The first in an exchange between two writers on the progressive San Francisco DA's fall from grace and what it reflects about broader national debates over crime.
Spielberg's "economic struggles causes what we see in the streets of SF" argument is simply wrong. The refusal to recognize the pull effect of these "decriminalization" policies, people with drug addictions coming to SF for easy access, the fact that drug cartels are running circles around it all. Cost of living in SF has nothing to do with this dystopian nightmare that has unfolded in SF. It's like a zombie movie: in the name of compassion we have drug deranged people wandering the streets, pissing and shitting everywhere, tents everywhere like tram stations where sane people - who pay for all of it - are supposed to use to go to work. How is all that compassion? And always the general bs of "exploitative employers, capitalism...bla bla bla". Look at the results, Ben! Stores closures, broken windshield glass everywhere, people diying in the streets. If that's what success looks like than I'm rooting for the utter "failure" and reversal of these policies. I've lived and worked in SF for over 30 years and have never seen a decline that fast and that deep into chaos anywhere.
Those cvs workers were all working class and the stores themselves serve working and middle class communities, how about some empathy for them?
Spielberg is correct in stating that Boudin implemented the policies he ran on. He promised those policies would improve people's lives. They did not. His argument that economic inequality is the driving force behind the decline of San Francisco is vague and unsubstantiated. As are his claims that poverty is the leading cause of feeling unsafe. Regardless of your economic circumstance anyone that finds a knife welding homeless person defecating on their front steps doesn't feel safe. 60% of San Franciscan voters, voted to recall Boudin. They didn't do that because they felt safe.
CA's basic problem is that they're simply ignoring ALL crime, even the real crimes where somebody or their stuff is harmed. We don't care that people go home and get high, we DO care when they're on the street yelling at passersby.
The main problem with Spielberg's arguments is that, from about 1965 - the 1980s, we tried them and they failed spectacularly. Essentially every word of his could have come from liberal crime policies during those decades that saw unprecedented levels of crime, particularly violent crime. Since then, James Q. Wilson and many others have authoritatively demolished claims about "root causes." The "facts on the ground" are what matter. Exactly why some people commit crime and others don't remains, to a significant extent, a mystery. But, until we have the answer to that, society rightly demands compliance with the law and punishment for those who don't. "Incapacitation" may or may not force virtue on a criminal, but it does remove him/her from society and, when it does, the rest of us are better off because of it.
Looking forward to the next installment of this debate.
One thing I’d like to point out is that this view of mass incarceration put forth by the New Jim Crow theorist is not representative of reality. The majority of people behind bars are not there because of non-violent drug offenses. Yes, our system does a terrible job when it comes to rehabilitation; felons find themselves disenfranchised in many ways after release (one of the valuable findings put forth by NJC theorists) and that only contributes to high rates of recidivism. But the claim that blacks are disproportionately represented out of some racial animus hidden in the structure of the criminal justice system fails to account for the high rates of black (often intra racial) violence. The rate of violent crime for black male youth is 19x the rate for young white males. Violent crime is a major contributor to mass incarceration. Another point that should not be missed is that crime is perpetrated by a tiny minority of individuals, who terrorize their impoverished minority communities. Time and time again surveys have shown that blacks want the same or more policing in their neighborhoods, because they feel unsafe. I think it’s disingenuous to equate the deadly physical consequences of living in neighborhoods that are under the constant threat of gun violence, where children are killed by stray bullets piercing through house walls, and the lack of safety afforded by a low-wage job. Finally, the majority of people victimized by these violent criminals are also poor, yet they are law abiding citizens. One wonders…haven’t these law abiding citizens heard that they were supposed to be criminals based on their socioeconomic status? How do the proponents of the “poverty is the root cause” theory explain this bizarre phenomenon?
I lived in NYC in the first half of the 1990's, when homicides and crime in general were setting records. The change happened in 1992, before Giuliani. My tell for when the city turned the corner on crime and began to improve safety - when I no longer saw the squeegee guy at the entrance to the 59th Street bridge. After him being gone, it was the endless stream of drug dealers hassling people to buy drugs that were no longer inhabiting the streets.
When you commit to dealing with the issue at all levels of the justice system - DAs included - it becomes safer for everyone. The economics change.
Thanks to Glenn for hosting a spirited debate on what has become a real blight on the quality of life in our country. Ben Spielberg talks about things like "a roof to sleep under" and "exploitative employers", as if the homeless scene is so complex in its makeup that it's unsolvable until we solve every possible social ill, which - news flash - will not happen. There are millions of jobs and opportunities in this country which immigrants legal and otherwise quickly take advantage of, find some living arrangement, save and slowly move up the income ladder. Their kids graduate from college when they never graduated from high school. Drug addicts are free to make choices like the rest of us, and they have. Most don't want to clean up, most don't want to be housed. Ben sounds like a guy who's life is very far removed from the subject he purports to opine on.
