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November 19, 2014

Comments

I would also suggest, prompted by this piece, that the reason why there is so much violence in the US is that we view everything as transactional in nature, so violence gets into the mix.

The violence functioned as a tool for preserving order, whether to maintain the hierarchies of prisoners or to reassert the authority of the guards. It was the best form of currency we had.

A couple of other features that other countries don't share:

1) A (relatively recent) history of expanding across a continent. And doing so in the face of an existing population which was resistant militarily.

Perhaps more to the point, that expansion was a lot faster than the institutions of law kept up. So people get the habit of dealing, violently and often lethally, with their problems.

2) Prohibition. That gave us a couple of decades of large criminal gangs, which fought it out for territory, etc. -- since competition in the legal arena wasn't an option. And police fought back with lethal force, at least in part in self defense. We (finally) got rid of Prohibition, at least for alcohol, but the habits persisted.

Of those, I suspect that the latter was the critical one for today's environment. Especially since our drug prohibitions mean that we still have large active criminal gangs fighting it out for territory and with police.

One of my cousins is a high ranking police officer in Australia. Many years ago, he did some sort of international police exchange where he got to spend a few months in the US visiting with and training with American police departments (the NYPD and LAPD featured prominently). I remember him saying at the time that criminals in the US are a lot more terrifying than those in Australia. There are a lot more weapons, those weapons tend to be much more powerful, and criminals who have been cornered by police were much more likely to go out shooting rather than peacefully surrender.

What struck me at the time was the fear and this was a guy who was accustomed to being in dicey situations. He'd made a name for himself going deep undercover in the most violent criminal organizations in the country and he'd worked as a homicide detective and on their equivalent of a SWAT team.

I don't think you can really understand this, if you treat it as an "American" problem, as though this entire country, from ocean to ocean, Mexico to Canada, were one undifferentiated mass.

Levels of violence in American are hugely heterogeneous, varying by some three orders of magnitude from place to place. Large expanses of the country are as peaceful as you could ask. Small hotspots are as violent as war zones. A few blocks away you might be a hundred times safer.

If you ignore this, you are likely to end up attributing the violence in the hot spots to factors in the peaceful expanse.

part of the reason we so much police violence has to be due to the fact that we are a violent and heavily armed country. in our movies and books and TV, we worship and adore violence, especially gun violence. we run screaming from nudity, but cheer for the guy who casually shoots 20 people a season on The Sopranos.

American police are violent because: 1) they're American, and 2) because they're interacting with Americans.

Take a look at this. It's coarse compared to the actual, neighborhood level variation, but you can see that, in Chicago, the least safe third of the city is about ten times more dangerous than the most safe third.

Large expanses of the country are as peaceful as you could ask.

the state with the lowest gun homicide rate (VT, 0.4 per 100,000) is still more than 10x the UK's rate (0.03)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States_by_state

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm-related_death_rate

ten times.

I saw something come up in my FB feed, but of course, once it disappears, good luck ever finding it. But it was an article that observed that the violence we think of in the Wild West could plausibly have been caused by the huge numbers of former Civil War veterans suffering from PTSD, I remember a while back, I wondered if Chinese had their Jesse James, Earp brothers etc as they pushed out to conquer their own frontiers, but this article suggested that maybe one of the keys to the violent west was the violence already experienced by so many people.

the state with the lowest gun homicide rate (VT, 0.4 per 100,000) is still more than 10x the UK's rate (0.03)

Yes, but if you look at the homicide rate in VT:

http://vtweb.beyond2020.com/public/View/dispview.aspx?ReportId=75

It is on par with the UK:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_the_United_States#Homicide

Unless I missed a decimal place, somewhere.

The US aggregate rate is still higher, of course.

On the bigger question, I doubt there is a single thing, but I attribute large portions of the violence to

(1) the war on drugs, which has criminalized large swathes of the inner city (try getting a job after 10 years in prison) and funneled money into violent drug gangs. (Basically the follow up to what wj said)

and

(2) unwavering support for police actions and safety, leading uncriticized excessive use to riot gear, no knock raids, and SWAT teams.

Yes, but if you look at the homicide rate in VT:

true.

just for fun, i'll note that the number of homicides in VT in 2010 was seven. and the number of gun homicides in VT in 2010 was two.

I don't think Thompson's comment is exactly wrong, but it misses something important, which is that the war on drugs exists across the whole country. The high rate of violent crime in parts of America has to be due to factors present in parts of America. Not across the entire country.

Which is not to say the war on drugs wasn't a big factor, but why did this big factor hurt much, much more in some places, than others?

That's the question that must be answered. Because if a variable, call it "x" is capable of causing hundred fold variation between locations within a country, you must identify it, and understand it precisely, before you can understand several fold variation between countries.

That's basic statistical analysis.

go ahead, spit it out


African slavery came second.

Dispossession, enslavement and extermination of the Native Americans is the original American sin, a holocaust we seldom acknowledge.

The Great Society and War on Poverty. Paying people to stay where there aren't jobs turns out to be socially much more destructive than ghost towns.

Gosh, I handn't realized that American rates of violence were right there with everybody else (at least in the West) thru the 1950s. And then balooned thanks to LBJ.

Got a source of statistics which backs that up?

There was a big run-up in violent crime in the mid-20th century.

Kevin Drum has presented convincing evidence that this was produced by the introduction of tetra-ethyl lead in gasoline, to be subsequently inhaled by every urban population.

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-link-gasoline

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/02/lead-and-crime-its-brain-thing

Unfortunately, this explanation doesn't flatter Brett's pre-existing moral narrative.

the war on drugs, which has criminalized large swathes of the inner city

Don't forget that hillbilly heroin.

For a country located in the Americas, the United states has a relatively low murder rate. Canada and Chile are the exceptions. I suspect the issue is cultural, but but I don't know how much of a role slavery played in it. One thing that has happened with colonization is that some cultural aspects are preserved from the time of colonization. I would look to the murder rate in the mother country at the time the country was colonized. The murder rate in Europe in the middle ages was extremely high, and dropped quite a bit during the time the Americas were being settled.

http://www.nytimes.com/1994/10/23/us/historical-study-of-homicide-and-cities-surprises-the-experts.html

I would surmise that as Europe shifted from an honor culture to a dignity culture, homicides fell, and the old cultural patterns were preserved to some extent in the new world.

Interestingly, wikipedia tells me leaded gasoline was favored over ethanol in the beginning because the former was more profitable (Profitability --- where the wrong choice is always the best choice for just a few; see Russell's comment on the healthcare thread) to the patent holders.

That sounds familiar.

