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The Gator

If America is so great, why do we have so many bad people?

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There seems to be two recurring themes I hear, whenever anyone talks about their conservative friends, and what they think:

1.  The first is, how great America is;

2.  The second is. we just have to get rid of the "bad" people.

 

I don't understand how both can be true.  But lets assume, for the sake of argument, that America is the greatest.  Why does the greatest country in the world have a disproportionate number of "bad" people?

We have one of the highest incarceration rates in the world.

US - 737 per 100,000
Russia - 615
Ukraine - 350
Mexico - 196 - despite all the bad hombres
England - 148
Spain - 144
China - 118
Italy - 104
Germany - 94
France - 85
Japan - 62

 

We have been locking "bad" people up for decades, just like people want to do.  And, yet. we keep finding more bad people to lock up.  Its almost like the solution of getting rid of bad people is not really addressing anything, let alone the "problem".

So, that begs the question - statistically, you would expect the number of bad guys in the United States to be on par with the rest of the world - and perhaps, given the status of "Greatest" country - you would expect a lower incarceration rate - yet, here we are as the outlier. 

Why do we have so many bad people - this is not a rhetorical, or a silly question - if we are to improve as a society, we have got to get a handle on why we have so many bad people, who are willing to risk their life, limb and freedom instead of basking in the glory of the greatest country in the world?  What makes people do that, and why so many?

 

Similarly - if you look at the rate of Police killings (we are much better than places like Venezuela):

US - 28 per 10M
England - 0.5
Canada - 9
France.- 3.8
Germany - 1.3
Japan - 0.2

Now, you can look at police killings as either a bad cop killing a person, or a good cop killing a bad person - either way, it means the United States has a statistically improbable number of bad actors.

 

My hypothesis is not that we have an unusually disproportionate number of bad people living in this country.  I don't think we a spawning bad people.  I think the question that deserves serious consideration (and not the expected eye-rolling) is: What are we doing as a society to create an environment where so many people are "bad"?

Do we need a different definition of "bad"? 

Do we need to identify and address the underlying issues?

This idea that we can clean up our little corner of the world by locking up the bad guys, and firing the bad guys in the police, is dangerously naive.  It might even be worse than doing nothing  We have been doing that for decades - and we are not improving.  Its time to stop pretending that we can solve problems by focusing on the symptoms, and not trying to identify the root causes.

I don't know what the root causes are - but, I can say with certainty, there is an underlying cause(s) that has created the rot from within.  There is no plausible explanation that we just randomly have so many bad people. 

If we really want to be the greatest country in the world - we have to dig, and find the uncomfortable answers, and make the necessary systemic changes.  That is hard.  But great countries find a way to get it done.

If anyone tells you its just a few bad apples, they are not paying attention to the rotting apple tree in their backyard.

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Part of our greatness is our freedom. Part of freedom is the freedom to be stupid and stubborn about it. 

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I disagree completely - you hear more about bad people than good because that’s what people want to talk about.  

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And your incarceration numbers don’t mean much to me when we still lock up people for petty drug offenses.  Can we get a breakdown of offense type per M?  That would be a better indication of where we stand compared with other countries.

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But to play along I’d venture a wild guess that our severe wealth inequality has more to do with both of those stats than our number of bad people being more.

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1 minute ago, AAABatteries said:

And your incarceration numbers don’t mean much to me when we still lock up people for petty drug offenses.  Can we get a breakdown of offense type per M?  That would be a better indication of where we stand compared with other countries.

I don't disagree.

 

But, I think our conservative friends might suggest that until those changes take place - people who break the law are bad.

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Just now, The Gator said:

I don't disagree.

 

But, I think our conservative friends might suggest that until those changes take place - people who break the law are bad.

Maybe - but we all break laws - we need a list of the ones that are so bad that it makes you a bad person to break it.

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1 minute ago, AAABatteries said:

But to play along I’d venture a wild guess that our severe wealth inequality has more to do with both of those stats than our number of bad people being more.

The greater point is simply - locking people up is not solving the issue of "crime".

We keep locking people up.

And we keep seeing crime.

Firing bad cops will not "solve" the policing problem, any more than locking people up solves the crime problem.

Nobody wants to ask the hard question - Why? and then, How do we fix the why?

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Just now, AAABatteries said:

Maybe - but we all break laws - we need a list of the ones that are so bad that it makes you a bad person to break it.