“A healthy society does not imprison millions of its citizens.”
A healthy society doesn’t do things that would land millions of them in prison.
Funny they didn’t ask any prosecutors, who would have told them that there is definitely an Element in America, often but not always accompanying poverty, that doesn’t give a fuck about you, your rights, property, etc. and it takes a great deal of bad conduct to get a jail sentence, unless the “first” offense (which is so rare as to be statistically insignificant) is very serious. I was a very easy going urban prosecutor who cut offenders a LOT of slack because if everyone charged was convicted of their actual offense, the system would break down. We don’t have the space or resources to deal with it. There’s just too much of it - fuckups harming others out of stupidity and selfishness. These people cannot function in normal society because they can’t read, write, factor, control emotions, etc. And it’s clear that America seems to excel in the production of such individuals (culture have anything to do with that? Perish the thought!). Over incarceration? Jail is reserved for serious threats to public safety. Yet what percentage of crimes are actually solved? Murders or attempted murders without a resolution? Look that up. And then tell me we have too many people in jail when WELL OVER A MAJORITY OF SERIOUS CRIMES ARE NOT SOLVED. People who have committed egregious crimes commonly walk the streets God forbid you run into them at the wrong time. This whole conversation is for shit until folks start dealing with reality, and not have remote academic arguments about crime and violence. This used to be a conversation about pathology, but Over the course of cultural suicide, has become an unserious meditation about anything BUT what it is. Life as a prosecutor is a daily litany of human misery. It is people failing and dragging entire families down with them. It is injury inflicted upon ACTUAL innocents, who now bear the scars and will likely do it to the next person. Misery loves company, a lot of it, and it’s the easy way out, for a time. Not being honest about crime solves nothing. It only perpetuates it. For God’s sake, be serious, for once, about what is happening in these peoples’ lives, their communities. They are in a free-fall and nobody has the fucking courage to stand up and say “stop, enough”. You’re all fiddle fucking around with theoretical navel-gazing and it does nobody any good, whatsoever. You really care about these folks? Fine. How about the lives they ruin? Give a shit about that? Do all of us a huge favor and get serious, on both sides of the goddamn ledger. Without it, we’re fucking done. The easy road to total collapse. It’s sickening and infuriating. Jesus H Christ.
"A healthy society does not imprison millions of its citizens."
Well, a healthy society (whatever that is) does not import millions of African slaves, oppress them for two or three centuries, free them, then expect them to just blend in to the rest of society.
The Africans in America are a near total failure; aside from the 20% high achievers, they have simply failed to be competitive, and have resorted in high numbers to theft, violence, murder. 2/3 of the homicides in the U.S. are committed by black males, who constitute 6.5% of the population (though the actual perps are part of a smaller subset of probably 1% or less, the ghetto-based gangbangers who have opted out of the education system and the working world and choose instead to be drug dealers, hired guns, and generally dead-end thugs with very short life expectancies.
Now what were you saying about crime? Oh, yes, so we need to "reform" criminal justice. Yet, looking at the majority of citizens in suburbs and smaller cities, ethnic whites and Asians, the crime rates are very low, no worse in fact than in Canada and western Europe. In fact if you could round up that 1% very violent subset, the American cities would suddenly become safer than any large European urban area.
So, no. Screw these reformists. They have no idea what they're talking about. Imprison the violent ones and the thieves and don't be nice; give them tough love, put'em to work turning big rocks into little rocks as Anthony Brian Logan says.
Offer real economic opportunity to at-risk youth to keep them on the straight path, i.e. the Opportunity Zones set up by the Trump Administration and Senator Scott, apparently now forgotten by the Biden regime. Clean up the schools and make the students work for their degrees. Stop awarding them for failure. Clean up the streets with zero tolerance policies, stop-and-frisk, cops walking the beat, broken glass policy as per Giuliani's NYC. Stop talking about racism when the one race that complains the most is the one committing most of the crime.
This is doable, given the political will. But will never happen, as long as the white power elite have a guilt complex about slavery. Get over it, already.
High incarceration rates in the US are corporate-globalists' doing. Prisons were "privatized", that's code for corporatized , and there was a TON of money to be made- and, oh, they made it. Billions of tax dollars funnelled into private hands...
When people started noticing the problem, the same anti-American corporate-globalist clowns seized the opportunity to "fix" (wink-wink) the problem and simultaneously advance their anti_American agenda, by weaponized the very angst THEY created, by using shill DAs to COMPLETELY undermined the criminal justice system's ability to keep law and order in its cities.
The DAs were the key to keeping the summer of 2020 riots going, and election fraud was key to getting the right corporate globalists shills into the right DA offices. You shouldn't need help figuring out which cities have corporate-globalist shill DA, their murder and crime rates are through the roof.