And this might explain a few things:

"Leaded gasoline remains available at the pump in Algeria, Iraq, Yemen, Myanmar, North Korea (where very little is used), and possibly Afghanistan, where information is unclear.[14] (Also see a previous report[15] from 2011.) North Korea and Myanmar appear to buy their TEL from China[5] while Innospec sells TEL to Algeria, Iraq, and Yemen. Algeria is scheduled to phase out leaded gasoline in 2014 and Iraq in 2015. There is not yet a timeline for elimination of leaded gasoline in Yemen or Myanmar."

Don't forget lead paint.

Be funny if EPA-type mandated reductions in the amount of lead citizens in those countries have been "compelled" to internalize all these decades caused ISIL to eventually lose its mojo.

Not counting the North Koreans who must put something a lot worse in their fuel and paint.

"I would surmise that as Europe shifted from an honor culture to a dignity culture, homicides fell, and the old cultural patterns were preserved to some extent in the new world."

It's no coincidence that the honor culture of the Scots-Irish Southern slave owners gave way to the violence of the Civil War.

Just learned that John Wilkes Booth's father Junius Sr. was renowned for writing fiery letters to President Andrew Jackson, an honor-bound jackass his ownself, threatening to slit the latter's throat.

Not as bad as caning the crap out of your opponent on the floor of the Legislature, but worse than yelling "You lie" from the cheap seats to the uppity one during the SOTU.

Still, we're stuck with the lot of them.

I still wish Obama had pulled a dueling pistol from his topcoat and shot Wilson thru the throat from the dias and we could have witnessed the latter tumble head first out of the balcony as Obama cleared his throat and said "Now where was I."

Unfortunately, Obama keeps assaults from certain species of crackers upon his honor to himself.

russell:

Don't forget that hillbilly heroin.

That's a good point, thanks for the correction. Do you have any good data on the homicide rate in rural, drug producing/running counties?

I'd expect its not as high as the inner city, but I've haven't been able to find a good source of data. High population density combined with high cost of living would, I expect, play a role. But I'd be interested if you had data one way or the other.

Any hypothesis about "importing violence from the home country" has to account for Australia.

Amusing anecdote I read on the internet (so it must be true):

Guy is applying for immigration to Australia, official is interviewing him:

"Have you ever been convicted of a felony?"

"I didn't know that was still a requirement."

"Any hypothesis about "importing violence from the home country" has to account for Australia."

Australia was mainly settled in the 19th century, so it would have imported a later version of British culture than America. In fact, Botany Bay was established when it was no longer possible to sentence people to transportation to the American colonies. Quite a few were sent to the colonies for sedition. Wonder why they rebelled?

Do you have any good data on the homicide rate in rural, drug producing/running counties?

Nope. I leave that as an exercise for the reader.

I'd expect its not as high as the inner city, but I've haven't been able to find a good source of data.

My understanding is that the homicide rate is higher in the city, and the suicide rate is higher in rural areas.

But I wouldn't make any assumptions. Go see what the numbers are.

Brett,

Because if a variable, call it "x" is capable of causing hundred fold variation between locations within a country, you must identify it, and understand it precisely, before you can understand several fold variation between countries.

That's basic statistical analysis.

You've been singing this "between group within group" song for quite some time. It's not a terrible point, but please bear in mind that the same logic applies to comparisons to other countries.

In other words, suppose all the violence in the US is attributable to people whose names begin with "B," so it's not fair to compare US levels to, say, UK levels without taking this into account. Then we have to look at the UK the same way, separating out the violence caused by those "B" (or maybe "D") types from the peace-loving population.

IOW, you have to apply the same standards across the board. You are not doing that.

joel hanes: Kevin Drum has presented convincing evidence that this was produced by the introduction of tetra-ethyl lead in gasoline, to be subsequently inhaled by every urban population.

It was 1971 or 1972 when Daniel Patrick Moynihan gave a speech at my high school. (He was then not yet Senator, but former Ambassador to India, and former Nixon Administration wonk.) It was the peak, or just after the peak, of campus protests. It was a time when "law and order" seemed to be tottering.

Moynihan's thesis was that we were at a local maximum. Things would slowly get better, not keep getting worse, he said. And his argument was: the baby boomers won't stay young and feisty much longer.

I think it may have been the first I ever heard of "the baby boom". The speech did not make a huge impression on me at the time, but its prescience seemed to grow in retrospect.

Kevin Drum is almost surely right, but I still think Moynihan was on to something, too.

--TP

"IOW, you have to apply the same standards across the board. You are not doing that"

How is he "not doing that"? He's asking a statistically meaningful question, perhaps a little obliquely, and certainly seems willing to see if the violence by "B" types is comparable between countries.

Add into all that the badly-drafted so incomprehensible statement about a militia that somehow crept into the constitution. This piece of nonsense has all sorts of people carrying & using guns as if they were some sort of totem or fetish object.

"IOW, you have to apply the same standards across the board. You are not doing that."

I'm pointing out that you have to *know* what that standard is, to apply it. The more powerful the variable you don't know about, the more prone you are to falsely concluding some variable you ARE looking at is the cause of the variation.

It's a pretty basic point in statistics, and, until criminology can actually explain the huge local variations in violent crime, it generally makes a hash of any attempt to reach some conclusion by comparing larger areas.

This doesn't say what the truth of the matter is, maybe there IS something peculiar about America, not just urban hot spots. Maybe it's even guns.

But, what it does say, is that anybody who claims to know that is wrong.

Marty:

"certainly seems willing to see if the violence by 'B' types is comparable between countries"

I want you to read that over and over again until you realize how unfortunate this turn of phrase was.

Brett:

"I don't think you can really understand this, if you treat it as an 'American problem,' as though this entire country, from ocean to ocean, Mexico to Canada, were one undifferentiated mass."

Few countries (maybe Monaco and the Vatican are exceptions) are one undifferentiated mass. Thus, when you compare one country's rates of violence to another country's rates of violence, you will always have this issue of regional variations (in both countries), just as byomtov said. Your point is banal and unhelpful.

I'don't go a step further and say that if you'going to talk about "B" types you need to articulate what "B" types are.

People in cities?
Any people, in any cities?
Poor people? How poor?
People engaged in criminal enterprise?
What kind of crimes?
People in particular zip codes?
What is special about those zip codes?
Are they prime numbers?

If you want to compare "B" types in the US to "B" types elsewhere, you have articulate what makes someone (or someplace) a "B".

again: just spit it out, Brett.

Why am I thinking of Wheel of Fortune on South Park?

Oh! I know why - because cleek keeps nagging Brett.

