Thus: more felonies, shorter sentences, and now 1 in 8 men are released felons.

105 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 9:06 am

Not long ago, a

I think an antique use of the term was that it indicated a crime which carried a capital penalty, at least notionally. The thing is, in 18th c. Anglo-American law, that list of crimes was quite long and included property crimes as well as violent crimes. I’ll wager you robbery has been called a ‘felony’ for centuries, but it’s been a very long time since a discrete instance of robbery routinely received a sentence worse than a few years in prison.

106 Ricardo February 20, 2017 at 9:15 am

In England, a significant number of people convicted in the 18th century of felonies and sentenced to death received pardons or commutations. Some of them were transported to the colonies across the Atlantic.

Traditionally, harsh sentences were balanced out by liberal use of the pardon and commutation power.

107 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 9:08 am

The oldest working prison in New York was opened in 1826.

108 lemmy caution February 20, 2017 at 10:01 am

“Government decided that locking people up was mean”

that seems super unlikely given the steep ramp-up of the prison population since 1982:

http://www.sentencingproject.org/criminal-justice-facts/

109 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 11:37 am

He’s referring to policies followed in three decades prior to that. See Ernest van den Haag on that point. The probability of being incarcerated for a criminal conviction fell by 80% in one 10 year period and people wonder why the frequency of index crimes doubled.

110 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 7:10 pm

When you’re talking about the 1 in 100,000 or so who might commit a very seriously fucked up crime, then talking about being segregated for life, or more limited permanent losses of rights, is not that difficult to understand.

When similar effects start to apply to kids who did something retarded once when they were a teen, or maybe got into the wrong crowd for some period of time … it’s hard to sustain that this is justice.

It’s the kind of situation that leads me to prefer to refer to such individuals as “those who have done things which are specifically sanctioned against by law” (or some such thing) as opposed to “criminal” or “felon”, both of which paint into that person the notion of being permanently and perhaps completely corrupted, for the fact of any single time having got caught up by the law.

111 felon February 20, 2017 at 7:32 pm

FWIW I am a convicted felon but never did any jail time. I’m not sure many people realize this category exists.

112 Bob from Ohio February 20, 2017 at 11:14 am

“he is a nice smart guy ”

Not smart enough to 1. avoid selling illegal drugs and/or 2. avoid getting caught.

“Nice” guys don’t often sell illegal drugs either.

113 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 11:16 am

I think that violent and awful criminals should be locked up, but I also personally know a felon who served his time – for a drug related crime, and it’s really terrible to see the impact on this persons life. A good family, smart and successful older brother and he is a nice smart guy and served his time but he will never have a real career.

Agreed. The thing is that society continues to punish the convicted felon for the rest of his life, and that makes the punishment for many crimes massively, insanely, disproportionate. To banish someone from effectively all professional employment for non-violent, victimless offenses is cruel and unconscionable.
People who have served their time should be free to pick up their lives with no further consequences.

As I commented above, we should (at least) have a law that sunsets people’s criminal records after a period of time without any convictions.

114 Benny Lava February 20, 2017 at 1:42 pm

“At the same time, what is causing the increase in violent crime?”

Is there an increase? Do you have citations for this assertion?

115 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 7:15 pm

It’s been on a very continuous decline for some decades now.

But if you choose just the right instant to look, then you will find some microperiods where you can claim that it is rising.

If you’re the former Canadian government, you might even try to do precisely this, and then still have so little to stand on that you will have to claim “unreported crimes” as the cause of increased criminality, for which much harsher, mandatory and longer sentencing will be required. (One of the more obviously retarded things associated with a signature policy of the party, although basically all of their signature policies has something similarly, but perhaps less, retarded. It almost makes you wonder if what they were actually doing and what they said they were doing were not quite the same thing.)

116 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 7:23 am

So what? The propensity of some people to commit crimes is not ‘something that’s gone wrong since 1999’. It’s an aspect of the human condition. They’re not going to be better people and the world around you isn’t going to be more congenial if you stop punishing them for their misdeeds.

117 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 7:19 pm

Considering that you seem to view 30 months of hard time as fairly similar to a weekend in the slammer (remember … “shock therapy” treatment of a quick weekend or week or two for maybe not that serious crimes, popular some decades previous?) … I dunno, I just don’t think you can possibly have relevant perspective on this. Except in the sense of needing to know that some people pass aroudn such poorly reasoned, fact-poor logic to defend the highest relative and aggregate levels of incarceration seen at basically any point in time any where on the planet in all of history.

(I know that you don’t like the term “mass incarceration”, so … there you have it. Let’s avoid jingoist terms and say exact what we mean.)

118 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 7:20 pm

Caveat: I’m not discussing micro periods where, say, there was a war and the entire other warring faction were prisoners of war. I’m talking about mass incarceration during essentially peacetimes.

119 AlanG February 20, 2017 at 8:21 am

The war on drugs has been an abject failure.. I recall a New Republic article from over a decade ago about the huge expenditures of federal and state money to try to solve a problem that is sociological in nature rather than criminal. Mandatory sentencing guidelines have led to the incarceration of large number’s of people (mostly men but don’t overlook that women are caught up in this as well). This war has inflated the cost of illegal drugs that has enriched some, impoverished many, and because of the high financial stakes led to internecine wars among the drug traders that has imperiled the lives of law abiding citizens. Far better to decriminalize it completely and provide support for those who want to get clean. The only criminal statute should be on those who commit a crime or endanger someone under the influence (much the same way our alcohol laws work; or at least should work). The other part of this is the prescribing of opioids by physicians who should not be doing this. The state licensing boards should be strict in punishing these docs who are complicit.

120 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 8:26 am

The war on drugs has been an abject failure..

No it hasn’t. It’s managed to contain problem drug use to small and discrete subpopulations.

121 FG February 20, 2017 at 9:13 am

Confining harm to certain subgroups is not a failure?

122 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 9:48 am

You can avoid the harm by staying away from street drugs, which any person of sense does.

123 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 10:10 am

Which is why the owners of Purdue makers of Oxycontin are so fabulously wealthy – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purdue_Pharma

Discriminating addicts use brand name products, after all, especially for that all important first hit – ‘When Oxycontin was released in 1996, it was marketed as having lower abuse potential than immediate-release oxycodone because of its time-release properties even though there was no scientific evidence backing that conclusion. However, at the start of 2000, widespread reports of OxyContin abuse surfaced. The results obtained from a proactive abuse surveillance program called Researched Abused, Diversion, and Addicition-Related Surveillance (RADARS) sponsored by Purdue Pharma L.P. pronounced Oxycontin and hydrocodone the most commonly abused pain medications. In 2012, New England Journal of Medicine published a study that found that “76 percent of those seeking help for heroin addiction began by abusing pharmaceutical narcotics, primarily OxyContin”, and draws a direct line between Purdue’s marketing of OxyContin and the subsequent heroin epidemic in the U.S.’

