Do you remember Billy Joel’s old friend, the one he sang about in the late 1970s? The guy who “closed the store, sold the house, bought a ticket to the west coast”? Well, there’s a good chance he doesn’t live there anymore.
The Census Bureau announced last month that California had followed the lead of New York and Illinois in terms of lackluster population growth and would thus lose a Congressional seat in decennial distributions for the first time. Meanwhile, states like Texas and Florida have experienced strong population growth and will increase the size of their delegations in Washington.
These demographic trends predate Covid-19. Texases and Floridas have long exhibited lower taxes and better job growth than Californias and New Yorks, as well as more welcoming business climates. The pandemic could accelerate these demographic shifts from blue states to red states, or from urban to rural areas as more people work remotely, but don’t underestimate the degree to which social factors could also play a significant role in the disease. choice of residence for Americans.
The great blue states are not just tax train wrecks, but often lead the country in fashionable thinking about crime and security. The levels of vagrancy in progressive redoubts like New York and San Francisco have reached levels too high to ignore. In Frisco, which is led by liberals who like to lecture the country on the treatment of low-income minorities, the homeless population is 18,000 people, more than a third of whom are black.
In New York City, shootings and homicides increased 97% and 44%, respectively, in 2020, and criminal assaults increased 25% this year. Still, seven of eight contenders for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Democratic primary have pledged to cut police budgets or prosecute fewer suspects – or a combination of the two. On Sunday, the New York Times endorsed Kathryn Garcia, a former commissioner of the Department of Sanitation, for the post of mayor. According to the newspaper, Garcia will tackle the city’s crime wave by “reforming the New York Police Department” which “starts by speeding up and strengthening the disciplinary process” for officers.
The idea that crime is ultimately the fault of law enforcement (not criminals) may shock most people, but it has become an article of faith among liberals who believe that fewer cops and lawsuits are the key to safer communities. Progressive Philadelphia Attorney Larry Krasner has been in office since 2017. According to a Analysis Crime data in City Journal by Thomas Hogan, a former federal prosecutor, Philadelphia is currently “on track to set two city records: lowest number of felony prosecutions in modern history and highest number of homicides.
Baltimore began withdrawing law enforcement funding and turning a blind eye to criminal behavior ten years ago, and since then, nearly 3000 of its inhabitants were murdered. It doesn’t matter. In March, the city’s chief prosecutor announced that “the era of ‘tough on crime’ prosecutors is over” and that his office will no longer prosecute so-called petty offenses. This year, Baltimore’s homicide rate, which is 10 times the national average, has increased by more than 17%.
Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón has gone so far as to say the social sciences support lighter sentences as a way to reduce recidivism. Longer sentences increase the rate at which criminals commit more crimes after being released, Gascón said. His office has imposed shorter sentences on offenders in the name of public safety. “We are doing all of this because the science and the data tell us,” he said in March.
Again a new working document by the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation questions whether progressives “follow the science.” Written by criminologist Elizabeth Berger and jurist Kent Scheidegger, the article examines a large body of published research on the link between harsher sentences and recidivism and concludes that most studies find no effect or a slight reduction in pain. recidivism.
“Although evidence-based politics have gained some acceptance on the ground, policies like Gascón’s. . . are too often based on selectively cited research rather than the full scope of the research as a whole, ”the authors explain. “The US criminal justice system has a long history of rapidly implementing sweeping political changes without fully considering the potential effects, often resulting in damaging consequences that are difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.
We watch this history repeat itself as progressives try to persuade us that police and prosecutors are a bigger problem than crime and that deterrence does not work. Average Americans are too smart to buy into this, or to allow themselves and their families to be used as guinea pigs in these criminal justice “reform” experiments. And they vote with their feet.
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Published in the print edition of May 19, 2021.