More about where the wild things are here in the good old USA.

The source is the FBI's uniform crime report.

Of note:

we noted that the South was particularly violent, as it has been for many years; rape appears to be more common in rural states
The most violent state was Tennessee, which reported 644 violent crimes per 100,000, followed by Nevada, Alaska, and New Mexico.

At the state level, LA has the most murders, AK the most rapes followed by SD, TN the most aggravated assaults, NV the most robberies, SC the most property crimes, CA the most car thefts.

SC leads again in larceny, AR in burglaries.

The maps don't break it down by rural vs city, so I can't tell you if all of the aggravated assaults in TN are happening in, for example, a ten-block area of Memphis, as opposed to back in the hills and hollers.

If you don't like crime, the place to be is New England.

The numbers don't include Washington DC, which is a particularly violent city.

In any case, looks like "B" types might be hard to pin down.

My understanding is that the homicide rate is higher in the city, and the suicide rate is higher in rural areas.

Yep.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1448529/

So, we are left asking why homicides, especially firearm-related homicides, are higher in cities.

As I said above, I think an important contributor is the war on drugs, which generates a black market run by violent drug gangs:

http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/DRRC.PDF

BJS examined homicides in the 75 most populous counties in the United States in 1988. Many of the homicides involved drugs or drug trafficking, including the following: drug manufacture, dispute over drugs, theft of drugs or drug money, a drug scam, a bad drug deal, punishment for drug theft, or illegal use of drugs. One of
these circumstances was involved for 18% of defendants and 16% of victims.

Which is a fair number % of homicides, and doesn't include the social and economic inequality generated by imprisoning people for drug use.

Of course, that's 1988, perhaps something has changed.

B types.

The South accounted for 40.9% of all reported violent crimes even though it makes up roughly a quarter of the country

Although I think this guy is just propagating that tired old stereotype of the hot-headed redneck.

There's lots of interesting information about violence in America's cities in the BI analysis, too.

B types.

This study found no evidence to support the common assumption that rural youth are protected from exposure to violence. Rural teens are equally or more likely than suburban and urban teens to be exposed to violent activities, including weapons carrying, fighting, fear of violence, and suicide behaviors. Rural teens are at significantly greater risk of using cigarettes, chewing tobacco, crack/cocaine, and steroids than both suburban and urban teens. Of important note is the high prevalence of "crystal-meth" use among rural teens.

I'm just googling around, so don't take this as any kind proof one way or the other.

People make statements, I go look around to see if they hold up, that's all.

I'd say the jury is out.

Relative to the OP, which is about cultural and historical reasons for aggregate violence levels in the U.S., we're now getting into far more proximate factors of violence.

There aren't going to be FBI statistics on how many murders were caused by the culture of the colonists or the legacy of slavery or the number of Civil War veterans roaming the Old West.

"Your point is banal and unhelpful."

I think it is actually quite helpful to point out that something somebody wants to do isn't feasible, even though it might often be banal to do so.

"again: just spit it out, Brett."

Not spitting out what you want me to doesn't mean I didn't spit something out. I know you want me to say that it's race, but that would be stupid. My immediate neighborhood is something like half black, and the low crime rate was one of the reasons I chose to buy a house here. So I'd have to be an idiot to think "X" was race.

My immediate neighborhood is something like half black, and the low crime rate was one of the reasons I chose to buy a house here. So I'd have to be an idiot to think "X" was race.

Is this an example of basic statistics at work?

HSH:

There aren't going to be FBI statistics on how many murders were caused by the culture of the colonists or the legacy of slavery or the number of Civil War veterans roaming the Old West.

Which, to me, makes it somewhat of an untestable hypothesis, and difficult to develop solutions to the real problem of violence.

On the other hand, there are many potential proximate causes of violence in US, and many of those differ from other first world countries. These can be identified, studied, and addressed.

russell:

Rural teens are equally or more likely than suburban and urban teens to be exposed to violent activities, including weapons carrying, fighting, fear of violence, and suicide behaviors.

And yet, that increased exposure to "violent activities" doesn't seem to result in increased violent crime:

http://www.victimsofcrime.org/docs/ncvrw2013/2013ncvrw_stats_urbanrural.pdf

Suggesting that the factors identified in the study are not either not causative, or convolved with other factors that also vary with urbanicity.

I know you want me to say that it's race, but that would be stupid.

it would also be in line with your history of blaming all kinds of things on blacks and their horrid culture.

Violent crime correlates with ice cream sales.

Which, to me, makes it somewhat of an untestable hypothesis, and difficult to develop solutions to the real problem of violence.

I agree, but not all things worth thinking about and trying to understand are testable hypotheses.

The phrase "proximate causes" (though I used "proximate factors")is something that stuck with me from Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel. Certainly, Europeans had a great advantage over New World natives because they had guns and the natives didn't. But why did they have the guns that others didn't?

Diamond's book offers compelling reasons why history broadly unfolded the way it did. Can he prove those reasons? Are they testable? I doubt it.

On the other hand, there are many potential proximate causes of violence in US, and many of those differ from other first world countries. These can be identified, studied, and addressed.

I agree with this, too. My point was simply that this isn't what Doc Sci's OP was about, and that implies that local variations within the country aren't really relevant to the OP and the aggregate comparisions to other countries (which, as has been mentioned, also have their own local variations - and teasing them out will only shed light on the more proximate causes of violence).

"SC leads again in larceny,"

That's a great sentence. Probably a very satisfying headline year after year for the good ole boys in them thar parts.

I think that's exactly what Sumner quipped, loud enough to hear but to himself, before being beaten to a pulp by Brooks.

"How dare you, suh, malign the larcenous hearts of my kinfolk and their slaves. Take THAT, and THAT!"

These stats regarding the geographic centers of various sociopathies seem to align with national voting patterns, particularly in low-turnout off-year elections in the 21st century.

I see now how and why sociopaths like Richard Nixon, Strom Thurmond, and Lee Atwater reached out to their kindred spirits among the rabble to build the juggernaut of the modern Republican Party.

I understand now too how birthday parties in Alaska where alcohol and certain sociopathic families intersect can turn into a rollicking Death Panel of wanton cold-cocking and pile-ons.

I understand now too how civility in Washington D.C., or at least the semblance of it, has gone by the wayside as pig-filth vermin, fully cranked on meth and a bullet left in the chamber to shoot the toddler while cleaning the thing, send their candidates to sleep it off in their congressional offices and ruin everything for everyone.

The Great Society and War on Poverty. Paying people to stay where there aren't jobs turns out to be socially much more destructive than ghost towns.

