urban america

On Poverty And Gun Death

I wrote about the correlation between gun violence and economic insecurity:

Even in cities with strong gun laws, the correlation holds. Buzzfeed notes that “the average rate of gun deaths in Chicago’s five poorest neighborhoods was over 12 times the rate in its least poverty-stricken.” A map of murders in Washington, D.C. shows that killings hardly ever occur in the city’s wealthy western swath of neighborhoods.

Mind you, this is correlation and not causation. But there’s plenty of reason to believe that poverty leads to gun violence and greater economic security decreases it.

In his classic study of inner city Philadelphia, sociologist Elijah Anderson demonstrates how racism, social alienation, and the absence of economic opportunity combine to create a “code of the street” in which wielding the “credible threat of violence” is the only way to ensure one’s safety. Needless to say, the code leads to a pattern of confrontation and killing.

“Only by reestablishing a viable mainstream economy in the inner city, particularly one that provides access to jobs for young inner-city men and women, can we encourage a positive sense of the future,” Anderson wrote.

Continued at Generation Progress.

A Setback For Public Services

The New York City school bus drivers’ strike is over, with drivers giving in after more than a month of striking. The bad news is immediate for drivers, but I suspect that there’s a broader significance here:

As Campus Progress reported last month, the strike is a pitched battle in a wider ideological conflict over how public services should be managed. Are New York City parents and drivers locked in a zero-sum game, as Bloomberg would suggest, in which a dollar more to drivers is a dollar less for taxpayers? Or do they have a symbiotic relationship, in which an investment in drivers is also an investment in children?

“In the city’s entire history, the special interests have never had less power than they do today, and the end of this strike reflects the fact that when we say we put children first, we mean it,” Bloomberg said in a statement last week.

“School transportation is not a luxury, particularly for students with disabilities—it is a civil right recognized under several federal and state statutes,” said Sara Catalinotto, an organizer with Parents to Improve School Transportation and Manhattan mother of two. “There are places that you could trim the fat, but not in the salaries of workers. That’s ridiculous,” she told Campus Progress.

Read the whole thing.

Photo: Flickr / Jason Kuffer.