Blow To Liberal Orthodoxy: Despite Recession, Crime Rates Continue To Drop

Make Poverty History Performs Musical Flash Mob On Budget Day

A major tenet of liberalism is the idea that crime is tied to poverty. We are told by the left that most people commit crimes because of income inequality and poverty, and that the best way to fight crime is through wealth redistribution that alleviate this alleged motivation for criminal behavior. But there’s a problem, last year despite a major recession (resulting in lost jobs and growth in poverty) we saw no corresponding spike in criminal behavior.

This from that noted bastion of right-wing conservative thought…Richard Cohen at The Washington Post:

This is a good news, bad news column. The good news is that crime is again down across the nation — in big cities, small cities, flourishing cities and cities that are not for the timid. Surprisingly, this has happened in the teeth of the Great Recession, meaning that those disposed to attribute criminality to poverty — my view at one time — have some strenuous rethinking to do. It could be, as conservatives have insisted all along, that crime is committed by criminals. For liberals, this is bad news indeed.

The figures are rather startling. From 2008 to 2009, violent crime was down 5.5 percent overall and almost 7 percent in big cities. Some of those cities are as linked with crime as gin is with tonic or as John McCain is with political opportunism. In Detroit, for instance, with the auto industry shedding workers, violent crime was down 2.4 percent. In Washington, D.C., murder was down 23.1 percent, rape 19.4 percent and property crime 6 percent. Stats for political corruption are not available.

What’s perhaps even more interesting than the lack of correlation between a spike in poverty and a spike in crime is that fact that during this same time frame we’ve also seen a huge spike in guns sales and the issue of concealed carry permits. Which represents another major blow to a liberal article of faith.

Namely, that more guns mean more crime. Just as the decline in crime during the recession tends to indicate that crime isn’t necessarily related to economic status, that same decline during a spike in gun ownership and gun carry indicates that crime isn’t related to the existence of guns in our society.

In fact, one could argue that the decline in crime is related to the increase in gun ownership. I’d need to see more statistics before I’m willing to say that’s fact, but we can say for certainty that the opposite correlation claimed by liberals isn’t true.


Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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