Neatly eliding the fact that whites fled the cities and took the jobs with them, then shut the door behind them.

I would also note in passing that incredibly large swaths of the USA are virtually uninhabited. Nonetheless, levels of violence as between hawks and rabbits remains high.

it would also be in line with your history of blaming all kinds of things on blacks and their horrid culture.

Which culture was naturally purposely created by the Great Society in order to maintain blacks on the "Democrat plantation" so libruls can pursue their Will To Power because that is the only reason there are such things as libruls in the first place.

And yet, that increased exposure to "violent activities" doesn't seem to result in increased violent crime

And yet, the FBI sez that the highest rate of aggravated assault per 100K is in TN.

Is that Nashville and Memphis, or out in the boonies?

I don't know.

Lots of numbers get flung around. I'm not sure they mean what people think they mean.

It's still mighty unclear, to me, who "B" types are, and whether or not comparable types exist, at all, in other countries.

What is dead obvious to me is that Americans and American culture is way more violent than average, especially if you compare only to OECD.

We kill each other a lot. You tell me why, because I don't know.

part of the reason we so much police violence has to be due to the fact that we are a violent and heavily armed country.

This may ve a part of the reason but only a part. Finland is almost as armed a country than the US, per capita, but the gun-related homicide rate is kess than tenth of the US rate.

The police has shot at three two persons during year 2014, which has been exceptionally large a number, though both cases were quite justified. In one case, the suspect was holding a pistol in a crowded ship terminal after having committed a murder. The police shot and wounded the suspect who then shot himself. In the most tragic case, the suspect was walking in a city center waving a submachine gun, and refusing to put it down. The police shot the man in the leg, but he bled to death. Unfortunately, the "gun" turned out to be a replica. The police story was corroborated by video, however. In the third case, a man who was confronting the police with a handgun was shot in the leg. None of the cases lead to prosecution of the police officers. For the US, this would correspond to 60 killed and 120 wounded persons. The average number of shots fired by the police is yearly about 10, which includes mercy killings of animals and e.g. locks broken with a firearm. That would correspond to some 600 shots for the US.

For me, the most incredible thing in the US polie violence is the extremely poor skill at marksmanship and fire discipline that many of the cases demonstrate. Second appalling thing is the unavailability of redress for private innocent victims of police actions. In Finland, the state automatically compensates for all harm caused by police actions to persons who have not been actively obstructing the police or convicted of an offence in relation to the action.

http://rt.com/usa/200855-police-white-shooting-hall/

There must be 50 alternatives to killing this guy with 46 bullets, most of which didn't hit him.

One guy could have tackled him from behind.

And what's with the overweight slobs in uniform?

And what's with the overweight slobs in uniform?

Matt & Trey summed it up pretty well:

http://gretachristina.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341bf68b53ef013484bc3d68970c-800wi

Tom Coburn asks President Obama to arm each and every one of the five million immigration amnesty candidates with high-powered military grade Tench Coxe automatic weapons to protect themselves against violent, rioting, murderous Republicans and Libertarians who Coburn believes will be assaulting the former and their children.

Violence from the top, indeed.

A U.S. Senator blows the dog whistle.

If only the Symbionese Liberation Army had their elected representatives in place to further their murderous rampages in 1974.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/11/19/usa-today-capital-download-with-tom-coburn/19263969/


"I know you want me to say that it's race, but that would be stupid.

it would also be in line with your history of blaming all kinds of things on blacks and their horrid culture."

I have a history of blaming a lot of things on culture, which may be somewhat correlated with race in this country, but that doesn't make talking about culture a disguised reference to race.

No matter how much liberals want to avoid discussing culture, or enjoy accusing everyone who disagrees with them of racism.

America is culturally heterogeneous, some of those cultures lead to peace and prosperity, some lead to violence and poverty. That's my take on the matter.

And I think the challenge that faces us is objectively identifying the relevant cultural factors, (Made challenging by the fact that our personal preferences are perfectly capable of not aligning with what really works.) and more difficult, finding a way to use that knowlege.

America is culturally heterogeneous, some of those cultures lead to peace and prosperity, some lead to violence and poverty.

I'd say Brett's got that exactly right.

Now when the question turns to which of our subcultures is which in that analysis, then disagreements will start to fly...

Brett: And I think the challenge that faces us is objectively identifying the relevant cultural factors....

Doc Sci (in top post): And that, I think, is the main reason for the high level of violence among Black Americans: they are nearly stateless, and stateless people have to solve problems with violence. Until 150 years ago, Black Americans were *explicitly* stateless, outside the rights, responsibilities, and protections of the state. Since then, they've been too often as stateless as the authorities can manage.

There seems to be some agreement here.

It's way past time we had an honest, open discussion on race. But we can't discuss certain things, so maybe we can't have that discussion yet.

Now, if it really is true that the tendency to violence is correlated highly with race, isn't it useful to know that? If it really is true, is it made less true if that correlation is due to something that white people did/are doing?

To me, data is data. It's useful. Sometimes it doesn't mean what you think it means, but you have to gather it and tabulate it and hang out with it a while for it to be useful. What you don't do is pretend it isn't there, because it says something that you think might be racist.

Data isn't racist. It's just facts.

None of which is commentary on what points (if any) Brett is trying to make. It's more a commentary on avoiding certain topics because of their inherent ickyness.

I have a history of blaming a lot of things on culture, which may be somewhat correlated with race in this country, but that doesn't make talking about culture a disguised reference to race.

who said anything about disguised? you don't disguise it at all.

when TN Coates had his "Case for reparations" piece out, you wrote:

He started out reasonably observing the Asian-Americans having done well in the exams because they actually worked at it. and then just went off the rails. And then, when he got around to attributing the entirety of black problems to white supremacy? No issues of culture At All? That's verging on insanity.

and when i quoted that, you replied:

Yeah, culture. Asian-Americans recovered from legal discrimination, and even the Japanese internment, because of culture. Blacks did not, again, because of culture.


and on a thread about affirmative action, you wrote:

That "lingering effects of racism" everybody talks about? It's not driving while black, or employers discriminating.

It's inner city black culture. And you can paper over the victims that culture all you like, and it's not going to fix a thing.


etc

Now, if it really is true that the tendency to violence is correlated highly with race, isn't it useful to know that?

Yes, if (a) it really is true, and (b) the correlation is actually significant.

If (a) is not true, there's nothing to know.

If (b) is not true, arguments based on the correlation are likely to be not only not useful, but actually harmful.

Because, as we all know, global warming is correlated with the decline in the number of pirates.

The correlation is, clearly, there.

