Monday, October 19, 2015

To Solve St. Louis' Crime Problem, We Need a Free Market in Education

Posted By on Mon, Oct 19, 2015 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF FLICKR/PAUL SABLEMAN

Here is the gun. There is the Cardinal fan. Here is the gun. There is the Cardinal fan. Bang. Why?

The shooter is rational, so he knows the real world rules are different for murdering a white man than for murdering a black man. He knows that when he uses the credit card the camera will get a close up of his face. He knows law enforcement won’t stop until he is caught.

See also: Cardinals Fan Shot Downtown on Friday Is Paralyzed, Mother Says

I admit that right away I assumed the perpetrator was black. I also admit that I believe young black youths commit vastly more crimes than any other segment of society. Even as I have been assuming the perpetrator is black, however, I have been wondering if the perpetrator considered that he is degrading by association the vast majority of African-Americans who have regular jobs and are fabulous citizens. I doubt it.

But back to the question. Why did he shoot? My answer is that he thinks America is a raw deal. He feels like he is invisible and he believes he has no prospects. He knows his lack of speech and reading skills doom him in the job market. He thus sees benefits in getting a possible short term gain via the victim’s cash and credit card – and he ignores the likely high cost to himself and the sure high cost to civil society. It’s crazy, but I guess he also foolishly thinks he will beat the odds and somehow escape capture.

See also: In 2015, St. Louis Is Headed Toward the Most Homicides in Decades. How Can We Stop the Bloodshed?

When most of us in St. Louis look at what are actually a tiny number of barbarous criminals we see fatherless, uneducated, uncivilized human beings. They appear to have no “social capital.” They seem to lack the habits and morals which make up a civil society – the habits and morals which develop through traditional foundational institutions – a family, a neighborhood, a school, a job, and a church.

Are we going to protect ourselves by putting all these aimless youths in prison? Or will we admit that even though their numbers are small there are still too many for mass incarceration – and they only go to jail after committing crimes anyway? Are we going to provide more and more government benefits in the hope that by incentivizing these youths away from the dignity of honest work we will persuade them that the pittance we deliver is a good deal?

We too are rationale creatures, and so we know those approaches will fail.

The only solution is to make adjustments in our society so that these youths will develop social capital and obtain a stake in the system. Races and peoples have risen from poverty before. In the late 1800’s businesses kept signs in their windows saying “Irish Need Not Apply.” That was because at that time countless Irish males were alcoholic deadbeats. Now, just a few generations later, if a daughter from a majority population family brings home an Irish lad as her fiancé the family considers itself lucky.

Many changes can be proposed. Let me recommend just one change, the change which I believe will have the greatest benefit and the least cost toward adjusting the mentality of this underclass so that its members may well conclude that American individualism is worth the investment.

That change is the often touted, but seldom enacted, voucher system for education. Instead of parents being required to send their kids to an assigned public school based on the geography of their neighborhood, parents receive a “voucher” which they may spend for their child’s education at any public or private school in the larger area. Some would go to Clayton. Some might go to new schools formed in a manner consistent with Louis Farrakhan’s recent call for schools run by black people for black people.

From my perspective the critical element is the introduction of a market for education.

If parents have a choice about where their children go to school they will have a stake in the outcome of the education and so they will care more. The family will seek to validate its educational choice. Market forces driven by subjective opinions of parents will thus improve the world of K-12 education. Meaningful prospects start with speaking and writing skills.

Everyone will say implementation of this idea is impossible because of entrenched interests and legal impediments. But we must try something, because if we don’t engage these kids into mainstream America they will destroy our fragile civil society.

We all want the small number of people engaging in this cycle of depravity to stop destroying their own lives and the lives of others. We also want them to stop tainting the rest of the black community.

We want a society in which when a daughter from the majority population brings home a fiancé whose great-great-great-great grandparents were slaves, her family considers itself lucky.

Bevis Schock is a libertarian and a member of the majority population. He practices civil rights law in St. Louis. He was recently on the winning side of the Missouri Supreme Court challenge to camera tickets

At the RFT, we welcome well-reasoned essays on topics of local interest. Contact sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com if you've got something to say.



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