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04-17-2014 7:18 PM
"The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap," is a book by Matt Taibbi chronicling the ever widening gap in justice (or lack thereof if you are wealthy enough) as it pertains to the also ever widening gap in income equality. I am not smart enough to break down this book and dissect it in order to sufficiently find flaws. Since I agree with everything in it, I feel that I am not being critical enough and would like to see the rebuttals. As such, though, I don't think any honest person that ISN'T a super wealthy billionaire Wall Street banker could actually rebut anything in the book without lying to themselves. I will post a few quotes, but I really feel as though it should be read because quite a bit of it doesn't hit as hard if read in small chunks. Instead, the reader is asked (not by the book outright, but by how it is put together) to take an interest in two seperate criminal actions and justify how one goes unpunished.
|Over the course of the last twenty years or so, America has been falling deeper and deeper into a bizarre statistical mystery.|
Take in the following three pieces of information, and see if you can make them fit together.
First, violent crime has been dropping precipitously for nearly two decades. At its peak in 1991, according to FBI data, there were 758 violent crimes per 100,000 people. By 2010 that number had plunged to 425 crimes per 100,000, a drop of more than 44 percent.
The decrease covered all varieties of serious crime, from murder to assault to rape to armed robbery. The graphs depicting the decline show a long, steady downswing, one that doesnít jump from year to year but consistently slumps from year to year.
Second: although poverty rates largely declined during the 1990s, offering at least one possible explanation for the drop in violent crime, poverty rates rose sharply during the 2000s. At the start of that decade, poverty levels hovered just above 10 percent. By 2008 they were up to 13.2 percent. By 2009 the number was 14.3 percent. By 2010, 15.3 percent.
All this squares with what most people who lived in Middle America knew, and know, instinctively. Despite what weíre being told about a post-2008 recovery, despite what the rising stock market seems to indicate, the economy is mostly worse, real incomes are mostly declining, and money is mostly scarcer.
But throughout all this time, violent crime has gone down. It continues to decline today. Counterintuitively, more poverty has not created more crime. The third piece of information that makes no sense is that during this same period of time, the prison population in
America has exploded. In 1991 there were about one million Americans behind bars. By 2012 the number was over 2.2 million, a more than 100 percent increase.
Our prison population, in fact, is now the biggest in the history of human civilization. There are more people in the United States either on parole or in jail today (around 6 million total) than there ever were at any time in Stalinís gulags. For what itís worth, there are also more black men in jail right now than there were in slavery at its peak.
See if this syllogism works, then.
Poverty goes up; Crime goes down; Prison population doubles.
|While on a visit to San Diego to do research for this book, I heard a crazy story.|
The subject was the cityís P100 program, under which anyone who applied for welfare could have his or her home searched preemptively by the state. Ostensibly, authorities were looking for evidence that the applicant had a secret job or a boyfriend who could pay bills, or was just generally lying about something in order to cheat the taxpayer out of that miserable few hundred bucks a month.
One Vietnamese woman, a refugee and a rape victim who had only recently come to America, applied for welfare in San Diego. An inspector came to her door, barged in, and began rifling through her belongings. At one point, he reached into her
underwear drawer and began sifting around. Sneering, he used the tip of the pencil eraser to pull out a pair of sexy panties and looked at her accusingly. If she didnít have a boyfriend, what did she need these for?
That image, of a welfare inspector sneeringly holding up panties with a pencil end, expresses all sorts of things at once. The main thing is contempt. The implication is that someone broke enough to ask the taxpayer for a handout shouldnít have sex, much less sexy panties.
The other thing here is an idea that being that poor means you should naturally give up any ideas you might have about privacy or dignity. The welfare applicant is less of a person for being financially dependent (and a generally unwelcome immigrant from a poor country to boot), so she naturally has fewer rights.
He did an interview on DemocracyNow (about an hour long but WELL worth the watch) describing a few parts of the book: http://www.democracynow.org/.../who_goes_to_jail_matt_taibbi
I am not sure how any of you feel about posting the link to the book, but I am listening to the audio version that I actually got free with a trial membership at Audible. I do intend on purchasing a hard copy this weekend because I feel this sort of reporting and journalism ought to be supported.
I also want to point out to those members here that see "the other side" as enemies and rich people as their friend: Even though this isn't an overtly political book, Matt Taibbi has harsh words for Obama and not harsh words for Bush Jr.. He points out how under President Bush, more corrupt bankers were indicted than the ZERO Oabam has indicted or sentenced.
Stop seeing red and blue for a minute and read the book. It's an eye opener even if it points out shit we all can already see. I will note that you have to excersize some humanity for a change and show some empathy for those less fortunate than yourself. Since none of you are glaring sociopaths (right?), this shouldn't be a problem.
Edited by hooah212002, : No reason given.
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