Crime … it’s simple economics.

According to conservative economist Thomas Sowell, for some, a life of crime may be a series of rational economic choices:

  • Given the Low Educational and IQ levels of many who become career criminals, crime may well be their best paying option.
  • Crime is one of those occupations, like sports and entertainment, in which a relatively few at the top achieve very high incomes, while most of those who enter the occupation received very low incomes.
  • For example, many ordinary young sellers of drugs on the street live at home with their mothers, often in public housing projects — clearly not an indication of affluence — but the lavish lifestyles of drug kingpins attract many young people into the occupation, in hopes of rising to the lofty level.
  • Changes in crime rates reflect rational reactions to the cost of criminals expect to pay both in punishment inflicted by law enforcement system and the risk of being harmed by their intended victims.
  • Burglary rates tend to be affected by the proportion of homeowners who have guns in their homes. For example the burglary rate in Britain is much higher than it is in the United States. And, when the Atlanta suburb of Kennesaw passed an ordinance requiring households to keep a firearm in their homes, residential burglaries dropped by 89%
  • Another example of the Rationality of Criminals Is the Response to the unusual American Institution of the private bail bondsman a system used by only one other country, the Philippines. Criminals who use bail bondsman, usually show up for their court dates because they know the consequences can be severe.
  • When the criminals in a given area belong to a crime syndicate, their activities are restrained by the organized crime leaders who have to take a wider repercussions into account. A syndicate may restrict the amount of crime to keep law enforcement from ratcheting up their efforts.
  • Ironically both law enforcement and organized crime tend to reduce the total amount of crime in a specific area


Applied Economics, Thomas Sowall, Basic Books, 2010  Chapter 2

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