HSH:

Thanks for clarifying, sorry if I jumped on you a little bit. I agree those discussions can be very interesting, and history is a crucial factor in our understanding of where we are now.

russell:

Is that Nashville and Memphis, or out in the boonies?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Memphis,_Tennessee

Well, those stats are pretty trivial to look up. Apparently Memphis is one of the most violent cities in America, so I'm going to guess it skews TN rankings heavily. And indeed, violent crime normalized for populace is significantly higher in TN metropolis areas than Nonmetropolitan counties:

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/tables/5tabledatadecpdf

What is dead obvious to me is that Americans and American culture is way more violent than average, especially if you compare only to OECD.

What is also obvious to me, is that US violence is elevated in cities, especially in cities like Memphis. Which then leads me to ask questions about other factors in Memphis that might correlate with violence.

For example, is the poverty rate high in Memphis?

http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0708.pdf

Yes. What about income inequality?

http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/acs-16.pdf

Also high in Memphis.

Another example of this would be DC, which has high income inequality, high poverty, and high violent crime rates (above links and):

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/when-cost-of-living-is-taken-into-account-poverty-rate-is-higher-in-the-washington-area/2013/11/06/13d6853e-4712-11e3-bf0c-cebf37c6f484_story.html

We kill each other a lot. You tell me why, because I don't know.

Again, all this data shows a link between urbanicity and violent crime. I can't claim to have all the answers, but I think asking why violent crime, already high in the US, is higher in its cities is a good place to start.

Russell, that's global warming correlated with an increase in the number of pirates. (If it was correlated with a decline in the number of pirates, that might be a reason to feel global warming was a good thing....)

asking why violent crime, already high in the US, is higher in its cities is a good place to start.

We can find a bunch of correlations to start our search. Some of them may actually be from a causal connection. Others will merely be from both having the same cause. And still others will certainly be coincidence.

My guess would be that we should look not so much at income inequality. Rather, we should look at what the prospects are for income mobility. How possible is it for someone born in a very poor family to get out of poverty? (Less talked about, but a necessary concomitant -- how possible is it from someone born in a wealthy family to end up poor?)

If someone is poor, but see a (legal) path out of poverty, they would seem likely to work at going down that path. Whereas, if they don't, the inclination grows to try illegal paths out -- whether peddling drugs or robbing banks. And to lash out in frustration at not being able to get out.

Again, all this data shows a link between urbanicity and violent crime

Or, the data could show a link between poverty and crime. Or, high income inequality and crime. Or, high income inequality combined with close physical proximity and crime.

If there are cities which don't have high crime rates - which there are - then "urbanity" doesn't seem to be whole enchilada.

E.g., what explains this? Maybe the connection is between violent crime and other forms of organized criminal activity, full stop.

I'm not invested in cities being high, low, or in-between as far as crime rates go. I'm interested in understanding what the information actually has to tell us.

Russell, that's global warming correlated with an increase in the number of pirates.

wj, the graph is actually poorly drawn, because the scale on the number of pirates axis goes DOWN from left to right.

So, it actually is a correlation to a decline in the number of pirates.

Clearly, this means we should burn up as much carbon as we can find, to keep those pirate numbers low!!

It doesn't help to give inner city kids a bad education. And, then, tell them it's illegal for them to have a job.

At one time, black teenagers had a higher employment rate than white teenagers. Now black teen unemployment is about double that for white teens.

"How possible is it for someone born in a very poor family to get out of poverty?"

Part of my point about welfare: How stupid is it to pay somebody to stay in a place where there aren't any jobs available? Isn't that just baiting a trap?

Part of my point about welfare: How stupid is it to pay somebody to stay in a place where there aren't any jobs available?

Is that how welfare works? Does it require you to stay in a place where there aren't any jobs? And why aren't there any jobs? Is a given place inherently jobless, such that everyone should leave and go somewhere else, leaving all the jobless places uninhabited, solving the problem of joblessness?

This is an area where I find myself, not in complete agreement with Brett, but recognizing the validity of his point.

One consequence of the urban renewal efforts of the 50's and 60's was the destruction of existing neighborhoods and the relocation of entire communities.

In many cases, the relocated folks were the poorer folks. Many of the neighborhoods that were turned into highways, government centers, and lovely arts complexes were black and/or other minority neighborhoods.

Lots of those folks were moved, wholesale, into Stalinesque project housing. Essentially, instant ghettos.

"Urban renewal" at that time was often referred to as "negro removal" in the black community.

It was, IMO, a case where Government's Wonderful Plan For Your Life turned out not so well.

russell:

E.g., what explains this?

I would note that's an example of how the war on drugs funnels money into a black market run by violent drug gangs.

I'm interested in understanding what the information actually has to tell us.

As am I. And the first step is understanding the information. You say you are "not invested in cities being high, low, or in-between as far as crime rates go", which is fair. But if across the country, that trend is conserved, its worth asking why.

I'd agree its not an easy question to answer. Indeed, as you note, it could be a correlation without causation. But I'd speculate its because urban areas often concentrate other factors associated with crime, such as poverty (noted in one of your links) and income inequality (http://www.researchgate.net/publication/2523129_Inequality_And_Violent_Crime*/links/0046352160ee282a5c000000 ).

wj:

If someone is poor, but see a (legal) path out of poverty, they would seem likely to work at going down that path.

And as ex-cons often have trouble securing legal employment after prison...

"Is that how welfare works? Does it require you to stay in a place where there aren't any jobs? And why aren't there any jobs?"

It doesn't require to to stay in a place, but it doesn't require you to move, either. Newton's first law of motion, metaphorically: Enable somebody to stay where they are, usually they'll stay. Even if they have no future there.

And, does it matter why there aren't jobs in a place? Should we keep people there, just in case they come back?

That's my view: Ghost towns are better than ghettoes. And welfare has increased poverty by enabling people to stay where they have no prospect of employment.

And my answer to that is, require people to move someplace where there are jobs, to get assistance. Help them move, but don't let them get money to stay where there aren't any jobs.

And my answer to that is, require people to move someplace where there are jobs

a) where is that?
b) is housing there affordable given the available jobs?
c) good to know that you're down with government coercion!

"And, then, tell them it's illegal for them to have a job.

At one time, black teenagers had a higher employment rate than white teenagers. Now black teen unemployment is about double that for white teens."

So more white teenagers work illegally than black teenagers.

Obviously, this mystery person who is telling them it is illegal to work must use stronger language, especially with these white kids who must have read someplace, maybe the Department of Labor's website, that those 14 and above may work, with certain time and safety restrictions, which are less restrictive than for those between 16 and 18.

