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I'll ask you to imagine this graphic: a simple drawing depicting a person/individual inside a perfect circle.  That's your "space" when it comes to the concept of individual freedom.  The freer you are to do what you want at any given moment, the larger the circle.  Now, imagine the same drawing depicting other individuals and their personal freedom sphere positioned next to each other.  

I think that most people would agree with the proposition that others should have the freedom to do what they want as long as their actions do not harm other people, or in a larger context, the community at large.  Also, I think that may apply to harming the natural environment.

And I think that it may be safe to argue that when the actions of one individual harm others we start getting into the issue of criminality.

Here's how the concept of "crime" is described in Wikipedia:

The term crime does not, in modern times, have any simple and universally accepted definition, but one definition is that a crime, also called an offence or a criminal offence, is an act harmful not only to some individual, but also to the community or the state (a public wrong). Such acts are forbidden and punishable by law.
The emphasis is mine

Now, let me attempt to build my argument/theory from this point... Let's say that we assign a quantity that summarizes the total capacity for crime within any given society, and let's say that that number is 100 (as in 100 percent).  And let's assume that we take for a given that there will always be a certain amount of criminality present in any society.

Given these assumptions, I argue that one of the hallmarks of a truly free and democratic society is for the capacity and/or propensity to commit crimes to be evenly distributed, more or less.  What do I mean by that?  If we go back to the individual freedom sphere, as people get to the outer boundaries of theirs, there would be a possibility that some will cross the line.  It is at that point that they become subject to sanctions if there is probable cause of a crime (in a free society).

I think this point is important.  Let me list some examples of individual actions which I think may fall within the confines of personal freedom, including some which some people may find objectionable (again, pushing the envelop a bit): attending church; going to the movies; going abroad on vacation; going to a wedding; watching porn; smoking pot; using drugs; choosing to be monogamous in a relationship; a poly-amorous household (with consenting adults); taking part in an orgy; exchanging explicit photos of sexual content via different media between consenting adults; going fishing; taking a walk at the beach; making a purchase a Amazon.com; attending a protest rally; jogging; going to the gym; eating lots of greasy foods; being a vegetarian; being a Christian, and Buddhist, a Muslim, an Atheist, Agnostic, or Spiritual, or anything in between at any time you choose.

Let's say that there are potentially tens of thousands of actions we can take a free individuals (within the confines of our individual freedom sphere).

Now, I also argue that a very important aspect of freedom is the ability for an individual to maintain a certain amount of privacy.  In fact, I argue that an erosion of privacy rights is an erosion of freedom itself.

And this is a good segue to introduce the issue of the kind of for-profit, corporate-controlled surveillance police state entrenching itself in our society as you read this.

I argue that in the final analysis, the surveillance police state serves the ruling class, and if so, what appears to be a total information awareness (about each citizen) capability serves as a repressive and oppressive tool against citizens.

The ruling class, with what appears to be a limitless capability to spread false narratives and propaganda, as well as to create the systemic conditions for social dysfunction, is able to manipulate the middle class into accepting a certain narrative about what it means to be safe and secured, and protected against crime.

The system is set up to engender certain dysfunction among vulnerable communities.  Some of the structural issues include the widespread ownership of guns, discrimination against minorities, and the tearing down of the social safety net, neglect of the homeless and the mentally ill, among others.  

Once the oppression reaches certain levels, crime may go up, you'll see mass shootings, etc., and then the corporate-controlled media amplifies the effects of those things in the minds of the middle class, which is then manipulated into acquiescing to increased methods of surveillance and control by the corporate state.

As this process takes place, the individual freedom sphere (circle) starts to close, little by little, conditioning people to conform.

Now, it is true that as the circle closes, the ability for any single individual to commit crimes also diminishes.  And as it does, through additional regulations an laws, the process accelerates until it becomes almost impossible for average individuals to commit crimes.  That's when you have the modern Surveillance Police State (we are fast moving towards that condition).

Now, let me get back to what I mentioned at the beginning regarding the total capacity of any given society to commit crimes... So if we still equate the total capacity to 100 (as in 100 percent), what happens to that displaced capacity?  In other words, if larger and larger segments of society have less and less capability of committing crimes, where does transfers to?

I argue that it transfers to the ruling elite, in a manner that's not too dissimilar to the unprecedented levels of inequality of income (distribution).

