Wednesday, August 13, 2014
A recent decision by Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) government to strengthen the nation’s criminal code has re-awakened the debate over the role of deterrence in reducing crime.
Much of the commentary surrounding the proposed changes has focused on the reinstatement of the death penalty. But PNG’s parliament is also considering a range of harsher measures including life imprisonment for rape, 50 years for drug cultivation, 30 years for armed robbery, 20 years for illegal brewing, and the criminalisation of sorcery.
The rationale behind imposing harsher sanctions for convicted offenders is relatively straightforward and appears to be popular among the citizens of PNG. The theory is that PNG’s young men, who are responsible for much of the high crime rate, will assess the harsher penalties and conclude that their actions are not worth the risk.
|(The Press of Atlantic City / Ben Fogletto)|
Last week a state judge refused to dismiss the resulting charges against Allen, a single mother of two with no criminal record, or to order that prosecutors approve her participation in a pretrial diversion program. Her trial, scheduled for October 6, will pit New Jersey’s draconian gun laws against compassion and common sense.
Source: Reason Magazine. Read full article.
Sunday, August 10, 2014
Mayor de Blasio’s recently released affordable housing plan is extensive and forward thinking – but also extremely expensive. The 200,000 units it envisions are estimated to cost $41 billion, of which $8 billion will come from City coffers.
We could reach the same goal without such astronomical spending. In fact, the City could do it without spending a single dollar from its budget.
To accomplish this feat, we need to harness the power of the market. Here is a five-point plan for how we can do so to create a housing plan that serves all New Yorkers:
First, we must put to use the vast sums of funding in the capital markets to build mixed-income housing and provide for low-income households through a partnership between the public and private spheres. This funding can help generate more housing in a cost-effective way.
Source: Gotham Gazzette. Read full article.
A lot has been written about Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article in The Atlantic on reparations, but there haven’t been many coherent critiques. Coates made criticism pretty difficult first of all by producing what may be the best magazine length work on race in America that anyone has ever written. But he also introduced a sort of rhetorical sleight of hand that made it difficult to respond to his central thesis.
Coates didn’t get bogged down endorsing any potential program of reparations. He merely laid out the moral case. Most critiques have foundered by taking his bait, focusing on the practical impossibility of delivering reparations and missing the real power of Coates argument. Along the way, almost everyone who tried to take him on fell into some version of the “it wasn’t so bad” trap.
When in trouble, look to a nerd.
In order for conservatism to establish a foothold in inner cities, people on the political right need to do a better job of arguing why conservative policies are beneficial to the lives of ethnic minorities who dwell in these areas. Liberals have appalling policies that have caused devastation in America’s cities for several decades, but—at the very least—they have solidly presented the image that they care about the interests of ethnic minorities. More than anything else, politics is about optics. If a political party or movement has poor optics, policy ideas turn into nugatory thought exercises.
I have previously pointed out the wrongheadedness of stop-and-frisk and how such a policy has absolutely no basis in an authentic conservative approach to crime. Aside from the fact that the policy is objectively uneconomical, no serious conservative believes that a fundamentally good approach to law enforcement includes the animalistic treatment of young black and brown males. Unmistakably, stop-and-frisk is based on a policing practice of compulsory suspicion towards young American males who have darker skin pigmentation. Interestingly, adherents of mainstream conservatism relentlessly use the language of cutting the size of government. Curiously, however, their intense desire to minimize the size and scope of government seems to elide very important issues such as stop-and-frisk. Minorities notice this deviousness and hypocrisy, and it harms the image of conservatism. Yes, conservatives believe in policing. One can even argue that serious conservatives believe in robust policing. However, solution-oriented conservatives do not believe in dressing up state terrorism in uniform and calling it policing.
Before conservatives can start talking about effective economic policies—such as enterprise zones that incentivize the building of businesses in certain economically deprived areas by offering tax credits—they must first disavow heinous public policies that have become popular on the right. Such policies present the image that members of the political right have serious difficulty acknowledging, much less respecting, the humanity of black and brown males. Any discussion about market-based economic policies in an environment where stop-and-frisk is endorsed will never be welcomed—no matter how potentially efficacious those policies are. Many often neglect to consider how perceptions about race and urban development policy intersect.