53 Responses

  1. Prison corporations have given us the gift of slave labor. It also helps solve a pesky inner city and immigration problem. Now we can be like China.

  2. How much do want to bet the Republicans are negotiating AGAINST prison cuts and federal spending on prisons while pumping the need for Social Security and Medicare cuts through their propaganda arm – Fox News.

    Another great reason not to vote Republican. The GOP have outspent Democrats since and including Reagan. The GOP has created big government.

    GOP administrations have all outspent Democratic administrations since Reagan unleashed the MMT print till you drop, give first first pickings to the lobbyists that will then re-elected you corporate cronyism.

    It is interesting how Reagan defected the U.S.S.R through creating and printing fiat currency but also unleashed the slow destruction of America as well.

  3. sheeeez that chart is scary looking. does privatized prisons have anything to do with it?

    again, history provides lessons. prohibition could not stop peoples desire to drink alcohol, even caused more problems. so they smartened up, brought it back, regulated it, taxed it, and managed it.

    if u just took pot and did the same thing would that chart for then form the right side of a bell? interesting

  4. Yes, the war on drugs has been a monumental failure. Moreover, it is inherently racist as our system of criminal justice bears down disproportionately on minorities for drug offenses. There is no reason why marijuana should be treated any differently than alcohol consumption.

  5. “the problem is always the blacks. the thing is, though, you have to go after them without appearing to do so…”–Nixon, as per H.R. Haldeman from his book, “The Haldeman Diaries.”

  6. The prison industry is one of the flavors of human husbandry. Also, if selecte populations cannot be exploited outright, it is necessary to find an “objective” rationale for targeting and separating an exemplary group.
    Then too, equality is an unexpectedly risky proposition because, if the impulse towards exception and exceptionalism is to be satisfied by the elite, almost everyone has to be treated shabbily.
    Universal suffrage coincided with the demise of the gold standard in 1971. And suddenly there were two reasons why the general populace turned into the number one enemy of the ruling elite.
    If money were readily available to mediate everything that needs to be done, what would Congressmen rely on to reward and punish their constituents?

  7. I lived in LA and NY about 20 and 10 years ago in different locations coming from Europe and at the time I could not afford to live always in the best areas. Coming from Europa I had a term of comparison also. I always have the impression that most of the people that writes about those things in the polite US media including the web can afford to live in the best areas and do not have term of comparison. You know, in Europe if you are not affluent you do not have worry to have gone to far on the subway south or north like in NY or to rent an apartment in an area on the base of a crime-danger facrot or drive at night in the wrong areas or listening to nasty things that occurred to acquaintances. When I arrived in Brooklyn in 1999 my broker came to visit with a russian programmer of trading systems, the guy was recovering from a bullet that in Manhattan a young black put in his head while robbing….I could go on and on about things that do not happen down in lowly europe (even though in the last 10-15 years are suddenly changing and we start to look more like America, for instance in London…). When you reach 50 and you have been living around the world you see better through the statistics…at least if you weren’t always affluent and able to afford the nice zip codes

    1. @giovanni,

      If you’re not involved in illegal activities in the US, it’s a very safe place to be, probably at least as safe as core Europe. Sure, there are certain neighborhoods in urban areas I would stay out of after dark, but that’s true of just about anywhere, except for a few rich, Asian countries.

      The bottom line is that it’s much more dangerous to be a criminal in the US than in virtually any other developed nation, and the reason is the prevalence of guns. If we get rid of a large fraction of illegal activity here by making the activity legal (e.g. drugs, gambling, prostitution), then you would see murder rates plunge.

      1. @ESM,

        not quite. US in 2013 is far less safe than US was in 1953.

        all of those urban neighbourhoods you would stay out of today were filled with blue collar catholic families in the 50s and 60s. Those populations have been removed as part of political action.

        A lot more happened in late 60s and early 70s than Nixon.

      1. @Ben Johannson,
        But it contributed to the disintegration of “the family”. Who do you suppose goes to prison the most? The welfare state is a huge contributor to the data points on that graph.

