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Racial Collisions in Low Wage Inner Cities Correlate to Fluctuating Murder Rates But Did They Cause the Fluctuations?

HomicideRatesIn a country that has not resolved its racial issues, and in which migration to the cities of immigrants and African Americans to compete for jobs and inadequate housing has risen and fallen, these events have correlated with America’s murder rates that have shifted dramatically over the decades.

The vast majority of murders have been committed by minorities of ages 18-24 in the poorest neighborhoods of larger cities. Homicide rates amongst this group approach 25 per 100,000 population. National homicide rates recently have dropped substantially from their highs of 10.2 to now 4.8 per 100,000.

Prior to the Civil War, beginning in the 1840s, America received a swell of immigrants due to the potato famine in Europe. After the Civil War, America began its Westward Railroad expansion. Railroads incentives to populate the lands around the rails and America’s Homesteading Act created the impetus for a peak in immigration to levels previously unseen at 327,000 per year. 86% came from northern Europe. Homicide rates varied across the country but were relatively small, at 0.3 to 0.8 per 100,000.

After a lull during the Long Depression, immigration increased again to fill the working ranks of the industrial era. In 1881, immigration rose to 525,000. After another lull for the 1893 depression, in the peak industrial era years prior to WW1, immigration swelled again to 891,000 per year. During the rise of the industrial era, 69% of immigrants came from central and southern Europe. After 1900 up until WWI, homicides nationally rose precipitously from 1 to 6 per 100,000. A majority of immigrants during this period were single young men seeking temporary employment.

During WWI, immigration then dropped to 276,000 right at a time when more manufacturing workers were needed for the war effort, creating the major draw for African Americans to venture north in what was called the Great Migration. During the war, the murder rate dropped to 4 per 100,000 as 800,000 African Americans migrated to northern cities to support the war effort, but then spiked to 7 per 100,000 as the troops came home.

In the 1920s, immigration rose to 412,000 a year. During the 1920s another 800 African Americans migrated north and prohibition was enacted. As labor wages dropped due to increased competition for jobs in the inner cities, and crimes associated with prohibition soared, the homicide rate climbed steadily to a national record of 9.7 per 100,000 not to be topped until the 1970s.

Immigration plummeted during the worldwide depression to only 50,000 per year and net migration halted. During the depression, the national murder rate dropped to 6 per 100,000.

As the young people left to fight WWII, the homicide rate in America dropped to 5 per 100,000 but then increased immediately after the war to 6.4 per 100,000.

After WWII, immigration steadily grew from 252,000 in 1947 to 950,000 in 1990. From WW1 through 1960, 46% came from the western hemisphere. After 1960, immigration shifted toward Asian countries. From a near term peak of 6.4 per 100,000, the murder rate dropped to a low of 4.5 in 1955 and climbed back slowly to 5 per 100,000 by 1965. Then it accelerated to 10.2 through the 1970s as many of our cities declined, and drug use increased.

During the recession of 1981, the homicide rate fell to 7.9 but then rose again to a peak of 9.8 per 100,000 by 1991. From the mid 1980s until the present, illegal alien population increased from 2.5 million to over 22 million by some estimates.

From that high, homicide rates have steadily fallen to lows not seen since the 1950s of 4.8 per 100,000. During this period, 816,000 illegal aliens that had committed criminal acts were removed from the United States. In addition, northern cities saw a reverse migration of African Americans of 3 million back to southern states. Also, the prison population swelled from 600,000 to 1.6 million with increased prison terms and a war on drugs.

While migration, immigration, and incarceration seem to correlate with murder rates, they do not explain what the causes are of these shifts. Dramatic shifts from 0.3 to 10.2 and back to 4.8 murders per 100,000 have occurred in the course of a century. Murder rates in our inner cities have been a significant factor of their demise. Understanding what causes murder rates to have risen and fallen could be a significant key in determining a system solution.