Again - you don't want me to be the judge of who is bad (I would be a bad judge!).

This is more for the people who think we can solve problems superficially - when, by any reasonable definition, is hasn't worked.

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3 minutes ago, The Gator said:

The greater point is simply - locking people up is not solving the issue of "crime".

We keep locking people up.

And we keep seeing crime.

Firing bad cops will not "solve" the policing problem, any more than locking people up solves the crime problem.

Nobody wants to ask the hard question - Why? and then, How do we fix the why?

Not sure I completely follow you but assuming I do then my answer was already given.  Severe wealth inequality is the why and the how to fix is pretty simple but I’ll be accused of being a socialist or a communist if I suggest it.

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9 minutes ago, AAABatteries said:

I disagree completely - you hear more about bad people than good because that’s what people want to talk about.  

This is also a bit of non-sequitur - its not about the raw numbers of bad people.  There are obviously more good people than bad - by a huge margin.

But the question is why are the more "bad" people, proportionately, in the greatest country in the world - than in other comparable countries - that largely enjoy the same freedoms.

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1 minute ago, AAABatteries said:

Not sure I completely follow you but assuming I do then my answer was already given.  Severe wealth inequality is the why and the how to fix is pretty simple but I’ll be accused of being a socialist or a communist if I suggest it.

Chicken

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People with nothing to lose probably are more willing to commit crimes and go to jail - not that difficult, IMO.  Makes it even worse when we jail them for petty offenses because of their lack of wealth or other for more nefarious reasons.

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1 minute ago, AAABatteries said:

People with nothing to lose probably are more willing to commit crimes and go to jail - not that difficult, IMO.  Makes it even worse when we jail them for petty offenses because of their lack of wealth or other for more nefarious reasons.

If we are going strive to find the "more perfect union" we have to solve that issue.  We have to understand what we are doing to create the environment to leads to more crime/bad people.

 

I hear far too many people say:

"We don't have a systemic problem, we just have to get rid of the few bad apples."

 

And, that, is fundamentally part of the problem - because we have been constantly getting rid of the bad apples for decades, and we are still not addressing why they went bad in the first place, and so we are in a never-ending loop of "Its just a few bad apples!"

 

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28 minutes ago, The Gator said:

There seems to be two recurring themes I hear, whenever anyone talks about their conservative friends, and what they think:

1.  The first is, how great America is;

2.  The second is. we just have to get rid of the "bad" people.

[clipped]

I don't understand how both can be true. 

If anyone tells you its just a few bad apples, they are not paying attention to the rotting apple tree in their backyard.

A couple of quick points.

1. I have quite a few Conservative friends. They rarely talk about how great America is. If anything, they seem to talk more about things they are disappointed with in America. And I can't remember  "getting rid of the 'bad' people" ever being a thing with them. I did mention I have some friends who had expressed desire to get rid of police officers who were bad. Not sure if that's what you meant. 

2. It's fine to start a thread that's a statement like you did here. But it works better if you don't pretend it's a question.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, The Gator said:

There seems to be two recurring themes I hear, whenever anyone talks about their conservative friends, and what they think:

If you established some "conservative friends" I think you would learn a lot.  Frankly I think you need to define conservative given many on this forum classify themselves as having some specific conservative beliefs, they just hate Trump (which by the way is perfectly reasonable IMO).  I'd like to see the responses from those folks.

1.  The first is, how great America is;

I generally think this whole question is a crappy one, but I find this interesting for two reasons.

1) Do you believe "liberals" dont think America is great?

2) Do you know that the POTUS wears a hat saying Make America Great Again.  Again being the operative word implying was and is not.  Dont ask me to explain whats in Trumps brain, I don't support him I'm just reading the words.

2.  The second is. we just have to get rid of the "bad" people.

Seems like fishing.  Are conservatives being described to you by someone who has a specific agenda?  Maybe instead of conservatives you mean white supremacists?  Trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here.

I don't understand how both can be true.  But lets assume, for the sake of argument, that America is the greatest.  Why does the greatest country in the world have a disproportionate number of "bad" people?  So is it now "the greatest" or "great", seems like you've changed to bar....why.

We have one of the highest incarceration rates in the world.

