November 29, 2006

Welfare, a Mug(ger)s game

The Devil has a few pointed comments about the findings that most muggings are nothing to do with the few odds and ends that they get off their victims and are committed for the thrill of the offense itself. The Dark Lord has some ideas on how to dissuade this kind of behaviour, since we cannot change the rewards of a mugging (since the reward is the mugging itself) we must change the risks if they are caught:
May I humbly suggest a solution? We all realise that prison is not a perfect solution since many inmates come out more hardened than when they went in. So, I would suggest that a few hours in a public pillory would be sufficient for these people.
Chris Dillow however argues that poverty is still the main reason why it is the underclass that commits most of these crimes, not for what they get out of it but because they have less they risk losing less.
I’d find it fun to beat up public schoolboys or Guardian writers in the street. But I don’t do it. This isn’t because I’m a decent person. It’s because the cost of getting caught would be high for me, as I’d lose a well-paid job and prison would entail a significant loss of utility.

By contrast, someone in poorer circumstances might well feel that the fun of the attack outweighs the cost, as he’s got less to lose.
But normally it is the marginal effects that are most important. So while the absolute cost to Mr Dillow would be higher. The lost of some of his well paid work, being shunned from certain people, and maybe more sought out by others (with the Gordon mask on ... Oh yes! Harder, HARDER. Tax my limits. Show me who's in charge you prime stud!) the marginal effect on him wouldn't be great. For the very poor however being shunned or losing some work would have a much larger marginal effect, even if the absolute change was less, because that loss represents a so much larger part of what they once had.

The explanation for the seeming lack of the normal importance of marginal effects is actually simple and explained by James Bartholomew:
In the former [self reliant, pre-welfare state times], there are various pressures to be what we regard as 'virtuous'. There is peer pressure. There is the pressure of knowing that we will be helped only because of the deal whereby help we must help others. In the benefit-dependent estate, on the other hand, the need for mutual help has been taken away by the state. The people are put in the position where they are perennial takers. That develops a different attitude.
The pressures that society can induce on it's problem few is no longer of any importance as they (unlike Mr Dillow) have no real need of the normal web of society. The underclass that is the problem here takes all they need from the state, knowing that it will always support them so long as they do not try to support themselves. So there that they are more violent than him is to be expected, thanks to the largess of the welfare state what they risk losing in both marginal and absolute terms is no longer significant since the state will always provide. They can get the rewards without risking anything.

Both Dillow and the Devil are right that we will only get on top of this once we have shifted the risk/reward balance so that crime is no longer such a good option. That might mean harsher penalties. But better would be simply having the penalties that already exist used, get the police to patrol and catch the buggers or dissuade them from trying anything in the first place by their presence as the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it. Then have the courts actually apply these penalties would also help. So would letting people defend themselves without fear of judicial sanction for showing up the ineptitude of the state when they do. Most of all get rid of the Welfare State, so that the underclass has to view the rest of society as a source of their livelihoods rather than as prey.


Blogger Raw Carrot said...

Most of all get rid of the Welfare State, so that the underclass has to view the rest of society as a source of their livelihoods rather than as prey.


It amused me on the news this evening to see a single mother interviewed. She said: "I don't need no farver to support me and ma baby".

Of course you don't, you stupid cow. The taxpayer supports you. And, in case you don't know who that is, that's all the stupid sods who still go to work, and pay tax on income, capital gains, consumption, petrol, CO2 emissions, ... etc. etc.

And, who, should they ever require assistance from the state, be politely told to feck off because they've been responsible enough to (despite being taxed on savings) save for a rainy day.

If I could press a red button and wipe it all out, I would.

9:25 pm  

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