And I argue that that explains what we've seen during the last decade or so, where the ruling elite has engaged in massively consequential crimes including war crimes, massive financial looting of the country's coffers, and a wholesale undermining of constitutional protections, all of it with appears to be total impunity.

And so, that's my "Unequal Distribution of Criminality Theory."  The extreme income inequality has helped the ruling elite further rig the system in their favor, chipping away at our constitutional rights (which diminishes the circumference of our individual freedom sphere), which results in repression and oppression (and exploitation), all of it leading towards a Totalitarian (Corporate) Police State.

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Comment Preferences

  •  A Hard Numerical Measurement Was Published On (7+ / 0-)

    one element of this about a week ago, headling a FP diary:

    Wage theft outstrips bank, gas station and convenience store robberies.

    If we add up behaviors of rich that are formally illegal now, including the most plausible fraction of many acts that were never prosecuted for example in the economic collapse, I think in the most literal legalistic sense your thesis may prove true.

    --Never mind the legal crimes against society including propaganda and buying out the political system.

    We may have achieved kleptocracy.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Nov 11, 2013 at 05:04:44 PM PST

  •  A lot of recent research.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, FG

    Indicates that crime has a strong biological component (often combined with bad early childhood experiences).  See Adrian Rayne, "The Anatomy of Violence."    MRI's and Pet scans have allowed scientists to see that in many cases the criminal mind is truly different.  Many studies have found a difference in the angular gyrus part of the brain between criminals and non-criminals.  Adoption studies are equally convincing.   See Mednick-the adopted offspring of criminal parents were more likely to become criminals than the adopted away offspring of non-criminal biological parents.  

    Twin studies suggest that 40-50% of criminality is inherited.

    I am always suspect of these class division stories.   They are vague.  With a biosocial model, there is data and while there are arguments, technology has increasingly allowed us to measure innate reasons for criminal behavior.

    Of course, it is always easier to post these science things on a liberal blog as liberals tend to like data and science.  

    •  what is "criminality"? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT, joegoldstein, mahakali overdrive

      What, specifically, is it that may be "40-50%... inherited"?

      "I am not sure how we got here, but then, I am not really sure where we are." -Susan from 29

      by HudsonValleyMark on Mon Nov 11, 2013 at 05:30:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  An answer (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FG

        40-50% percent inherited means that 40-50% of the volatility in the response or dependent variable -in this case  individual crime rates (# of crimes per period of time)  -can be explained through simple measures of the criminality (their crime rate) of your descendants.   No model can explain 100% of the variance in results and there is always some unexplained factor.  I am sure that other measures are significant also: violent childhood, substance abuse, etc.

        If you don't like numbers, just type if PET scans or MRI scans for criminals and non criminals.   A picture is worth a 1000 words.

      •  The Mednick study that I found (4+ / 0-)

        showed that there was a strong correlation of conviction for property crime for the biological children of men who had been convicted of a property crime. Simply saying that 40-50% of crime is biological is not the correct conclusion fro that information.

        "Genetic Influences in Criminal Convictions: Evidence from an Adoption Cohort" is the name of the study. I'm taking all of this "crime is mostly biological" with a huge grain of salt. It's based on one study that focused on convictions for property crimes.

    •  If you have a penchant for studies, about this? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT, Sandino
      Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior  
      Seven studies using experimental and naturalistic methods reveal that upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals. In studies 1 and 2, upper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals. In follow-up laboratory studies, upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies (study3), take valued goods from others (study4), lie in a negotiation (study 5), cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study6), and endorse unethical behavior at work (study 7) than were lower-class individuals. Mediator and moderator data demonstrated that upper-class individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed.
      •  That is not necessarily inconsistent with the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, mahakali overdrive

        findings that tim1959 shared, as we all know there is a considerable correlation of class across generations.



        Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

        by Wee Mama on Mon Nov 11, 2013 at 05:43:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, the less consequential crimes like robbery, (0+ / 0-)

          murder, and petty crimes may have both a biological and a sociological component, and in that respect, the poster has a point.

          But I'm focusing here on the more consequential crimes committed by corrupted-to-the-core ruling elites.  That's when you get to war crimes, massive looting of the country's coffers, increased police state repression.

          The damage those higher crimes do to society are exponentially higher than individual crimes, of any kind.

