The past couple days I've been considering the question I posed in the previous posting, about what Oakland can do to change the nature of its killing fields.
Incidentally, I'm surprised at the poor response to the question. I have statistics which tell me between 30 and 100 people read each post on my blog. For the most part, those who comment are on my side of the fence on these issues. But I know many of you must disagree with me. I'd like to hear from you!
In any event, I do think the fundamental problem facing Oakland is our leaders' notion that they can somehow "fix" what's wrong with our antisocial populations. Much as with the affordable housing debate, they take the position that these people have "nowhere else to go."
So, the solution is to make Oakland as friendly a spot as possible, offering any number of inducements and encouragements to get people to fly straight. In this regard, Oakland has chosen the "carrot" rather than the "stick."
This is not to suggest that there is no stick involved. I think most liberals would view the inevitable incarceration which awaits our antisocial bretheren as a strong stick, discouraging them from misbehaving. But if we have learned anything in the past 20 years, it is that sticking people in prisons does little. Many have grown to tolerate prison quite well, viewing it as a normal part of life.
I believe Oakland must change both its "carrot" and "stick" approaches to the problem. But first, we must accept that part of the solution is to encourage these people to leave our city. The simple fact that some have nowhere else to go may encourage them to change their ways. If not, perhaps they will go elsewhere, alleviating the depth of Oakland's burden.
On the "carrot" side of things, I have never fully understood why living in the most prosperous land on Earth is not a sufficient carrot for anyone. In many countries, thugs such as those in Oakland would have no food, or perhaps no hands and feet, or they might be dead to a firing squad. They might simply live in a country where there is no opportunity for work or advancement.
We must cut social spending on those who commit crimes. And I would suggest we should cut spending even on those who do not, as those are the people who feed the thugs by buying drugs and offering them shelter.
At the same time, I propose we use the "stick" of indifference and outcasting. We spend altogether too much time worrying about the needs and wants of this narrow set of hoodlums. Instead, we should enact statutes which prohibit even their most basic behaviors -- loitering on street corners, truancy, petty crime, etc. We should make no effort at rehabilitation. Instead, we should simply round them up, isolate them and show them the same indifference they show to society.
In many ways, this mirrors the "broken windows" methodology employed in New York. This strategy is effective because it does not cater to the criminal element. It simply removes those who mean harm and moves on.
Our stick should not be "community policing." It should be nearly the exact opposite.
The goal is to improve our city and to end the killing. Nearly everything we have done to date has only served to exacerbate the problem. I believe this is because, at core, we want to humanize and "help" the offenders.
This must stop. It is time to treat them in the same manner they treat society. It's time to run these people out of town, one way or another.