Black Lives Matter II. The Ferguson Effect


A recent post, “Black Lives Matter,” discusses the perhaps surprising fact, that the black-white life expectancy gap has been decreasing in recent years.  One aspect of this trend is that the death rate by homicide for blacks has been falling faster than it has been for whites. This may be about to change.
As recently reported by Heather MacDonald in the Wall Street Journal, “The Nationwide Crime Wave Is Building,” since Michael Brown was shot and killed by a policeman in Ferguson MO in August 2014, cops are disengaging from discretionary enforcement activity especially in big cities.
Capture4This “Ferguson Effect” is likely responsible for rising violence in urban areas.  For example:

  • Homicides increased 9% in the largest 63 cities in the first quarter of 2016.
  • These increases are on top of last year’s 17% rise in homicides in the 56 biggest U.S. cities, with heavily black cities showing murder spikes above 60%.
  • A study of gun violence in Baltimore showed an inverse correlation with proactive drug arrests. When Baltimore cops virtually stopped making drug arrests last year after the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, shootings soared.
  • In Chicago, where pedestrian stops have fallen nearly 90%, homicides this year are up 60% compared with the same period last year.

As Ms. MacDonald notes, “If a powerful segment of society sends the message that proactive policing is bigoted, the cops will eventually do less of it. Ultimately, denial of the Ferguson effect is driven by a refusal to acknowledge the connection between proactive policing and public safety.”
Conclusion: If “Black Lives Matter” is going to be more than a slogan, it has to be tied in with sensible policies to reduce violent crime.  Demonizing law enforcement is exactly the wrong way to make things better.

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Freedom and Equality


The Wall Street Journal published its first issue on July 8, 1889 and today it is appropriately celebrating its 125th anniversary.  The lead editorial refers to its consistent editorial policy over the years as well as admitting several mistakes along the way. “These columns emphasize liberty, but on occasion those who prize equality can provide a necessary corrective.  The best example is the civil rights movement … Yet those who promote freedom typically do better by equality than the progressives who elevate equality do by freedom.”
CaptureToday’s WSJ Op Ed page is devoted to “Ideas for Renewing American Prosperity” provided by many different luminaries (who were asked to propose one change in American policy, society or culture to revive prosperity and self-confidence), such as:

  • George Shultz, Return to Constitutional Government, meaning that “the president governs through people who are confirmed by the Senate and can be called upon to testify by the House or the Senate at any time. They are accountable people,” as opposed to unaccountable White House aids.
  • Heather MacDonald, Encourage Two-Parent Families. “Children raised by single mothers fail in school and commit crime at much higher rates than children raised by both parents. Single-parent households are far more likely to be poor and dependent on government assistance. But far more consequential is the cultural pathology of regarding fathers as an optional appendage for child rearing.”
  • George Gilder, Listen to Peter Drucker on Regulations. “At least half the bureaus and agencies in government regulate what no longer needs regulation.” We need “a new principle of effective administration under which every act, every agency, and every program of government is conceived as temporary and as expiring automatically after a fixed number of years.”
  • Sheila Bair, Find a Better Way to Tax the Rich. “By eliminating corporate income taxes, we would ease pressure on U.S. wages, bring back jobs and repatriate an estimated $2 trillion in profits stashed elsewhere. … It would be smarter to tax corporate profits once, at the shareholder level, and apply the same, higher rates to capital gains and dividends that apply to us working stiffs.”

These sentiments are really just non-ideological common sense.  They might seem to be overly idealistic but are, nevertheless, quite doable if enough of our national leaders would just make them a priority.  This is why we so badly need independent-minded non-partisans in national office!