The good news is that violent crimes are at a 39-year low. The bad news is that spending on law enforcement remains at $100 billion a year.
Compared with social welfare spending and the Defense Department budget, this is small change. But shouldn’t lower rates of violent crime produce small police departments?
No. Why not? Because tax spending on crime is never cut. The law enforcement system is a bureaucracy. The law of bureaucracy says that spending is never cut. It’s a ratchet. (It’s also a racket.)
So, crime gets re-defined. New crimes are added to the old list, so that there will be a constant rate of spending, minimum, and maybe rising.
The number of arrests stays about the same. So the arrest-to-crime ratio keeps rising.
There are about 770,000 policemen nationwide. This stays constant.
So, where is the money going? To fight illegal drugs. Arrests are up 45%, 1993 to 2007.
Society can deal with this in two ways: (1) Lower the definition of crime and cut funding; (2) increase the definition of crime and keep funding constant.
This choice has not changed in 300 years. There is a book on this that studies a relatively crime-free era in a low-crime region: New England Massachusetts. Its title: Wayward Puritans (1966). It is by Kai T. Erikson. I read it the year it came out. The definition of what constitutes crime kept rising as payments to fight crime increased.
(There is a rock group, Chris Erickson and the Wayward Puritans. Pretty clever inside joke.)
Continue Reading on www.allgov.com