The only thing surer than death and taxes

Cape Cod voters will pay dearly if they cut police budgets in 2009
During any recession, there are three things you may depend upon -

  • Death
  • Taxes
  • A significant increase in local crime

By Walter Brooks

"Every recession since the late '50s has been associated with anincrease in crime and, in particular, property crime and robbery, whichwould be most responsive to changes in economic conditions.
There is a year lag between the economic change and crime rates."
    - Richard Rosenfeld, U.M.

Unfortunately voters forget history, and if Cape Cod's voters at the new year's Annual Meeting forget the crimes stats of the last recession, they will pay dearly for it.

And this Editorial position has countless documented proofs for back-up as recently as the New York Times headline three days ago which read "As Economy Dips, Arrests for Shoplifting Soar."

Shoplifting up 20% nationwide already

That story reports that police departments across the country say shoplifting arrests are up 10 to 20 percent this year over last. The problem is probably even greater than arrest records indicate since shoplifters are often banned from stores rather than arrested.

The Economic Policy Institute reports "Recessions hurt. And they hurt the poor and socially marginalized populations the most."

Another recent New York Times article reminds us of the past history on the same subject:

If the economy sinks to depths not seen in decades, will crime return with a vengeance?  Thelast time stocks on Wall Street fell hard, in 1987, crime wasexploding, and the city saw historic highs in murders in the followingyears.

Before that, the fiscal crisis of the 1970s helped lead to theabandonment of neighborhoods, failing schools and startling crimerates: robberies built through those years to a high in 1981, whenthere were 107,495 of them, for an average of 294 a day. (Last year’stotal reported robberies, 21,787, was the lowest figure in modernhistory.)

“Every recession since the late ’50s has been associated with anincrease in crime and, in particular, property crime and robbery, whichwould be most responsive to changes in economic conditions,” saidRichard Rosenfeld, a sociologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Typically, he said, “there is a year lag between the economic change and crime rates.”

Higher unemployment rates breeds higher crime rates

"You see a strong relationship between falling wages and higherunemployment rates for less educated men and crime rates that tend togo up."
  - Bruce A. Weinberg, Ohio U.
The writer of the editorial you are reading is not a conservative or law enforcement groupie. In fact, as most know, I was a Beat poet in the 1950s and '60s with all the indifference to authority which that implies. I have not changed much in the intervening decades, but I do believe in paying attention to history and facts.

But Bruce A. Weinberg, an associate professor of economics at Ohio State University, who studied data from 1979 to 1997 reminds us,"You see a strong relationship between falling wages and higherunemployment rates for less educated men and crime rates that tend togo up."

When the police budgets get voted on in your town meeting, prove your grit and brains and speak up against any reductions.

If police budgets are cut during this deep recession, the costs to homes and property will far exceed any short term savings.

Before you go to your 2009 Town Meeting, take the time to read these linked documents. The crime you prevent might be against you.

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