      •  Ethical behavor or crime? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FG

        Crime implies a higher level of selfishness than the narcissism shown by the upper classes.  I too have read the studies and tend to agree with them.  Simply because the police state theory does a poor job explaining crime trends does not mean that I condone the increasingly crass attitude adopted by the wealthy in this country.  In an increasingly secular world without simple moral guideposts, narcissists have more an advantage as there are a lot less people who look down on marginal behavior or even recognize it.  My neighbor here in Florida owns several strip bars and is admired for his wealth.   This simply would not have occurred in a suburban area when I was young.

        But the crime rate has dropped a lot in the past two decades.   The rise of the police state simply doesn't explain it.  

        •  We have a fundamental disagreement there. I (0+ / 0-)

          don't think that engaging in massive deception (propaganda) to justify wars of aggression, war crimes, war profiteering, can be called unethical behavior or narcissism.

          I don't think the Wall Street racketeering criminal cartel engaging in the looting or trillions of dollars, and the subsequent cover up by sycophantic, on-the-take, government officials can be called unethical behavior.

          These criminal acts have caused the dead of hundreds of thousands of people, the loss of middle class wealth (duly transferred to the ruling class), etc.

          These are massive, very consequential crimes, of much higher order than the types of crimes committed by average individuals.

      •  I'll copy my previous comment in reply to your (0+ / 0-)

        citing this study:

        Did you bother to read the entire piece, including the venues participants had been drawn from and the specific setups that were used to set up class distinction? Two from Amazon's Mechanical Turk website (which I've been on, btw - and the "selection" processes are to giggle), two from the Berkeley undergraduate pool, and two which classified different types of cars as significators of "class". Read carefully, and the studies aren't of class itself, but of perceptions of class by the participants, which is rather artificially set up in the experiments themselves
        It didn't support your case then, and it doesn't now.

        At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

        by serendipityisabitch on Mon Nov 11, 2013 at 09:14:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have a different take on the article (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          serendipityisabitch, AoT

          Yes, there are challenges to the external validity of the studies, although I think you overstate them. Someone who drives a $50,000 car probably is better off than I am; it's not a perfect measure, but it isn't just a perception. We could go study by study, but I think it's a sidelight.

          I think it's interesting that social class predicted cheating on the dice game in Study 6, but the relationship isn't very strong. In Study 7, the estimated effect of the prime (simply listing three benefits of greed) is more than twice as large as the social class difference in the neutral-prime condition -- and the prime appeared to obliterate any class-based difference. So, even taking the studies at face value, indeed they don't provide much support for Ray's position.

          The deeper problem is that Ray's argument, as far as I can tell, veers from "the 1%" to a small fraction of the 1% to the 10%-or-so (for instance, the people who drive the best cars in Studies 1 and 2) to the nobody-in-particular (the correlational studies) and back again. That's fine if the purpose is simply to assert that rich people suck. But if social class actually is complicated and demands serious thought, well, that's another matter.

          "I am not sure how we got here, but then, I am not really sure where we are." -Susan from 29

          by HudsonValleyMark on Tue Nov 12, 2013 at 05:34:57 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The studies you are referring to, specifically (4+ / 0-)

      Rednick, did not find a biological correlation with violent crime, just things like theft.

      And the brain differences are meaningless in regard to inherited criminality.

      I'm honestly skeptical of invoking biological explanations when a social explanation is more likely.

      I'd only add that the statistics of who commits crimes are not really available. The only thing we do have available are statistics of those who get arrested for a crime or convicted of a crime. That causes a huge skew and introduces all kinds of problems with research around this topic.

      •  Thank you (3+ / 0-)

        for saying this... it's a glaring flaw in the comment and very potentially troubling on an ethical level. We might also try going back to measuring head size with funny little calipers. That way, madness lies. And I tend to believe in a somewhat materialist view of the human being in many ways. Perhaps more than is popular at times. But not when it comes to something that is, by definition, contingent on a social norm, like the term "criminality."  

        Click the ♥ to join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news & views written from a black pov - everyone is welcome.

        by mahakali overdrive on Mon Nov 11, 2013 at 08:46:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Crime rates have dropped the past few decades (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama

    Steven Leavitt, the famous University of Chicago Economist points to the legalization of abortion has the main reason for this drop.   Not only is this a great piece of evidence (done by a future Nobel winner, in my opinion)  to hammer conservatives with, it also doesn't fit the Police State Story above.  If things are getting worse, why has the crime rate dropped so much?

