Remarkable, and perhaps prescient, remarks on the possible effects of the Crime Bill.
[Congressional Record Volume 140, Number 39 (Wednesday, April 13, 1994)]
Mr. Speaker, let me begin with a profound remark: Two plus two equals four.
In other words, there is a logical and rational process called cause and effect. In terms of Newtonian physics, that means that every action causes an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, Mr. Speaker, there are reasons why things happen, as controversial as that statement may be.
A farmer neglects to tend and care for his fields—it is likely that the crop will fail.
A company neglects to invest in research and development—it is likely that the company will not be profitable.
In a similar way, Mr. Speaker, a society which neglects, which oppresses and which disdains a very significant part of its population—which leaves them hungry, impoverished, unemployed, uneducated, and utterly without hope, will, through cause and effect, create a population which is bitter, which is angry, which is violent, and a society which is crime-ridden. This is the case in America, and it is the case in countries throughout the world.
Mr. Speaker, how do we talk about the very serious crime problem in America without mentioning that we have the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world, by far, with 22 percent of our children in poverty and 5 million who are hungry today? Do the Members think maybe that might have some relationship to crime? How do we talk about crime when this Congress is prepared, this year, to spend 11 times more for the military than for education; when 21 percent of our kids drop out of high school; when a recent study told us that twice as many young workers now earn poverty wages as 10 years ago; when the gap between the rich and the poor is wider, and when the rate of poverty continues to grow? Do the members think that might have some relationship to crime?
Mr. Speaker, it is my firm belief that clearly, there are some people in our society who are horribly violent, who are deeply sick and sociopathic, and clearly these people must be put behind bars in order to protect society from them. But it is also my view that through the neglect of our Government and through a grossly irrational set of priorities, we are dooming tens of millions of young people to a future of bitterness, misery, hopelessness, drugs, crime, and violence. And Mr. Speaker, all the jails in the world, and we already imprison more people per capita than any other country, and all of the executions in the world, will not make that situation right. We can either educate or electrocute. We can create meaningful jobs, rebuilding our society, or we can build more jails. Mr. Speaker, let us create a society of hope and compassion, not one of hate and vengeance.