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Monday, March 10, 2014

Is There a Correlation Between Poverty and Crime

Yes, but it's probably not what you think.

I hear a lot from the liberal left and the libertarian right that there are these malevolent forces in the world who are determined to keep poor people poor. They cite a statistical correlation between high levels of crime in areas where poverty abounds. From this many people assume that poverty causes crime. That exploitation by the evil corporations, the Illuminati, the Jewish bankers or other such nefarious characters are responsible first for poverty and that crime is the result of poverty. I do not hold with this idea.

The only use you can make of poor people for profit is by forcing them into an enslaved condition. We do not allow slavery in this country and still we have poverty, albeit at a much lower rate than in other countries. The correlation between crime and poverty does not necessarily "prove" that poverty causes crime. It is just as likely that crime causes poverty and not the other way round.

I, myself, am currently living well below the poverty line through a series of unfortunate circumstances. Under no circumstances would I steal from someone, assault or kill simply because I can't have everything I want or see that my neighbor has. There are plenty of places I can get food and places and people who would help me if I asked for it. There is honest work available and I am doing my best to live within my reduced means by living a much simpler lifestyle and working hard to overcome my circumstances, but I find that the government programs, which seek to alleviate my poverty, are not very effective at doing that. The government actually tends to limit my ability to rise from poverty - at least that's been my experience.

What I've found is that drug use and crime tend to create poverty all around them. Have you not noticed that criminals in poverty stricken areas tend to prey off the poor and lower middle classes far more than they prey on the wealthy? It's wealthy criminals that prey on the wealthy. The libertarians and liberals keep looking for a villain who is keeping the people down. They are looking in the wrong place. While the wealthy classes do have their own kinds of villains, these people have little to do with keeping poor people down in this country. We keep ourselves down. Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you."  He said that because he understood the roots of poverty. That is not to say poor people are inevitably sinful or that they are guilty of some sin that makes them poor.  It is, rather that sin and crime creates the kinds of fear, discouragement, physical and social devastation that allows poverty to gain a foothold and to catch the innocent within its clutches.

It's useless to try and figure out a "system" that makes everyone good and happy and middle-class. Man-made utopias are a fairy tale. Man has been trying to create them on his own hook ever since The Fall. 

Were we all instead to make an effort to lift each other up and encourage each other to be better people instead of vying for power, claiming we will, if given enough power, use it to create a better world by external force, we might get somewhere toward actually making a better world. To make a better world, we need better people to inhabit it. Change the people and poverty and misery will vanish. 

Trying to stop the sin, degradation and crime which creates poverty and want by feeding the beast, what it heretofore has been stealing and killing for, is like feeding a tapeworm. You only make it bigger and hungrier and give it the power to do even more damage to its host.

One cannot change the world by writing laws upon tablets of stone or upon the pages of books of law. One can only change the world by creating in every man upon this spinning globe, a clean heart, upon which is indelibly written the Golden Rule.

Just one man's opinion.

Tom King © 2014

1 comment:

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