Saturday, February 25, 2012

Questions no one seems to be asking

Listening to a Republican presidential debate, you'd think our country was on a slide towards not only economic but social destruction. Too often folks on the left seem to want to join them in this malaise.

But the truth is, its not just the economy that is slowly improving. There are signs that some of the social issues that have plagued us for at least decades are also improving. But outside "elite" academic circles, no one seems to be noticing...or better yet, asking why.

Here are a couple of examples:

On an issue that came up in the debates last week, you'd never know that teen pregnancy is actually on the decline.

A new study, titled “U.S. Teen Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2008: National Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity” published by the Guttmacher Institute, has found teen pregnancy to be down among all racial groups.

Teen pregnancies are at their lowest rates in 40 years, according to the latest numbers dating 2008 which is when the latest statistics were given.

Conventional wisdom has always believed that when the economy is bad, crime goes up. While that has usually been the case historically, not this time.

The rate of major crimes in the U.S. continues to drop – even during the recent recession and its aftermath – and crime experts aren’t sure why...

According to recently released FBI crime statistics, the number of violent crimes -- murder and non-negligent homicide, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault -- reported in the first six months of 2011 declined 6.4 percent compared with the first six months of 2010. The number of property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft) decreased 3.7 percent for the same time frame.

The report is based on information from more than 12,500 law enforcement agencies and shows the continuation of a downward trend in crime that began in 2008.

It’s also part of a broader, longer-term trend: Between 1991 and 2010, the homicide rate fell 51 percent and property crimes dropped 64 percent. Crime rates decreased significantly during the 1990s before flattening out at the start of the new century.

The statistical trend is puzzling and not easily explained.

It seems to me that - rather than wail about how awful things are and suggest that we go back to the 1960's - the pertinent question we should be asking is "why are we seeing these improvements?" Doing so might help us build on the successes.

Now wouldn't that make an interesting topic for a presidential debate?


  1. Personally, I think the answer is both generational and cyclical. Just like during the 1930s there was a generation that built institutions and re-imagined America after a rough lawless era culminating in the Great Depression. So too will this generation re-imagine an America whose institutions have turned more corrupt than any time since the 1920s.

    To understand why it's this generation that will be the institution builders, I defer to the book the Fourth Turning. In the book the authors describe the 4 generations that take turns running society, their attitudes and mindsets that shape policy, and their child rearing mindset that shapes the next generation.

    Incidentally the generation that came of age in the 60s was the destroyer of institutions, the baby boomer generation, and they are the ones using their destructive impulses on every level of society right now.

    1. Interesting. I used to joke that the generation that voted for Reagan was a lost generation. It seems like I was telling the truth seeing the damage that they've caused. All of the sane people in their 50s and 60s hate to be identified with the boomers.


  2. Sorry, but I haven't met anyone in my age group who is distancing themselves from the term boomer. Destructive impulses?! I look around me at meetings for Democrats and the people I see who are showing up to do the work are people in their sixties, mostly women. I see more people who are retired stepping up to help rebuild society, not tear it down.

  3. Destroyers? Sure. Of a society that needed destroying. There was not much to be pleased with in '50s unless you were white, male and had more $$$ than the average.

    In Birmingham, there was a law that said white people couldn't play backgammon with black people.

    Virginia didn't allow marriage between whites and anybody else until 1968.

    Married Women couldn't own land in Florida without their husbands consent until 1968

    Destroyers. right. Ever try to build a new house on a lot that a broken down house with tearing it down? Can't be done.

  4. I used a bad choice of words. I reside in Teabag nation and a large number of my elders aren't the most enlightened bunch. Using the word boomer is an unfair generalization. I meant the sensible ones I know are embarrassed by the ones that call themselves conservative.