The “experts” are in disagreement as to the cause of the downward trend in murders suggesting the following as possible reasons:

1. Dropped lead from gasoline which reduced lead poisoning that causes aggressive behavior
2. Abortion of 50 million from potentially dysfunctional mothers eliminated criminal element
3. More criminals in prison and longer jail sentences for violent offenders
4. Baby boomers are getting older
5. Violent video games release aggression
6. More cops on the beat
7. Targeted stop and frisks
8. Stand your ground laws have frightened would be assailants
9. Increased poverty reduced mobility
10. Shifting drug use patterns from those associated with higher crime rates to prescription drug abuse
11. Increased youth social programs in the cities
12. Increased social safety nets
13. More people out of work and in their homes
14. Waning crack epidemic
15. Increased gun ownership
16. Better life saving techniques in hospitals
17. More investment in inner cities
18. Gun control laws enacted
19. Gun control laws are repealed
20. Fusion centers integrate law efforts
21. The Fed has curbed inflation
22. Cell phones put more witnesses on the scene
23. Gentrification
24. Wealth moved away from criminals
25. 18-24 age group decreased 20% in past two decades

Each “expert” has listed on or more of the reasons above, yet many of the experts contradict each other. Some, for instance, might hang their hat solely on better policing and give their reasoning. Others will state it has nothing to with policing or several other reasons but will suggest their ironclad reasons for the decline. Some provide statistical correlations to prove their point and others provide countering data. Interestingly, as a side note, very few will glaringly suggest anything about gun control laws.

The analyses remind me of the 2011 film starring Jonah Hill called Moneyball about how a young economics graduate, suddenly turned scout, applied statistical analysis to the sport of baseball and changed the game. He proved that a systems approach was better than all the scouting experts in the game who had their own subjective views and approaches.

Nonetheless, even though violent crime rates have dramatically reduced, they are still significantly higher than the base rates existing prior to the 20th century. And violent crime rates in inner cities are much higher than national averages, even if they too are also dropping precipitously. Since crime is a prime reason for flight and blight, understanding why it is so much higher in the inner city and understanding what push and pull strategies have been effective thus far might lead us to advance other strategies that could be successful if applied in conjunction. Yet, what might appear logical in isolation might have no basis in application.

For instance, the average street dope dealer makes less than minimum wage in the business and yet subjects himself to great dangers. Providing realistic hope over generations for real employment in productive jobs making $12 per hour might seem a logical solution in isolation. Yet, studies have suggested that merely adding jobs that pay more than drug pushing will not significantly alter a drug pushers behavior or crime even if they take the job. They simply alter their retail hours to supplement legitimate work.

The solution has to be systemwide to be effective. It might entail not only a rebalance of work opportunities, but of education, law enforcement, the drug war, social programs, financial access, city planning, and other equally valid components to reverse the trends of our cities.

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Filed under American Governance, Class warfare, Immigration, Jobs, Racism, social trajectory

Entrapment in Hopeless Terror Breeds Isolation and Violence


Some people move to far off countries for the adventure. Most of us live in familiar surroundings near family and friends until circumstances make familiarity untenable. Either life would have to be miserable or the opportunity great to uproot our families. Thankfully, our opportunities are made less severe by highways, moving companies, airlines, telecommunications, computes and vacations, that can in some ways lessen the risks and stresses of leaving our connections.

But what if we were told that if we moved away we might live a third less years, that our children would have a 40% chance of not surviving childhood, and that we would have a 15% chance we might not even make it to our destination alive? What if we were told we would face hostile people that wanted to kill us when we arrived and aggressive new diseases that would sweep through our community yearly for which there was no defense, killing many new arrivals? How great would the opportunity have to be?

These were just a few of the risks the colonists faced when making the decision to come to America. Yet, in the years before the American Revolution, a quarter-million Europeans voluntarily boarded ships bound for the colonies, in addition to the 210,000 slaves and 50,000 convicts that were forced to make the journey.

Of course, the untenable conditions that some colonists faced if they remained in their homelands were enough to incite anyone to immigrate if they could afford it. Some colonists faced such terrors as hanging, disembowelment or being burned alive for their religious beliefs. Convicts faced hanging for sometimes even minor offenses. For those that faced such extremes, fleeing to America seemed a reasonable alternative, even if half of those fleeing had to sign away seven years of their lives as virtual slaves just to escape.

Those in servitude in the colonies, and even more so those in slavery, found themselves in similar untenable conditions as those that escaped to the colonies. Yet, the end of the Civil War brought very few options for freedpeople to improve their lives.

Southern plantation owners were determined to bind ex slaves to their old life through terror. Through vagrancy laws, ex slaves either had to become quickly employed or they would face imprisonment. Most therefore signed annual contracts that forced their servitude, for plantation owners only accepted annual contracts to enforce the old life. Ex slave misery continued, for if a contract employees raised any issues, employers could cancel their contracts and have them imprisoned.

