It takes only two things to keep people in chains:
The ignorance of the oppressed
and the treachery of their leaders.
Last July, we published, “Gap Psychology at work. Why reducing crime does not require fighting crime.“
As readers of this blog know, “Gap Psychology“ describes the human desire to distance oneself (widen the Gap) from those who are poorer, and to come closer to those who are richer.
Without the Gap, no one would be rich; we all would be the same. And the wider the Gap, the richer the rich are. Thus the prime interest of the rich is not just to make more money, but more importantly, to widen the Gaps below them.
Gap Psychology is manifested in many ways, from segregated neighborhoods, to private schools, to membership clubs, designer clothes, expensive cars, jewelry, mansions, etc.
Each is designed to help the richer separate themselves, physically and emotionally, from those who are poorer. The reverse also is true: For instance, wearing expensive jewelry allows the wearer to “come closer” to those who are richer. That is the other phase of Gap Psychology.
Gap Psychology is maintained by certain, basic beliefs, including the false narrative that poorer people are fundamentally less moral, less intelligent and lazier than those who are richer.
More crime, especially violent crime, occurs in poor neighborhoods. This fact leads to two partial solutions for violent crime (“Partial,” because there are no total solutions for social problems):
- Attack violent crime directly with more police, tougher treatment by police, stricter laws, and harsher penalties, or
- Reduce the number and population of poor neighborhoods.
#1 is the partial solution of choice for the right wing. President Trump has advocated this approach.
#2 is the partial solution of choice for the left wing.
Which approach is more humane, more moral and more likely to reduce violent crime?
Why Inequality Predicts Homicide Rates Better Than Any Other Variable
Posted on January 2, 2018 by Yves Smith regarding Maia Szalavitz, a neuroscience journalist.
According to the World Bank, a simple measure of inequality predicts about half of the variance in murder rates between American states and between countries around the world.
When inequality is high and strips large numbers of men of the usual markers of status – like a good job and the ability to support a family – matters of respect and disrespect loom disproportionately.
Inequality predicts homicide rates “better than any other variable”, says Martin Daly, professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at McMaster University in Ontario.
This includes factors like rates of gun ownership (which also rise when inequality does) and cultural traits like placing more emphasis on “honor” (this, too, turns out to be linked with inequality). “
About 60 [academic] papers show that a very common result of greater inequality is more violence, usually measured by homicide rates,” says Richard Wilkinson, author of The Spirit Level and co-founder of the Equality Trust.
The introduction to the “Ten Steps to Prosperity” (below) reads:
“The most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the have-mores and the have-less.
“Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.”
Just over half of murders are set off, not by a robbery, a love triangle, drugs, domestic violence or money, but simply the sense that someone had been dissed.
Harold Pollack, co-director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, agrees. “If you foreclose [mainstream] opportunities for respect, status and personal advancement, people will find other ways to pursue those things.”
Obviously, potential murderers don’t check the local Gini Index – the most commonly used measure of inequality that looks at how wealth is distributed – before deciding whether to get a gun.
But they are keenly attuned to their own level of status in society and whether it allows them to get what they need to live a decent life. If they can’t, while others visibly bask in luxury that seems both impossible to attain and unfairly won, those far from the top often become desperate.
To paraphrase Bill Clinton, when he pointed out the most important issue in America, “It’s the Gap, stupid.”
Yes, widening the Gap by enriching the rich and impoverishing the poor also provides the most common motivation for violent crime.
What’s less known is that in most countries, most of the victims are male. Since inequality is common worldwide, killings related to status predominate – and men kill those whom they see as rivals.
All types of homicide are much less common in the egalitarian Scandinavian countries than in the US. But disputes over male status are so much lower in such countries that while in the US, 77% of victims are male, only 50% are in the Nordic nations.
“What’s fallen out is all this male macho stuff,” Daly says. Although inequality can also affect rates of crimes like robbery or burglary, its effect is most clearly seen in the way it murderously magnifies beefs.
One irony is that violent crime in the poor areas begets the belief that the poor do not “deserve” government assistance — that helping the “takers” only encourages sloth.
This belief, together with Gap Psychology provides the rich with a justification for cutting social benefits like Social Security, Medicare, poverty aids, education aids, etc.
The recent, stunning rise in inequality in America started in 1979, with the top 1% capturing 54% of all the increase in income between that year and 2007. Between 2009 and 2013, the 1% took 85% of income growth and the situation has only worsened since.
Daly says that no one knows what time lag to expect between a rise in inequality and a rise in murder – but if it does take a few decades, this could be the start of a troubling trend, not a blip.
The greater irony is that Donald Trump took advantage of the widening Gap, by promising the poor he would “drain the swamp,” “bring back jobs,” and get “fairer treatment” for America by “making America great, again,” none of which he even has tried to do.
In fact, the ill-fated GOP health care bills were aggressive Gap-widening efforts, and the recently passed, GOP tax bill is the ultimate Gap-widening program.
Stanford historian Walter Scheidel, wrote that historically, the only way high inequality has been flattened has been through catastrophe: disease, famine, world war, societal collapse or communist revolution.
This is where we now are being led, where the poor are blamed for being poor and for experiencing the inevitable violence that results from poverty vs. plenty.
In summary, if you wish to reduce violent crime, the best way is to help lift the poor and middle, not just to jail them.
