Thursday, January 12, 2012

An interesting article for what it didn't say...

Hello Friends;

  I read an interesting article on Yahoo today.   Despite the title, it appears that the main thrust of the article was not that the murder rate was falling in such great degrees so much as that the degree to which it impacts the total number of deaths per year has changed.  Specifically, health related issues are increasingly more apt to kill us off than we are ourselves. 
  I went in search of some information, and found the this graph.  It gave me some historical data, appearing to end around 2009 or so.  From what I understand, the problem with statistics on things like murder is that they first need a conviction before they can be determined to be a, that pushes the numbers back a couple years.
  So, if you read the article I linked, you would see that they didn't really indicate that the rate has fallen for murder, but that other things are becoming more dangerous to the human population than other humans.
  I can't help but to wonder what other factors influenced the murder rates.  If we had information regarding drug use/abuse/traffic, if we had information regarding mental health, or even economic indicators.  Whatever the reasons, it would seem quite clear that total crime peaked in the early 90's, and then sharply fell.  This is across the board - except for the issues of rape and murder which seem to run generally even despite a small rise, which I found statistically interesting.  Why?  Well, it would seem that they don't respond to the same influences as most other crimes, and further that they aren't statistically controlled by some of the "tough on crime" policies that MAY be influencing the other crimes. 
  If we were to look at the increase in prison populations, we would perhaps see a correlation between the rise in population and the fall of general crimes.  A presumption would be that indicated a recidivism issue.  And even yet with that information, we see that the murder and rape numbers are relatively unchanged.  I read such an article regarding the increase in prison population here:   It was an addendum to the first article.

  So, why are these issues important?  Well, a couple of reasons, really.  And, there are some foggy ties here, so bear with me.  First, I thought about the increasing age median of the population, indicating that not only are more people closer to the retirement age than the employment age, but that those who are retired are living longer.  This increases the costs associated with care while decreasing the number of people able to contribute tax dollars.  Further, young people are finding it difficult to find work.  Our population has increased, but many of the high paying jobs of the 20th century are now in the developing countries.  The shift towards information technology is great, but the ability of technology to handle much of that itself is deteriorating the job market. 
  A second interesting fact is that the prison population has grown so dramatically.  Policies in my state have changed the way the prisons go about garnering their supplies; where once the prisoners planted crops and cared for live stock, made their furniture and even provided some degree of outside sourcing, the new policies have the near total majority of supplies coming from vendors.  So, as the population increases to astronomical amounts, creating greater and greater drain on the tax dollars, economy, and other resources, the laws that put these men there for increasing amounts of time are actually exacerbating the problem.  Is it effective in lowering recidivistic crime?  Perhaps.  But, perhaps as the economy worsens, as more and more are unable to feed their families and have the nice things they want, perhaps the less scrupulous manners of getting those things will again rise?  Who knows.
  This is all to say, I guess, that we need to look toward our future.  We are wasting greater and greater of our resources for little return and our expected costs are going to increase out of proportion to our sources for revenue.  What can our leaders do to answer this?