The globalists were assured of the support of every MSNBC watching NYT reading liberal Karen and her whipped husband, lining up behind the cause of "prison reform" - which refusing to prosecute criminals IS NOT.
Chesa is a Marxist- born and raised. Both his biological parents and his adopted were open Anti-American- Marxist. Lying captured media (of all kinds) and election fraud would be ESSENTIAL to putting him into place. They succeeded.
The entire "Green New Deal" is a Trojan horse designed to break America financially and bring her to her knees by way of engineered food shortages (nitrogen is bad ?!?!) and energy shortages (we can't drill our own oil but we can buy it from the Saudis?)
The violence experienced in cities across this nation were Orchestrated, FUNDED, LEGALLY, and MEDIA protected by the corporate-globalist SHILLs- who, over the last 50 years have infiltrated every corner of our formerly great Republic, and completely captured ALL MAINSTREAM MEDIA.
This is a very long term attack on this country- Plain and simple. It's been decades of this unrestricted warfare.
We owe McCarthy a sincere apology - he was right. Hollywood is and was COMPLETELY complicit in this Marxist takeover. We have been consuming their slowly escalating anti-America, anti-marriage and anti-child propaganda to the point where so many Americans are now alone and demoralized (and questioning their gender and sexuality- the confusion designed to keep us from procreating). The universities are all captured and complicit as well.
On a scale of 1-10, how interested am I in a "intellectual" discussion about what went wrong in San Francisco for Chesa Boudin? ZERO. Chessa was a weapon dropped on a beautiful American city that is now a festering. I wish he'd been arrested, but law enforcement too is full of shills- and FORGET the Justice Department.
When this story has been written, more than half of this country will be in SHOCK over how close we came to falling prey to the monsters of the New "Liberal" World Order, and how close the notions of freedom, liberty and citizen sovereignty, codified only in here in our US Constitution, came to being lost FOREVER. If it dies here, technology will prevent these principles ever bubbling to the surface appearing again.
How about we have a discussion about that?
I know this sounds Victorian, but I think the government should help set up work farms for people with no income, but not disabled enough to need constant care. And not for a cash crop, but for subsistence. Helping to grow your own food, and learning how to do it, in a rural environment with natural areas, could be uplifting.
Like Mr. Shapiro, I think it is wrong to blame Chesa Boudin entirely for the state of San Francisco today. George Gascon spent the prior 8-years in the post. Democrats have controlled the City for almost 58-years. They own it, whether you believe in politics or not.
I love the idea of San Francisco and I have many good memories over many decades in the city. However, in 2016 I took my then 19-year old daughter to a couple concerts there. On a Saturday at 3PM I walked her through the Tenderloin. From my perspective it wasn't that bad. She saw it and said, "Why don't they fix this?" I can still hear the trauma in her voice upon seeing it for the first time.
In 2018, I took my then 25-year old daughter to northern California. We did a day trip to San Francisco during the trip. When leaving San Francisco she said she would never go back there. She found it filthy and disgusting.
Both girls had been to San Francisco multiple times before and are progressives. In 2019, San Francisco hosted an international convention for professionals in finance, or 'criminals' to Mr. Shapiro. Investment professionals from the UK and France, as did others, commented on how disgusted they were with the San Francisco they saw. All had positive memories of time spent there before. All these moments predate Chesa Boudin.
What Chesa Boudin got wrong is he viewed the patient (city of San Francisco) as someone in need of a change in lifestyle and diet. Unfortunately, the patient was bleeding out in the emergency room with a few gunshot wounds to the chest, multiple blunt force traumas and a knife in a kidney.
Why don't they fix this?
Honestly I feel a sense of schadenfreude towards the residents of San Francisco. They created the conditions that caused these problems and are living with the consequences. I disagree that the root cause of the current crime wave is economic unless you consider the criminals are "sticking it to the man". Those stealing from CVS aren't taking cough syrup, they're taking lottery tickets, Juul's and other items for personal use or resale. Don't get me started on those robbing Louis Vuitton. They are doing it because they can; and know they won't be prosecuted. Reminds me of that movie, The Purge, but the purge is everyday. Most people want personal, physical safety for themselves, their families and their possessions. Additionally, they want the laws applied equally. If PoC are disproportionately disadvantaged in the criminal justice system, why not pay public defenders more? That way at least they get better representation. Not prosecuting them is no answer and leads to the current situation.
"Deterrence, rehabilitation, and restoration" are "inappropriate"? In other words, no one should be punished. Why not? Do you remember the case in the 70s of the teenage girl who went hitchhiking and was picked up by a man who cut off her arms? I do. Why shouldn't he be punished? Why shouldn't arsonists, rapists, criminal banksters, murderers, etc. be punished? What about men who splash acid in the faces of girls who won't date them? Why shouldn't they be punished? How about people who torture toddlers? What's wrong with punishing them?