124 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 11:35 am

Oxycontin is a prescription drug given to arthritics.

125 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Seriously, do you even bother to read what is posted? – ‘In 2012, New England Journal of Medicine published a study that found that “76 percent of those seeking help for heroin addiction began by abusing pharmaceutical narcotics, primarily OxyContin”, and draws a direct line between Purdue’s marketing of OxyContin and the subsequent heroin epidemic in the U.S.’

Or do you think people with arthritis are magically protected from becoming addicted?

126 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 3:57 pm

‘In 2012, New England Journal of Medicine published a study that found that “76 percent of those seeking help for heroin addiction began by abusing pharmaceutical narcotics, primarily OxyContin”, and draws a direct line between Purdue’s marketing of OxyContin and the subsequent heroin epidemic in the U.S.’

Or do you think people with arthritis are magically protected from becoming addicted?

They’re pretty magically protected, yes. If they’re having a problem with their current medication, their doctor switches them to something else. They have withdrawal symptoms for a while. I’ve seen both scenarios in my own family. The dame who got herself addicted to oxycontin and then heroin had had drug and alcohol problems up the wazoo for 30 years and enjoyed the company of lowlifes That’s how she rolled. The dame who had the withdrawal symptoms and was then switched to a different medication didn’t get addicted to heroin because it would have never occurred to her to go looking for it, she did not associate with anyone who would nowhere to find it (except Miss Drunkenslut, that everyone knew to keep their distance from), and she was living in a low grade assisted living center.

You’re a doctor, you prescribe medications for discrete medical problems. Some of the people on your patient roll are trashy sorts who go looking for street drugs when they have problems in living.

127 Doug February 20, 2017 at 10:54 am

> It’s managed to contain problem drug use to small and discrete subpopulations.

Lol. Nope.

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/figures/m6043a4f2.gif

128 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 11:28 am

Your link doesn’t support your thesis. Nice try.

129 Dain February 20, 2017 at 11:36 am

The Drug War de facto confining use mostly to a subpopulation is reason to damn it, not praise it, for the left.

130 Floccina February 20, 2017 at 3:28 pm

So Art would you support restarting the war on booze?

131 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 7:24 pm

Right, because everyone else would have just been lining up for heroin and crack cocaine.

Except that the evidence says that basically any time you go in the other direction (less criminalization), usage actually declines, even if there might be a slight increase in the immediate timeframe. Consider Portugal. Or the Netherlands. Or … the US having both some of the most severe laws AND highest usage rates.

It’s almost like, as Rage Against the Machine put it: “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me”.

132 Boonton February 20, 2017 at 9:27 am

This article begins by noting after the election, the ‘elite’ woke up to a country they didn’t know. What type of country could elect someone like Trump?

What then follows is an argument that America is rotting from the inside out. GDP growth is slower. Employment (as distinct from unemployment) is down. People are using lots of pain pills. 20-something men play video games more than work. As pointed out above lots of people have cycled through the criminal justice system.

Read enough of this stuff and maybe you start to wonder, how does this really explain Trump? If the ‘elites’ are getting rich but middle America has less and less, that would seem to run you right into progressive politics. Tax the rich, cut taxes on the poor. More subsidies for insurance, more job training, more infrastructure spending etc. Stuff ‘regular people’ can do right now to make some money and get better. Yet somehow ‘we’ elected someone whose running the 1980 Reagan playbook all over again with an extra helping of crazy.

But this strikes me as something else. What type of person plays video games rather than works? Accuses ‘elites’ of being out of touch but offers no real solutions or alternatives? Enjoys trolling and lying rather than serious proposals for change? Not someone facing a life threatening challenge. Not someone in desperate circumstances. No, the type of person this is most like is a spoiled teenage brat.

The type of person that elects Trump is made up of two types of brats. One is the dementia generation living out past battles rather than living in the present. Hence the fretting about a ‘crime wave’ when crime is but a fraction of what it was when these people were in charge. Think about Trump’s recent order to ‘fight terrorism’. This sounds like it was designed by a view of terrorism akin to shabby 80’s and early 90’s movies. Not by a nation that spent a generation with actually thousands of troops in different Middle Eastern countries trying to navigate the different groups and agendas. On the other side are nihilists who enjoy fighting and trolling rather than actually trying to find any solutions.

How does this minority manage to elect Trump? Not because there’s a crises but because there’s no crises. When the house catches on fire the ‘cool’ teenage brat goes crying to mommy and daddy, he doesn’t rise to the occasion. But when there’s no fire he’s happy to pose as the guy who wants to see it burn. When America was actually in crises, which it was in 2008, they turned to a serious person to be President. Out of crises they turn to a non-serious person who fights pretend crises, mostly of his own creation or imagination.

If a 20-something is playing video games in his parents basement that tells me he and to some degree his parents are pretty comfortable. Not that we are in a ‘secret depression’ the ‘elites’ are blind too. In the actual Great Depression 20-something kids who announced to their parents that they would be taking a decade or so to live in their basements playing games so please send dinner down to them did not survive very long.

And like many brats the perfect becomes the enemy of the good. Clinton’s handling of emails wasn’t perfect, so we elect someone whose operatives openly conspire with a foreign government. Someone got paid to speak to Wall Street bankers, so we elect someone who has the most corrupt conflicts of interests in well over a century. Brats are experts at finding their parent’s flaws, while lacking even the most rudimentary ethics of their own.

133 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 9:49 am

The type of person that elects Trump is made up of two types of brats. One is the

Quit projecting.

134 Boonton February 20, 2017 at 10:40 am

I don’t think I am. Call it revenge for the elites but I’m going against the current here on the left. The left is awash in ‘concern stories’ about ‘trying to understand the Trump voter’. As NPR sends out armies of reporters to try to talk to coal miners, ‘rust belt’ people, hillbillies, and white trash in Louisiana, I think two things are being missed:

1. You never hear about the Trump type person trying to understand the other side. Trying to find common ground, trying to understand why they support policies they don’t. If anything their perspective seems to be “gosh I love making you mad”.

2. These stories do hit people who voted for Trump but they rarely establish whether or not they matter. I remember when I was young President Reagan pleading with Republican voters in Louisiana not to vote for KKK leader David Duke and risk discrediting the GOP. That there are plenty of places in the country that aren’t well off, tend to veer Republican but are likely to go ‘off script’ quickly and have plenty of ‘anger’ to offer anyone who will listen isn’t exactly new.

135 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 11:30 am

I don’t think I am.

There’s only the most tenuous relationship between your gassing and ‘thinking’.