US - 737 per 100,000
Russia - 615
Ukraine - 350
Mexico - 196 - despite all the bad hombres
England - 148
Spain - 144
China - 118
Italy - 104
Germany - 94
France - 85
Japan - 62

 

We have been locking "bad" people up for decades, just like people want to do.  And, yet. we keep finding more bad people to lock up.  Its almost like the solution of getting rid of bad people is not really addressing anything, let alone the "problem".

So, that begs the question - statistically, you would expect the number of bad guys in the United States to be on par with the rest of the world - and perhaps, given the status of "Greatest" country - you would expect a lower incarceration rate - yet, here we are as the outlier. 

Why do we have so many bad people - this is not a rhetorical, or a silly question - if we are to improve as a society, we have got to get a handle on why we have so many bad people, who are willing to risk their life, limb and freedom instead of basking in the glory of the greatest country in the world?  What makes people do that, and why so many?

 

Similarly - if you look at the rate of Police killings (we are much better than places like Venezuela):

US - 28 per 10M
England - 0.5
Canada - 9
France.- 3.8
Germany - 1.3
Japan - 0.2

Now, you can look at police killings as either a bad cop killing a person, or a good cop killing a bad person - either way, it means the United States has a statistically improbable number of bad actors.

 

My hypothesis is not that we have an unusually disproportionate number of bad people living in this country.  I don't think we a spawning bad people.  I think the question that deserves serious consideration (and not the expected eye-rolling) is: What are we doing as a society to create an environment where so many people are "bad"?

If your hypothesis is that we do not have an unusually disproportionate number of bad people...then why are you saying  that so many people are bad?  You are contradicting yourself.

Do we need a different definition of "bad"? 

Do we need to identify and address the underlying issues?

This idea that we can clean up our little corner of the world by locking up the bad guys, and firing the bad guys in the police, is dangerously naive.  It might even be worse than doing nothing  We have been doing that for decades - and we are not improving.  Its time to stop pretending that we can solve problems by focusing on the symptoms, and not trying to identify the root causes.

I don't know what the root causes are - but, I can say with certainty, there is an underlying cause(s) that has created the rot from within.  There is no plausible explanation that we just randomly have so many bad people. 

If we really want to be the greatest country in the world - we have to dig, and find the uncomfortable answers, and make the necessary systemic changes.  That is hard.  But great countries find a way to get it done.

What are the great countries that have gotten it done.  Were they operating from comparable starting points?  How did they do it.  Are these great countries #1 in everything.  Are they bad at anything.  According to your definition of great are you allowed to be bad at anything?

If anyone tells you its just a few bad apples, they are not paying attention to the rotting apple tree in their backyard.

Some input and questions included above.  Bold is mine.  Bold italicized is yours.

Edited by djmich
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Posted (edited)

We have no safety net, and desperation is not good for peoples well-being. Looking at every country doing things better than the US, they all have things like subsidized childcare, healthcare etc. Without subsidized childcare, people are often plopping children down in front of relatives who do nothing more than make sure they stay alive, with no effort in teaching. Sure, the kid will not die if they are in a crib watching Disney Jr for 10 hours a day, but it is probably not the best for long term development. 

I feel the prison thing is a separate issue, where the US has so many people in prison because it is profitable. This encourages long sentences for minimum crimes, jail time for crimes that do not justify jail time etc. Remove any profit incentive from keeping prisoners and I bet the number of people in jail would decrease dramatically. 

Edited by huthut
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Posted (edited)

One of the byproducts of "rugged individualism" is a separation from the community as a whole. When individuals spend more time building up and protecting their own interests they deprioritize everyone around them and forget that it's the community that got us here, both as a country and as a species. 

There's a guy named Dan Buettner who worked for National Geographic and went on a quest to find the longest living populations in the world (Blue Zones as they call them). A lot of his work is based around health, but they also looked into "happiness" and they found that these areas overlapped quite a bit. One of the findings that he discussed was that having a sense of community was one of the driving factors to happiness. When they looked into American happiness they found that individualism really made things worse for a lot of people, even those who had what appeared to be a successful life.

As an example, when they asked a person in another country to spend a day doing something that would make them happy, they would focus on the community... preparing a great meal for their friends and family, building a community garden, etc. When they asked people in America to do the same they would do things like go to a spa and go shopping. That's not to say either of those is a bad thing but they're individual, temporary and don't gain much in the long term.