    •  It actually fits my narrative perfectly. As the (0+ / 0-)

      state becomes more repressive, it becomes a police state backed up by a total information surveillance system, and an increasingly draconian legal system.

      At that point, crime rates go down, as the ability of the ruling elite to commit (a different type of crimes) rises accordingly.

      That's when you get into massive looting (which is ongoing), war profiteering, war crimes, police brutality with impunity, etc....

    •  It's not abortion (2+ / 0-)

      It's mainly the removal of lead from gasoline that is almost certainly responsibly for the drop in violent crime. And it's been mostly violent crime that's dropped. Add to that the new version of policing that is all about making an officer responsible for crime in a certain area, which leads to under reporting of crime stats, something that is happening in NYC.

      Also, I would never trust a University of Chicago Economist, they're the least connected to reality.

    •  rates of things called 'crimes' by the MSM dropped (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ray Pensador

      Rates of evaporating hundred billions of dollars of pensioners' wealth in fraudulent high finance schemes and defrauding the average taxpayer into paying the bill, on the other hand, went way up. That, in a nutshell, is the OP's thesis. Your evidence fits one side of that story exactly. The other side, you ignore.

      •  actually, it doesn't (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        serendipityisabitch

        The diary argues this:

        ...as the circle closes, the ability for any single individual to commit crimes also diminishes.  And as it does, through additional regulations an laws, the process accelerates until it becomes almost impossible for average individuals to commit crimes.  That's when you have the modern Surveillance Police State (we are fast moving towards that condition).
        That's colorful, but the diary doesn't adduce an iota of evidence that crimes among "average individuals" have been affected by a move toward the "modern Surveillance Police State" -- much less that we are "fast moving towards" a condition where it is "almost impossible for average individuals to commit crimes."

        Even on the most favorable reading of Levitt, it's too glib to say that the legalization of abortion is "the main reason" for declines in various crime rates. Nevertheless, there is a plausible case that that extension of personal freedom did contribute to a decline in crime. It's also very likely that a reduction in lead exposure has contributed, among other social trends.

        The diary also doesn't adduce actual evidence that criminality among the ruling elite is increasing (plausible, but definitions and measures would be nice), nor for a causal mechanism whereby criminality is or can be redistributed from bottom to top. As social theory goes, it ain't much. But it has provoked some interesting comments.

        "I am not sure how we got here, but then, I am not really sure where we are." -Susan from 29

        by HudsonValleyMark on Tue Nov 12, 2013 at 05:58:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Plato would have disagreed with you, I think. (3+ / 0-)

    He thought that the best government was an absolute monarchy ruled by an enlightened tyrant such as Dionysius of Syracuse. He had observed Athens deteriorate in a repressive state as it became more democratic. It was the public that sentenced Socrates to death- something Pericles would never have allowed.

    Rome was an enlightened place under Nerva and his successors, and it looked like Plato's idea was truly realized. Nerva adopted Trajan, and Trajan adopted Hadrian, Hadrian adopted Antoninus Pius, and Antoninus adopted Lucius Verus and Marcus Aurelius. These men had enormous wealth and power,  much more relatively than anyone today. And it worked.

    Unfortunately Marcus Aurelius had a biological son, Commodus, who proceeded to demonstrate the problem with absolute monarchy.

    My point is that different systems have different strengths and weaknesses. One of our system's weaknesses is wealth concentration. On the other hand, absolute monarchies work fine when the kings are gay and don't have kids.

    •  I don't think so because we don't have an (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Andrew F Cockburn

      enlightened ruling class; if we did, that argument would have more credence.  The ruling class is depraved, small-minded, utterly corrupt, and greedy bunch.  That's the problem.

      •  Plato would have said the same about the demos. (2+ / 0-)

        I think the problem is the same everywhere and in every system. Humans find it easy to rationalize their own self interest. This needs to be systematically checked.

        Our constitution goes to great lengths to ensure that no one has enough power to make decisions on their own. It isn't perfect, but it was a major step forward. Nerva realized that fathers have a blind spot, so he adopted a childless man as his heir. That also was a step forward.

        I don't think that our ruling class is any worse as a group than any other. The problem I see is that there are no checks on their power. Which I guess is the point you made in your diary.

