Monday, November 21, 2005

Most Dangerous US City - Numbers Behind the Numbers

Once again, Camden, New Jersey has been named the nation's most dangerous city by Morgan Quitno Press. The determination of the most dangerous US cities, which also includes Detroit, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Baltimore in the top 10, is based on per capital crime statistics.

So what do these cities have in common demographically? More importantly, how do they differ from the safest city in the US - Round Rock, TX?

One answer that might seem obvious is that all 5 of these "dangerous" cities have black populations greater than 50%. Is it all that simple - are blacks as a group likely to commit more crimes than their white or hispanic counterparts? I'd venture a guess: of course not.

Looking at other demographics in these 5 cities reveals a few commonalities:
  • Single moms in all 5 cities makeup more than 23% of all families. In Camden, 34% of all children are raised by single mothers. In contrast, only 10.7% of families are led by single mothers in Round Rock.
  • At least 23% of each of the cities' populations are comprised of people with no high school degree (or equivalent). Over 30% of the populations in Detroit and Baltimore have no high school degree, and a staggering 49% of Camden citizens have no high school degree. In Round Rock, only 10% of the population has failed to obtain a high school diploma.
  • Although nearly 40% of all Camden citizens speak a language other than English at home, less than 10% do so in Baltimore and Atlanta. In addition, more than 20% of families in Round Rock speak a language other than English at home, so it seems that cultural/language assimilation plays little or no bearing in crime rate.
  • At least 38% of all families live on less than $25,000 per year in the 5 dangerous cities. In Camden, 51.9% of the population falls into the sub $25K category. Only 11.9% of Round Rock families live on less than $25K per year.

So let's add this up and try to draw a conclusion based on this small set of demographic data. Our dangerous cities are all charactized by black populations roughly 5 times the national average. But these cities also suffer from low educational achievement, a breakdown of traditional families, and poverty. This seems to point limited economic opportunities, as well as underachievement in the black community that is fueled by a culture of dependence and irresponsibility. How can we be sure that limited economic opportunities aren't solely to blame? By looking at high school graduation rates and single motherhood - which are two critical factors completely independent of local economic prosperity.

Am I claiming that blacks have some innate tendency to be dependent and irresponsible? Of course not. My experience has been that blacks are as competent, hard working, and diligent as anybody. The difficulties arise when local communities are faced with adversity. Do they rise up and overcome, or do they believe that their problems should be fixed by others? Taken a step further, do they believe that their problems can only be fixed by others? I would argue that any group of people faced with major economic obstacles who believes that they cannot remove those obstacles on their own will stop trying. What is truly sad is that so many young American kids stop trying before they even graduate from high school. Kids as young as 16 are basically opting out, falling for the lie that a high school degree will not help take them where they want to go.

The real issue is this victim culture, and once again, we're back to black social "leaders", such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, as well as black cultural "leaders". Any community consistently fed a message that most of their problems are other people's fault, that the government owes them a decent living, and that thug living is cool, will undoubtedly suffer.

Here's hoping and praying that a new generation of black leaders emerge - leaders who preach educational achievement, independence, personal accountability, and entrepreneurship. After all, Bill Cosby can't do it alone.

Monday, November 14, 2005

What About Afghanistan?

One of the reasons Bush critics have for attacking the war in Iraq is that our military took their eye off the ball in Afghanistan. This is a valid concern, as it's no small task to conduct two major operations simultaneously on the other side of the world.

So for the record, let's examine what has been done in Afghanistan, beyond those little things like removing the Taliban, dismantling terrorist training camps, killing hundreds of Al Qaeda vermin, and sending Bin Laden into hiding. So here's a list, from the USAid website, of the major humanitarian related accomplishments over the past few years:

