Law and Order – the Conservation Implications

Muggings, burglary, aggressive panhandlers, human poop on the sidewalks...It’s enough to make a person buy a McMansion in the outer suburbs.

Goodbye habitats. Hello, wider superhighways and longer commutes.

Urban crime is an environmental issue – a big one. Crime destroys habitat; it increases fossil fuel burning. It also causes light pollution, as cities and private businesses light up the night to deter criminals.

This midnight lighting disturbs the internal clocks of animal and plant alike. It also messes with human biorhythms. Insanity is amplified. Every night is a full moon night. This might explain the degree of lunacy we see these days…

The Problems with Simplistic Tough on Crime Measures

During the past few decades there the US. prison population has exploded. The US competes with totalitarian regimes for the Most Prisoners Per Capita Award. The Bill of Rights has become a sad joke. This makes libertarians unhappy.

The number of black men who have done prison time is in the Stalinist Russia range. This makes it very awkward to be black and conservative. Our core cities have become single-party electoral zones. This is a recipe for political corruption.

Political corruption. Yet another reason to flee to the outer suburbs.

Once in a while frustration with getting the Stalin Treatment leads to riots. Who wants to live in a riot zone? Yet another reason for suburban sprawl. Riots are not eco friendly.

Criminal Justice Reform is an Environmental Issue

We need more law and order in our core cities, and we need to reduce our prison population and level of police harassment. We appear to have a contradiction. Fortunately, the many flavors of conservative provide a wealth of solutions.

Libertarians have been pointing out for decades how our emphasis on enforcing victimless crime laws has made organized crime more profitable, filled our prisons, and turned residential neighborhoods into war zones. When the police behave as an occupying army, there is a loss of trust. The more thoughtful intellectuals in the greater libertarian movement have produced a substantial body of work on the economics of crime. Many of our simplistic Tough on Crime measures create a sunk cost dynamic, where the penalty for trivial crimes exceed the penalty for armed robbery.

Welfare reformers have long pointed out how our need-based welfare system penalizes marriage and taking entry level jobs. Marriage and employment are civilizing influences. Fix the welfare system and you reduce crime without a single arrest.

The Bible has quite a few ideas on criminal justice and welfare reform worth studying. We can move in the direction of liberty and a bouncy social safety net under the banner of Christian conservatism.

Populist conservatives have long pointed out areas where the system is unfair, where the super rich are getting away with stealing billions of dollars of wealth from society. When the system is unfair, respect for the law declines.

Finally, we can create more job opportunities by reforming labor law, ending anti-protectionism, and improving access to capital for small to medium businesses. We can create that Opportunity Society that Republican politicians have been giving lip service to for years. This includes opportunities for high school dropouts with a criminal record.

We can cut crime and become that Land of the Free we sing about before football games.