Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How much does Income Inequality Affects Crime Rates?

After reviewing a few articles written by some of the most powerful institutions, it may also be a appropriate to ask if these institutions, or at least some of the most powerful people in these institutions, are intentionally ignoring the problem since solving it won't necessarily help them personally.

Numerous studies have been done on how poverty income and education inequality lead to higher crime problems among other contributing causes. Some of these have been posted in locations where those that benefit from income inequality are much more likely to read while the majority may not even hear about them. One of them, with connections to the Council on Foreign Relations and other powerful institutions in a position to address this problem, cited below even goes so far as to say that poor people are more likely to take it out on each other and speculate about why and indicates that they're not likely to rebel as a result of it.

(This is part of a series of posts exploring the root causes of violent crime and ways to recognize and prevent them. Past posts on the subject include Ignored evidence linking corporal punishment, poverty and crime grows; Does lack of education increase violent crime? Religion?; Politics, not technology, caused botched executions; Wal-Mart crime: Rolling Back Safety more than prices?; States with high murder rates have larger veteran populations and Teach a soldier to kill and he just might.)

First of all, poverty income inequality and education inequality among other related contributed causes overlap each other and almost certainly help cause each other. If one of them is a significant contributing cause the others almost certainly are as well. There has been some consideration about the possibility that it might only be one of these contributing causes that leads to high crime without input from the others, and some people have made arguments like "Income inequality, not poverty, responsible for crime;" however even though they might have some legitimate points these two contributing causes feed on each other and may be almost interchangeable.

Elaine Denny and Barbara F. Walter posted the following article about two years ago:

Income Inequality’s Strange Relationship to Violence 08/19/2012

A strange pattern recently caught our eye. Numerous studies about murder rates have found that on average countries with high income inequality also have high murder rates. People are more likely to kill their fellow citizens as the gap between rich and poor increases. The same is not true of civil war — although you’d think people would be more likely to turn against the state rather than their neighbor as income inequality increased, this isn't the case.

This dichotomy is surprising because it’s counter-intuitive. If blame lies anywhere for persistent income inequality, it most likely falls on government policies. Why would large inequalities cause people to turn against each other, rather than the state?

Part of the answer may have to do with the dream of upward mobility. In the case of the United States, Americans have long been willing to accept large income disparities as long as they believed the system was fair and that with hard work they, too, could one day be rich. Why change the system when it could eventually yield personal benefit?

But this doesn't explain the large number of deep income inequality societies where citizens know the system is structured against them and still don’t rebel (think Brazil or South Africa, for example). Poor people might rebel because the country as a whole is mired in poverty, or because there is no hope for improvement, but they do not appear to fight because some people have a lot and many have nothing at all.

A better answer to the puzzle may have something to do with law enforcement and how it is allocated in highly unequal societies. When everyone is poor, the state distributes protection relatively equally across the board, and everyone gets about the same amount of security from the state. But when the country has a large gap between poor and rich, two things are likely to happen. First, the rich wield their political influence to ensure they directly receive a larger proportion of the security gains from public law enforcement. Second, they supplement this law enforcement with additional security measures.

This disproportionate allocation of security could have two unintended effects on violence. One of the things we know is that in areas of high income inequality – from Guatemala City to Cape Town – most murders occur between young, poor men who know each other. Income inequality puts the advantages of wealth on display but out of reach to these men, creating incentives to make money through gang involvement, crime, or violence. If income inequality also means that these poor neighborhoods receive less police protection, then a volatile combination of motive and opportunity has been created. The result is a higher rate of neighbor-on-neighbor killing.

But why don’t these same individuals rebel? Again, the answer may go back to the way protection and security are allocated. A system that protects the rich better than the poor is one where the rich and powerful are hard to challenge since they’ve built a “wall-of-security” around themselves. This makes it more difficult for the rest of the population to rebel against them, helping explain why no connection has been found between inequality and civil war.