136 TMC February 20, 2017 at 1:27 pm

Trump got elected because people are tired of having a petulant child president empower all the petulant children in the US over the last 8 years. Grow up, get a job and most of society’s ills will go away.

137 Boonton February 20, 2017 at 3:34 pm

Nope, wrong.

138 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 7:26 pm

Adults who call adults petulant children, in reference to entire cross-sections of society, are basically never worth paying attention to, except to the extent that you might like to know that some people are thinking like that.

Perhaps though, “petulant child president” should be recognized as a substantial improvement on “monkey in chief”.

139 MOFO. February 20, 2017 at 2:06 pm

A much simpler explanation is that Hillary was just not a very charismatic candidate and didnt run a very good campaign. The temptation here is to project whatever we already believed onto to the election. You might be right to some extent, or it might be that Hillary lost for no deeper reasons that why Romney lost or McCain or Kerry. They just werent that appealing.

140 anon February 20, 2017 at 2:10 pm

All other Republican contenders were also just bad candidates?

141 MOFO. February 20, 2017 at 3:24 pm

It was a heavily saturated field. Trump was never really the majority choice, more people voted not trump than voted trump, its just that the not trump votes got split between half dozen candidates.

142 anon February 20, 2017 at 3:33 pm

That definitely punts on the anti-elite mob action that Trump tapped and shaped.

Is that the GOP defence though, coulda happened to anyone?

No. It happened to you because, as everyone knows, the GOP destroyed their own gatekeepers and their connection to the factual reality.

143 Floccina February 20, 2017 at 3:39 pm

It looks to me like name recognition carried 2 awful candidates through the primaries. Hillary was a Democrat who was for the war in Iraq and bombing Libya. Those did not turn out well, and the Democrats are supposed to the less war monger party. On might ask how she won the Democratic primary! The clownish Trump at least had the sense to lie and say he was against the war in Iraq.

144 anon February 20, 2017 at 3:41 pm

What is pure GOP today?

The way Trump’s “Fake News” campaign bit him in the ass.

Trump trusts Fox. Fox trusts some crank with a book. The book proves false.

Trump is standing there complaining about Fake News while being taken in by the right’s own b.s. machine.

145 MOFO. February 20, 2017 at 3:54 pm

“Is that the GOP defence though, coulda happened to anyone?”

The GOP doesnt need a defense, they are the ones that are winning. For all the supposed intellectual firepower on the left, they cant for the life of them figure out why. Nothing but whining and excuses.

146 anon February 20, 2017 at 5:37 pm
147 Turkey Vulture February 20, 2017 at 5:49 pm

“No. It happened to you because, as everyone knows, the GOP destroyed their own gatekeepers and their connection to the factual reality.”

Why did Clinton happen to the Democratic Party? Because you let her create gatekeepers that prevented a better candidate from pulling an Obama on her.

148 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 7:29 pm

If you don’t like the status quo, will you vote for the status quo candidate or … “the other candidate”.

If Trump can keep things a bit slow, he might manage to half satisfy most of his promises while finding ways to communiate rationale for evading the others. Of course, attentive individuals with memories longer than about 5 minutes will expect him to resort to various lies and diversions (Obama only really did that once, about saying choice would not be affected, while clearing knowing it would be, right?) … but it would be just fantastic to be completely wrong about that.

149 JWatts February 20, 2017 at 2:12 pm

“The left is awash in ‘concern stories’ about ‘trying to understand the Trump voter’.”

And every one of those stories I’ve read drips with condescension.

“As NPR sends out armies of reporters to try to talk to coal miners, ‘rust belt’ people, hillbillies, and white trash in Louisiana”

Yes, that’s exactly the type of looking down your nose condescension to which I was referring.

150 anon February 20, 2017 at 3:27 pm

Just trying to understand how you could fall in love with Milo/Trump while telling anyone with an actual morality that they were “signalling” or “preening.”

Maybe the disreputable should have tried morality a little sooner.

151 Boonton February 20, 2017 at 3:38 pm

“Yes, that’s exactly the type of looking down your nose condescension to which I was referring.”

Nope, it’s full of all types of ernest care and concern. Serious concern, pondering what policies would make rusting towns better. Should we target people or places? Should it be tax cuts or programs or whatnot.

As I’ve explained elsewhere this is a trap.

Also here’s the rule of turnabout. If someone is upset that they are lacking something from a relationship, they’ll seek it elsewhere. If they think the media lies, they will seek media that doesn’t lie. If they are concerned about condescension, they will seek out honest sincerity. Where is that on the right? You don’t see that because it really isn’t the problem.

152 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 7:31 pm

Do you have a better term than white trash?

I think everyone knows what it means, and honestly aren’t even really all that condescending about the matter when mentioning it.

I certainly would not want to discourage promotion of more respectful attitudes towards those who are lower on the socioeconomic ladder. But do you think jumping on the victim culture bandwagon is going to improve perception of the group you express concern for?

153 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 7:36 pm

Some problems include:

Ideological resistance to reference of any such group as may be identified as “the poor”.

Ideological resistance to reference of any such concept as “income inequality”.

Ideological resistance to reference of any such concept as a “class”, specifically, “the working class”.

Uhhh … basically a bunch more stuff basically like that.

So how about we ban talk of “white trash”, and get straight to the issues that matter: the factors which impede their forward and upward progress, namely, relating to income inequality and class stereotypes. For example, consider that many Americans, in observing an individual’s poverty, will almost immediately conclude that ADDICTION (evil evil evil), Laziness, variou smoral failures, etc., are the cause.

So, without wanting to get oppositional about this. It’s really people like you (or, I think, on this specific matter, more so those who share numerous policy and/or ideological positions with those that you express) who sustain the realities of the extremely negative stereotypes which negatively affect individuals identified as “white trash”, and not the fact of calling them “white trash”. In fact, those who identify “white trash” as “white trash” are very often most affiliated with precisely all the things which are most likely to improve the ability of “white trash” to exit their situation, if they desire to do so.

154 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 7:44 pm

Maybe a few buttons pushed … but I’m trying to narrow in on understanding certain perspectives on issues which come from somewhat identifable or co-aligned groups … Nothing personal.

155 anon February 20, 2017 at 9:53 am

Yeah, and Milo Yiannopoulos going to CPAC shows that. Brats and codgers. Neither standing for real values or real solutions.

156 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 10:14 am

Well, he is a British citizen, no wonder American conservatives love him. Though this video might temper that Milo love a bit – https://www.youtube.com/embed/dGL5eRw7rXU

157 anon February 20, 2017 at 10:31 am

I am not going to follow that link, but I have heard about it.