    •  A gay king is closer to Plato's ideal (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ray Pensador, Andrew F Cockburn

      than you'd expect. It was a cultural aspect of Athens at the time, but he really supported the ruling class being male and being in relationships with each other. Women were to only be there to produce babies and do chores under the republic. One of the first times a fascist system had been clearly laid out. Or at least totalitarianism.

  •  I am going to nit pick at one point... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador, AoT, mahakali overdrive
    And as it does, through additional regulations an laws, the process accelerates until it becomes almost impossible for average individuals to commit crimes.
    Actually, as there are more and more rules and regulations, the potential to step out of your circle increases.  I think one of the greatest corruptions of the laws are unenforced or selectively enforced laws.  We are at a point where if closely analysed, all of us break laws everyday.  I have read that lying to your boss can be considered a felony as is lying to a federal officer.  As the circle shrinks, what we define as criminality expands.  At first we may protest but over time, we accept it as the way it is (peeing in a cup for instance and airport security).  Your race or public stature simply determines whether they enforce the law.  

    I think your diary makes very important points and I am not trying to detract from it but I think that if we look at the amount of freedom in this country as a finite game, in order for certain people's freedom to expand, it must be at the cost of another.  As the 1% get more freedoms, someone has to lose freedom.  

    I think the arrest rates of young black Americans and our current prison population is strong evidence that criminality is on the rise and very unequally distributed. I think it is a mistake though, for people to think this is an inherited trait or due to poverty as much as it is calculated and the result of selective enforcement of increasingly stricter rules and harsher punishments for the general population.

    "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

    by Buckeye Nut Schell on Mon Nov 11, 2013 at 06:05:51 PM PST

    •  I just don't see any disagreement in what you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Buckeye Nut Schell, AoT

      wrote.  That is my point.  As the repression increases, typical crimes go down, and the ruling elite continues to make more and more behavior illegal (especially behavior that challenges their control), and as people are subjected to more sanctions, they become conformist, as repression increases.

      •  I think it depends on the definition of crime (3+ / 0-)

        In the diary you note that you're talking about specific things that you consider crimes and you are referring to those things when you talk about crime, not just things that are illegal. If we equate crime to things that are illegal, which you didn't but I think is a more intuitive definition of crime, then what Buckeye Nut Schell is saying makes more sense.

        If it's easier to be convicted of a crime then the amount of convictions will go up but the amount of crimes, as you define them, will drop.

        I might have misunderstood your diary though.

      •  I can see that... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, Ray Pensador

        I guess I took:

        becomes almost impossible for average individuals to commit crimes.
        As in breaking the law (which the rate is increasing) as opposed to the crimes against one another (invading or restricting another's circle) that you originally described.

        As I implied at the bottom of my comment, I liked what you wrote but I guess, I was misreading (misunderstanding) the point I copied from your diary above.  I do that a lot.

        "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

        by Buckeye Nut Schell on Mon Nov 11, 2013 at 06:23:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wait... what? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA, HudsonValleyMark

    If a community starts out with a 'natural' amount of crime overall, then a decrease in crime in one segment will mean that other segments will automatically increase crime to fulfill the natural function?

    Is this something like: Nature abhors a vacuum?

    I hear you say there's never an actual decrease in crime, it just transfers from one sector of the economy to another - because that's just how human society is set up?

    And the smaller the sphere of freedom around a given person, the less likely they are to go past those boundaries? Which would mean that if that sphere expanded to two or three times the average, it would make the inhabitant more likely to push past its limits?

    Is one of the things you are saying that if I have more freedom, that will make me more likely to commit a crime? To expend the extra effort to go beyond what are more and more comfortable boundaries in order to mess with other people? But that if I were so bound in place that I could not move without stepping on someone else's space, I would be less likely to try to change the situation to become more comfortable?

    In your fast segue to your polemic against the very rich, you conveniently managed to ignore all the ramifications of your theory in the rest of society.

    So: There is a natural "level" of criminality across the population as a whole, and some vague, inexplicable force maintains that level no matter what the actual level of laws, or wealth, or - whatever - is at the time. Which also says that this same level must have existed for all of human society, for all the years we have existed.

