Conservatives claim they want less government (usually while intruding their version of government even more deeply, not less, into peoples' private lives). What they fail to acknowledge in their simplistic assumption that their idea of less government is somehow better, is to provide a way to evaluate if that is true or if their measures are successful. If we look at the nations which really ARE number 1 among the industrialized nations of the world, the nations with which we should be compared, ALL of them are more socialized than we are, while remaining every bit as free, and every bit as governed by law and elected representative government.
The proper question to ask in evaluating government is does it work to benefit the country of the governed, and effectively and in a cost-effective manner achieve the goals we choose by consensus? THAT, not ideology, should be the determining criteria for what is and is not appropriate activities for government.
An example, instead of imposing the beliefs of a narrow religious minority of fundamentalists on people in areas like abstinence only sex ed, the better question is "what works most effectively to promote the lowest possible levels of unwanted teenage pregnancies and the lowest possible levels of sexually transmitted diseases" and then DOING THOSE THINGS as our public health and education policy, regardless of stupid biases by the right about ideology or whether that education is 'Christian enough' or does it track with the writing of the founding fathers reflecting 18th century ideas in the 21st century. To govern by ideology, not rationality, not pragmatism, not objective measurement of goals by consensus is insane, and it is stupid.
I looked at the issue of crime and incarceration statistics from the premise that conservatives tend ideologically more to take the approach of criminalizing and penalizing problems in an attempt to reduce them, rather than the more liberal approach of seeking out the causes of problems, and correcting those which government and society can affect or change for the better by legislation and public policy choices.
An example of this political divergence in looking at our problems with education would be the right attacking teachers, while the left and center look at issues like the correlation between poverty and poor educational performance, particularly aid to funding lunch programs for students in K-12, based on the correlation between nutrition. The Right wants to cut so far as possible all such assistance, claiming it is socialism and welfare, and therefore BAD.
In the area of crime, I think it can be argued that there is a greater desire on the right to lock people up, and in some states, to execute people, as a way of dealing with crime, and also a greater willingness to criminalize problems. Lets look at the number of people in jails and prisons, which is important, because we have the highest rate of putting people behind bars of any country in the world. Per good ol' wikipedia:
"Though home to a little less than 5% of the world’s population, the US holds 25% of the world’s prisoners.
The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. The U.S. incarceration rate on June 30, 2009 was 748 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents, or 0.75%.The USA also has the highest total documented prison and jail population in the world.Not exactly something where we want to scream "We're Number One! We're Number One!" This is a very important subject for a country where the right likes to throw out the word "Freedoms", like beads off a float in a Mardi Gras parade in 'the Big Easy'.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) 7,225,800 people at year end 2009 were on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole — about 3.1% of adults in the U.S. resident population, or 1 in every 32 adults.
Lets use this map from wikipedia to show red and blue, and purple states:
Pew Report who got their figures from:
SOURCE: Calculation includes offenders in state and federal jail, prison and community supervision and is based on data from the U.S. Census State Population Estimates, the Bureau of Justice Statistics Correctional Surveys available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/tables/corr2tab.htm, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, the Administrative O€ce of U.S. Courts and the Pew Public Safety Performance Project.The ten states with the highest percentage of people incarcerated, as of 2007,
and D.C.(compared to 1 in 31, the national average):
Georgia - 1 in 13 Delaware - 1 in 26Six are red states, including the top 3, 1 is a purple state, and only 3 are blue states. states high in violent crime by red state / blue state, the top ten with the highest rates of violent crime are:
Idaho - 1 in 18 Indiana - 1 in 26
District of Columbia - 1 in 21 Louisiana - 1 in 26
Texas - 1 in 22 Minnesota - 1 in 26
Massachusetts - 1 in 24 Rhode Island - 1 in 26
Ohio - 1 in 25
Break it out by specifically
1 South Carolina 6 AlaskaThe colors speak for themselves. While the Right argues about the need for budget tightening, the costs of incarcerating people is enormous in this country, and counter-productive to our safety -- in other words some of the least bang for the buck in having safe communities:
2 Tennessee 7 Delaware
3 Nevada 8 Maryland
4 Florida 9 New Mexico
5 Louisiana 10 Michigan
After an extraordinary, quarter-century expansion of American prisons, one unmistakable policy truth has emerged: We cannot build our way to public safety.and from further into the same report:
Serious, chronic and violent offenders belong behind bars, for a long time, and the expense of locking them up is justified many times over. But for hundreds of thousands of lower-level inmates, incarceration costs taxpayers far more than it saves in prevented crime. And new national and state research shows that we are well past the point of diminishing returns, where more imprisonment will prevent less and less crime.
The 10 states with the largest number of people in the corrections system include those with reputations for toughness, like Texas and Louisiana, but also Idaho, Ohio and Massachusetts.Unfortunately from what I see from the right, they like to congratulate themselves on their sense of superiority based on ideological thinking rather than rational, logical thinking. That ideology doesn't work; if it did there would be fewer states with high numbers of prisoners, high rates of violent crime, poor educational achievement, high drug use, high unwanted pregnancy and STD rates, and high divorce rates - despite the right's lip service to 'family values'. Lip service doesn't cut it; and the right's ideology is inadequate and performs poorly in the real world of measurement and statistics. I don't like seeing the United States 'Number 1' in locking people behind bars; I don't like seeing my home state of Minnesota in the top ten states for doing so either. However, with conservative 'values' driving decisions, policy, and legislation, I'm not hopeful that we will drop out of the top 10 states for locking people behind bars any time soon. I expect we will hear that justifed by conservatives claiming to be tough on crime, and for public safety, and that they will be blaming poor people and immigrants (both legal and illegal) -- blaming anyone except taking a hard look at the results of their own ideology driven decisions in government.
Similarly, the 10 states with the lowest correctional control rates include rural and northeastern states like Iowa and Maine, but also states with large urban populations, such as New York, and with long sentences for violent offenders like Virginia.