Here’s the thing, about Milo and Trump: They both have us early reasons to disqualify them, even before more sordid details came out. Why didn’t enough people heed those warnings? Why did a mob develop that called itself “deplorable?”

It is not about the left behind in an increasingly unequal global economy, because they hated those ideas when Occupy said them. It is a descent into tribalism. And if they keep Milo it will certainly be valueless tribalism, where “side” is all that matters.

158 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 10:44 am

Yes, understandable. I found it at little green footballs, and only watched maybe 5 minutes of more than 2 hours and 40 minutes before linking here. Being a very text based person, it was the first time I’d seen or heard Milo.

To be honest, I don’t have time for people like him, as noted – ‘But the complete video of this podcast is actually much worse, because in addition to discussing his experiences with “Father Michael” as a child, Yiannopoulos also confesses to attending “house parties” and “boat parties” at which he witnessed the rapes of “very young boys” by adult men. Milo himself was an adult at the time, and took no action to report these crimes. Instead, here he is laughing about it.

The video is above, and it’s really sickening. And I have to wonder how Joe Rogan could sit there and just laugh along with these stories as well.’ http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/46907_The_Complete_Pedophilia-Advocating_Video_of_Milo_Yiannopolous_Is_Even_Worse_Than_Youve_Heard

159 anon February 20, 2017 at 11:59 am

People who thought it was cute to call themselves “deplorable” in social media should remember that Milo was a founder. He trolled and abused on Twitter until Twitter finally cancelled his account.

At the same time, he was at Breitbart, building the Trump brand.

A short separation, from Milo to Bannon to Trump.

News just in (19 Feb 2017):

“Breitbart senior editor MILO claimed it was strange “that one gay guy from Britain has managed to accomplish more than thirty years of other conservatives,” on the American college campus, during SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Sunday.”

The stench of this regime is unbelievable.

160 Boonton February 20, 2017 at 10:32 am

Imagine CPAC turning to Milo after 9/11. Imagine George Bush, the day after the towers fell, going on TV and appearing to think the attack happened on Houston and not NY….or thinking the hijackers came from Syria and not Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

161 anon February 20, 2017 at 10:47 am

CPAC has hoisted themselves. They have a hard time rejecting Milo because it is established that only bad, bad, liberals don’t want to hear him. So, maybe an admirer of pedophilia headlines for values voters. What the heck, it is a small step from a molester of women.

162 prior_test2 February 20, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Those damn PC SWJs just got Milo’s invitation to speak at CPAC rescinded. Seriously, when a gay guy cannot joke about pedophilia at the Conservative Political Action Conference, you know that the hard leftists at American Conservative Union have gone too far in their rabid witch hunts.

But give Milo credit, he has the Catholic Church’s favored pedophile defense down pat, even if he didn’t use the word ephebophilia – ‘“Pedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13 years old, who is sexually mature,” he said. “Pedophilia is attraction to children who have not reached puberty. Pedophilia is attraction to people who don’t have functioning sex organs yet who have not gone through puberty.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephebophilia

Interestingly, the link text is inaccurate compared to the headline – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/02/20/cpac-sticks-with-yiannopoulos-as-critics-highlight-his-comments-about-underage-sex/

163 Turkey Vulture February 20, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Pretty elaborate story to make up out of a couple percentage point shifts in demographic voting behaviors.

164 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 10:34 am

A little more rough arithmetic suggests that about 17 million men in our general population have a felony conviction somewhere in their CV. That works out to one of every eight adult males in America today.

And people wonder why the labor force participation rate of adult males is dropping.
I have personal experience of this actually. I have a close friend who has a felony conviction for computer fraud from 1991 – he was a computer hacker back in the early days of the internet. This is the sort of thing that really smart 15-20 year old young men were doing at the time, because it was the dawn of the internet and you could do anything and there was no security at all so it was really easy for a smart 19 year old to (in this case) hack some phone codes and run an underground BBS where people exchanged bootlegged software. So this felony conviction pretty much fucked up his life. And that’s one less intelligent young software developer on the market.

165 Boonton February 20, 2017 at 10:43 am

Is it really? Has he looked into expunging his record? Has he really not worked since 1991?

“one less intelligent young software developer on the market”

And yet….software seems like it has come amazingly far since 1991 despite the lack of your one friend? In fact a few years ago wasn’t there an article about an obnoxious software guy who decided he was going to teach a homeless guy in the subway how to program and the guy ended up creating an app that got him $20K or something?

166 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 11:18 am

He freelances as a web-developer from time to time, but his income is highly variable. He had a job doing web development in the 1990s, but lost it when the company went under in the dot-com bust and hasn’t really been stably employed since.

167 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 11:26 am

IIRC his conviction was federal, so not expungable. The phone codes were secret service.

168 Boonton February 20, 2017 at 11:48 am

So he got convicted in 91 but had a good job doing web development in the 90’s?

It doesn’t sound like the conviction is as much a cause of his problems as he may like to think?

Also I suspect there’s plenty of other people who might follow the same pattern. Rich in the 90’s as a ‘software developer’ doing freelance work after the dot-com crash. But those people have no criminal convictions, just a rough job market.

169 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Well, I’m sure other things being equal, it would have been better if he hadn’t had the conviction.

170 MOFO. February 20, 2017 at 2:13 pm

I think a lot of the people who did well in the 90s but fell off after never were that good to begin with. There was a lot more demand for developers compared to supply back then and people didnt know good design from bad. Now adays people dont tolerate slapped together shit like they used to.

171 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 3:55 pm

He has a genius level IQ and I have seen him learn new coding languages in two weeks flat.

172 MOFO. February 20, 2017 at 4:39 pm

Then he is either profoundly lazy, not as impressive as you would have us believe or made up.

There is always a place for smart, motivated people in IT.

173 Ray Lopez February 20, 2017 at 11:02 am

Yeah it’s sad. I know of programmers who are ‘white hat hackers’ who are successful professionals. They hack as a hobby, and cover their tracks to make them uncatchable.

Too many felonies in the USA over innocent stuff (‘white hat’ vs ‘black hat’ hackers is one distinction, the law should be, but is not, ‘no harm no foul’). By contrast, in Greece, ordering a death of another, murder one, will give a routine first-time violation of 20 years, pled down to 10 years, and the average first-time murderer in Europe gets 7 years in jail. They also allow weekend home visits, unsupervised, for first-time murderers in Greece, very common.

174 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 11:20 am

Yes, and also people take things like bootlegging music way less seriously today than they did in 1991. The guy who ran Napster didn’t wind up with a felony conviction.

