Lies, Damned Lies And Statistics

I have an theory actually, but I suspect people won’t like it. It’s actually related to “And that’s how you got Trump!”

Every time people point to crime problems you get that familiar refrain “Actually, crime rates are down.” And yes, this is factually true at a broad level, but not necessarily true for the most visible of crimes, homicide (colloquially: murder) in specific localities. Let’s take my home town of STL. Murder has seen an sharp uptick from 2012-2015, holding steady in 2016. Now are these the highs of the 1980s and 90s? No. But it’s still a massive uptick (2012 stats have fallen off the STLPD report, but there was a near doubling from 2012 to 2015.)

My understanding is similar trends are happening in Chicago and Detroit, and other places, though perhaps not as sharp. Yes, stats for other violent crimes in STL are down, but 188 murders (in the city alone so a population of just over 300k) is a pretty significant problem. And it’s certainly shaping public opinion.

Now critics will say “but you aren’t affected by this!” And true, I live in a safe area, where the murder rate is measured in decades, but having a part of my region declared the “most violent area in the country” certainly hurts the economic development of the region, if only in terms of the euphemistic “human capital.” (Yes, that story is a place in the county, but the county murders are heavily concentrated in the north area adjacent to where the city murders concentrate in north city.) It’s impossible to live here and not be affected at some level. And this is hardly media hype, the numbers back it up!

Dismissing the valid concerns of large swaths of people in particular circumstances with general statistics inevitably you’re going to get a strong backlash. And here is that backlash. Ignoring the economic concerns of a huge chunk of the nation, that’s how you got Trump. Ignore rising murders in numerous cities, you get NRO articles calling for curtailing civil liberties to fight crime. Maybe, here’s a wild thought, let’s start taking these concerns seriously.