Monday, June 9, 2008

Anytown USA, circa 2040...

Following the demolition of inner city public housing projects, the murder rate has dropped in the now-gentrifying downtowns, only to soar in previously peaceful suburbs. In the new July / August 2008 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, a long article by Hanna Rosin (email her), "American Murder Mystery" (not yet online) explains why.

You can probably guess the reason. Yet, needless to say, The Experts never saw it coming. Rosin writes:

"Lately, though, a new and unexpected pattern has emerged, taking criminologists by surprise."

One of the most popular excuses on the center-right for the high black homicide rate (seven times the white rate, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics) is that it’s really the fault of the government for putting up housing projects in inner cities back in the post-WWII era.

Everybody now agrees now that piling up poor people in soulless modernist architecture was bad social engineering. Accordingly, ever since Bill Clinton signed in 1998 the $6.3 billion "Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere VI" (HOPE VI) bill, federal policy has been to fix all that through good social engineering.

Namely: Knock down the projects and give their residents Section 8 rent subsidy vouchers so that they will disperse into the suburbs. There they will, of course, through what Tamar Jacoby (who else?) in National Review (where else?) called "the great, slow, mysterious absorptive alchemy of assimilation," turn middle class, just like their white neighbors.

Just believe in the magic of the market, baby!

A few killjoys, though, have quietly suggested an alternative theory: while federal housing projects were a bad idea, their worst problem was neither their architecture nor their policies, but their residents.

After all, the Los Angeles area never had high-rise housing projects, and not even that many low-rise projects. Nonetheless, LA was home to the two most feared and emulated black gangs, the Bloods and the Crips. And LA was the site of two of the three most murderous race riots of the second half of the 20th Century. Indeed, in the Florence and Normandie neighborhood, where the 1992 South Central riot broke out, five out of every eight residences is owner-occupied, a higher-than-average rate for LA—typically a small but pleasant single-family home.

-the rest here

Yeah, it's a real mystery.

Lots of minorities = lots of crime.

Lots of Whites = very little crime.

more here.