What should be restricted immediately is employers laying off those 21 and above willy-nilly from decent-paying jobs with benefits so the the latter then must migrate to lower-wage jobs traditionally held by teenagers so that they can support themselves and their families.

There might even be less pressure to raise the minimum wage.

"How stupid is it to pay somebody to stay in a place where there aren't any jobs available? Isn't that just baiting a trap?"

I suppose that would be stupid if indeed it is that simple.

Just rooting around a bit in the welfare benefit websites of a few random states, I see that there is little restriction on moving from county to county within states to seek employment, nor do I find much restriction on moving to another state to seek employment and begin collecting help while the job search stretches into weeks and months, and applying for benefits there.

If you are proposing a program to pay welfare recipients moving expenses and housing to move to places with low unemployment and more plentiful job prospects, I'm all ears, but I want them to have those jobs before they move, to prevent being marooned in a place with no family and friends.

If you are proposing cutting off payments altogether and somehow thinking that will force folks with little money and kids to raise to head for illusory greener pastures, like maybe they've got their resumes on Linked-In, and the job offers are pouring in, then how stupid is a legitimate question.

I was in Williston, North Dakota recently to get a taste of the oil boom and there are plenty of folks streaming in there from all over the country to take great paying jobs at fast food restaurants, changing the linens at motels, etc, except that there is literally no affordable place to live, unless it's in your car in the Walmart parking lot.

I'd be interested to learn how many unemployed inner city residents own automobiles for the trip to Williston.

You want to consider culture in all of this as well. Inner city folks, yes, many of them single mothers have families and extended ones at that who they are trying to support whatever they can. Staying put is a family value, which of course is yet another of the many pieces of the English language emptied of all meaning by pig-filth during election campaigns.

My old friend Jed Clampett told me that whooey, he only moved from his straightened circumstances when he knew the stipend flow was a sure thing so's he could keep Jethro in the third grade and Ellie Mae in a marriageable state.

Sam Drucker and the folks down Petticoat Junction way at the Shady Rest never offered the Clampetts real jobs so they'd stay in state, though they came to visit every once in while.

Even Eva Gabor wouldn't let Eddie Albert move to Hooterville near Pixley without first saving up lots of money. They wouldn't have been able to afford the farm Mr. Haney gypped than on.

Why should black inner city folk plan their finances any different?

We have 11 million supposedly illegal immigrants in this country who arrive with nothing and work, and some receive benefits.

They do what you want the rest to do and we're trying to kick their asses out.

Also, what Russell wrote, but MOVING people to where there was better education, via busing, was fought tooth and nail by those WITH the ostensibly better educations and the attempt to MOVE valedictorians in the inner city to elite universities with help from "affirmative action" is not meeting with much more acceptance.

Many inner city blacks who did succeed MOVED uptown to better neighborhoods with better schools, once red-lining was "regulated", and THEN their white neighbors moved farther away, thus eroding the tax base.

You want inner city folks in Detroit to move because many of the men lost their jobs in the car factories? Where, to Japan?

One particular political party cheered (they wanted it to happen, the sadist f*cks) the massive loss of jobs in Detroit and blamed it on the people whose jobs disappeared. They were paid too much, we were told.

NOW you want them to move?

America is a stable full of horsesh*t.


That's my view: Ghost towns are better than ghettoes.

And "ghost town" is, to an increasing degree, an accurate description of big swathes of Detroit. Just to mention the place currently looking most like a new ghost town. For all that I doubt Brett, or anybody else, would describe it as a case of welfare not running amok.

Mebbe the Negro and the Hispanic should move to Nevada to get an even shake.

They could get a job on with Cliven Bundy running cattle illegally on Federal land.

Or mebbe not:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/ira-hansen-nevada-speaker-simple-minded-darkies

so, let's see... first we get rid of the illegals who do all our crop harvesting. and then we forcibly move the inner city blacks to do the jobs the illegals used to do - for the wages land owners would pay because nobody wants to pay more for food, i assume.

right?

and Ira Hansen accuses liberals of wanting to keep blacks 'down on the plantation'.

learn something new everyday, i guess.

Ghost towns are better than ghettoes.

wj beat me to it, and to Detroit you can add a long long list of former industrial cities gutted by industry relocation or outsourcing.

Most of working class folks who live in those places now are the kids and grandkids of folks who moved there because it's where the jobs were when they were trying to make it.

Maybe it would be nice if some of the jobs stayed put, instead of making tens and hundreds of thousands of people relocate every generation.

Just a thought.

And my answer to that is, require people to move someplace where there are jobs, to get assistance.

To cleek's list, I would add:

(4) You assume the people that are already there are interested in having poor, unemployed, often minority folks move into their town.

Especially when it's to (a) take jobs in their area, and (b) qualify for public assistance.

It's an interesting idea on paper, not so practical in real life.

The global warming - pirate correlation has to be formulated in a slightly more precise way: It's not any pirates but traditional Yarrr!-Aaaarg!-Shiver-me-timbers! Pirates. Dhow outlaws from East Africa and Indonesian speed boat rubble don't have that effect and are not included. In other words, only pirates that meet the TLAP standard.
---
My personal guess concerning violence would have been that it generally correlates with population density. Other factors might be stronger locally but said correlation would be found under it. That could be (in theory) a testable hypothesis. Take two similar populations and put one into a large the other into a small area, wait for the equilibrium and then check the levels. Maybe switch the groups afterwards for control. Is there a critical density?

That's rabble not rubble in the speed boats ;-)

El Paso, a poor city that is just across the river/border from one of the most dangerous cities in the world, is one of the safest cities in the US.

But if across the country, that trend is conserved, its worth asking why.

I guess my point is that it's important to ask what the actual trend is.

20 years ago we were told that a generation of urban super-predators were on the way. Now we think it might really have just been lead.

NYC is a very, very large city. In 2012 it apparently had a murder rate of 2.9 per 100K. That was the 4th lowest rate of any US city above 250K people. It's probably better than a lot of rural counties.

If it was "urbanity" per se, NY would have different numbers.

Basically, I'm skeptical about drawing conclusions like "cities yield higher violent crime" without some understanding of what the relationship between the two is.

Understanding causes yields solutions. Noticing correlations, not so much.


"Culture" may be innate and impervious to external pressures, or it may be entirely a response to environment and history. Take Confederate culture.

Please.

--TP

Lots of those folks were moved, wholesale, into Stalinesque project housing. Essentially, instant ghettos.

Tragically true. But where else were they to go? They had no assets. They were renters, not owners. Those "other places" with all the jobs did not want them and actively worked to keep them out (sundowner towns). It would have been better to give each man, woman, and child $2,000,000, and scatter them to the winds, while shouting "problem solved"....but that of course would have been "reparations" and we couldn't have that.