A few freedmen found menial work in towns. Still, most yearned for their own plot of land to start a new life apart from psychological and physical torture. Earlier in 1862, the Federal government had passed the Homestead Act, enabling people to immigrate West to claim 160 acre plots, yet few African Americans took advantage of the opportunity. Why not?…Was their plight not so untenable after all?
3 hours ago

Clif Carothers • The answer why so few immigrated is similar to why so few Europeans chose to immigrate to the colonies. The perceived rewards of westward relocation had to overcome the grave risks. To survive, a freedman would have to leave family and friends and find their way to a gateway city. They then would need to buy supplies to travel to and to survive in homesteading lands. They would then have to find a plot that could produce, that had adequate planting soil, water, and sun exposure. After finding a claim, they would stake it, build a home from the land, clear the land, plant a crop and then survive while attending it until it produced. While working the land, they would face the risks of periodic droughts, Indian attacks, and sweeping disease.

Still, all of this incredible risk seemed worthwhile to many. Yet, just to start westward, a potential immigrant would need enough funds for the travel, supplies, a year’s food, crop seeds, farming equipment and the like. At a minimum, they needed $1,000, which the vast majority of ex slaves did not have. In the absence of government assistance, some assistance societies cropped up to help 20,000 freedpeople get the funds to immigrate to Kansas and Colorado in the 1880s and ‘90s.

Yet, even the few that did immigrate had to escape the organized gangs that dragged immigrants attempting to leave off the trains. Then, lynch mobs terrorized those that tried to leave as signals to others that were contemplating immigration. During the first few decades, a dozen lynchings occurred each month throughout the South, spreading terror and misery to freedpeople, trapped in their circumstances.

The first few decades after the war did succeed in planting the seeds of migration as a possible solution to terror. These seeds would grow into the Great Migration and the Second Great Migration that would eventually populate the northern industrial cities with descendants of ex slaves. Yet, in the intervening years, the entrapment in a hopeless culture of terror became the breeding ground for intergenerational isolation and violence as a response. Could this developing subculture have been one of the root causes of the demise of our inner cities?

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America’s Future Building Block #3 – Sensible Immigration Policy Can Overcome Prejudice and Right Perverse Economics

Scholars are uncertain whether the Americas may have begun their human ascent through Polynesians, Chinese, or even indigenous peoples, but history does record how the Americas’ indigenous civilizations met their utter devastation from imported disease, European conquest for Gold in Central America, and depopulation by settlers in North America. Upwards of 90 percent of the indigenous people thus died from European immigration. Europe’s inhumane entrance of introduction to the Americas would set the stage for 300 more years of race based immigration in America.

During the 16th century, Europe’s powerful elite promised the lure of gold to tempt common men into voyages of conquest and immigration, including to the Americas. For most early immigrants however, North America’s gold was the water, soil, lumber, plants, animals and religious tolerance that promised of a better life. Yet, some believed in the degraded idea of slavery and forced slaves into their equation of this “better life”. As early as 1619, the initial population of 4,000 European settlers in North America had acquired 20 slaves.

This tiny seed of 4,000 Europeans would also weed out the 15 million indigenous American indigenous people estimated to live in North America in 1619. European diseases including smallpox decimated the indigenous population. The native’s culture mutated to include the white man’s death and violent reprisals as the colonists ultimately reduced the indigenous population from 15 million to 750,000 by 1776, at the founding of America.

In 1776, the colonies were dominated by British, Northern Europeans and African slaves. In the intervening years after 1619, Southern states had accelerated forced immigration of slaves whose population in the South now exceeded 38 percent. By 1776, the sons and daughters of America’s Declaration of Independence had grown to 2.5 million. .

After Congress voted for the Constitution in 1787 prohibiting the import of slaves after 1807, Congress then passed its first immigration legislation, the Naturalization Act of 1790. While it didn’t restrict numbers of immigrants, it did limit citizenship to white, free people, disregarding the original indigenous people and the large minority of slaves in America. During the next 50 years, America’s Caucasian growth was enforced as immigration grew from 6,500 per year to about 60,000 per year mostly from England, Germany, and Ireland.