      2. @chewitup,

        Correct. The War on Drugs is a disaster, but it is a reversible disaster. If we ended it tomorrow, we would probably see a 50% decrease in violent crime by the end of the year.

        The damage done by the Great Society programs will take at least a generation to reverse, and there isn’t even any prospect that we will begin to start any time soon.

  8. Hint for your webmaster putting up the graphics:

    Apply a Gaussian blur to the image at FULL size. THEN, and only then, reduce the size and apply a sharpen filter.

  9. I would be interested in seeing the relative proportions of white vs. black/brown citizens imprisoned before the War on Drugs started and after it got going. No one should doubt any longer that the War on Drugs was targeted at the black/brown population.

  10. It is not just the prisons, it’s the whole criminal justice system. The cops, lawyers, clerks, judges, and all the ancillory people needed to enforce these insane laws. It’s an industry. Contrary to what some think of the republicans, I vote for them because they are at least pretending to be for a smaller government. I’ll bet that most people in this industry vote for the democrats.

      1. @WARREN MOSLER, Warren, I do like everything I have read from you but it seems to me that you are holding back on advocating for a smaller government. At least that’s what I hope. It’s unfortunaye that we can have a government that shrinks and grows as needed but human nature being what it is that doesn’t seem likely. If we can only have it one way, I’ll take smaller.

      2. tsy sells nothing longer than 3 mo bills- heaps of govt employees in tsy/debt management eliminated, heaps of bankers in tsy secs eliminated (banks are govt agents), heaps of other financial sector downsizing.

        $10/hr transition job and FICA suspension- heaps of unemployed (who are in fact in the public sector) transferred to private sector employment

        Mosler health care proposal- $1 trillion insurance bureaucracy created/supported by govt. policy eliminated and replaced by people with their own dollars to spend. Yes, Medicare expanded to all but coverage only begins after you’ve spent your $4,000 each year which is about 20% of the population- so about the same coverage as today but none from $1.

        etc. etc. I think they all reduce govt via efficiency one way or another?

      3. Why.do you want to downsize financial sector jobs and at the same time pay anyone who wants to work a $10/hr transitional job?….makes zero sense.

      4. @WARREN MOSLER,

        “Yes, Medicare expanded to all but coverage only begins after you’ve spent your $4,000 each year which is about 20% of the population- so about the same coverage as today but none from $1.”

        $4000/year? Why so high? Eliminates a lot of people earning 50Gs/yr with 3-4 kids. Or, am I not understanding?

        Canadian provinces each have their own programs. in Alberta, before they eliminated all basic AB Health Care fees in last year or so because of oil profits, used to charge about $289/quarter for a family of 3 to 4 people. I dont know what the cost of drugs and operations were, but drugs were like $10, and operations were covered. Don’t think there was a deductible, but maybe an Albertan will correct me. No rules about who you could go to. Any doctor, dentist allowed. Doctors and labs work for themselves, medicine NOT socialized, but it seems the insurance biz was. I know that Blue Cross Blue Shield offered more insurance at a rate of $50 to $99/month. $99 got you platinum coverage like months in nursing home, all teeth, eyes, home nurses, tricking out bathroom and kitchen with eldercare appliances, etc. I really shouldn’t be commenting like this because I don’t know all the details. Just know that my highly conservative friends there rave about their coverage, and get red with rage with how it’s misconstrued in US.

  11. You have my vote. Maybe we have a chance. I think a large part of Obama’s support comes from people seeking change and he was the alternitive to what we had. If we can hook up with that desire for change we might be able to do something. It seems the American people will believe anything if you say it enough.

  12. Does it have anything to do with the baby boomers becoming, in large numbers, old enough to go to prison?

  13. Re: Why.do you want to downsize financial sector jobs and at the same time pay anyone who wants to work a $10/hr transitional job?….makes zero sense.

    Sigh. This type of arrogant non-thought is why blogging can be frustrating. As the Jamaicans used to say, “him is so ignorant him don’t know him is ignorant.”

