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.
Section 8 already evicts felons or households with felons, doesn't it? Other than that, your characterization of all folks on the dole as being in league with criminals by buying drugs and giving them rooms is an argument weakener in my opinion, similar to that moment in a Michael Moore movie where he over-reaches and you mentally tune him out despite otherwise sound stuff
One of the things I've thought about a lot with regard to why certain areas of the city are nearly lawless and some aren't is a completely different contrast. I don't see it as a contrast of carrot and stick, I actually see it as a contrast between reachability at all and not.
What do I mean by that? I mean that there are two main types of societal justice procedure used in the world - legal-based (most of the West) and honor-based (mountainous regions of Pakistan, many muslim countries, Japan during feudal times etc).
The key difference is that a legalistic society believes that there is an honest broker of justice external to the participants in a given situation, and all participants will subordinate to that broker and accept rulings. In an honor-based society, no external source of justice is believed to be an honest broker, so all justice is done locally.
Everything I've seen about the areas of Oakland where crime is rampant make me believe that those areas have largely thrown off the notion that the largely legalistic thing most of Oakland and the Bay Area has going on simply can't reach them for good or bad, and they've gone honor-based with tribal justice.
So I'd take a step back from thinking about optimizing carrots and sticks at all and actually focus on simply impressing on folks that all forms of government actually do reach the area.
My only idea there is also not so much about community policing or not but really more about massive policing combined with outreach (similar to care not cash). A surge, if you will.
With a large enough mop, used in a consistent sustained way for long enough (half year? year?) it might be possible to really soak the whole mess up and get down to optimizations.
HAVING GROWN UP IN OAKLAND IN THE 50'S AND EARLY 60'S, I REMEMBER WHEN LAW BREAKERS WERE OSTRACIZED AND PUNISHED. WE DIDN'T LOCK OUR DOORS AT NIGHT AND WE COULD RIDE THE BUS AND WALK AROUND AT NIGHT WITH LITTLE WORRY.ReplyDelete
YOUR VIEW POINT IS INTERESTING. IT SHOULD BE TRIED. AS YOU POINT OUT, WHAT WE'VE BEEN DOING HASN'T WORKED. IT'S ONLY GOTTEN WORSE. AN OLD ADDAGE IS "YOU GET MORE OF WHAT YOU REWARD".
MAYBE WE SHOULD STOP THE "REWARD" FOR THE ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOR.
MY COUSIN GOT IN TROUBLE IN CALIFORNIA IN THE 50'S FOR PETTY CRIMES. AS HE TELLS IT, THE AUTHORITIES SLAPPED HIS WRISTS.
THEN HE GOT IN TROUBLE IN TEXAS. THEY DIDN'T SLAP HIS WRISTS. HE WENT TO JAIL AND HE HAD TO WORK IN JAIL. THE INMATES HAD TO GROW THEIR OWN FOOD AND SEW THEIR OWN CLOTHES. WHEN HE GOT OUT, HE MADE SURE HE NEVER GOT IN TROUBLE WITH THE LAW AGAIN.
THE TREATMENT IN TEXAS WAS A DETERRENT. THE TREATMENT IN CALIFORNIA WAS NOT.