Bad Behavior as Part of the American Economy

The federal reserve board tracks segments of the economy.  In the private economy, there are durable goods, residential and commercial construction.  The public side is divided into education, public safety, and the like.  After the recession many states and municipalities are struggling to maintain what is frequently called “essential services”.  Much of the federal stimulus package was spent to enable states and municipalities to maintain educational, health care, and educational services.  The recession called attention to the variation in the efficiencies of state governments.  This created some discontents by smaller spending states with big spenders.  Gov. Perry has raised, at least rhetorically, the specter of succession.

Handicapping States’ Efficiency

William Voegeli rated the Texas state government as more efficient than California.  He justified the comparison since both states have similar percentages of minorities.  (According to the current sociological jargon the minorities are African Americans and non-white Hispanics regardless of numbers.)  Both states have robust levels of violent crime.  California has 523 violent crimes per 100,000 per year compared to a similar 511 for Texas.  California spends an astonishing 9.3 % of the state budget on incarceration compared to 6.8% of a more frugal Texas budget.

Homicide rates are more revealing and predictive of the behaviors of groups and immigrant groups.  Homicide is a more precise than violent crime.  Violent crimes may be over or under reported.  At least in the urban areas, few bodies go undetected and it does not take the CSI to label the “vic’ as a homicide.  It appears that the homicide rates in some American cities have been lowered not just by police work, but by the activities of the trauma services as well.  Homicide rates in much of the New World and sub-Sahara Africa are very high and remarkably constant for a given locale.

Amongst the white folks, Russia and the Baltic States have the highest rates.  Perhaps this is enhanced by the high alcoholism rates.

Health Care Costs and Longevity

America spends a lot and it is claimed by Michael Moore that we have poor outcomes as evidenced by our longevity statistics.  The statistics are massively impacted by bad behaviors such as homicides and low birth weight infants.  Low birth weight infants are largely the result of very young mothers and bad behaviors by the parturients.  The behaviors are detailed in the March of Dimes web site.  Critics commonly note that Japan leads the world in longevity.  The Asian American women of Bergen County New Jersey live an amazing four years longer than Japanese women in Japan.

At least some of the costs of health care are increased by trauma and newborn care.  In writing about health care in other nations T. R. Reid quoted the Japanese health care economist Ikegami Naoki who noted Japan’s longevity statistics benefit from lower levels of auto accidents and HIV.  We should not need a Japanese economist to tell us about our HIV rates and auto accidents.  In the 2004 Vice-Presidential debate, the African American moderator, Gwen Ifill, asked the candidates to respond to the problem of the high rate of HIV infection in African American women.  It is thirteen times that of white American women.  Both candidates simply confined their remarks to the efforts of the American government to aide Africa.  The level of political correctness in both parties is so extreme that it gets in the way of dealing with real issues.

Drive Over Areas

Americans are familiar with the term “fly over” regions.  These are the parts of the country which are thought by many to be less interesting than the coastal cities.  American cities outside of a few states such as Vermont, Utah, and Idaho have what might be called “drive over areas”.  Not much business is conducted in the high crime areas and ordinary citizens drive by on the freeways to work or shop at a safe distance.  This increases transportation costs.