The Disparate Impact of Crime

Jason Riley has this column in the WSJ pointing out a problem that does not get enough attention. When crime rates go up, the added crimes hurt people of modest means much more than they hurt the affluent. That is a substantial part of why soft-on-crime policies get the greatest support on the ends of the socio-economic spectrum — the criminals themselves and the affluent who are little affected by them — while those more affected by crime tend to support stronger measures.

Riley notes the closings of stores as the result of the de facto legalization of shoplifting and city riots.

These trends don’t affect all groups and all communities in the same way. Target has closed stores in predominantly black sections of Chicago, Milwaukee and Flint, Mich. in recent years in the wake of not only increased store thefts but also rioting, looting and violent antipolice protests. If you are middle class and the nearest big-box store closes, you simply drive to a different one or its equivalent. But if you are a poor single mom without a car, your options are limited. You’ve just lost access, perhaps, to the closest, cheapest and widest variety of fresh produce, medicines and other goods. The alternatives are more-expensive convenience stores and less-healthy processed food for your family.