Current Affairs

"The Trouble with Crime Statistics"

An excellent exposition of the great difficulties in understanding the causes of crime and what public policy should do about it. Three of the most interesting points:

In 1992, a meta-analysis of four hundred and forty-three published studies on juvenile-delinquency programs found that a third of them had done more harm than good. Evidence suggests that D.A.R.E. and Scared Straight—modern-day programs similar to the Youth Study—may have been counterproductive, too. . . . 

Such indirect effects of changes in the law are hard to predict. For this reason, Sampson argues, “practitioners (e.g., cops on the beat) may be better ‘theorists’ of what policy changes will trigger on the ground than academic criminologists who theorize at a considerable remove.”

Criminologists face a problem that’s common in many fields: overdetermination. Why does someone commit a crime? Was it peer pressure, poverty, a broken family, broken windows, bad genes, bad parenting, under-policing, leaded gasoline, Judas Priest? 

"San Francisco, solid blue city of -- empty storefronts and missing young people"


But, hey, it's not all bad in Baghdad by the Bay: some San Franciscans still turn out for the annual "pants-free BART ride". Does your deplorable city have that?

Related: "Bankers Flooding JPMorgan Event Bemoan San Francisco Squalor".

“San Francisco is the Bill Clinton of cities. It squandered itself with its flaws.”

"Why electric cars still don’t live up to the hype"

The Washington Post somehow gives space to Charles Lane to smack down to the e-car hype.

Mass adoption of electric cars, however, cannot occur unless they can do everything gas-powered vehicles can do — including the ability to go hundreds of miles before refueling, and refueling easily — at a comparable total cost of ownership. Otherwise, electric cars will be a niche product for upper-income folks. And government subsidies for them will be a regressive transfer of social resources in return for little climate benefit, given that the U.S. power grid the cars draw from is 64 percent fueled by coal and gas.

Related: from early last year, "Electric Car-Owners Shocked: New Study Confirms EVs Considerably Worse For Climate Than Diesel Cars".