UNEMPLOYMENT AND CRIME
As the market continues to labor under a tax and regulatory burden that stifles all attempts at growth, the unemployment figures promise to grow from the present 9.1 percent (14 million Americans) to double digits. While the media focuses on the numbers of unemployed, there is another story that will rear its ugly head in the not-so-distant future. The army of unemployed Americans, angry and desperate, will soon begin preying upon those with property and wealth. Crime will rise across the nation as some of those without gainful employment begin to turn to the dark side, stealing and, sometimes, killing to acquire what they want.
The Occupy Wall Street crowd has been relatively peaceful to date. Arrests have occurred but involve a small fraction of those who have been trespassing since September 17, 2011. Many of those assembled are unemployed. Many are angry and desperate. Their anger against Washington and Wall Street is a familiar and generally accepted tune: The Wall Street bail-outs, amounting to about one trillion dollars, have buoyed the financial status of individuals who, and firms that, are largely responsible for the prolific speculative substandard lending that has spawn a domestic and international catastrophe, the worst debt crisis in world history.
As unemployment continues to creep upwards and as the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) exceeds 6.2 million, another crisis will befall America. We will watch as crime rates rise across the nation. Violent crime and theft will increase as those who are either compromised in their ethics or in their mental state will move from despondency over job loss to anger directed at those with property and wealth. That fraction of the unemployed will increasingly covet the property and wealth of the employed and will, sooner or later, strike out if they cannot regain employment. Some will steal and, in the process, some will commit acts of violence to make theft happen or to eliminate witnesses to theft.
We are about to witness an uptick in crime that could be very significant. The unemployed who turn to these measures are different from the unemployed of prior years. The unemployed in the central cities will now be joined by an enormous new army of unemployed coming from the suburbs, indeed from across the nation. While many have fallen off the lowest rung of the economic ladder, many others have experienced a profound drop in fortune from positions in the middle class and upper class to destitution. The demographic and economic differences of this new army of unemployed invite crime that will spread from urban areas to suburban areas and will move from the streets to homes. Enclaves historically known for their tranquility will be engulfed in periodic crime sprees that will terrorize areas and confirm just how dire long-term unemployment can be for the entire nation.
We can see the beginnings of an uptick in crime and of movement of crime from urban to suburban areas, particularly in parts of the country hit hardest by unemployment and the mortgage crisis. In states where unemployment is highest and the mortgage crisis is likewise the worst, we are just beginning to see evidence of greater violent crime and theft. As unemployment worsens, we are likely to see this burgeoning evidence form an unmistakable upward trend.
With crime increasing and state and local funding for law enforcement stretched to the limit, resulting in reductions in force nationwide, Americans will have to rely to an even greater extent on self-defense to protect themselves and their property. Never fully satisfactory, reliance on police to protect victims of crime will become even more problematic, necessitating greater gun ownership as well as reliance on home security systems and safe rooms.
The Obama Administration contemplates more make work jobs dependent upon a continuous flow of federal dollars. That approach will make little difference either to unemployment rates or to crime related to unemployment. A change in the dynamic will only come about with sustainable employment, the kind that the private sector provides when financially able. Consequently, even if some of the millions unemployed come to find work in temporary government jobs, the underlying problem of a sick economy remains and will be adding far more individuals to the ranks of the unemployed than will be offset by the make work jobs.
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The crisis unfolding demands action to liberate the private sector from the tangle of regulation and taxation that robs it of the resources needed to overcome the recession and lead the nation into recovery. Only when that happens will unemployment creeping ever higher be halted and ultimately reversed. Only then will crime related to unemployment diminish. In the interim, however, those with property and wealth must, of necessity, be on their guard.
© 2011 Jonathan W. Emord - All Rights Reserved