    It's a great theory - if I can find a state with low crime rates and show the factors which pertain, you will always have the option of pointing to a wholly separate segment of the population among whom crime is rampant - if not here, then in another country. And if you cannot find that segment, you can always point to crimes which must be being committed, even if we can't see them and have no proof of them, because of course the level of crime must hold steady across society.

    I will mention, for completeness' sake, that your varying definitions of crimes don't seem to match any legal definition, since your recitation of 'free' acts includes a number of items that today are categorized as crimes (whether they are or not is another question entirely). If you, or any other single person, get to choose the acts which you consider crimes, it's easy to make whatever case for criminality you choose, simply by making up a reality which supports the case. Which, I think, is what you have done here.

    At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

    by serendipityisabitch on Mon Nov 11, 2013 at 09:03:52 PM PST

    •  Let's say that crime includes murder, robbery, (0+ / 0-)

      larceny, rape, fraud (of various kind), assault, battery, you know, the run of the mill stuff.

      As the society moves towards a totalitarian surveillance police state controlled by for profit corporations to a large extent (you know, the revolving door of corruption and all that), the state with a growing list of tools at its disposal, including an almost total information awareness surveillance apparatus is going to be able to prevent a larger and larger number of typical crimes from occurring.

      Let me give you an example... Let's say that during afternoon rush hour you have a segment of highway 880 from San Jose to Oakland, and let's say that there are 75,000 card with about 115,000 people in those cars.

      Let's assume that within that group there are illegal weapons, drugs, contraband, a couple of victims of human trafficking, and maybe another 1,000 crime-like situations.

      If the state has a way of knowing all the information necessary to nab every person that may be in violation of the law, and stops traffic and arrests all those people, it would have been able to stop 100 percent of the crime within that segment of people, but in that situation you are talking about a totalitarian police state.

      Now, my argument is that as the state (powerful business interests, extremely wealthy individuals and their puppet politicians and government functionaries on the take, apologists and political hack) is able to accumulate that type of power, because it is not benevolent, it will use that power to commit even greater and more consequential crimes: oppression and exploitation of the population; war crimes and war profiteering; massive looting of the financial system, etc.

      This is actually very common throughout history, where corrupt ruling elites subjugate the population driven by depravity and unquenchable greed.  Read up on it.

    •  natural crime rate (2+ / 0-)

      Of course there isn't a single natural crime rate invariant across all populations and time. But I'm sure you wouldn't have the gall to argue that in any given society, at any given point in time, there is not a natural crime rate which will be predictably similar next year to the rate this year, and will change incrementally and for reasons which are at least in principle discoverable and explainable, rather than varying in an extreme and random way from year to year.

      Different societies at different times have natural rates of crime. These rates can be changed by changing the societal factors which contribute to the commission of crimes, such as poverty, inequality, poor parenting, valorization of violence, etc. Or, they can be changed by increasing the ability of the state to catch criminals before they commit a crime and to lock them away forever after they complete a crime, so that they can't complete another.

      The latter method doesn't decrease the number of people who are motivated to commit a crime, and it makes everyone less free. It increases the power of people in the police and the government over everyone else, which in turn increases their ability to commit crimes without being held accountable by everyone else, to keep their crimes a secret from everyone else, and to punish everyone who even tries to label the immoral acts of those in power as crimes.

      So what you end up with, since people aren't angels, is fewer immoral acts that are committed by ordinary people and labelled as crimes, and more immoral acts committed by police and government officials, and not labelled as crimes. Not to mention, less freedom and democracy.

      That's why trying to reduce crime by reducing the societal factors that motivate people to commit crimes (poverty, poor parenting, etc) is a better way of reducing crime than by trying to increase the ability of the state to surveil and control the population.

      •  Thank you. That is the main point of my diary, but (0+ / 0-)

        I think any reasonable could easily ascertain that.

      •  but your argument contradicts Ray's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        serendipityisabitch
        Different societies at different times have natural rates of crime. These rates can be changed by changing the societal factors which contribute to the commission of crimes, such as poverty, inequality, poor parenting, valorization of violence, etc. Or, they can be changed by increasing the ability of the state to catch criminals before they commit a crime and to lock them away forever after they complete a crime, so that they can't complete another.
        Compare:
        And let's assume that we take for a given that there will always be a certain amount of criminality present in any society....