So if you take all this and add in that the wealth gap is widening, social spending is getting slashed, we spend more time online than with friends and people are feeling more and more alienated they begin to feel more and more isolated and desperate and looking for someone else to blame. Perfect storm for politicians to swoop in with their boogie man of choice that's "really making your life miserable" and a false promise to cure it.

 

Edited by KiddLattimer
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17 minutes ago, djmich said:

Some input and questions included above.  Bold is mine.  Bold italicized is yours.

Sorry - too hard to follow in the dark theme.

I will simply say this:  This is not strictly about liberal v. conservative.  I hear too many people who place the onus on individuals without considering the impact of society (or systems, if you will) on individual choices.

The solution to bad outcomes boils down to: "Get rid of the bad actors, and bad actions will go away."

So, for bad citizens, lock them up, and crime will go away.

For bad police, fire/charge the bad cops, and the problem will go away.

That is just a dangerous way of looking at the problem.  Because the problem is not "bad actors" - the problem lies in the environment that created the bad actors.  The proof for this is simply looking at the incarceration numbers, and how frequently we have had national examples of "bad" police.  In both case, the proportionate numbers are significantly higher in the US than elsewhere in comparable countries.  So, statistically, this is an unlikely occurrence in the absence of  environmental impacts not present in other countries.  We should all have roughly the same number, proportionally.

 

When someone says that we can address problems in the police simply by firing bad officers - they are ignoring the environment that created that bad policeman in the first place.  When we look at the officer who killed George Floyd - we can all agree, he is a "bad apple" and needs to go.  But the real concern is that all the officers around him - none showed any surprise or concern at his tactics.  That is a culture where such tactics are deemed acceptable - and had Floyd lived, we would not be having this conversation.  The problem that needs to be solved is not firing the officer - its addressing the culture where that behavior seemed normal.   But, its also much deeper and more complex than that.  We need, as a society, to reimagine how we police, who we hire to police, how we train people to police.

We also need to take a hard look at how/why crime happens.  We can't simply chalk it off as "bad" people doing "bad" things.  We are all fundamentally good people when we were born - how do we change the environment so that fewer people are making bad choices?  These are hard conversations, that most good people tend to avoid - because they are hard, and there is not a simple fix.

But, conservative, or liberal, - we have to hold ourselves accountable for the actions we take or condone that lead to bad outcomes for others.  

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Posted (edited)

There has also been a concerted effort to pit neighbor against neighbor to cover up the reason why their lives have turned into garbage. The most successful parasite is the one that goes undetected, and right now that is the ultra-rich plundering the country to have a 17th yacht or a 7th 30,000 sqft house. Convince the blue collar worker that their life is worse because other poor people are taking their jobs, not because the people at top are just siphoning off more money that in the past went to the workers. Your tax dollars are wasted because they are helping another poor person buy food, and not the trillions in bailouts and tax cut to exceedingly profitable multinational corporations. How many times does some economic plunderer like Bain Capital buy a successful business, sell off everything to make a short term profit, and then abandon the desiccated husk of the company when they have extracted all money from it, leaving nothing but more jobless workers fighting over the shrinking pool of jobs, many that no longer pay enough to live, even while working full time? 

Edited by huthut
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20 minutes ago, The Gator said:

Sorry - too hard to follow in the dark theme.

I will simply say this:  This is not strictly about liberal v. conservative.  I hear too many people who place the onus on individuals without considering the impact of society (or systems, if you will) on individual choices.

The solution to bad outcomes boils down to: "Get rid of the bad actors, and bad actions will go away."

So, for bad citizens, lock them up, and crime will go away.

For bad police, fire/charge the bad cops, and the problem will go away.

That is just a dangerous way of looking at the problem.  Because the problem is not "bad actors" - the problem lies in the environment that created the bad actors.  The proof for this is simply looking at the incarceration numbers, and how frequently we have had national examples of "bad" police.  In both case, the proportionate numbers are significantly higher in the US than elsewhere in comparable countries.  So, statistically, this is an unlikely occurrence in the absence of  environmental impacts not present in other countries.  We should all have roughly the same number, proportionally.

 

When someone says that we can address problems in the police simply by firing bad officers - they are ignoring the environment that created that bad policeman in the first place.  When we look at the officer who killed George Floyd - we can all agree, he is a "bad apple" and needs to go.  But the real concern is that all the officers around him - none showed any surprise or concern at his tactics.  That is a culture where such tactics are deemed acceptable - and had Floyd lived, we would not be having this conversation.  The problem that needs to be solved is not firing the officer - its addressing the culture where that behavior seemed normal.   But, its also much deeper and more complex than that.  We need, as a society, to reimagine how we police, who we hire to police, how we train people to police.