    Do your really think that the democgraphics of financial sector jobs is the same as for those out of work who could use a $10 hr. transitional job?

  14. Is there a quick way of estimating the leverage taken by the private sector?

    Deficit-spending should help get the economy moving, but so should investing by the private sector.

    Yes, like Warren says, with the austerity measures in the US and Europe make the dollar and the euro hard to get. But what if the private sector starts borrowing(hence money creation)? It seems that the seemingly improving Chinese economy should help with this.

    It seems that deficit-spending (MMT’s main focus?) is only one side of the matter; thus my question on how to measure the level of private lending.


    1. CONT’

      Yes, the government is the only entity capable of bringing confidence back, hence it should act first when there is recession. But after some years of record high deficit spending (6-7 % GDP), it is interesting to also see what the leverage by the private has been and is.

      Thanks and happy 2013!

  15. Or course this says nothing about causality, but interestingly enough Nixon declared the war on drugs almost exactly one month before he abrogated the Bretton Woods agreement.

  16. Too bad prison funding is not in the “fiscal cliff” and set to expire along with some of the military funding.

    I do hope Obama has the balls to go over the fiscal cliff as it looks like the only way to cut some military waste. I imagine the military industry lobby is all over the republicans telling them to make a deal or else risk their taxpayer slush funds.

    Amazing how the big government Republicans would cut social security yet not military waste.

    Also amazing that the two most fiscally irresponsible presidents have been Reagan and GW Bush. Reagan tripled the debt and GW Bush doubled it, yet dumb Americans still vote republican thinking they are somehow fiscally conservative.

  17. Yes it quite a race between Nixon and GW Bush for the worst president of all time. Both spend like dogs without paying for the spending.

    Nixon – War in Vietnam, war on drugs, and the original massive entitlement spending

    GW Bush – War in Iraq and massive spending that was not paid for such as the medicare drug program giveaway to big pharm.

    The destruction republicans have done to American since print-and-spend Reagan started the party is beyond compare and if not reversible then Republicans will go down as the people that destroyed the American dream out of greed and corruption.

    1. @SandyZZZ, Nixon did not start the war in Vietnam, that was a small part JFK and a big part LBJ. Johnson began America’s direct involvement in the ground war in Vietnam when the first U.S. combat troops began arriving in March 1965. Nixon eventually got us out albeit quite awkwardly. Nixon also worked well with the Soviets and Chinese.

      Nixon’s term was probably the most complex of any President post WWII.

      He created the EPA, signed the Clean Air Act of 1970, he proposed revenue sharing with states (State and Local Assistance Act of 1972), he also created the Family Assistance Program.

      Am I saying he was the greatest president – no. He made plenty of mistakes on his way to the Vietnam exit, and then Watergate. But he is certainly one of the most complex and misunderstood presidents.

  18. Interesting, but two comments. Would be more valuable graphed against US population, and what about the big roll over of that last several years? What’s that all about?

  19. Warren your the only person i EVER worked for that required a drug test?

    Then the chimps you had running the show used it as a culling tool….lol

  20. Remembering that correlation is not causation…

    I’ve skipped most of the talk not related to crime, so apologies if it has been missed. I’ve been doing a lot of research on violent crime lately and found some stuff that was surprising to me or contradictory to my expectations. The graph on the decline in violent crime rates over the past five years in the 2011 FBI UCR was one of them:


    I was also surprised to find that the average homicide rate was lower over the past five years than it was for the 1960s (and way lower than the 1990s). Another good resource is here:


    Race (I would argue more precisely, socioeconomic segregation and the resulting culture) and violent crime is a very complicated and nuanced subject but it absolutely is a core component.

  21. The only drugs that should be scheduled are those which pose a legitimate public health risk – like antibiotics, the misuse of which leads to drug resistant bacteria. Those should require a prescription for purchase and having them without a prescription should be subject to legal penalties.

    Barbiturates? Benzos? Amphetamines? Go for it. They should be available to anyone of age who wants them.

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