Journal

Woodstock – Lock, Stock, and Barrel


It has been a few days since the last time I wrote a post. Just been busy in my own head and didn’t want to distill things too early. So today perhaps we’ll just talk about some random things involving violence and driving. This is one of those “it is kinda weird” posts rather than one that is trying to explain something to myself or others. I suppose we’ll begin with the following two questions:

 

When in the 20th century did the US see the highest increase in violent crime?

 

When after this point in the 20th century did the US see the highest decrease in violent crimes?

 

If you are a baby boomer I suspect that you are thinking the most peaceful time is the 60’s. This was, after all, the rise of woodstock and the hippie culture. Counterculture did play a huge part in the 60’s to be certain. But nostalgia is a bit of a strange creature. When my Father used to rant to me about how terrible the US has become and how much safer it was in the 60’s I don’t think he ever thought to check the statistics.

60's looking real safe...

60’s looking real safe… (Click me for bigger! :D)

The 60’s saw the fastest increase in violent crimes per 100K people than any point prior to the 60’s. It was an absolutely stunning increase of 31% while the rest of the civilized world was on the decline. This damage continued until the 90’s when we saw the greatest decrease since which has maintained until today! So if you are about my age you’ve probably heard your parents rant about how terrible life is and how in their day it was much safer but the reality is that no, it wasn’t really. The baby boomer generation was the population present during the absolutely abhorrent reversal of what was (prior to the 60’s) a decrease in violent crimes.

It wasn’t until my generation and people 10 or so years older than me that the US started to balance out once again. Yet paradoxically people are arming themselves heavier than ever now. People are buying extra locks for their doors, permits for guns, and constantly (at least on my Facebook wall) ranting about how dangerous life has become.

Life isn’t becoming more dangerous in the US. It is becoming less dangerous. Rather rapidly too! So naturally you could look at this and think “Well tough titties, Mike. I’m still going to get a sniper rifle and protect myself from the boogieman.” That’s fine, I’m not going to tell you not to. But at least ground your life in reality. The US is getting better with each new generation now and the only people saying otherwise, or attempting to do otherwise, are older. Just for a moment think about one of the US’s most famous doomsayers, Rush Limbaugh. He was born in 1951, that means that during the boom of crime in the US he was hitting in his mid to late teens. He was one of the young Americans that was preaching the counter culture and, likely unintentionally, bringing on an age of violence in the US.

Basically everyone on Fox news? Start checking their ages, a lot of them are born in the 50’s and were young adults during the rise of crime. The most violent period in a man’s life is between 15 and 30 years of age (I’ve seen the higher end of this spectrum fluctuate either direction). These people were at the highest likelihood of being the problem at the period in our history that was the greatest problem.

I’m not saying we should hang them out to dry or anything like that. Just to put it into perspective. These folks rant now about a time of improvement while reminiscing to a time of great increases in harm.

You know those doors covered in locks that are ubiquitous to us now? Those were birthed from the 60s. All sorts of self defense and fear of your fellow man came from the 60s. The rise of Women’s rights in the 70s? A natural progression of Women fighting back because of the increase violence against them. It was a do-or-die scenario. I don’t want to overstate it, the entire country wasn’t on fire, but you would be much less happy on average in the city you are in now if you teleported back to the 60s.

Keep that in mind the next time you are pining for this peaceful generation that you either “lived” or heard about from your parents. While it isn’t necessarily a lie it is most certainly blanketed in ignorance. This is because it wasn’t quite a business in the 60s to populate the news with nothing but horror stories. I suspect we can thank Vietnam for that becoming a trend that is almost pornographic now. But that violence porn is funded and fueled by a somewhat defunct generation now.

I suspect as biology moves out the old and brings in the new we’ll see channels like Fox melt into oblivion. Even now they are starting to dabble in the silliest things in an attempt to remain relevant. Their fall from greatness won’t be graceful either, when the beast sees the last of its days there is going to be an extreme knee jerk.

Anywho, just my thoughts on the matter. I actually didn’t get to the guns and cars discussion but I suppose that’ll come tomorrow. It should be a fun little thought experiment.

PS. If you are curious why per 100K is the most helpful statistic for crime I can explain quickly. If a population is actually growing more dangerous you should see this number increase because the more people the more crime. If the population is growing but not becoming less violent the raw numbers will mislead you to think it IS getting more violent. But if you go with the ratio to 100K it will give you an accurate representation of the overall quality of a population.