So welfare it was. And of course that was just giving lazy people "our hard earned tax dollars". And there they are, stuck between the rock and the hard place. Sometimes you just can't win.

Naturally, it was all their fault.

We have told them so repeatedly.

How does one explain the dysfunctional culture William F. Buckley was marinated in that caused him to athwart Brown vrs Board of Education and Civil Right Legislation and declare "Nein!"?

William Rehnquist and James Kilpatrick too.

Was it the fact that their fathers stayed intact in their households that drove them to criminal racism and institutionalized bigotry?

Was it the fact that they were children within wedlock and church-going members of society and law-abiding, upstanding citizens that turned them into such hateful putzes?

Was the welfare of privilege a source of their weak character and irresponsible and inhumane acts toward their fellow Americans?

Was it some genetic fault at the cellular level, handed down through generations on some dark continent of primitive tribalism?

Was it their placement on the Bell Curve that created their dysfunctional, sociopathic manner of living?

russell:

I guess my point is that it's important to ask what the actual trend is.

Which is why I turn to data, like the UCR, to determine what the trend is. And I've provided multiple links to the UCR and other resources, all showing that, in general, violent crime is higher in urban areas.

20 years ago we were told that a generation of urban super-predators were on the way.

Data can be overinterpreted, certainly, and I hope I'm not coming off as breathlessly clutching my pearls about urban living. There is a trend, well established in the stats and in the literature, that violent crime correlates with urbanicity in the US (I don't think you can use "urbanity" in this context, btw: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/urbanity).

That trend is a starting point. If we can understand why that trend exists, we can more effectively target the causes of violence. Or as you said:

Basically, I'm skeptical about drawing conclusions like "cities yield higher violent crime" without some understanding of what the relationship between the two is.

So we have a trend, a correlation. It might be causative, it might not. I've suggested explanations for that correlation (poverty, income inequality, etc) that are often concentrated in cities, and have been independently correlated violent crime, based on studies you and I have linked.

There are probably other factors as well. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on why violent crime, in general, is concentrated in US cities.

Understanding causes yields solutions. Noticing correlations, not so much.

I'm curious how you go about establishing causality in complex systems without ever considering correlations.

The impression that crime correlates with urbanity is probably not correct. Pew Research says:

When adjusted by population, murder rates are far higher in smaller cities than in larger ones, such as Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.
These maps of violent death rates in general probably don't support your mental image, but beware: that swathe of apparently low death rates in the High Plains is mostly "population too low for statistical significance." For the Northeast, he notes
Rates of deaths by homicides and police shootings, shown in the map below, are generally at their highest in the big cities of the northeast, but often don’t come close to the rates of death by suicide in the rural northeast.

However, this is all a bit of topic drift from my original point, which is that the US slavery system created a culture unusually tolerant of violence by the *elite*, by the wealthy and powerful, and that this has gotten everyone in the habit of thinking that violence is an acceptable way to get respect and public order.

Lurker's point is also a good one: US standards for police competence are shockingly low. And it's not because we have an especially high or low number of police per population, either: somewhat more police per capita than Germany, a good deal fewer than Finland.

If I had to guess, I'd say it's (partly) because of the strong US tradition of local control over police funding, hiring, and training -- which means that local traditions of underfunding and incompetence are respected, too.

Doc,

I am curious to see how our conservative brethren respond to your "violence tolerating culture" claim, because well, for the most part, our "culture" is white.

From what I have seen above, especially from Brett, they appear to express total disagreement-mostly by trying to wave away or downplay the statistics on violence.

But they are all too quick to condemn black "culture" for the violence observed in the black community.

Is that a "W" type thing?

Parenthesis: Obama just poisoned the arsenic well.

We now resume our regular programming and ask whether "urbanicity" is as highly correlated with crime in civilized countries as it is in the US.

--TP

Cleeks' south part link above explains some of the issues. There seems to be a fair amount of "you have to do what I say!" attitude among the police, and anyone who is not immediately compliant (no matter what the order/request is) is automatically a suspect and runs a large risk of a beating or worse.

Combine that with what seems to be a majority-held view in the country that if you did something "wrong" then you deserve what you get, even if the "wrong" is j-walking and you end up dead; along with a similar view of the police not being capable of doing anything wrong and a police culture in many jurisdictions that seems to be fine with covering up wrongs and manufacturing evidence/framing the innocent (sometimes both at the same time) and you've got a recipe for bad police behavior even before getting to the relative violence of criminals in the U.S. (although some of this is a result of the criminal violence).

However, this is all a bit of topic drift from my original point, which is that the US slavery system created a culture unusually tolerant of violence by the *elite*

FWIW, my thought about this is that most cultures are highly tolerant of violence against folks who are "not us", who are formally categorized in some way as "not us", and who are seen as lower in stature and value than "us".

What's unique about the US among similar nations, and what the US has in common with slave-based societies historically, is that the "not us" folks lived in our midst. As opposed to, frex in societies based on colonizing other countries, "over there" somewhere.

We have a longer and more recent history of systematic violence against people who are "not us" and who live right where we live.

If you, frex, included histocial violence against Indians (from India), Africans, and Asians into the UK numbers, the comparison to the US would probably look a bit different.

I'm curious how you go about establishing causality in complex systems without ever considering correlations.

I'm happy to consider correlations right up until the point where they don't actually explain anything.

The difference between "urban" and "rural" is essentially population density. Lots of things come along with that, but that's the essential difference.

If population density alone was sufficient to explain increases in violent crime, we'd expect to see more consistency in the relationship between city life and violent crime.

I'm not seeing that. It's not that consistent. There are very, very large cities where violent crime is not that prevalent, and rural areas where violence is not uncommon.

More to the point, perhaps, if urban vs rural was the critical factor, we'd expect to see high rates of violent crime in cities in other places. Which I'm not sure we see.

You have to save the phenomena.

It's notable that per-capita rates of violent crime in the US seem to be higher in cities than in rural areas, but in and of itself it doesn't seem to be a sufficient explanation.

Were I to speculate, he said by way of introducing his own speculation, I would say that social cohesion is a more relevant factor.

Do people have a stake in their community, do they sense that they are bound and connected to the people they live near by any sense of mutual obligation and responsibility, does it matter to anyone (possibly including themselves) what they do with their lives.

When that is strong, I think you see less violent (and other) crime. When it's not, you see more.

If city vs country is a factor, I suspect it's almost biological - I suspect that people are, simply, neurologically stressed when they're crowded.

