Saturday, January 23, 2016

Not For Votes

On Tuesday, a class action lawsuit was to be filed against Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and others, the National Guard was being brought in to Flint, and the mayor of the Michigan city was meeting with White House super-aide Valerie Jarrett.  Mayor Karen Weaver would urge declaration of an emergency in her city to obtain direct federal aid. Media Matters reported that Fox News host Heather Nauert, concerned it might be approved, responded "well, this is a way they could potentially get more black votes in the coming election" (video, below).

Not to worry, Ms. Nauert. The Republican Party will not cease its effort to prevent black people from voting.

There are several reasons drinking lead is not a good thing, one of which- its connection to crime- Bill Maher helpfully pointed out on Friday's Real Time.   Kevin Drum, relying on the research of Rick Nevin (graphs below, his) and others, has done groundbreaking report on the impact upon the youthful brain of lead and the strong evidence in the USA and abroad, of a link between lead and crime.

It so happens, additionally, that one skeptic of the theory has inadvertently contributed to substantiating it.  In April, 2014 Mark Kleiman quoted Duke University's Phil Cook writing

My skepticism about the “lead removal” explanation for the crime drop stems from the same source as my skepticism about the Donohue-Levitt explanation in terms of abortion legalization. They have an exact parallel to the previous explanations for the surge in violence of the late ‘80s by John DiIulio and others. The focus in both cases is the character of the kids – the belief that during the 80s the teens were getting “worse,” and during the 90s they were getting “better.” Even a fairly casual glance at the data demonstrates that whatever the cause of the crime surge, and then the crime drop, it was not associated with particular cohorts. It was an environmental effect – 10 cohorts were swept up in the crime surge simultaneously, and the drop has the same correlated pattern.

Except: no. Crime rates for youth and for adults increased separately and dropped separately.   Using data through 2012, Nevins noted

... the declining prison population reflects plummeting incarceration rates for young adults, offset by higher rates for older adults. These incarceration trends result from arrest rate trends by age, caused by earlier preschool lead exposure trends. From 2002 to 2012, the incarceration rate fell 51% for men ages 18-19, 30% for men ages 20-24, and 21% for men ages 25-29. ...

The aging prison population is partly due to longer sentences, but mostly reflects arrest rate trends by age. From 1992-2012, violent crime (murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) arrest rates fell 61% for ages 10-17, 51% for ages 18-19, and 42% for ages 20-29, but increased by 11% for ages 45-54.

There are a bunch of reasons for getting the lead out, and for the federal government to assist the State of Michigan and the city of Flint in switching to safe water.  If Nauer and other conservatives don't want to see this happen, they're going to have to do a lot better than complaining that Democrats are eager for votes from blacks.

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