During the decade of the 1840s, immigration from Europe leaped forward as 1.7 million came to America when Ireland lost one million souls to the potato famine. America welcomed her ancestry with open arms. Yet, at the same time, China experienced an order of magnitude greater tragedy and when her immigrants came to America in much fewer numbers than Europeans, they sparked a severe immigration reaction.

After China capitulated to England’s Opium War in 1842, England poured cheap goods into China creating a massive trade imbalance, a loss of China’s silver, and a collapse of her economy (foreshadowing?). As a result, China’s agricultural economy also collapsed and China lost a million of its population to starvation every year afterward for 40 years. Over that 40 year period, 370,000 Chinese settled in America mainly in the West, as 7 million more Europeans immigrated to America.

The discovery of gold in California in 1849 and America’s building of the Continental Railroad gave Chinese immigrants escaping the conditions of their country an opportunity for low skilled jobs in California at very low pay. Their acceptance of these low wages increased wage pressures on European immigrants, which exacerbated prejudice toward Chinese first in California and then across America. Congress reacted by passing the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, the first of several acts that would ban Chinese citizenship through WWII.

After 1900, Southern and Eastern Europeans, including significant numbers of Italians and Jews, began immigrating in increasing numbers. Believing these immigrants to be “sickly and incapable of supporting the American economy”, the U.S. Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1924 to slow their inflow by setting racial quotas in percentages equal to U.S. race populations that existed in 1890 prior to the large influx of Southern and Eastern Europeans. Many say that the basis of the 1924 American immigration law was Eugenics, a bigoted system of racial supremacy. Nonetheless, this race based policy stayed in place influencing immigration with few changes through 1965.

In 1965, Congress passed the 1965 Immigration Act, establishing what it believed to be a fairer immigration policy based on skill and family reunification. Its effects were intended to be largely symbolic, showing the world that America could be the multicultural land of opportunity that it claimed. The act’s effects were anything but symbolic, creating a significant reversal of racial immigration quotas and supporting mass immigration from Asia and Central America.

Yet, immigration in 1965 had to endure the same mistrust of racial differences that existed elsewhere in America. Its unintended growth consequences exacerbated racial prejudices as Asian and Hispanic immigration unexpectedly grew exponentially. Family reunification immigrations were set outside limiting quotas, boosting immigration to three times previous levels, creating a cycle of immigration and sponsorship. Initial immigrants attained citizenship status and then sponsored relatives who in turn sponsored more relatives.

In parallel with America’s Cultural Revolution which enabled the 1965 Immigration Act, multinational corporations began to transfer jobs out of America. As outflow of American jobs accelerated in the 1980’s, America’s immigration problems were exacerbated. Manufacturing unemployment increased, the middle class diminished, and domestic employers faced severe competitive pressures from overseas due mostly in part to wage differentials. To compete, many American businesses responded by turning a blind eye to the illegal status of the low cost immigrants they hired from Central America.

With the promise of better pay, workers from Central America and their families poured illegally across America’s borders, as many as 5,000 a night, 700,000 a year, while Middle America looked on in disbelief. Why did this nation of laws, disregard its laws with such blatancy? The traditional bedfellows of politics could not come together on this issue and form a direction so our political system stalled. Illegal aliens were supported by big business and defended by humanitarians and democratic politicians. Yet, they were opposed by unions, social conservatives, and social service providers and Republicans.

As a result, while our border patrols are conscientiously attempting to defend America’s borders, the attempt is in vain. Every night, the ritual continues. Border patrol agents pick up 1,500 of the 5,000 illegal border crossers that enter America and send them back to the border towns of Mexico. Every night, 3,500 illegal aliens enter America through the Hispanic Underground Railroad to start their new clandestine-public life in America. Every morning, aliens that were captured the previous night vow to try again the next night. The next evening, America’s cynical border patrol agents start the game of cat and mouse knowing they will see the same border crossers again. All the while, America intermittently continues the debate about what to do with our immigration policy.

