13 December 2005

Supervisor Dingbat To The Rescue

While murder rates and crime rates in general are heading down in most American cities, they're rocketing upward in the Bay Area, especially in the "cool grey city of love," San Francisco.

Never fear, though; here's Supervisor Chris "Dingbat" Daly to the rescue: what the city needs, he's decided, is to blow another $20 million it doesn't have on a Homicde Prevention Plan. What exactly does this plan entail? Well, it's not actually a "plan," per se; the money will be spent on a "council" which will in turn create a "plan" which will be ready for study in only one short year. So if you're afraid to let your kids play outside of your lovely multi-million dollar Frisco slum hovel, relax; by November 2006, the city will be carefully studying suggestions on what to do about it.

And just in case you're concerned that the city's not showing sufficient commitment, Supervisor Dingbat's proposal also requires the expenditure of an additional $20 million every year until 2011 on "anti-violence funding." With all that money devoted to the cause, you'd expect Frisco to be a virtual oasis of peace, love and good vibes in no time at all. Unfortunately, there's nothing about the "anti-violence" plan that the city hasn't already been trying for decades: it assumes that gangbangers who routinely shoot each other and anyone else unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity will see the error of their ways and become good citizens if we only offer them more job training and education.

Hey, education's a wonderful thing, and I've always been in favour of it (well, except possibly when I was being forced to go to school and do homework myself), but someone prepared to gun down another human being because "he disrespected me, man" might be a little too far gone to benefit from these popular liberal nostrums. And it seems that even Supervisor Dingbat recognises that bankruptcy of his "plan" because he's also setting aside money to "create a survivors’ advocate and a survivors’ fund, which would be used to help family members of murder victims with burial costs, counselling costs and other expenses." In other words, don't expect us to stop your loved ones getting murdered, but hey, cheer up, at least we'll help you bury them.

One could, of course, skip this massive squandering of public funds and simply learn from the experiences of other cities that have had enormous success in cutting crime and murder rates. New York City, for example, has cut its murder rate by 75% during the past ten years, and it's continuing to fall while San Francisco's is climbing. You're now nearly twice as likely to get murdered in Frisco as in the once-dangerous Big Apple.

But suggest the application of what worked in New York - essentially cracking down hard on aggressive and anti-social behaviour - to your typical Frisco lib, and you'll get horrified looks, hand wringing, and, "Oh no, we wouldn't want to be like those horrible, mean New York people."

Well, look at it this way: nearly two thirds of San Francisco's murder victims are black (in a city that is only 10% black), most of them from poor neighbourhoods or housing projects. Similar figures held true in New York, so one can reasonably calculate that between 1995 and 2005, New York's get-tough policy saved at least 5,000 lives, of which over 3,000 can be presumed to have been black. Then tell me where the true compassion lies.


drydock said...

Oh Larry-- Homicide rates dropped throughout cities in America regardless of whether they had Guiliani or a liberal as mayor. So your point that 3,000 blacks were saved is fallacious. This probably had a lot to do with the decline of the crack epidemic and a shift in age demographics.

Larry Livermore said...

It's correct that homicide rates dropped in most places throughout America during the period in question, but almost nowhere did they drop as dramatically (from nearly 2,000 annually to less than 600) as in New York. More to the point, murder is continuing to decline in New York while rising sharply in San Francisco; based on trends so far in 2005, you're nearly twice as likely to get murdered in San Francisco as in New York. Similar trends hold true with regard to most other crimes.

Also, the main reason I pointed out that so many black lives had been saved by declining murder rates was to counter the frequent criticism that New York's strict enforcement of the law was somehow racist or oppressive to African-Americans. Today in New York African-Americans live in neighbourhoods that are demonstrably safer and more pleasant than their counterparts in San Francisco. Since the two cities have dramatically different approaches to crime and law enforcement, I don't think it's unfair to compare the results.