We also need to take a hard look at how/why crime happens.  We can't simply chalk it off as "bad" people doing "bad" things.  We are all fundamentally good people when we were born - how do we change the environment so that fewer people are making bad choices?  These are hard conversations, that most good people tend to avoid - because they are hard, and there is not a simple fix.

But, conservative, or liberal, - we have to hold ourselves accountable for the actions we take or condone that lead to bad outcomes for others.  

Ah ok...lol understand better what you mean by get rid of now.

I don't consider myself conservative, but I'm right of this board so you'll have to take what you can get.  I agree mostly with what you wrote.

My thoughts:

  • Yes we want to remove the bad apples from responsibilities where they do bad things.  Like removing bad cops.
  • That does not exclude the idea that we need rules, laws, procedures, etc in place to never put bad people in the wrong positions to begin with.
    • I think primarily people will have a difference of opinion on execution and whats needed.  Adjustments, Evolution, Revolution?  I think if people did a better job removing emotion and being inclusive we'd at least get more evolution.  Right now it feels like Revolution vs Adjustments and both sides entrench....but who knows I base that on reading a bunch of twitter garbage and these forums.

I don't think any of the above really has to do with some arbitrary definition of American greatness

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1 minute ago, djmich said:

I don't think any of the above really has to do with some arbitrary definition of American greatness

I think the thing that sticks in my mind - if "we" are so great, why do we have so many "bad" actors.

Its a dichotomy that I can't wrap my head around.

If we are Great - then we should have a lower proportion of bad actors - in this case defined by people who have broken the law and are incarcerated.  The fact that people are making bad choices tells me, that life is not great for them.  

And, if people are committing crimes - its not great for the rest of us either.

I don't think the solution to crimes is to simply lock up the criminals.  We have been doing that for decades and we are not stopping crime.  Its time to reimagine how to tackle crime - by really studying the root causes, and doing what we can, as a society, to alleviate those problems.  In the end, if we can do that, it makes all of our society "greater."  We can't keep doing the same thing, expecting a different result.

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Liberty has become license and citizens have become customers. When selfishness reigns, tyranny follows.

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54 minutes ago, KiddLattimer said:

One of the byproducts of "rugged individualism" is a separation from the community as a whole. When individuals spend more time building up and protecting their own interests they deprioritize everyone around them and forget that it's the community that got us here, both as a country and as a species. 

There's a guy named Dan Buettner who worked for National Geographic and went on a quest to find the longest living populations in the world (Blue Zones as they call them). A lot of his work is based around health, but they also looked into "happiness" and they found that these areas overlapped quite a bit. One of the findings that he discussed was that having a sense of community was one of the driving factors to happiness. When they looked into American happiness they found that individualism really made things worse for a lot of people, even those who had what appeared to be a successful life.

As an example, when they asked a person in another country to spend a day doing something that would make them happy, they would focus on the community... preparing a great meal for their friends and family, building a community garden, etc. When they asked people in America to do the same they would do things like go to a spa and go shopping. That's not to say either of those is a bad thing but they're individual, temporary and don't gain much in the long term.

So if you take all this and add in that the wealth gap is widening, social spending is getting slashed, we spend more time online than with friends and people are feeling more and more alienated they begin to feel more and more isolated and desperate and looking for someone else to blame. Perfect storm for politicians to swoop in with their boogie man of choice that's "really making your life miserable" and a false promise to cure it.

 

This is why I would rather we measure our country's success based on a happiness index as opposed to GDP growth.

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5 minutes ago, Dickies said:

This is why I would rather we measure our country's success based on a happiness index as opposed to GDP growth.

We'd just find a way to argue about how it's calculated 😆

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“We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.”

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15 minutes ago, The Gator said:

I think the thing that sticks in my mind - if "we" are so great, why do we have so many "bad" actors.

Its a dichotomy that I can't wrap my head around.

If we are Great - then we should have a lower proportion of bad actors - in this case defined by people who have broken the law and are incarcerated.  The fact that people are making bad choices tells me, that life is not great for them.  

And, if people are committing crimes - its not great for the rest of us either.