175 Ray Lopez February 20, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Yes, true, I also direct your attention to the fact that while serious crime rates are at all time lows, the rate of conviction (actually ‘closed cases’, meaning the police caught a suspect and they are being tried, whether or not the suspect(s) are convicted) for crime has dropped from 90% to 60% in certain cities. The reason: either back in the days they were mistakenly charging the wrong people with crime (as is done with modern day Japan, where there’s a 99% ‘conviction rate’, which is implausibly high), or, more likely, due to the rise of violent gangs, a worse problem in certain cities due to MS-13 etc than back then, witnesses are refusing to testify. So paradoxically we have more people being potentially charged with crime (i.e., more laws making for felonies) yet a lower conviction / closure rate. Source: The Atlantic had a piece on this.

176 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 11:24 am

I would also like to mention that he consistently scores around 145 on those online IQ tests you see floating around from time to time, FWIW.

177 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 11:31 am

And people wonder why the labor force participation rate of adult males is dropping. I

Labor force participation dropped abruptly in 2008-09. The movement to make more use of incarceration dates from about 1980.

178 Boonton February 20, 2017 at 11:45 am

http://www.businessinsider.com/labor-force-participation-rate-november-2016-2016-12 has the graph most peolple ignore in this discussion.

In 1970 the participation rate was down to 60%. It rose and peaked a bit above 67% around 1998-2000. The ‘crises’ is that it is now around 63%.

It actually seems like ‘normal’ is at 60% or under. That basically means you take the adult population, pair them into couples and ‘normal’ is one works full time and the other works a little ‘on average’ The boost after 1970 was clearly women enterting the workforce combined with a youth surge of young people leaving the 60’s and becoming professionals in the 70’s through 80’s.

Inequality and productivity (average is over) implies a return to this ‘normal’. Instead of paying everyone the same to run an assembly line, the market sorts out high value added workers and pays them a fortune. In the past this worked out to a ‘nuclear family’ with working father and mostly non-working mother. Today this is playing out differently as the upper class can support very indulged non-working adult ‘kids’ while the lower class struggles working 2-3 part time jobs for each partner.

179 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 11:48 am

That is the overall LFPR for both men AND women. If you look at just men, it is a steady decline since the 1950s.

180 Boonton February 20, 2017 at 1:05 pm

That would seem consistent with automation eating away at the advantage physical brawn has in terms of high value added work.

181 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 3:26 pm

The employment-to-population ratio for men over 15 has not experienced ‘a steady decline since the 1950s’. It stood at 0.84 in 1948. It declined jaggedly from 1948 to about 1982, then bounced around a set point of 0.71 from 1982 to 2007. Then it dropped abruptly to around 0.65. The long decline and the abrupt drop are not coincident with the increasing propensity to incarcerate.

182 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Well, yes, the employment-to-population ratio WOULD be affected by the Boomers retiring. That is obvious. But that doesn’t explain the long-run decline in the LFPR which IS limited to people of working age. The boomers whohit 65 are automatically not counted as part of the labor force in the LFPR.
This is the whole point of looking at LFPR, and not employment to population. Employment to population is corrupted by the changing age-spectrum of the population.

183 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 3:48 pm

Hazel, the employment-to-population ratio includes the old.

Your thesis has been that increasing use of incarceration generates a population of unemployable men. Problem, employment levels among men were unchanged while the state governments were filling the prisons after 1980. The propensity of males over 15 to be employed did decline, but coincident in time with an era in which propensity to imprison was declining (i.e. late 1950s to about 1980).

184 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 3:59 pm

LFPR also does not count “institutionalized” workers, so they would not be counted as part of the population until AFTER they got out of prison.

https://www.thebalance.com/labor-force-participation-rate-formula-and-examples-3305805

185 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 7:53 pm

Art, you’re playing numbers games. The percentage share of the population in prison is higher. All manipulations after that are nothing more than manipulations, unless you have specific concerns with regard to specific groups. The subject is mass incarcertaion in general, not whether some specific subgroup can be used to spin the data in some distractionary way.

186 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 11:48 am

The employment to population ratio has varied between 57% and 64% throughout the postwar period. There was an abrupt drop in 2008-09. It had no temporal association with incarceration rates.

187 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 11:47 am

LFPR of men has been declining since the 1950s.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LNS11300001

188 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 11:49 am

Because they can afford to retire, Hazel, which my great-grandfather’s generation did only when they were too feeble to work anymore.

189 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Nonsense, LFPR only counts people under 65.
Not that many people are retiring in their 50s.

190 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 12:06 pm

And why would men be retiring early but not women? That makes no sense. *Some* of the 2008+ drop may be due to people retiring early, but not the long-run trend.

191 AlanG February 20, 2017 at 1:51 pm

I retired at 62 1/2 as that was the retirement age where I worked and they didn’t want to keep me on. My wife continued working and will retire from her university job this June. Of course this is an n of one.

192 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 2:58 pm

LFPR only counts people under 65. Not that many people are retiring in their 50s.

Hazel, the employment-to-population ratio counts everyone over the age of 15 except those institutionalized, who amount to < 2% of the adult population.

Men form the majority of employed persons in every age group except those under 20, wherein women have a slim advantage. The sum of employed women and women with pre-school children still does not equal the number of men employed.

193 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 3:02 pm

And why would men be retiring early but not women? That makes no sense. *

Again, men form the majority of the workforce among those in late middle age. The women are retiring.

194 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 3:43 pm

Yeah, that’s why you don’t use employment to population if you want to see trends that aren’t affected by the age-demographics of the population.
LFPR only counts working age people.

195 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 4:35 pm

No, I use employment to population ratios because it captures everyone who is lawfully working for someone (bar a few kids on family farms and whatnot). The propensity of late adolescent and adult males to actually be working did decline, but not at a time co-incident with increasing use of incarceration by penal courts, so your thesis has no support. It declined between 1948 and 1982. What was going on then? The advent of mandatory retirement policies in many enterprises (which were later inhibited by law), more generous Social Security benefits, the advent of Medicare, the advent of Medicaid, the advent of disability benefits (public and private), more prevalent pension programs, supergenerous civil service and military retirement programs (later scaled back), and greater affluence leading to changes in consumption bundles (among them more consumption of leisure time).

196 Doug February 20, 2017 at 10:46 am

Is there any research on the average job performance of felons? (Especially controlling for various other factors related to workplace competence).

I’d consider hiring a felon for certain positions, but it would be very hard to justify to my colleagues without at least some real evidence. Otherwise it just looks irresponsible.

197 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 11:33 am

They have a way station back through food service, custodial work, roofing and painting, &c. I’ll wager the contractor who cleans your office has some ex-cons in his workforce.

198 collin February 20, 2017 at 10:59 am

My problem with the rough math is what were the numbers in say 1935, 1955 or 1985 or 2000? I bet the ‘felons’ that walk with us is probably the same ballpark of 5 – 10%. (I bet 1935 would have been higher after Prohibition.) So it is ‘scary’ stat but my guess this is one of those that has always been true in one form or fashion.

