Ahem…for reasons of disclosure, let me start out by saying I am a social worker…I am a social worker but I am also not stupid. I’ve worked in some social programs in my day that were, shall we just say, not cost-effective. However, let me also say that those days were a long time ago. Things have changed in my field and now pretty much everything is cost-effective.
That’s what happens when there is no money.
Many Americans, over the past year or so, have been introduced to the term austerity, but in social services austerity has been the order of the day for close to two decades so this is why, when I read in the Lens about Mitch Landrieu’s budget for the city of New Orleans, it makes me want to steal a NOPD squad car and drive it straight through the front doors of City Hall to, you know, creatively air my grievances in a way the mayor might finally pay attention to, because apparently all them listening sessions he did? They didn’t amount to dick as he just wrote a budget doing the opposite of what the people, the citizens of New Orleans, suggested.
“We heard folks at the budget meetings say spend less on public safety, but at the moment, we think it (spending more) is the right thing to do,” Landrieu said Monday in an overview presentation of his $495 million proposed 2012 budget to reporters.
Well, listening ain’t hearing, is it Mitch?
So though it will probably fall on deaf ears, let me try to explain a little something anyway, a little something about crime:
If you have a crime problem, and your solution to this crime problem is to cut the funding from every part of the budget that addresses social inequity, be it social services, education or whatever else…you will still have a crime problem. In fact, it will be worse, and if you then take all that money you cut and give it to the most bloated budget of every city in this country, to the police…well, then you will not only still have a crime problem, then you get a lost generation and a prison problem.
Why then a crime, lost generation and a prison problem?
Simple, if your only solution is to lock people up, you’re going to lock a lot of people up which then in effect, is throwing a lot of people away. In addition, social work ain’t the only place to become far too familiar with austerity, these same measures have long since ensured that in prison, there is no such thing as rehabilitation anymore. Instead of a trade or even a college education, all you get now is a criminal education and then people get out of the prison. They come back to your city where, because your mayor keeps giving all the money to the cops, there continues to be little or no support.
And then you still have a crime problem.
But hey, new cops in new uniforms sure do look good on the evening news and it’s something tangible a mayor can point to, puff out his chest and say, “Look at me, I’m doing something about the problem!”
Yeah, okay…but what the hell are you doing but perpetuating it? If I were to buy a shotgun and start driving around New Orleans and shooting homeless people, one might be able to argue that I am doing something about the homeless problem, but that don’t necessarily make it the right thing to do, and besides, then I might wind up in your cyclical non-solution to all things criminal in New Orleans.
Frankly, the simplest solution one can find to a complex problem ain’t necessarily the best way to go about it.
Call me crazy, but I’m thinking it’d be best to measure a city’s success in dealing with a crime issue, not by the number of arrests and convictions, nor by the length of prison sentences. I think a far better measure would be how many you were able to keep from committing the crime in the first place, by presenting them with opportunity to do something else, you know, give as many people as possible a realistic opportunity to display “personal responsibility.”
But yeah, I know…it’s a fuck of a lot harder to take a picture of that, to put crime prevention on the front page of the Times Picayune or to somehow fashion that into a bumper sticker to slap on the back of your car…
You know, before it gets stolen.
So congratulations Mitch, you’re now just like every other damned politician, offering a simple and ineffective solution to a difficult and complex problem…but hey…gotta fill Gusman’s bullshit jails somehow, eh buddy?
Read the article:
Have a nice day.