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November 12, 2022 at 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm EST

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Max Dostart-Meers and focuses on the intersection of the good life, the just society, and techno optimistic capitalism. 

Join us for the 7th episode of the “Saving the City Series”: Crime. 

How do we make our cities safe for people and commerce? We will think about policies which not only reduce criminal behavior but make our cities safe for victims of police harassment. How can cities balance the social experimentation—which makes them great—with personal safety?

The ultimate measure for state capacity is crime. Rising rates of violent crime in American cities are a symptom of the breakdown of the American government ability to fulfill its most basic task. The visual degradation of urban life that follows crime is as important a marker for state capacity. While the wealthiest country in the world has ceased to look like it for quite sometime, the past four years have moved us from shabby to apocalyptic.  It is difficult to be optimistic about the future of America when you regularly dodge human feces and heroin needles on your walk to work. There is an unmeasured but severe psychological toll that comes with living in urban America in 2022. This toll is reflected in our music, our politics, and in skyrocketing rates of mental illness.

Cities are places were people move explicitly to reduce the cultural constraints placed on them. They provide anonymity and a looser cultural context. These factors have always raised relative crime rates in cities. We have arrived at a point, however, where the lack of rules in our urban environments begins to actively harm the creativity of its inhabitants. In the past four years, American cities have over-indexed on cultural looseness. The common space, formerly an area of controlled variation, has been abandoned to chaos. While some may revel in grime, the San Fransisco and New York City of today are not the intentional outcomes of policy. Governments have lost control. These environments may provide some joy to doomers but they benefit no one.

So what can be done? To generalize, a lot of criminology research boils down to crime being a function of the likelihood of getting caught.  We do not necessarily need to change our laws, but we do need to enforce them better. Ending mass incarceration and defunding the police are antithetical policies.  If the U.S. released all non-violent offenders, it would still have an incarceration rate of 362 per 100,000 adults. The average European country has a total incarceration rate of roughly 1o0. If we are to one day reduce our incarceration rate, we need to start deterring more violent crime. This means more, better trained police on our streets and increasing the percentage of cases which are accurately solved.

Assorted Links: Police for America, Catch More Criminals, Who’s in Jail?


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November 12, 2022
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm EST
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Max Dostart-Meers
Lea Degen


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