Otherwise, he claims like Ohio on 11% prescribed opiates in 3 month includes a lot people are prescribed. Again high number but let us compare to 15 years ago or other states.

199 floccina February 20, 2017 at 11:01 am

Although I do not buy the negativity, I do feel like better measure of a person’s wealth net-worth would include the flow of income that it produces along with the market value. It is not a good thing if the same house now costs more. It is not a good a thing that the stocks that yield 2% now cost what stocks that yielded 4% used to cost (unless their yields are rising faster).

One thing few people mention is that cleaner air and waterways cost and are worth something. If you like the PPACA it to is worth something.

Hispanic white men and women 45–54 years of age—but they rose sharply for those with high-school degrees or less, and for this less-educated grouping most of the rise in death rates was accounted for by suicides, chronic liver cirrhosis, and poisonings (including drug overdoses).

A lower percent of the population today are without a high-school degrees (especially among white women) and that messes up that data. One reason to not graduate high school these days on bad health (another is drug use and wildness) as the group becomes small that becomes more significant.

America essentially ceased in 2012

Wouldn’t it be ironic if this turned out to be true and due the passage of the PPACA, maybe by it leading to more opiate addiction.
More likely though it is an epidemic due changes and MD’s prescribing and social factors.

Proverbs 12:24 Diligent hands will rule,
but laziness ends in forced labor..

This may be truer than we knew and set of the population may need to be forced to work, IE maybe making it harder to get SSDI would help the very people denied the benefit.

Our system of law enforcement and punishment seems so very far from optimal to me that it should be easy to reform. More detection and prevention and much less severe punishment for many crimes.Prison should be a last resort.

200 Donald Pretari February 20, 2017 at 11:29 am

This is a strange discussion. People who committed crimes were caught, convicted, and served their time. Isn’t that better than the alternative? Isn’t that the way the system is supposed to work? Apparently, some people, prone to anxiety, are now angry that convicts get released. But a large part of the problem is probably that people don’t want to spend the money necessary to help the situation, which includes better supervision of convicts when they get out, and better opportunities for employment, as well as a bunch of other things including some people serving longer sentences. But some people also need therapy for their fears.

Also, Trump getting elected is being overanalyzed. Just remember that he completed against a small group of people who all had their own issues. I have no problem discussing the issues he puts forth, but I find the President of the United States saying “No one is less of an anti-Semite than me” ridiculous. Instead of making every issue about himself, how about just dealing with the issues and letting us decide what you are. I think he a horse’s ass, but the issues are real and need to be dealt with.

201 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 11:46 am

Apparently, some people, prone to anxiety, are now angry that convicts get released. But a large part of the problem is probably that people don’t want to spend the money necessary to help the situation, which includes better supervision of convicts when they get out, and better opportunities for employment, as well as a bunch of other things including some people serving longer sentences. But some people also need therapy for their fears.

The implicit complaint of the moderator is that they were incarcerated in the first place. You should come up with some numbers if you’d like to advance the thesis that we do not employ enough parole officers. The sclerosis of the labor market affects everyone at the low end, not just convicts. You could do something about the sclerosis, of course, by eliminating employment discrimination law, lowering the minimum wage, and restructuring the finance of medical care to remove the uncertainty employers face. The support you’re going to get for these measures from progtrash is nil and from libertarians collecting faculty salaries is not a whole lot.

202 Hazel Meade February 20, 2017 at 12:11 pm

I’m in favor of all of those things, and also not convicting as many people of felonies. This isn’t an either-or choice. You can support both.

203 JWatts February 20, 2017 at 3:07 pm

“Also, Trump getting elected is being overanalyzed. Just remember that he completed against a small group of people who all had their own issues.”

Yes, it was the Crook versus the Clown. The Clown won by a Nose.

204 anon February 20, 2017 at 3:20 pm

The noncrook who was beaten by a conman who shamelessly repeated a lie until it stuck, with the lower orders at least.

205 MOFO. February 20, 2017 at 3:28 pm

You should totally nominate her again in 2020 then. That should work out great.

206 anon February 20, 2017 at 3:36 pm

She is a bad campaigner, will be even older, and now sadly tainted by her swiftboating.

Democrats should run someone young and healthy and win (against Trump) at a walk. Probably a good strategy against Pence, but less a sure thing.

207 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 3:42 pm

I was told umpteen times this year that the election was Hilligula’s for the asking, so I see you’re all now quadrupling down and forecasting your victory 4 years in advance. Maybe Martin O’Malley will pull it off.

208 MOFO. February 20, 2017 at 3:57 pm

“now sadly tainted by her swiftboating.” If you want to hang your hat on that tiny little peg you go right ahead. For whatever faults the GOP has, it at least was able to let go of its “Romney was fucked” narrative.

209 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 4:41 pm

sadly tainted by her swiftboating.

I missed that. You mean at some point in the campaign, a mess of Hillary’s professional peers from 35 years back produced advertisements which said she’d fabricated incidents in her past and received unmerited honors?

210 anon February 20, 2017 at 5:38 pm

You keep saying “crooked” but you can’t name any crimes. Wear it.

211 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 3:28 pm

Neither Sanders, Rubio, Kasich, or Cruz were crooks. The Clintons are a long running crime wave.

212 Turkey Vulture February 20, 2017 at 3:44 pm

“by a conman who shamelessly repeated a lie until it stuck”

Did views of Hillary change much between the time Trump announced his candidacy and the election? I think you’re making things up. People viewed Hillary as a corrupt crook before Trump ever entered the race. And they would have thought they same if she was up against Cruz or Bush – and they would have repeated the line of attack.

213 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 4:43 pm

The giant sucking sound of money entering the Clinton Foundation coffers wasn’t dependent on the identity of her opponent, Neither was her years long effort to frustrate FOIA requests. anon needs his fictions.

214 anon February 20, 2017 at 5:49 pm

Clinton Foundation. That is a classic. By independent review the Clinton Foundation rates four stars.

https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=16680

You guys fall all over yourselves on the fake news. You like to shout “fake news” now, but you can’t give it up. You can’t quit it.

It is you.

215 anon February 20, 2017 at 5:50 pm

And let’s be clear. Smearing a foundation that does good in the world for political game is the worst kind of lie.

If you repeat it, you are the worst kind of liar.

216 Turkey Vulture February 20, 2017 at 6:03 pm

Sorry you backed a terrible candidate anon. Maybe have better judgment next time.

217 anon February 20, 2017 at 6:08 pm

What a sad day for you to think that. Milo is still in at Breitbart? Breitbart is still in at the Whitehouse? You guys are holding your shit sandwich, telling everyone it is fie.