What does this mean for the United States, where income inequality is rising? It suggests that murder rates in poor neighborhoods are likely to rise but that violent rebellion is unlikely. The poor may know that the system is increasingly structured against them. But, given their options, it’s their own communities that will likely pay the highest price. Original article

This article says that the poor are the ones that are most likely to pay the price for income inequality yet they're unlikely to rebel against the injustices that cause the inequality. By merely acknowledging this it implies that she might intend for some actions to correct it; however little or nothing is done to do so. Some members of the upper class might consider this good reason not to worry about it at all, assuming they even took much time to consider this article. Or more likely they would just attach a low priority to it since their top priority would be to protect the system that benefits themselves at the expense of the majority, including the poor who have to pay the higher price for lack, of police protection, as the article implies.

According to the list of Contributors from this site at least four of them have connections to the Council on Foreign Relations and more of them also have access to some of the most powerful research and reporting institutions. This means that some of the people that might be inclined to do this research or at least read it have a reasonably good chance to inform those in power and draw additional attention to this report and other studies that are similar so that some of the most important root causes of crime could be addressed better.

Yet, for the most part, they don't. None of these studies are mentioned much if at all in the mainstream media whether it is the studies about income and education inequality or poverty and how they impact crime or many other studies. Nor are they given much consideration when it comes to making some of the most important policy decisions as hinted at in the article.

The unequal protection of the lower classes goes beyond what the authors of this articles indicate. In addition to protecting people from crime or solving them after the fact, police are routinely used to maintain the current political system and give preferential treatment to those with the most political power. This doesn't necessarily mean that the individual police are corrupt; instead it may mean that the rules they act on are rigged to favor the politically connected.

For example when powerful corporations routinely profit by polluting the environment where poor people live and there are an enormous amount of evidence to indicate that it is causing a lot of premature deaths. This is followed up by an enormous number pf protests when the government does little or nothing to stop this. Instead of investigating the people polluting the environment and causing lots of deaths the police routinely arrest protesters for much more trivial charges like trespassing or what they call disorderly conduct. Similar things happen when workers are subject to dangerous working conditions that cause deaths and many other corrupt activities by powerful corporations.

The types of corrupt activities most often conducted by the politically connected is often not even considered a crime, although it might do even more harm than crimes committed by those without political connections..

Denny and Walter acknowledge that economic inequality is "most likely falls on government policies;" but they don't go further into it than that in this article and the way they phrase it implies that it is inconclusive. There really should be little or no doubt that income inequality is definitely caused by our economic system and government policies. One simple example is that the people who do the basic production that benefits our life get little pay for their work since they're forced to compete with people all over the world; however the people with connections and education that advertise these products get a much larger share of the money collected from consumers even though they don't give accurate information for consumers to make their decisions or provide a service that truly benefits the consumers.

The reason for this is because, contrary to what our media and political system says, is that the free market has already been eliminated and replaced with an oligarchy system where a relatively small number of corporations control most if not all industry. These corporations can pass on the cost of bureaucratic expenses like advertising, public relations, which probably should be referred to as propaganda, union busting or many other activities that are designed to shift wealth to the rich, on to the consumers, as I attempted to explain in Corporate bureaucrats are robbing us blind!

Our economic system does little or nothing to protect factory direct options that would dramatically reduce the amount of corporate bureaucracy between production and sales; this wasn't always the way it was but now oligarchies have consolidated again so factories are unwilling to threaten their primary source of income. There are many other ways which income inequality are impacted by government some of which are explained by Richard Clark with some help from Dean Baker in Growing Inequality, Deliberately Engineered Through a Whole Range of Policies Intended to Redistribute Income Upward

Most of these academic studies do little to consider many of the details behind some of the crimes that a lot of poorer people are being charged with and the possibility that many of them might be much less likely a lot of these crimes might be if they had the economic resources to function properly. The current surge in stories about hot car deaths are one example. A large number of these seem to be taking place while parents are shopping and they don't have help with anyone to take ca\re of their kids. The typical response might be that this is no excuse, and this might be right as far as it goes; however if they weren't economically disadvantaged then these incidents would be much less likely.