America’s immigration policy is in a state of flux due to competing interests, some pragmatic, some profit driven, some protectionist, others conflicted by racial equality or prejudice, and the lot are complicated by political motivations of both the Republican and Democrat parties. Current issues include:

•Conflict with American ideals
oTrue political refugees continue to be refused
o EurAmericans feel threatened by Latin Americans
o Illegals are drawn to U.S. by industry without basic human rights
o Large influx of Spanish speaking immigrants sparked a multilingual debate

•Disregard for America’s laws
o 3% of people in America are undocumented aliens
o 700,000 illegal aliens a year are crossing the southwestern border
o Terrorism and drug cartels exacerbate the open border issue
o Strict border control is not enforced
o Border towns argue for safer border, deaths to residents becoming common

•Costs of immigration
o Sustainable immigration hasn’t been identified, analyzed or supported
o Influx of low wage earners has been a net cost to public services, schools,and hospitals – Some hospitals have been bankrupted by alien costs
o Foreign criminals find asylum through illegal entry and work in America
o The underground system generates generational poverty and crime
o Humanitarians argue for open borders as deaths during crossing are common

•Perverse economics
o Domestic corporations support illegal aliens and pay low wages.
o Low wage immigrants cost more in services than they pay first generation
o Unions fear loss of wages from low cost labor
o Immigration has caused a downward pressure on job wages
o Republicans are concerned about the large increase of democrat voters

These American problems are truly not insurmountable if we can agree on universal goals and then craft an immigration policy to deal with them sensibly. For instance, my set of goals includes 1) eliminating perverse economic incentives, 2) pursuing policies that strengthen America and 3) supporting American ideals through immigration policy

1) Eliminating perverse economic incentives

Illegal immigration exists in large part because it is the black market supplier of low cost labor in America. Black markets exist when governments attempt to artificially influence supply and demand. In this case, government has attempted to set a floor on the compensation paid to the least valuable worker.

As globalism increases, it forces three perverse outcomes. First, the black market incentive for illegal aliens increases and the flood gates open on the borders. Second, for those businesses that follow the law and do not hire illegal low cost workers, they are incentivized to move their businesses offshore. Third, all workers who are forced to accept the minimum wage floor are passed over for employment in favor of illegal immigrants who will work for less pay.

Minimum wages are a horrible way to provide American citizens a consumer floor and are one of our perverse economic incentives that should be eliminated
• Minimum wages should be eliminated.
• Let American businesses set wages to world wage rates and jobs will return
• Insist that all able Americans take jobs or receive no benefits
• Ensure that Americans have jobs before illegals, no matter the wage rates set, and illegals will return to their country when they are displaced in the workforce.
• Supplement lower wages through general social policy and all citizens will be maintained at minimum consumer levels.
• Tax corporations at prevailing international rates as the market will bear and they will not be incentivized to leave America.
• Let foreign workers enter from Central America with work visas to take unfilled jobs at prevailing global rates if they are so inclined.
• Charge foreign workers for social services so they are not a negative financial drain on those services and then let them use those services.

2) Pursuing immigration policies that strengthen America

Immigration should add to America’s well being. Immigrants should enter America with the expectation of giving to the collective community. America should welcome all immigrants that can add to her productive output or that can add to her capacity to help her citizens. Important to this ideal is that Immigrants embrace America.
• Assimilate immigrants quickly with common values and language
• Recruit immigrants that will bring assets and jobs to America
• Give preference to higher skilled and self sustaining workers
• Set sustainable immigration levels for lower skill levels that meet job growth trends
• Put the family sponsor chain inside the sustainable immigration levels.

3) Supporting American ideals through immigration policy

The ideals that America espouses should align with our immigration policies. America has proclaimed to the world to bring us her huddled masses, those that have been persecuted, from all races and creeds, and from all who wish for freedom and democracy. We have long ago banished slavery and indentured servitude. Our policies should reflect these values:
• Supporting refugees fleeing persecution
• Supporting balance of all nationalities wishing to enter
• Protecting basic human rights of all U.S. residents and visa permitted foreign workers
• Strict protection of borders to protect all citizens from illegal entries
• Strict enforcement of all laws to protect citizens from criminal immigrants
• Disallowing corporations to create virtual indentured servitude of sponsored immigrants

America can find common ground by eliminating perverse economic incentives and strengthening our will to win in the worldwide economic competition. America can progress in tolerance of our differences into a true multicultural melting pot if we mitigate those issues that divide us. America can grow toward the ideals we espouse to the world if we eliminate those issues that are at war with our shared goals. It is time to take American immigration to a new strategic level. It is time for America’s immigration to work for the benefit of all Americans.

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Filed under American Governance, American Politics, Immigration, Multinational Corporations