218 anon February 20, 2017 at 6:12 pm

Gotta love the next press conference.

“Can you tell us why the assistant to the President has supported this pedophile for so long?”

“Does the President still think Berkeley should still be defunded, for not accepting this pedophile?”

219 Turkey Vulture February 20, 2017 at 6:21 pm

Not sure how any of that is relevant to how shitty your candidate was. I know you’re obsessed with following the scandal of the day with Trump for some reason (do you think it can retroactively give Clinton the Presidency?), but I really don’t care about Breitbart or Milo or whatever is deeply concerning today. Except that I hope this guy is a pedophile if you’re calling him one, otherwise, you know, fake news (and libel).

I voted for Johnson because he was the closest candidate to my policy preferences, and our duopolist political parties gave us big piles of shit to choose from. And if not for Trump, they wanted to hand us the most disgusting pile of shit possible – Bush III v. Clinton II. Again, I am sorry you voted for a pile of shit, rather than working to have your Party produce a good candidate.

220 anon February 20, 2017 at 6:28 pm

You can repeat that weak argument as long as you want, but it comes down to this:

A weak candidate is not exactly the same as a weak President.

We should agree that there are all kinds of people who would be better at “presidenting” than Trump, and we don’t have any of them. Clinton would have been better. Bush would have been better. Rubio would have been better. Heck, Sanders probably would have been better. Cruz … maybe not.

221 anon February 20, 2017 at 6:30 pm

Also beware of this inverted logic:

“I didn’t vote for your candidate, because I was too stupid, and now we have the worst president, and that’s your fault..”

Nope.

222 Turkey Vulture February 20, 2017 at 6:52 pm

Nah anon, you supported Clinton, so it is definitely on you that she became the Democratic nominee instead of someone competent enough to beat Donald Trump. Plenty of us told you she was terrible, but you didn’t listen.

Now you get to freak out about Trump because of your bad judgment. And pretend that hassling the sitting President into resignation or whatever your current plan is is somehow mature and responsible. You were a foolish Clinton Partisan, it led to a terrible Democratic candidate, and this is what you get.

223 Donald Pretari February 20, 2017 at 12:42 pm

My father helped convicts get jobs for twenty years. The program involved the government paying employers part of the convicts pay for a certain amount of time. My father found it quite easy to get jobs for the men, but the hard part was getting the men to keep the job. Although it was not part of his job, he acted as a counselor to many of the men, and the vast majority were doing fine when my father’s relationship with them formally ended.

I met a lot of these men, and learned a lot about the various circumstances of their lives. I agree with the people who believe that the war on drugs was poorly administered, but that’s a complicated issue. Two large prisons were built by my home town, and a staggering number of my high school classmates ended up working in the prison system. That’s another complicated issue.

One other thing…when discussing issues like this, I generally only do it face to face. It’s too easy to bullshit in this forum. For example, I know a number of people who voted for Trump, and discussing it face-to-face with people you know clears up a lot of issues. We don’t agree, but I get the gist of their point of view. I also know what adversities they have faced, as they know mine.

224 Turkey Vulture February 20, 2017 at 3:27 pm

I think there are a lot of problems with the criminal justice system.

But just to think a little more about these numbers: would it be that surprising if one out of eight adult men are low-lives? There were maybe 80 boys in my high school class, and I could probably name 10 who I wouldn’t trust with anything, and probably more than that number with criminal records.

So I guess the question is: are we actually casting too wide a net, or are we just sometimes catching the wrong people in it while missing others? In a properly-functioning society, how many of our men should have a scarlet letter of sorts following them around?

225 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 3:37 pm

Most serious crimes go unresolved. They generally catch murderers, particularly murders occurring outside the slums, which are resolved roughly 90% of the time. Still, 40% go unsolved. Bank robbers are usually caught as well. The advent of DNA testing and databanks of convict DNA has made it easier to clear sex offenses.

With some exceptions, you get lawyers who do criminal defense work talking and they tell you that every once in a while you get an innocent client. Every once in a while. One experienced attorney told me that if you try a criminal case, don’t ever put your client on the stand. “They tell really stupid lies” his son / law partner explains. Alan Dershowitz’ remarks on the subject suggest that in his experience the innocent avoid conviction because they seldom end up in the intake pipe, but when they do get sucked in, the fact finding process of the courts can be quite unreliable.

226 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 8:00 pm

I think it’s not contentious to suggest that more than one in eight men might be lowlives.

But is it beneficial for society for them to have a permanent record which reduces their ability to make more of themselves?

227 Turkey Vulture February 20, 2017 at 3:34 pm

One out of eight adult men have IQs below 85.

228 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 3:39 pm

I can see that might be relevant if you’re talking about crimes which result from poor judgment or a certain sort of (non-predatory) impetuosity – e.g leaving the scene of an accident.

229 Turkey Vulture February 20, 2017 at 3:51 pm

I’m not really thinking of it as an explanation for that number of people having felonies (though surely there is overlap). It’s just that the one in eight figure for the number of felons seems shocking at first, when considering that they “walk amongst us.” But by the same token, given who most of the people commenting on this blog probably interact with during the majority of their day, the idea that one-in-eight of those walking amongst us have IQs below 85 will seem shocking as well (unless they are up on their standard distribution percentiles).

230 Troll me February 20, 2017 at 8:08 pm

It’s less shocking if you think, not, “one in eight men is a total fuckup, deviant felon who basically deserves to be erased from the face of the planet, but it’s jsut a little too mean to follow through”, but instead something more like “one in eight men, at some stage in their lives, did something which contravened a law, perhaps among the thousands that we know of, or perhaps among the many other thousands of laws we don’t know of”.

231 Boonton February 20, 2017 at 3:47 pm

Building off the discussion above what is the issue with employment versus low unemployment exactly? One of the arguments of the article is that low unemployment is deceptive as a metric because 20-something men who live in mom’s basement playing video games and not even trying to work are a major economic problem.

My point is that in the Great Depression a 20-something who said he would live rent free in his parents basement and not both working…’send dinner down at 8 mom’ would get their asses kicked then kicked out.

If people are really in crises, they will look to take any job they can. Not simply ‘leave the workforce’. Lower employment when combined with lower unemployment is not a sign of a ‘hidden depression’ but a sign of comfort. These are people who may have spouses with income, may be content with a lower level of consumption, might have access to early retirement etc. and are hence comfortable dipping in and out of the workforce declining to even bother least a really good job happens along.

232 Turkey Vulture February 20, 2017 at 4:09 pm

People can be in crisis while also at a minimal level of comfort. They aren’t going to starve to death and can get a roof over their head using available public support (and maybe living with their parents). But that may just put them into a low equilibrium that they never escape from. Once you get used to not working, drinking at noon, and watching a lot of TV, waking up one day and saying “alright I am going to get my shit together now” becomes ever more daunting. If we have set up a system that diverts people into that life, we should consider if we are screwing up somewhere.