The enormous number of incidences where many poorer people are being charged with shoplifting for minor items that they need to survive is another indicator of how economic inequality leads to higher crime. And there are an enormous number of incidents where angry customers strike out when dealing with bureaucratic problems that are caused by decisions to cut corners and increase profits, including seemingly simple things like when the scanner doesn't work and it takes a long time to correct it. Most of the times where customers do get angry enough to cause trouble, if it is reported at all in the news, it is presented as if the customer has little or no justification for their actions and they're overreacting; however many people who have gone through these same problems without overreacting might remember when they felt like getting angry like this when they had similar problems.

Our current system clearly isn't nearly as bad as past systems of slavery or the economic systems during major wars like WWII; however we have taken too many steps int he wrong directions so a comparison might be in order before we take too many more and it becomes so extreme. During the Holocaust when the Jewish people were being scapegoated for everything they made it illegal for them to find reasonable work and in the most extreme cases, whether it was in the Polish Ghetto's or elsewhere the mere fact that some Jewish people were getting enough food to survive could be considered evidence of criminal activities since they couldn't obtain food otherwise under the extreme circumstances.

Now Wal-Mart workers and fast food workers can't afford to get by on a full time job so even though they do productive work that improves the quality of life for the public they wind up relying on welfare and are considered moochers by some. But advertisers of public relations people who study how to manipulate the public in the most effective way possible get paid much more but the public only gets a perceived benefit based on their deception and their quality of life is actually reduced as a result of it. In additions to receiving better police protection than the productive workers advertising and public relations bureaucrats also receive better health care and they're less likely to work in hazardous conditions.

Is it any wonder that those with the least education that get stuck with menial, but productive jobs might get angry and strike out once in a while?

If the more educated researchers were more concerned about reducing crime they could acknowledge these problems and come up with a system that rewards productive work as our system often pretends to.

As Denny and Walter indicate there are plenty of studies showing this is a major problem although some of them don't cover all the details including some of the following; and a comparison of my own below of different states with more or less inequality and their crime rates among other characteristics.

Growing Inequality, Deliberately Engineered Through a Whole Range of Policies Intended to Redistribute Income Upward

Think Progress: Study: Income Inequality Is Tied To Increase In Homicides 08/01/2012

U.S. State-Level Income Inequality Data - Mark W. Frank 1916-2011

The Increasingly Unequal States of America Income Inequality by State, 1917 to 2011

Finance Online Julia Trello: How Income Inequality Affects Crime Rates

Finance Online Julia Trello: Education Inequality: How Income Inequality Blurs Education As The Great Equalizer 09/0/2014

Want to Fight Crime? Address Economic Inequality 01/06/2013

Income inequality, not poverty, responsible for crime -- NSCB 02/22/2013

Inequality Rising in Rural and Urban America 04/21/2011

The following compares the Wikipedia List of U.S. states by Gini coefficient with other characteristics divided by state.

Murder rates by state at the Death Penalty Information Center .

Incarceration rates by state

reports of violent crime per 100,000 and previous post about Ignored evidence linking corporal punishment, poverty and crime grows

Mississippi most religious, Vermont least, survey says 01/29/2009

State rankings of high school and college graduation rates 2011

Of the ten states with the highest murder rates four of them are among the ten with the most inequality.

Of the ten states with the lowest murder rates five of them are among the ten with the least amount of inequality.

Of the ten states with the highest incarceration rates five of them are among the ten with the most inequality.

Of the ten states with the lowest incarceration rates four of them are among the ten with the least amount of inequality; and one is among the ten with the most inequality.

Of the ten states with the highest rates of reported violent crimes three of them are among the ten with the most amount of inequality; and one of them is among the ten with the least inequality.

Of the ten states with the lowest rates of reported violent crimes five of them are among the ten with the least amount of inequality.

Of the ten states with the highest high school graduation rates six of them are among the ten with the least amount of inequality.

Of the ten states with the lowest high school graduation rates six of them are among the ten with the most amount of inequality.

Of the ten states that are most religious four of them are among the ten with the most amount of inequality.

Of the ten states that are least religious two of them are among the ten with the least amount of inequality; and two of them are among the ten with the most amount of inequality, plus the eleventh least religious, New York is the least equal except for Washington D.C.

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