Or, you can endure catastrophe.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Twitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
The most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the have-mores and the have-less.
Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.
Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:
Ten Steps To Prosperity:
1. ELIMINATE FICA (Ten Reasons to Eliminate FICA )
Although the article lists 10 reasons to eliminate FICA, there are two fundamental reasons:
*FICA is the most regressive tax in American history, widening the Gap by punishing the low and middle-income groups, while leaving the rich untouched, and
*The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, neither needs nor uses FICA to support Social Security and Medicare.
2. FEDERALLY FUNDED MEDICARE — PARTS A, B & D, PLUS LONG TERM CARE — FOR EVERYONE (H.R. 676, Medicare for All )
This article addresses the questions:
*Does the economy benefit when the rich can afford better health care than can the rest of Americans?
*Aside from improved health care, what are the other economic effects of “Medicare for everyone?”
*How much would it cost taxpayers?
*Who opposes it?”
3. PROVIDE A MONTHLY ECONOMIC BONUS TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN AMERICA (similar to Social Security for All) (The JG (Jobs Guarantee) vs the GI (Guaranteed Income) vs the EB (Economic Bonus)) Or institute a reverse income tax.
This article is the fifth in a series about direct financial assistance to Americans:
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Employer of Last Resort is a bad idea. Sunday, Jan 1 2012
MMT’s Job Guarantee (JG) — “Another crazy, rightwing, Austrian nutjob?” Thursday, Jan 12 2012
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Jobs Guarantee is like the EU’s euro: A beloved solution to the wrong problem. Tuesday, May 29 2012
“You can’t fire me. I’m on JG” Saturday, Jun 2 2012
Economic growth should include the “bottom” 99.9%, not just the .1%, the only question being, how best to accomplish that. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) favors giving everyone a job. Monetary Sovereignty (MS) favors giving everyone money. The five articles describe the pros and cons of each approach.
4. FREE EDUCATION (INCLUDING POST-GRAD) FOR EVERYONE Five reasons why we should eliminate school loans
Monetarily non-sovereign State and local governments, despite their limited finances, support grades K-12. That level of education may have been sufficient for a largely agrarian economy, but not for our currently more technical economy that demands greater numbers of highly educated workers.
Because state and local funding is so limited, grades K-12 receive short shrift, especially those schools whose populations come from the lowest economic groups. And college is too costly for most families.
An educated populace benefits a nation, and benefitting the nation is the purpose of the federal government, which has the unlimited ability to pay for K-16 and beyond.
5. SALARY FOR ATTENDING SCHOOL
Even were schooling to be completely free, many young people cannot attend, because they and their families cannot afford to support non-workers. In a foundering boat, everyone needs to bail, and no one can take time off for study.
If a young person’s “job” is to learn and be productive, he/she should be paid to do that job, especially since that job is one of America’s most important.
6. ELIMINATE FEDERAL TAXES ON BUSINESS
Businesses are dollar-transferring machines. They transfer dollars from customers to employees, suppliers, shareholders and the federal government (the later having no use for those dollars). Any tax on businesses reduces the amount going to employees, suppliers and shareholders, which diminishes the economy. Ultimately, all business taxes reduce your personal income.
7. INCREASE THE STANDARD INCOME TAX DEDUCTION, ANNUALLY. (Refer to this.) Federal taxes punish taxpayers and harm the economy. The federal government has no need for those punishing and harmful tax dollars. There are several ways to reduce taxes, and we should evaluate and choose the most progressive approaches.
Cutting FICA and business taxes would be a good early step, as both dramatically affect the 99%. Annual increases in the standard income tax deduction, and a reverse income tax also would provide benefits from the bottom up. Both would narrow the Gap.
8. TAX THE VERY RICH (THE “.1%) MORE, WITH HIGHER PROGRESSIVE TAX RATES ON ALL FORMS OF INCOME. (TROPHIC CASCADE)
There was a time when I argued against increasing anyone’s federal taxes. After all, the federal government has no need for tax dollars, and all taxes reduce Gross Domestic Product, thereby negatively affecting the entire economy, including the 99.9%.
But I have come to realize that narrowing the Gap requires trimming the top. It simply would not be possible to provide the 99.9% with enough benefits to narrow the Gap in any meaningful way. Bill Gates reportedly owns $70 billion. To get to that level, he must have been earning $10 billion a year. Pick any acceptable Gap (1000 to 1?), and the lowest paid American would have to receive $10 million a year. Unreasonable.
9. FEDERAL OWNERSHIP OF ALL BANKS (Click The end of private banking and How should America decide “who-gets-money”?)
Banks have created all the dollars that exist. Even dollars created at the direction of the federal government, actually come into being when banks increase the numbers in checking accounts. This gives the banks enormous financial power, and as we all know, power corrupts — especially when multiplied by a profit motive.
Although the federal government also is powerful and corrupted, it does not suffer from a profit motive, the world’s most corrupting influence.
10. INCREASE FEDERAL SPENDING ON THE MYRIAD INITIATIVES THAT BENEFIT AMERICA’S 99.9% (Federal agencies)Browse the agencies. See how many agencies benefit the lower- and middle-income/wealth/ power groups, by adding dollars to the economy and/or by actions more beneficial to the 99.9% than to the .1%.
Save this reference as your primer to current economics. Sadly, much of the material is not being taught in American schools, which is all the more reason for you to use it.
The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.