Monday, January 6, 2020

Things are not gettings worse every day.

by Rod Williams- There are so many things people believe that just aren't so.  I think it is because recent bad news looms larger in our mind than old bad news and people just forget. Also, for some reason, I think people delight in thinking things are always getting worse.

One example is the price of groceries. I hear people all the time say that every time they go the grocery store pries have gone up. While in actual dollars it takes just a little bit more money to buy groceries than it did last year, in terms of dollar purchasing power 2019 was the third year in a row with deflating or lower-than-average inflating retail food prices. (link) Even that overstates the price of groceries.  The consumer price index measures the price of the same items over time. It does not take into account the way most people really shop.  I like steak and I like sea scallops. If steak is not on sale but sea scallops are buy-one-get-one-free, I buy sea scallops.  I think many people substitute to sale items when  they shop.

Also think of the way people react to changing gas prices.  Gas prices fluctuate. If gas goes from $2.49 a gallon to $2.59 a gallon people will say, "Gas prices are going through the roof, I had to pay $2.59 a gallon this morning."  If the drops back to $2.49, no one says, "Gas prices are falling like a rock; I got gas for $2.49 this morning!"  Gas prices adjusted for inflation are the lowest they have been since the 1970s (link) People enjoy awfulizing.

Another thing many conservatives are just wrong about is the view that marriage and intact families are a disappearing institution.  Actually, the divorce rate is down, the number of children born out of wedlock is down and the number of children being raised in intact families with a mother and father is up (link).  There is still a serious problem, especially in the Black community, and there is room for improvement, but we should not be afraid to acknowledge good news.

Look at the issue of crime. It is not worse than it ever has been.  It is not getting worse every day. Crime rates vary from year to year and there was a peak in the 1970's and then a decline and a peak in the 1990's and a decline since.  Crime rates are about the same as they were in the 1960's (link).  There have been some terrible murders in Nashville this year and a lot of people will think criminal homicides are up in Nashville.  They are not.  There were 107 in 2017, 88 in 2018, and only 76 in 2019 (link).

Juvenile crime has gotten a lot of attention this year.  Back in February there was the chilling case of a 12 year old girl and her friends killing in cold blood a 24 year-old Nashville musician in his front yard.  It was random.  They did not know the man.  They demanded his car keys and when he didn't hand them over they shot him (link).  Then there was the attention paid to the problems at the juvenile detention center when four detainees escaped.  These cases get our attention and they distort our perception of the problem of juvenile crime. The number of juvenile arrests in Nashville is down 49% since 2013.  Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 16, 2018, 553 teens were charged with 1,026 offenses. During the same time frame 2019, 427 teens were charged with 852 offenses. Juvenile homicide charges were  up this year from last year and so were aggravated robbery charges, but aggravated assault charges were down 14%, aggravated burglary charges were down 62% and charges of property theft over $1,000 were down 60%. Juvenile crime is not spiraling out of control. (link)

There are certainly problems in Nashville, America and the world, but all things are not getting worse.  The economy is booming. Unemployment is down.  African-Americans have greater employment rates than anytime is a long time.  Radical Islam is a threat and the mid-East is a mess, but compared to the dangers of the cold war, then was worse than now.  Wars are less frequent, of shorter duration and less deadly. The worlds literacy rate is at an all time high. The global poverty rate has dropped to an all time low of 10%.

People like to wax nostalgic about the 'good ole days.'  I am not so sure the good ole days were really that good.  This may be the best time in the history of man to be alive.

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