November 4 is creeping up on us, and in 47 days voters will elect the next leader of the United States. Who will it be? Barack Obama or John McCain?
Both candidates say they offer change, both tickets recognize our country is need of a serious overhaul, both think they are the one to run our country. When you look through elections past, crime, abortion, gun control was a key issue, along with the economy. Now according to the latestGallup Poll (September 17), the “Top voter issue this year is the economy, gas prices, Iraq, healthcare, and terrorism.” So, what does this have to do with crime?
As I mentioned in my previous post, neither candidate is going to say he is soft on crime. And the true differences that we can glean from voting records may be minor in the grand scheme of things, with the major differences (based on their prior voting records) between the candidates being:
John McCain: No gun restrictions for law-abiding citizens Barack Obama: Some restrictions on certain guns Death Penalty
Barack Obama: Some restrictions on certain guns
John McCain: Keep death penalty as it exists Barack Obama: Supports death penalty in certain circumstances Drug Laws
Barack Obama: Supports death penalty in certain circumstances
John McCain: Tough drug sentencing, except for first-time offenders; no medical marijuana Barack Obama: Ease some drug sentencing requirements; undecided on medical marijuana National Security
Barack Obama: Ease some drug sentencing requirements; undecided on medical marijuana
John McCain: Increase border security before other reforms Barack Obama: Increase border security, including fencing Punishment
Barack Obama: Increase border security, including fencing
John McCain: Increased penalties and stiffer sentencing Barack Obama: No extra punishment for gang association
Barack Obama: No extra punishment for gang association
Crime is affected by the economy. In 2002, according to a report in USA TODAY, “major crimes increased slightly in the first half of 2002, with modest spikes in murder, burglary and car theft.” At the time, the numbers represented the second consecutive year in which crime rose. Analysts believe the trend is being driven primarily by a faltering economy.
So how does a faltering economy contribute to crime? 1. Financial desperation and unemployment lead people to turn to illegal ways to make money, including burglary, robbery, and other theft-related crimes.
2. Unemployed people have more time to commit crime.
3. People have less means to purchase medications (like anti-psychotics or anti-depressants) that may help control behavior.
5. City and county budgets are affected, as there are increased layoffs and hiring freezes of law enforcement personnel.
6. Drug use increases in tough economic times, thus leading to more violent crimes as people become more desperate to get drugs and money.
7. Poor economic times lead to more family strife, thus increasing incidents of domestic abuse and child abuse.
8. Neighborhoods decline, and with lack of upkeep fewer people take pride in where they live, thus bringing crime into their own neighborhoods.
9. Teen pregnancies increase when the economy is weak. This leads to more children growing up in poverty.
Though economists and social scientists may take issue as to what effect the economy truly has on crime, the statistics are very telling. The bottom line is that a sustained weak economy leads to unemployment, loss of homes, and greater crime. And if you don’t believe me, look at the decreased crime that occurred during the economic surge that occurred for almost a decade in the 1990’s—the Clinton years.
So in order to really evaluate the nominees on crime, you need to take a peek at their stances on the economy. There’s no better time to see what the candidates have in store for us than this week when the financial markets have wrought havoc, caused chaos, and have many people wondering if their money is really safe.
So what did the candidates say? Both said that we are in crisis. We need to do something. We need change. And what exactly is that I ask, Senators? I have been trying to figure that out all week, as neither White House hopeful offered any fresh ideas for turning things around. Instead each relied on the same vague, though vastly different, pitches they have offered over the past few months for fixing what ails the country.
Probably the best summary of their positions was written by Liz Sodti of the Associated Press in noting the key differences between the candidates: “In line with historical positions of Democrats and Republicans, Obama generally supports stronger consumer protections, better regulatory oversight and more government intervention, while McCain broadly prefers a market system of less federal involvement and red tape."
Both advocate tax cuts, though to different degrees and toward different ends. Obama seeks to cut into inequality between rich and poor by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and giving breaks to the middle class and lower-income people. McCain wants to spur the economy and create jobs by keeping tax rates low for higher-income taxpayers and slashing rates for corporations.
Which approach do you prefer? That’s one thing to ask yourself when you’re contemplating who you want to see in the White House.
POSTS BY ROBIN SAX DO NOT REPRESENT THE OPINION OF THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY. THIS POST AND OTHERS ARE THE PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE OF ROBIN SAX AS AN INDIVIDUAL.