I don't think the solution to crimes is to simply lock up the criminals.  We have been doing that for decades and we are not stopping crime.  Its time to reimagine how to tackle crime - by really studying the root causes, and doing what we can, as a society, to alleviate those problems.  In the end, if we can do that, it makes all of our society "greater."  We can't keep doing the same thing, expecting a different result.

I don't think it is valuable to continue the "great" and "bad actor" connection (just so vague).  I think focusing on the question of why is our incarceration rate so high is enough and really is the important thing to solve.

I honestly don't know the answer.  I do know that it is multi-variable and its really easy to focus on one or two variables.  I also know that progress will be slow here because of our political climate (it sucks).

I did a quick search to try to understand whats been going on with the incarceration rate here in the US.  Link attached, I thought it was interesting in terms of highlight a few events that they believe have driven increased incarcerations (again a few of many, many variables).  Before anyone attacks me for the site, it was a google search and I don't know them or condone any of their politics.

https://www.hamiltonproject.org/charts/incarceration_rate_in_the_united_states_1960-2012

What was interesting to me is that when I scrolled down I saw this graph.  Hmm...going the same direction.  Correlation does not equal causation but I think it is impossible to not be one, of many, variables. 

https://www.hamiltonproject.org/charts/percent_of_births_to_unmarried_mothers_by_education_1970-2012

BTW, I did search then to see how did we compare to the world on this specific variable.  To use your phraseology...definitely not great.

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/12/12/u-s-children-more-likely-than-children-in-other-countries-to-live-with-just-one-parent/

I think there are so, so many things we can do better and wish we could do better to close equity gaps, which I'm sure would improve incarceration rates.  The political climate does not support this...thats a knock on both sides.

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8 minutes ago, Dickies said:

This is why I would rather we measure our country's success based on a happiness index as opposed to GDP growth.

couldn't decide if i should give you a like, a love, a thank you or a laugh.

went thank you.

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14 minutes ago, Dickies said:

This is why I would rather we measure our country's success based on a happiness index as opposed to GDP growth.

I agree with the sentiment wholeheartedly.  Only would say happiness index vs wealth index.

GDP growth is important as it generally is tied to economic production, which is tied to jobs, which families need to survive and is critical to happiness.

Last note, its not just the wealthy that need to focus on the happiness index vs wealth index.  We have a #### ton of people way above the poverty line focused on wealth and not happiness.

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12 minutes ago, Thunderlips said:

“We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.”

first rule of Movie Gods is...

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I’ve never been to prison, I would be terrified if I ever had to go.  Now having said that, a lot of the people who are presently incarcerated have been locked up before and the fear is gone.   Just wonder if that is partly responsible for the higher crime and incarceration rates compared to other countries. 

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I've often wondered about Incarceration rates. Policing is different in every country. 

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1 hour ago, Thunderlips said:

“We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off.”

Yep, and now we can all be instagram influencers, that’s the ticket baby! 

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4 hours ago, timschochet said:

Part of our greatness is our freedom. Part of freedom is the freedom to be stupid and stubborn about it. 

This freedom thing is mostly such a crock. We are no more or less free than almost all of the first world countries.

Again watch Century of Self if you want to understand the unique american trait of not giving a crap about anyone else

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, AAABatteries said:

And your incarceration numbers don’t mean much to me when we still lock up people for petty drug offenses.  Can we get a breakdown of offense type per M?  That would be a better indication of where we stand compared with other countries.

Petty drug offenses cant be a large % of people locked up.

If we look at state prisons, less than 16% of people locked up are for all drug offenses. 

 

Edited by parasaurolophus
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America was great when a single income could raise a family and buy a home.  Sadly, America believes that stock prices, dividends and buybacks are more important than employees.  Too many people work very hard to scrape by, leading to frustration and eventually desperation.  America hasn't been the greatest country for a while, and it's trending in the wrong direction.  As long as rich people keep you terrified of the socialist boogeyman, and people continue to work their entire lives to die a slow, miserable death, America will continue to decline.

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3 hours ago, Dickies said:

This is why I would rather we measure our country's success based on a happiness index as opposed to GDP growth.

My current favorite quote comes from Jacinda Ardern, PM of New Zealand:

 

"Economic growth accompanied by worsening social outcomes is not success," Ardern said. "It is failure."

