Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I'm a Wingnut and a Moonbat: Part 2

In an earlier post, I explained why I might be considered a “wingnut”. Briefly: I don't support the California assault weapons ban because it restricts access to certain firearms based on their cosmetic appearance rather than their functionality. Now I have to explain why I'm a “moonbat”.

When I say that the difference between the murder and assault rates in the US and the analogous rates in Western European countries can be explained almost entirely by economic inequality, I get accused of being a socialist, which I am, although not in the American sense of the word (where socialism is conflated with communism, totalitarianism, and oppression).

The evidence, however, is clear: about three quarters of the variance in murder and assault rates is explained by income inequality. This means that if you want to reduce violent crime in the US, you can address at most one quarter of the problem with all other measures combined: neither harsher sentences, favored by the right, nor gun control, favored by the left, are nearly as strongly correlated with violent crime as income inequality. Neither gun control nor prison sentences are statistically correlated with violent crime rates to a significant degree.

So, if you actually want to address violent crime, the elephant in the room is that you must address poverty, and not just absolute poverty, but relative poverty. To do that, you need to ensure that the distribution of wealth between rich and poor favors the poor more than it has in the past.

What policy changes ought to be introduced to ensure that the poor get a greater slice of the pie, and the rich a smaller slice, is open to debate, but any way you cut it, this sounds far too much like redistribution of wealth for any right-winger to resist the temptation to call me a “moonbat”.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy your schizo morality. It is refreshing to listen to people who admit they are complicated.

    I am interested in this statement "about three quarters of the variance in murder and assault rates is explained by income inequality." Having taught statistics courses, I am familiar with variance. Please cite/link to sources.

    Also, "income inequality" has its correlates. Do they understand them enough to actually be able to control for them. Scientists are very often arrogant with their results. Especially social scientists.

    What are the studies that look at relative vs. absolute poverty? One would think that absolute poverty below a certain level would correlate with less access to firearms, so less gun violence. What is considered a violent crime? Is it the use of violence, the threat of violence, or an implied threat of violence?