I think we can attribute at least some of it to those social support programs creating bad incentives. For instance, if our system of making disability payments reduces people’s incentive to find a job that they can still do (by causing additional income to significantly reduce the disability payments), that can artificially create situations where people don’t work because there just isn’t enough of a marginal financial incentive to work.

233 Boonton February 20, 2017 at 4:24 pm

I don’t disagree with you, however disability laws have not dramatically changed over the last few decades. To the degree they provide some with ‘bad incentives’ today when employment is slightly lower they also provided bad incentives a few years ago.

234 Turkey Vulture February 20, 2017 at 4:34 pm

The general framework of the laws hasn’t changed, but the implementing regulations and court interpretations have, as I understand it. I had thought that the percentage of the working-age, male population on SSDI had risen substantially over recent decades. I couldn’t find a national number for percentage of the working age population on SSDI over time, but these two links suggest it has in fact grown:

Here is the current state-by-state working age population on SSDI:

http://centerondisability.org/ada_parc/utils/indicators.php?id=37
“We used data from the Social Security Administration to identify the percent of SSDI recipients of people living in the community. This measure allows us to see that across the country, about 4.8% of the population receives SSDI, with of a low of 2.8% in Alaska and Hawaii, and a high of 8.9% in West Virginia.”

Chart 2 here has the absolute national numbers for the nation as a whole from 1970-2011 (not percentages though):

https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2011/sect01.html

235 Turkey Vulture February 20, 2017 at 4:40 pm

http://apps.npr.org/unfit-for-work/

This seems to offer a more expansive overview (and says “In the past three decades, the number of Americans who are on disability has skyrocketed.”)

236 Art Deco February 20, 2017 at 4:45 pm

(and says “In the past three decades, the number of Americans who are on disability has skyrocketed.”)

Question, do you think Henry Waxman wanted the number drawing benefits to travel in some other direction? What about the administrative law judges who make the awards?

237 Boonton February 20, 2017 at 7:02 pm

There are two disability programs. SSI and SSDI. SSI is for those who didn’t work enough to earn SSDI. Get SSI and you’re looking at maybe $800-$900 a month for life. Working a 37 hr week at the Fed. Min wage will easily beat that (not counting the Earned Income Tax Credit) which will help you even more. Unless you have a serious problem or exceptionally low skills, most people would opt to at least try work than get SSI if they could help it. As a factor driving down employment, I think this is lesser player.

SSDI you’re probably looking at $1500/mo (assuming you got a decent work history behind you first). After that you’re not going to make more than about $1150 a month unless you put your benefits at risk. At the Fed Min. wage I figure you can probably get near $1100 a month so the choice between working for that and just collecting SSDI I can see how SSDI is more appealing in some cases, but not for successful work. For example, a plumber on the low end could easily clear $3K per month but can get close to $4K or more. Opting to give up work absent any other factors for SSDI doesn’t seem as tempting to me.

I do think SSDI has started being used as an income support program rather than as a pure program simply for those hurt or sick. But IMO it’s just an element in the economic shift from a somewhat abnormal near 70% employment participation rate to a more normal 60%. In both the 1950’s and today for a portion of the population not only is work not easily found right now in the long run their chances of success at work are marginal. In the late 40’s and 50’s these marginal workers were women being forced out of WWII home front jobs by returning GI’s. Today it is driven by inequality which seems to be an essential aspect of the market economy.

238 Turkey Vulture February 20, 2017 at 10:01 pm

The SSI/SSDI isn’t the full extent of public support they may qualify for though, and each such program will have some kind of tapering point that can, both individually but especially collectively, disincentivize work. Or at least reported and taxed work.

But I don’t mean to suggest this is everything.

I don’t think a capitalist economy needs to produce the extent of the inequality we see. There are specific choices we make in the ex ante rules of the game that are not set in stone, and likely increase inequality and may disproportionately hurt those at the bottom.

IP law, for instance. It gives the IP holders a larger share of the gains than they would otherwise get in a competitive market. We believe we are trading this for increased innovation, but even if we have perfectly structured all IP law to maximize innovation with the least loss to total welfare from reduced competition, it could be worth weakening the laws to reduce the inequality in the initial distribution of the economic pie. (And I don’t think it is perfectly structured to begin with).

Or regulations, particularly environmental. These create added costs for domestic producers that will not be borne by foreign producers. In a free or near free trade regime, that will mean business is lost to foreign producers not because of a true comparative advantage, but because they have a regulatory advantage due to less regulation (and greater non-internalized production of externalities). These losses will tend to hit people at the bottom the most, while the gains from environmental protection are shared more generally. One option here (that doesn’t require abandoning environmental regulation, though surely there are bad regulations) would be to impose a tariff on imports that adds the cost the producer would have incurred if they were subject to US environmental (and potentially other) regulation (to the extent they aren’t – if they have the same standards and enforce them, no tariff).

239 Ricardo February 21, 2017 at 5:47 am

“each such program will have some kind of tapering point that can, both individually but especially collectively, disincentivize work.”

There is a tension between programs that are targeted and those that incentivize work. That is just how math works. If you have a program that is targeted to reach only the poorest citizens, it will disincentivize work. And if you have a program that is broader and reaches a much broader group of people, we start hearing alarmist rhetoric from certain corners about we are becoming “a nation of takers.”

240 jorod February 20, 2017 at 10:37 pm

Crime was been rampant for the last 60 years. It is just getting worse. The fruits of the welfare state.

241 Master of None February 21, 2017 at 5:49 am

Violent and non-violent crime has been declining significantly for the last 30 years. Troll smarter.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States

242 Jack February 21, 2017 at 1:13 am

Excellent article. Thanks for the link.

243 Master of None February 21, 2017 at 5:47 am

20mn disenfranchised citizens, disproportionately people of color. Can you imagine how different the balance of power would in the United States if felons were allowed to vote? #BlackLivesMatter

244 Jameson Burt February 21, 2017 at 11:19 am

Florida prohibits its 1 million felons from voting.
One political party can gain by sending its police after members of the other party.
I see little difference between the felon and the commoner, though the felon might demonstrate some motivation. During war, more felons become our heroes.

245 john February 21, 2017 at 12:30 pm

The number, 1 in 8 surprised me a bit but then looking at this link (https://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/p20-544.pdf) it’s supported and perhaps even related though nothing mentions if the pattern shown to the ratio of men to women is somewhat stable over time or just a reflection of the birth ratio between boys and girls. Clearly at the upper end there’s the impact of both women live longs and a war or two that might impact the ratio.

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