Thought re: crime rates
Via Volokh Conspiracy comes this WaPo article by gadfly Jeremy Rifkin. He's pointing out the environmental costs (of course!) of dense cities.
Just a thought: crime and in particular homicide rates go up drastically with urbanization, and the larger the city the worse they become. It may be the animal in us -- pack lab rats in densely and they start to fight. How much of the crime rate may be attributable to increasing urbanization might be an interesting question.
It has some local impact here. Channeled by mountains and government land, Tucson has expanded mostly to the Northwest and the East, becoming rather L-shaped. I live in the northeast end, and rarely go downtown (except to court). There's nothing down there, really, and the streets were laid out a century ago, so traffic is slow. We have shopping malls, office supply stores, and everything else here in the east side.
So the local governments are spending millions to "revitalize downtown" in hopes that I would drive 16 miles to go somewhere that has nothing that interests me. Of course it's a boondoggle. But I can't see why revitalizing downtown is a slogan in this context. In some places "downtown" is a crime-ridden slum and improving it might be nice. But here, it's just downtown, narrow streets and old buildings, and most of us have essentially moved away because other places are just more convenient.
Same situation here in Portland, OR, better known as Stumptown.
There's a valley to the west, which contains most of the high-tech that has spurred the economy of the state, and upwardly mobile suburbs to the east, where I live.
Both of these areas have adequate shopping, restaurants and entertainment.
Downtown Portland has become one large Transit Center, but the City is openly tolerant of some 2,000 juvenile runaways and 3,000 homeless, all of whom see begging as a protected way of life. Since a good part of these mendicants are mentally defective with either drug addictions or personality disorders or both, that begging can get to be quite unpleasant for visitors and workers in the downtown area.
The city tolerated the PETA and ALF people harrassing a world-class furrier out of business there, refusing to break up the improper boycott that raged on the street and sidewalk in fron to the store weekly for years.
The City refuses to enforce any traffic laws againt Critical Mass, a group of bicycle-mounted anarchists who monthly terrorize a selected part of downtown, piling their bikes in a heap in the middle of an intersection to shut it down, and occasionally using a "rolling demonstration" to try to paralyze the entire downtown district.
These are the same City Fathers (and Mothers) who are amazed when public opposition arises to raising taxes, or putting up yet another "special levy district" for yet another bond-floating boondoggle of some sort.
I avoid downtown like the plague it is.
Posted by: Rivrdog at December 19, 2006 05:49 PM
I do the same, just avoid the damn things. There is not much in Atlanta for me anyhow. I don't watch plays(Fox Theater), I don't watch sports(Georgia Dome), and I don't go to conventions( World Congress Center). I stay safe and armed in my little town where I have evey thing I need. Family.
Posted by: Michael at December 19, 2006 07:10 PM
Isn't it sad? I just turned forty this fall, and so, am just old enough to realize how very odd it is to see medieval-style walled cities ("gated communities") springing up all over America. Both my fiancee and my mum live in gated communities; I live in a (pretty nice) college neighborhood near the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque.
When I lived in downtown Albuquerque, I kept a well-armed household, out of necessity: an old Mauser 98 rebarreled to 250.3000 (great rifle), and a police revolver in my desk drawer/truck; a CZ75 pistol and an old Remington goose gun, too.
Like most New Mexicans, I never went anywhere without a piece in the truck, because you never knew when some drunk 'cholo' (Chicano gangster) was going to start waving HIS gun around at a traffic light.
But our downtown has undergone massive improvements for the better since 1998 or so. It used to be that Albuquerque had a well-deserved reputation as quite a zoo.
Seems to me that the anthropologists have it right: culture IS everything. Where I grew up, in SW Connecticut, all our neighbors owned firearms for hunting, many kept handguns in the house, too, just in case. But no one in my town would dream of bringing one to school, or using one to terrorize strangers in traffic. Hell, the local high school still doesn't have metal detectors at the entrances. No need for it.
I don't dislike guns, I just don't want to live anywhere where the natives are people to whom you would never hand a loaded one.
Posted by: Joseph in Egypt at December 26, 2006 03:42 PM