The world is a pretty messed up place at the moment, or at least that’s the consensus. In fact, the world isn’t any more messed up than before: if anything, if anything, there’s a much stronger case to be the made that this is the best version of the world we’ve ever had. History has a tendency to be whitewashed: you could view the 1950’s like an idyllic age, but you’d have to ignore the devastation of World War II and the rampant race inequality. To get a real picture of the world, look at the crime.
Crime in America has been steadily declining for the past quarter of a century. That makes it all the more puzzling when Donald Trump says that violent crime is on the rise: by any reliable measure, the opposite is true. And there’s every chance that Donald Trump knows this, but it doesn’t fit the agenda: he is tough on crime and wants to bring back private prisons, remember. There is something to bare in mind, however, and that is it’s not the least amount of crime that America has known. The 1980’s, especially in cities like New York, were brutal, with very high crime rates.
It’s a good thing that we don’t take public perception as a measure of crime because it would be way off. The public does seem to have a limited grasp on reality, especially when it comes to crime. Many people overestimate greatly just how much crime there is, probably because it’s all they ever see in the news. That crime is on the decline would not be the leading story: instead, it would be an act of violence. The news, in general, is not a reliable indicator of what’s really happening out there.
That’s not to say that crime isn’t real, because it is. And in fact, while some crimes decline, entirely new crimes pop up. There are no statistics to measure the current spate of cyber crime against, but in the future, when they can, they will view this age as rife with online crimes. Similarly, even making things, legal has been complicated. Legal marijuana in Colorado, for example, has created problems in neighboring Utah, where it’s still illegal. As Edward Flint says, possession in Utah is “the same degree of crime as drunk driving, domestic violence and assault.” And just across that thin state line, in Colorado, it’s legal. No matter what laws are enacted or removed, there’ll always be new ones to take their place.
As a whole, you can look at America and reasonably conclude that crime is declining. But America isn’t really one country: it’s fifty states, and then those are further broken up into cities and suburbs. Some states commit much more crime than the safe ones, which include most of the ones up in New England. Sections of Illinois are considered safe: Chicago? Anything but. As ever, it’s important to look beyond the stats and the laws, and see what’s really going on.