        Now, let me get back to what I mentioned at the beginning regarding the total capacity of any given society to commit crimes... So if we still equate the total capacity to 100 (as in 100 percent), what happens to that displaced capacity?  In other words, if larger and larger segments of society have less and less capability of committing crimes, where does transfers to?

        I argue that it transfers to the ruling elite, in a manner that's not too dissimilar to the unprecedented levels of inequality of income (distribution).

        Ergo, increasing surveillance doesn't affect natural rates of crime; it merely displaces criminality from the many to the few.

        What's happening here is not uncommon: you made an argument that makes more sense than Ray's (surveillance might reduce crime among the many, and also might increase crime among the few), so Ray replied as if that is what he said all along. But in fairness to serendipityisabitch, it absolutely wasn't what Ray said all along. It's a shame when people get criticized for thinking too clearly about other people's words.

        "I am not sure how we got here, but then, I am not really sure where we are." -Susan from 29

        by HudsonValleyMark on Tue Nov 12, 2013 at 06:08:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I have lots of gall, but no, I wouldn't argue (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MKSinSA, HudsonValleyMark

        that point, and in fact, I wasn't arguing it. Ray was arguing that crimes not committed by "normal" people (that is, not the ravenous, corrupt wealthy elite) somehow transfer to the elite through some process of osmosis when there is less freedom to go around.

        Your arguments are all valid, though I might quibble with minor points at another time (I suspect not). Ray's arguments, however, generally start with the assumption of the corruption and megalomania (and criminality) of the wealthy elite and work backwards to try to explain why it is that this is true, then state the case for the conclusion in reverse order.

        Here he argues from a) criminality among the corrupt elite must be increasing, and b) real crime among 'normal' people is decreasing (supposedly because of the efficacy of the growing police state), to c) there's some natural level for crime across those populations....

        At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

        by serendipityisabitch on Tue Nov 12, 2013 at 07:32:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm pretty sure C was a premise (2+ / 0-)

          not a conclusion. The argument was:

          A. There's a natural rate of crime for a given place/time.

          B. A more restrictive police/security apparatus decreases a regular individual's freedoms and decreases the amount of crime regular individuals commit.

          Therefore

          C. that decrease in crime leads to an increase in crime among the powerful.

          Given how he's defined crime I'd say that B is probably correct, but A is yet to be shown as true. I doubt you could show it as true, really.

          And I don't know that it's all laid out in a way that it is easily understandable in the diary. It seems to offer each point as a premise and then a conclusion as well later.

          •  Well, I said it was written backwards from the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AoT

            conclusion....

            Warning - extreme meta follows.

            The only consistent theme I've found in these diaries over the past couple of months is the conviction that the corrupt, unethical, etc., etc., wealthy elite are at the base of, if not the cause of, all our problems.

            The premises and the logic that attempt to prove this conviction vary from diary to diary, but the conviction/conclusion never changes. Any argument against that conclusion tends to be sardonically quashed; an argument against the logic or the premises is discounted as not pertinent to the main point, which is (almost) always that we need to Do Something about the wealthy elites.

            And yet, there's something about these diaries that brings out the absolute best (and sometimes the worst) in the people replying. When comments are thoughtful, they are very well done; they have taught me an incredible amount about the various premises and arguments that have been used. That keeps me coming back to them, even though the diaries themselves have never satisfied me as to their logic. Btw, I have no problem at all with the premise that accountability for the very rich is a problem which needs to be addressed, and I would not be surprised to eventually see one or more potential solutions come up in the context of these diaries.

            At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

            by serendipityisabitch on Tue Nov 12, 2013 at 09:55:02 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I agree about the diaries (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              serendipityisabitch

              I've found some very good conversations and discussion in them and it has made this site worth coming back to. I don't ever fully agree with the premises of the diaries, but Ray seems to be the only one here who can write the sort of diary that actually gets people talking about these deeper issues.

            •  Let me try this... Are you familiar with the work (0+ / 0-)

              of Chris Hedges? I would say that I pretty much agree with his conclusions. And is mot that I've come to agree with those conclusions because I read his stuff. I reached those conclusions on my own by observing and thinking.

              Now let's set aside for a second the issue of whether my arguments are well thought out or not. Instead I'll ask you to opine about Chris Hedges conclusions regarding what he also calls a Plutocracy.

              Finally, as I've mentioned before, what I see you doing in my diaries is not taking on my arguments but attacking my character and finding opportunities to HR comments without cause.

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