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This sounds like the "custodial democracy" concept come to bear. The custodial democracy theory says that we have so many laws and so many lawbreakers, that our incarceration rate is rather high for a civilized country. At some point it stops becoming a representative republic and becomes a brother's keeper nightmare.

https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/charles-murray/the-coming-of-custodial-democracy/

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, parasaurolophus said:

Petty drug offenses cant be a large % of people locked up.

If we look at state prisons, less than 16% of people locked up are for all drug offenses. 

 

Yeah, I'm all for criminal justice reform and drug legalization in particular, but drug possession accounts for a trivial amount of incarceration.  We had a topic about this a couple of years ago, and the statistics showed that nearly all people who end up in prison for drug-related offenses are traffickers of some sort.  Now, that's still bad because drug trafficking should be legal, but these are not people who got busted with a quarter ounce in their glove box.

It seems to me that many of our laws -- not just those for drugs -- have ludicrously long sentences attached to them.  In my state, for example, "internet gambling -- second offense" is a class 5 felony with a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.  That's self-evidently dumb.  Even if nobody ever gets prosecuted under that type of law, and even if people rarely get the maximum sentence for this sort of thing, these max sentences contribute to a culture of incarceration as part of a general "tough on crime" attitude.  Federal laws and sentencing are even worse, in limited understanding of them.  My personal favorite example from the world of federal law is the prohibition on structuring -- which makes it a crime to obey financial regulations in a way the government finds irritating.  

One approach to CJ reform would be to start off with the assumption that nonviolent offenses should not result in prison/jail time, as a default.  We can talk about when to make exceptions, like serious embezzlement, Bernie Madoff-level fraud, and stuff like that.  I'm not saying that prison should be totally taken off the table for all nonviolent offenses, just that that should be our starting point and that exceptions should be just that -- exceptions that we intentionally carved out. 

I know there are other issues tied up in this topic, like institutional racism, but sentencing reform seems like it would help with that too.

Edited by IvanKaramazov
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Posted (edited)

That and we just have so many damn criminal laws against things that shouldn't be criminal. We're actually nickled-and-dimed to death with our laws, which, under the guise of regulation and order, put quite normal behaviors into the realm of the illegal. 

Edited by rockaction

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9 minutes ago, rockaction said:

That and we just have so many damn criminal laws against things that shouldn't be criminal. We're actually nickled-and-dimed to death with our laws, which, under the guise of regulation and order, put quite normal behaviors into the realm of the illegal. 

According to this guy, the average American commits three felonies per day.  It's probably worth noting that Alan Dershowitz wrote the forward to this book, and he's pulling our collective average up. 

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Is the breakdown a lot more for federal vs. state inmates?  I keep seeing numbers like 50% or so of federal inmates are in on drug charges.  

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3 minutes ago, KarmaPolice said:

Is the breakdown a lot more for federal vs. state inmates?  I keep seeing numbers like 50% or so of federal inmates are in on drug charges.  

Yeah, federal prisons are loaded up with drug offenders, but none of them are there for possession.  You kind of have to go digging through some footnotes in DOJ reports to get clarification on this one.

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5 minutes ago, IvanKaramazov said:

Yeah, federal prisons are loaded up with drug offenders, but none of them are there for possession.  You kind of have to go digging through some footnotes in DOJ reports to get clarification on this one.

Gotcha, thanks.  

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Looks like it's being discussed and I need to read more in the thread, but reading the OP my question was going to be that was don't really have worse people - I would guess a lot of it has to do with what we consider illegal vs other countries, the prison for profit model we have set up, and how much we are attempting rehabilitation.  

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, timschochet said:

Part of our greatness is our freedom. Part of freedom is the freedom to be stupid and stubborn about it. 

Plus in many parts of the world like China, Russia, Middle East they don`t jail criminals..they just suddenly disappear.

Edited by Summer Wheat
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1 hour ago, KarmaPolice said:

Is the breakdown a lot more for federal vs. state inmates?  I keep seeing numbers like 50% or so of federal inmates are in on drug charges.  

That accounts for like 70k prisoners. State prisons have something like 1.3 million. 

People getting locked up for smoking a joint in the park is not a large %. 

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Posted (edited)

Lots of questions to answer.

If the US Flag represents racism and many kneel in its presence in protest....why was it draped over the coffin of John Lewis?  :shrug:
Why not a BLM flag?

Edited by Opie
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1 hour ago, workdog3 said:

It's unfortunate that you still don't understand what the kneeling is about.  

Or what that had to do with the OP.  

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