“Race is not an issue,” Mike replied. “Third World countries like Haiti loot due to poverty. Japan is like America, an economic superpower. Plain and simple.”
“Poverty equals crime” is the standard “plain and simple” explanation, especially to the left. The analysis contains holes big enough to drive a Hummer through.
In the “economic superpower” called America, we see widespread looting following natural disasters, as well as during power blackouts, “civil unrest” and basketball team victory celebrations. If we attribute this to American poverty, what about Japanese poverty?
“Japan Tries to Face Up to Growing Poverty Problem,” read the headline of a 2010 New York Times article. Here are excerpts:
“After years of economic stagnation and widening income disparities, this once proudly egalitarian nation is belatedly waking up to the fact that it has a large and growing number of poor people. The Labor Ministry’s disclosure in October that almost one in six Japanese, or 20 million people, lived in poverty in 2007 stunned the nation and ignited a debate over possible remedies that has raged ever since.
“Many Japanese, who cling to the popular myth that their nation is uniformly middle class, were further shocked to see that Japan’s poverty rate, at 15.7 percent, was close to the … 17.1 percent in the United States, whose glaring social inequalities have long been viewed with scorn and pity here. …
“Following an internationally recognized formula, the (Labor Ministry) set the poverty line at about $22,000 a year for a family of four, half of Japan’s median household income. Researchers estimate that Japan’s poverty rate has doubled since the nation’s real estate and stock markets collapsed in the early 1990s, ushering in two decades of income stagnation and even decline.”
If Japan’s percentage of people living below the poverty line is about the same as ours, and if poverty causes crime, as Mike suggests, why isn’t the crime rate in Japan about the same as ours?
San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1960s became one of the most impoverished areas in California. Public policy professors James Q. Wilson and Richard Hernstein wrote: “One neighborhood in San Francisco had the lowest income, the highest unemployment rate, the highest proportion of families with incomes under $4,000 per year, the least educational attainment, the highest tuberculosis rate and the highest proportion of substandard housing. … That neighborhood was called Chinatown. Yet, in 1965, there were only five persons of Chinese ancestry committed to prison in the entire state of California.”
Two low-income areas outside of Boston – South Boston and Roxbury – were featured several years ago in U.S. News & World Report. They had similar socio-economic profiles: high levels of unemployment; the same percentage of children born to single-parent households; and the same percentage of people living in public housing. But the violent crime rate in Roxbury, predominately black, was four times higher than that of South Boston, predominately white.
Locust: Finally a black male who I can agree with, a flying penguin of sorts.