The more polite amongst readers might suggest that in lieu of miscreants I say, felons, parolees, those on probation, friends-of-felons, admirer-of-felons, supporters of felons, thugs, bad-guys, gang-members, hood-rats etc. but instead, I’ll just call them all miscreants for the sake of this article because they share so much in common while having so little distinction from one another.
It begins when two miscreants have sex that creates a life they can’t afford or properly manage. Without a decent, two-parent, loving, nurturing, God-fearing family unit, not surprisingly, from such unions young miscreants are being cultivated and replicated. While the patriarchal, white-privileged, racist system does everything imaginable to save these poor kids from the miscreants who created them, most of the time this fails, and miscreant wannabes exchange the system of education for the system of enforcement, policing, adjudicating and finally incarceration. At this point, our newly-minted miscreants have finally found the “family” they missed growing up, that being the family of fellow miscreants in jails and prisons.
Back in “the hood”, this series of digressions are seen as positive, a way of validating ones “street cred”, what is known in those black communities as “keeping it real.” “Keeping it real” is shorthand for refusing to become domesticated, socialized and civilized, a goal of today’s Black Lives Matter movement. The systematic cycling of young black men through this system is as proud a moment for miscreants as is the bar mitzvah for the Jews and college graduation for the otherwise domesticated, socialized and civilized.
Today’s welfare-state perversely incentivizes miscreant’s continued bad behaviors by failing to condition social benefits on positive steps towards self-sufficiency and the acceptance of social norms. The soft bigotry of low expectations lowers standards while cultivating learned helplessness which leads to hopelessness and despair.
The Justice Policy Institute states that each year, the U.S. incurs an estimated $8-$21 billion in long-term costs for the confinement of young people. Here in New York State, the cost of incarcerating a juvenile is over $400.00 per day. This is a portion of what Ohio county court judge Anthony Capizzi had to say about kids in the system.
”The reality is, by keeping a child out of prison, we save this county $170,000 a year.”
Our current system is like feeding a really bad diet to a horse and then going around to the back of the animal and trying to solve the problem as it exits. Perverse incentives that destroy ambition and self-worth are counter-productive and failing. We need to positively incentivize the absence of pregnancy in communities that aren’t equipping people to become responsible and financially independent parents. Paying young men and women to submit to birth-control measures is a much more humane and thoughtful approach that front-loads the system with cash that can jump-start a new and different life-trajectory for young people before having children.
That portion of society that is domesticated, socialized and civilized is paying the costs of the current system that isn’t working and hasn’t worked in a social engineering experiment that is now pushing 50 years in the making. It is time to try alternatives. Ruined lives, societal challenges and the degradation of civilized humanity is the current result. We can do better by providing positive incentives for positive behaviors.