On Crime, You Must Ask The Right Questions To Get Good Answers
Herman Cain was fond of saying that you need to ask “the Right Questions.” His point was simple. If you saw a car slammed into a tree, you didn’t worry about what color it was. You needed to be sure that the occupant(s) of the car had been extricated. Then you would go on to check for leaking gasoline and other ongoing hazards. After that, you could figure out why the crash happened. In short, you had to consider what was most important at the moment, and then proceed to other questions only as the more important ones were answered.
A classic example of failure to do this was Vice President Harris’s assertion that we had migrants crossing our southern border illegally because of climate change at home. If we assume that climate change is real and has bad effects, she might be right about it having some minor effect, but there won’t be any migrants who agree with her. They all risked their lives to find a better life in a freer country than they had at home. The Chief Cackler flunked the first rule by never asking any questions, much less the right ones.
A January 18 New York Times morning newsletter commits that same error. German Lopez’s article “explores why murders surged in the U.S.” He opens by reciting a statistic to set his premise: Murders in the U.S. in 2020 were up 27% over 2019. (Data for 2021 is incomplete as of this writing.) This is the largest percentage increase in at least six decades. That’s Yuuuge! …in the wrong direction...and it’s getting worse. What’s a mother to do?
The obvious question must be, “What changed in 2020?” If we’re listening to the drive-by media, the answer is simple: COVID. But what does COVID have to do with murder? Indeed!
COVID has clearly increased suicides but that’s not the same as murders. And the lockdowns in response to it have increased poverty by putting lower-paid people out of work. So that poverty must be the cause of the murders. Not!
One basic principle of scientific inquiry is to compare otherwise equal groups. If we see similar populations with different outcomes, we must ask what made the difference. With poor people in inner cities, for example, why did Oklahoma City see murders fall by 20.7% while Minneapolis saw a 72.3% rise?
Murders have not spiked everywhere. As Lopez notes, they are “felt unequally across the country.” But was the spike due to poverty in black communities? After all, blacks are victims more often than any other group.
But if being in a poor minority community leads to more murders, why isn’t this true in all poor minority communities? It must be racism! That must be why COVID caused major murder spikes only in black communities in the U.S. Similar murder spikes aren’t seen in other countries equally affected by the bug, so racism must be isolated to the US.
Lopez then glances across changes in policing. He accurately notes that murder spikes in 2015, 2016, and 2020 all coincided with anti-police protests. But the spikes in 2020 are dramatically larger, and the protests can’t account for that. After all, we didn’t see a lot of murders during the actual protests. But after them, the Ferguson Effect kept cops off some streets. But it only keeps them off the streets in locales with local governments that don’t actively support peace officers. Hmmm.
Then Lopez segues to the standard Leftist boogeyman: guns. He grabs an Atlantic article that claims that gun sales are responsible. This article digs deep into some gun trace data but misses the forest for the trees.
It cites 400,000 FBI gun traces in 2020, forgetting that 23 million guns were sold that year. That’s a total trace rate of 1.7%, assuming only newly purchased guns were used in crime. But there are over 400 million firearms in private hands in the US. That means the FBI was asked to trace 0.1% of all guns. But trace requests don’t tell you what effect purchases may have had on crime since most crime guns are stolen. So, Lopez moves to Harvard studies that supposedly prove an increase in guns means an increase in crime.
Had Lopez bothered to do his basic research task, he would have discovered that, as Americans buy more guns, they use them less in crime. In fact, gun crime decreased by 28% from 2019 to 2020. This has been true for a number of years as detailed by John Lott. That means that the spike in murders has nothing to do with lawful gun ownership.
Lopez failed to ask the right questions. He started to get close with his comments about anti-police sentiment. In jurisdictions where the police remain on the street and are backed up by District Attorneys who will prosecute criminals, we don’t see growing piles of pine boxes. There’s more blood on the sidewalk in cities where we have Soros-backed DAs who refuse to prosecute crimes. “You didn’t steal over $950, so you get a pass.” “You committed your third felony in a week? No bail! See you in Court in a year.” And so on. Is it any mystery why we have so many murders?
The major murder centers are all Democrat-run cities that have been Democrat-run for decades. They are so woke that criminals are somehow victims. DAs will happily prosecute the men in blue for using any form of physical force to make an arrest but ignore violent career criminals. This is all done in the name of “social justice,” a term that makes a mockery of real justice.
Rudy Giuliani proved that “broken windows policing” works. When you vigorously prosecute small crimes, those criminals don’t do bigger crimes. Under his leadership, New York became a safe city. But when Comrade de Blasio did the opposite, he got a predictable 39.2% increase in murders in 2020.
It’s no surprise that there are long lines for U-Haul trucks in New York and California. People universally want two things: Safety and Opportunity. Those don’t exist in Woke-Topia.
The hundreds of thousands who have left just those two states don’t need to do research. They don’t even need to ask the right questions because it’s spread out right in front of them. Leftists think they aren’t getting their message out, but we’re actually getting it loud and clear. Their messengers carry guns, knives, and bludgeons, but they aren’t wearing blue.
Americans are tired of being victims. We’re voting with our feet, our money and, in November, with our in-person ballots. Maybe then the Left will get our message.
Ted Noel MD is a retired Anesthesiologist/Intensivist who podcasts and posts on social media as DoctorTed and @vidzette. His DoctorTed podcasts are available on iHeart, Stitcher, Pandora and other channels.