For years beyond the realm of common good sense the argument has raged as to the root cause of spikes in crime rates in the United States. Right wing extremists will argue that the poor are just too lazy to obtain good paying jobs, conveniently leaving out the fact that the supply of jobs available have been shipped overseas by their very own right wing corporations.
Point after counterpoint are made as to the reasons, but the inescapable conclusion is that when the economy is in the dumpster, the first people in this country to get the proverbial shaft are the poor. Evidenced by the recent rebate check scam pulled off by the Bush administration, the forgotten by the media tidbit that raised howls of outcry from human rights groups and aid workers across the land was the insistence by the right wingers in Congress that the provision for a raise in food stamps to offset high food costs be dropped from the 'stimulus' package. Let them eat cake cried the most fiscally irresponsible conservatives in the history of this country, and so, that's exactly what many a poor family must resort to. But yet, when the Democrats tried to cut the corporate welfare given to industries such as the Big Oil companies, the Republicans cried out in protest, and along with traitor Lieberman, filibustered any and all votes of the kind.
Without even considering the correlation between extreme poverty and higher crime rates, the fiddlers of a burning nation happily danced away into the night while their hungry neighbors seethed with rage inside. No words of compassion came forth from either party after the recent murder filled weekend in Chicago, where 40, that's right, 40 killings happened between Friday and Sunday. Almost all of the crimes were committed by poor people, but the 'experts' will say one has nothing to do with the other.
You'll hear arguments of a lack of parental guidance or just sheer jealousy by the poor of the rich as to the real reasons why crimes are committed by the poor. But the ones who make these arguments are naive at best and right wing shills at worst. Several studies put the entire affair to the test and should leave no doubt as to the true cause of rising crime rates across the country.
The Kirwan Institute did an exhaustive study in their own area to try to comprehend the high crime rates around the Ohio State campus. They found that high concentrated poverty and economic segregation along with urban sprawl and lopsided wealth distribution had created what they termed 'a perfect storm'. They found that in a neighborhood that has a 40% poverty rate, health deteriorates, crime rates shoot sky high, employment opportunities disappear, housing and food become unattainable, and even education suffers.
McClatchy Newspapers released a report in March that showed those in extreme and dire poverty in the U.S. have risen to a 32 year high. Defined as people living at half or below the federal poverty level, the report shows also that more than 60% of all of the prisoners in the United States fall into this category. So poor that they had to weigh the choice between committing a crime in order to survive or just laying down and dying as the extremists would prefer they do, those with the least among us turn to crime in order to feed their families, find a home to live in, and just have the basic necessities to survive.
Heading out west, a 2004 report prepared for the city of Tucson, Arizona by a private firm called the Economic Research Associates and entitled Area Master Plan Market Conditions Report outlined in detail the areas of the city that were well off and the development that could occur there that would be profitable, but in bold lettering, also showed the poorer areas of the city, showing how unprofitable it would be to develop anything in those areas due to the high crime rates. Rich area, low or no crime. Poor areas, don't even think about building or developing there. And that's exactly what happened. Areas in the suburbs were built up with new shopping malls and fancy condos, while the poor areas of the city itself were left to decay and to rot. Guess what? The crime rates are still rising today.
This cancer within our nation will not just go away because some idiot in the White House declares that we need 100,000 more cops on the street. We are already the Prison Nation of the world, with the highest percentage of any of the world's citizens behind bars. In order to reduce crime rates, the problem must first be recognized for what it is. An economic tragedy, wherein the top 10% of the country owns 90 % of all the wealth. If we took just some of the subsidies that we pay the oil and gas companies and used it to create good paying jobs in America, ones with health benefits, the crime rates would ease considerably.
The proof of good paying jobs with future opportunities causing a decrease in crime can be evidenced by a study done in Seattle by the U.S. Department of Justice that showed in areas that the city of Seattle designated as high crime, and turned out good paying jobs for the residents of that area, the crime rates fell dramatically. Targeting the poor for jobs in construction, road building, bridge repairs, and other than menial work gave the people in those areas an incentive to show up for work, and perform their best at their respective positions. The same people who were hanging out behind the convenience stores, drinking beer, and robbing people or breaking into businesses, now became productive members of society. The Justice Department of the United States concludes that poverty causes crime, and that the solution is good paying jobs.
So the next time you hear someone complaining about how the poor are such a burden on America, remind them that if the rich weren't stealing all of the country's wealth, sending it to offshore bank accounts, and shipping all of our jobs overseas, maybe there wouldn't be so much poverty. The next time you feel inclined to spout off about the poor being lazy and not wanting to work, ask yourself if you'd like to work at a minimum wage job with no benefits and no chance for advancement. Ask yourself as you go to spend that rebate check at the grocery store, whether or not the government should have helped the poor with some food stamps instead.
And finally ask yourself who you are going to write to, insisting that this nation place heavy penalties on corporations who claim to be American companies, pay no taxes but collect corporate welfare to the tune of untold billions of taxpayer dollars per year, and ship all of our jobs overseas. We the People need to cut this cancer out from within our nation, because the surgeons we have elected to do just that have shaky hands, and are slicing the country apart.