If so, the solution to that factor may simply be better urban design.

But, in a nutshell, my suggestion for how to reduce violent crime would be to do things to increase people's sense that they're a valuable part of the community they live in.

A lot of times that can be as simple as giving people something useful to do.

Just for the record, the German police has image problems too. Policemen* are portrayed/seen as thuggish morons notoriously (more as thugs in the West, as imbeciles in the East). I would question though the veracity of those claims today. It was really bad a few decades ago (with batons instead of guns, so few deaths nonetheless).

Nothing new about the cliches though.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pv1jdhMtZhU
Unfortunately, the English subtitles give a completely false impression because they lack the malaproprims and funny ambiguities of the original German that make it a literal buttocks joke. Plus Schutzmann is more beat cop than traffic policeman, although he also does the latter).

*policewomen are imagined mainly as traffic wardens/meter maids.

Despite reports of little people, the so-called Munchkins, Brett assures us that there are people of average stature, and despite the areas, small to be sure, where you find flying monkeys, there are just as many areas where they are not. In short, according to Brett, we are actually still in Kansas...

"A lot of times that can be as simple as giving people something useful to do."

Bingo. I don't think it's population density by itself. I think population density x unemployment might be closer to the truth.

I think we ought to drop the whole idea of welfare, and revive the CCC. Establish a principle that you don't get paid for doing nothing no matter how bad your situation, but here are some jobs you can take if you really need the money.

"Establish a principle that you don't get paid for doing nothing"

So, Brett, you mean to cut off the salaries of Republican congressmen and senators? After all, it's ridiculous to pay them to stay in one place and do nothing, right?

Franklin Delano Bellmore

I'm impressed.

Morzer, those GOPsters at least pretend* that they would like to be anywhere else but DC and they are rarely seen at their official place of work (given the minute number of days they are bodily in session).
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I said that high pouplation desnities would be in my opinion enabling/supporting factors that underly the observable pattern(s). A potentially violent and heavily armed hermit on some remote mountaintop would be quite different from the same guy in an overcrowded flat in an inner city block. Pack enough people close enough together and violent conflict is (imo) far more likely. Critical mass. U235 does not explode simply because too many atoms are in one place but because the decay of a single one can trigger a chain reaction in such an environment.

*Many actually hate to have to meet their official constituents instead of their real (=moneyed) ones, so it is actually just pretense. That's true for many Dems too.

russell:

I think we agree...or at least I often see the point I'm trying to make in your posts. For example:

It's notable that per-capita rates of violent crime in the US seem to be higher in cities than in rural areas, but in and of itself it doesn't seem to be a sufficient explanation.

I would agree 100%. Which is why I look at the trend and try to find causative factors that could explain the trend. For example, poverty, income inequality, monetary support of violent gangs, and a cycle of criminalization that makes it hard to find meaningful work.

A lot of times that can be as simple as giving people something useful to do.

Yes. Absolutely. That is the point I've been trying to make regarding poverty, income inequality, and criminalization. It makes it hard for people to do something useful in any legal context.

DrSci:

The impression that crime correlates with urbanity is probably not correct.

Again, "urbanity" really isn't the correct usage, unless you think I'm arguing that urbane individuals are prone to crime. A "polite and confident" crime wave, as it were (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/urbane?show=0&t=1416579394 ).

I'm not.

Also, I'd point out the Pew study you link identifies several cities as the murder capital over time...all of them have either high poverty rate, high Gini index (inequality), or both. In other words...consistent with the concept I'm trying (and failing) to express.

in general probably don't support your mental image

I'm always welcome to learn new things...but that data doesn't conflict with my mental image. Indeed, I believe I linked to a paper which made the same point (although specifically for firearms): rural areas are equivalent to urban areas in terms of firearm deaths...but urban tilts towards homicide and rural tilts toward suicide.

Suicide is public health concern in its own right, and I certainly wouldn't wish to minimize it. I find it very unlikely that high suicide rates are driven by the same factors that drive violent crime. That is why I drew a distinction between suicide and violent crime earlier in the thread.

However, this is all a bit of topic drift from my original point

My apologies.

, which is that the US slavery system created a culture unusually tolerant of violence by the *elite*

I think its possible that's a causative factor, but I also think that's a difficult concept to build evidence for.

I think Ugh and cleek have nailed down a crucial aspect of police violence in the US...basically they aren't called on it. In general, they close ranks and in general they are supported by politicians.

There can be a historical tail to this: perhaps we tolerate police violence because of our history of violent enslavement. But before before we get there, I'd look to the more proximate causes: perhaps the way we structure our political campaigns makes it very unlikely that any politician is going criticize a politically powerful group, like law enforcement.

There are very few prominent voices calling for review of how our police agencies work. More now, especially since Ferguson. But a few years ago...Greenwald and Balko were about as prominent as you get on that topic. In other words, not at all. Even now, I wouldn't consider concern over police behavior anywhere close to mainstream.

It's far too easy to turn a specific criticism of an officer and incident into a general criticism of every police officer. Any politician, mayor, governor, etc is extremely cautious of making such a criticism, as an opponent will try to use it against him in the next campaign.

I have to agree with Brett that reviving the CCC would be a good thing. Certainly we have a lot of infrastructure work that is in dire need of being done.

Just two problems. The Republicans would refuse to spend the money, both on principle and on the grounds that government can never do anything constructive. The Democrats would refuse to agree to a program which would "take union jobs." So neither side would agree to it. Pity. We could use it.

i'll be the broken record...

we like violence.

we enjoy inflicting it and we enjoy watching it be inflicted. from our non-stop war-making and our ludicrously over-sized military, to our over-powered and trigger-happy local law enforcement, to the people who line up on the border dressed as soldiers so that they can be mete out vigilante justice, to the millions of people who sit in their dens fondly stroking their guns and waiting for the day that they can use them to kill an intruder or to Stand Their Ground against someone who looks at them funny. we relish the chance to bring pain to anyone who is wrong about something. our TV, movies, books and even many of our songs ("We'll put a boot in your ass, it's the American way", "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die", countless rap songs about guns, etc.), glorify violence and make the dishing-out of violent justice seem like a noble and honorable pursuit. we can't get enough reality TV shows and stuff like 'Maury' where we giggle at people who beat each other up over perceived slights.

and we panic when a nipple is shown in the middle of a violent sporting event.

the only time we don't like violence is when we're the target. and then we want to respond violently.

we are a violent and self-righteous society, and police are simply part of it. and on top of that, they get paid to be violent. and so they are.

how we got so violent i don't know. but it's not an inner city problem, it's a fundamental problem with America as a whole.

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