  • Over 8 million Afghani men and women have participated in free democratic elections. The US provided 40% of the $200 million to conduct the election.
  • USAID Primary Education Program provides teacher training, accelerated learning for students, and textbook printing/distribution. Over 600,000 texts for accelerated learning and over 35 million regular textbooks have been printed and distributed. 6,800 teachers have been trained in the accelerated learning program, and over 170,000 students have enrolled.
  • 315 schools have been built or refurbished, and an additional 184 are under construction.
  • Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been donated to the Afghan Conservation Corps for reforestation, and Bush has requested $10 million more. In addition, the Combined Forces Command is contributing 150,000 saplings for planting.
  • Afghanistan is one of only 3 South Asian nations on target to eradicate polio this year. Only 4 cases were reported in 2004.
  • 3 industrial parks have been opened, and the privatization of state-owned businesses is underway. The industrial parks are expected to employ 10,000 people.
  • A women's dormitory was refurbished in Kabul with $9 million in US aid. The dorm will provide housing for 1,100 Afghani women to pursue higher education. The American University of Kabul has been created.
  • 116 construction projects for roads, bridges, water supply, irrigation, etc. have been completed. Another 106 are under construction, and 126 are in the planning/design phase. A total of $137 million dollars have been provided for these projects.
  • 338 health care facilities have been built or refurbished, and another 354 are in progress. 310 facilities are supported by USAID. 5,000 community healthcare workers and over 700 doctors have been trained. Approximately 235,000 patients receive care monthly from these clinics.
  • The US led an effort to reorganize all land titling records. Title searches, which used to take 2-3 months, are now completed same day.
  • A venture capital and loan guarantee program is being created to assist ex-combatants. Nearly 10,000 loans have been made to farmers, and over $2 million has been used to fund a revolving credit facility for farmers.
  • In 2004, more than 80 tons of narcotics, 75 drug labs, and 2 opium bazaars were destroyed. 20,000 Afghanis are employed in public works projects, and 2,800 hectares of wheat cultivation is being funded to provide livelihoods for poppy farmers. Poppy cultivation is down 10%, 50%, and 96% in 3 key provinces.
  • Irrigation has been improved on over 50,000 hectares of land. 17 seed farms have been established, 973 fertilizer dealers ahve been trained, and 347 extension staff have been trained on fertilization and pest control techniques.
  • 236 weapons caches have been discovered, many turned in by Afghan citizens. 22,000 militia troops have been disarmed, and > 40,000 Afghan security forces have been trained. In addition, 19,000 police have been trained.

    Thanks to the men and women of America's armed forces, Afghanistan is now a safer place to live with far greater opportunities for education, prosperity, and healthcare.
  • Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    French Cracking Down!

    There's only so much Chirac's government can take. After nearly two weeks of riots which have swept across France, resulting in the destruction of thousands of automobiles and dozens of buildings including schools and churches, Chirac has had enough!

    In a dramatic show of force designed to show thousands of rioters who's boss, Chirac has declared............curfews and jobs training! You got it, Chirac is flexing his muscles like never before, and is enacting a national bed time for France's violent thugs. I'm sure they're now quivering in fear, resigning themselves to live out their remaining years as models of peace and tranquility. On top of that, he wants to pursue a program that provides vocational training for children who drop out of school at age 14. That's sure to help the nation build a workforce ready for the challenges of the 21st century.

    In all seriousness, why did it take 12 nights of rioting to establish curfews? And why aren't more drastic measures being enforced, such as mobilizing the French military? Police have been asking for military support since the riots began, but Chirac is staying true to form, apparently waiting for the UN to order the deployment of French troops. More importantly, how about getting tough on immigrants, who for years have enjoyed the fruits of France's welfare state? Obey French laws, or go back home. And if you expect to be "integrated" into our society, get an education, quitting doing drugs, and become employable. It's all so simple.

    But now that I think of it, not even George Bush has the guts to send that kind of message. Fortunately for America, our immigrants (legal and illegal) find opportunity in this capitalist nation, and thus don't feel the need to riot in the streets for more government handouts.

    Friday, November 04, 2005

    Muslim Riots in Paris

    Last night marked the 8th night in a row that Muslim immigrants have rioted in France. This purportedly started when two youths died running away from police. So tell me why a bunch of Muslims would be angry that two of their youths were evading police, and were stupid enough to jump onto a power transformer?

    Certainly the conditions in the suburban slums of Paris are difficult. Unemployment is twice the national average, which is almost incomprehensible as overal French unemployment hovers around 10%. But how can residents justify burning hundreds of automobiles and many buildings? How will that serve to move their communities forward?

    As the battle to replace Chirac heats up, Dominique de Villepin and Nicolas Sarkozy are using the riots to build support for their candidacy. But if you thought American politics were ugly, listen to what these two are saying:
    • Sarkozy has called the rioters "scum" and vowed to "hose down" the rioters. But at the same time, he's advocating "positive discrimination" measures related to jobs and education which would give preferential treatment to immigrants. He's also advocating state funding for Imams, and for Mosque construction. Yikes.
    • de Villepin is Chirac's protege. Yikes.

    From 10,000 miles away, clearly I'm not qualified to judge whether or not the Muslim immigrants from North Africa, who apparently are mostly French speaking, are being effectively integrated into French society. If not, is it the fault of the French, or the immigrants? More importantly, how much is France's socialistic economy to blame which insufficiently encourages entrepreneurship? In the United States, immigrants quickly setup businesses and go to work, whether or not they can speak the English language.

    I would suggest that Chirac, de Villepin, and Sarkozy all take a closer look at the US economic model for guidance on how to solve this challenge.