Nov 13, 2011 2:58 AM GMT
A bit of counterintuitive reasoning... but also why I am firmly in the camp that believes we should legalize all forms of drugs. Sure you do have victims but by legalizing you have far fewer peripheral casualties.
Starting in the mid-1990s, major American cities began a radical transformation. Years of high violent crime rates, thefts, robberies, and inner-city decay suddenly started to turn around. Crime rates didn't just hold steady, they began falling faster than they went up. This trend appeared in practically every post-industrial American city, simultaneously.
"The drop of crime in the 1990s affected all geographic areas and demographic groups," Steven D. Levitt wrote in his landmark paper on the subject, Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s, and elucidated further in the best-selling book Freakonomics. "It was so unanticipated that it was widely dismissed as temporary or illusory long after it had begun.” He went on to tie the drop to the legalization of abortion 20 years earlier, dismissing police tactics as a cause because they failed to explain the universality and unexpectedness of the change. Alfred Blumstein's The Crime Drop in America pinned the cause of crime solely on the crack epidemic but gave the credit for its disappearance to those self-same policing strategies.
Plenty of other theories have been offered to account for the double-digit decrease in violence, from the advent of "broken windows" policies, three strikes laws, changing demographics, gun control laws, and the increasing prevalence of cellphones to an upturn in the economy and cultural shifts in American society. Some of these theories have been disproven outright while others require a healthy dose of assumption to turn correlation into causation. But much less attention has been paid to another likely culprit: the collapse of the U.S. cocaine market.