Who Are You Going to Vote For?

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On Friday, September 21, 2018, The Wall Street Journal ran a front-page article by David Luhnow under the headline, 400 Murders a Day: The Crisis in Latin America. Here are some of the highlights:

A chart on the front page showed the violent deaths (per 100,000 people) by firearms in 2016, by country:

El Salvador: 40.29

Venezuela: 34.77

Honduras: 20.56

Guatemala: 26.81

Brazil: 19.34

Mexico: 10.76

Latin America and Caribbean: 16.21

A sub-headline on the chart notes that some of the smaller countries lumped under the Latin-America-and-Caribbean category, notably El Salvador, have disproportionately higher rates even than the region generally

To put this in context, you would be safer living anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa, where violent deaths by firearms per 100,000 are 1.22, North Africa and the Middle East (1.50), or Asia (0.77). Syria is safer than Latin America. So are Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Luhnow’s depiction of death rates per 100,000 as caused by firearms may actually be slightly off, as one of the murders he describes occurring on a typical day in Acapulco included a cabdriver who was hacked to death, while others were caused by garroting or dumping victims in vats of acid, but it is certainly close enough for the purposes of this article. Acapulco, in case you were planning to take your significant other there this winter, had 953 people murdered last year, more than in Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, and the Netherlands put together. That’s in a single city of 800,000.

Mr. Luhnow points out that in Latin America, every day, more than 400 people are murdered, for an annual total of 145,000, and that with just 8% of the world’s population, Latin America accounts for approximately one third of global murders, and that nearly one in four murders around the world are committed in just four countries: Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, and Columbia. El Salvador’s 2016 murder rate of 83 per 100,000 was the world’s highest, nearly 17-times higher than America’s. (Note the disparity between this figure and the one cited above in the chart. I assume that is because this one is an updated figure reflecting recent unhappy events in El Salvador where things appear to be spiraling ever further out of control.)

A few more factoids: Violence cost Latin America 3% of its annual economic output, or twice the level of developed countries; 43 of the 50 most murderous cities in the world are in Latin America, including all of the top ten; between 2000 and 2017, approximately 2.5 million people were murdered in Latin America and the Caribbean, equivalent to wiping out the entire city of Chicago, which is frequently in the news for its own problems.

There are more fascinating—or horrifying—facts cited by Mr. Luhnow, but let me skip now to his findings.

Some of this violence is attributable to Latin America’s having the world’s greatest gap between rich and poor;

Much of the economy of those countries is off-the-grid, illegal family-run street businesses that operate without government control or taxation, which contributes to a culture of scoffing at the law;

What little law exists is so riddled with corruption as to hardly qualify as law;

Most Latin American cities have woefully inadequate services, particularly schools and honest law enforcement;

Law enforcement and the legal structure generally are both weak and corrupt;

The percentage of single-parent homes has skyrocketed in the last twenty years;

And, finally, the presence of powerful drug cartels and violent gangs is both pervasive and seductive, a world of crime that offers young men with few other options jobs, services, and an identity.

Does any of that sound familiar, Gentle Reader? As I have written multiple times before, study after study after study of American inner-city crime, by a wide range of impartial think-tanks and universities, have all come to precisely the same conclusions as to the causes of the problems we read about daily in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, New Orleans, Washington, DC, Newark, Milwaukee, and on and on.

So when you go to the polls this November, if a politician tells you he or she is going to get tough on violent crime by banning guns or passing newer, better, tougher, more draconian laws, just remember that in all those countries lumped under the banner of Latin America, from Mexico to Cape Horn, gun ownership is nearly impossible, limited exclusively to those with the financial means and political connections most people do not have. In some countries, notably Mexico, it is virtually and totally impossible, no matter what. Think of how well those laws are working down there, and then vote for someone else. Vote for anyone who has the wisdom and the courage to talk about:

The importance of family structure;

Changing a culture that glorifies the absentee father and encourages detachment from economic and cultural norms;

Better schooling and mentoring for at-risk youth;

Mental illness as balanced between threat to society and right to privacy;

Reconsidering some of the popular public policies that were well-intentioned attempts to relieve social ills, but which have in fact contributed to them by creating a socio-economic underclass;

And above all, it is time to rethink the war on drugs, because we’ve lost that one, baby.

I do not recommend anyone hold their breath waiting for a politician to address these issues.

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6 thoughts on “Who Are You Going to Vote For?”

  1. Well spoken and explained Mr Parker!
    I am a single female living in a small town in MO.
    As I get older I am finding that men are like parking spots…all the good ones are taken and the only ones left are disabled!! 😉
    That being said,as I remain single in the world as it is today, I own a rifle and a couple of sweet dogs. I am a Christian and old fashioned as the standards go ,but it is up to the other person and how they act….that will determine which one greets them at the door.
    I will absolutely be voting for those who will protect my right to have a gun, worship the one and only God, supports a family as God intended and that will strive to keep America and our children safe!
    Thanks for being one of the few gentleman left in this world that stands up, with their voice and actions, for what is right!
    Unfortunately you are also taken~ :0)


    Missy W.

  2. I saw a meme the other day, it showed people escaping under a fence of rolled barb wire and was captioned: “Have you ever noticed you never see people fleeing freedom to live in socialism” (not an exact quote but it gets the idea across.)

    I would like to think my friend, Adrian Smith, from Nebraska is just such a politician as you describe, but even though I have known him for over 30 years, know his family, I have my questions, my doubts.

    I think the next presidential election I’m just going to write in this name, Jameson Parker. I’d vote for you. Thank you for being a level-headed voice of caution and concern.

    This should be commented on your review of Code Girls. I thought you would be interested in this. https://www.starherald.com/news/nation_world/wwii-code-breaker-buried-in-nebraska-with-uk-military-honors/article_e6d23fed-54a8-564e-b87a-2b66f34d5c9a.html


  3. While I totally agree that guns are not the root cause of the problems in our society, I don’t believe that semi-automatic and automatic weapons should be in the hands of all citizens. I do support better background checks but in conjunction would also like to see gun owners having to pass a gun safety course. Will it prevent all gun related injuries/deaths – of course not. However, if we require people getting behind the wheel of a vehicle to demonstrate – at least once – he/she can safely operate the vehicle and knows the basic rules governing the operation of said vehicle, it would seem to follow that we could require people who own guns to demonstrate he/she can safely operate the gun and know the basic safety rules governing the use of weapons. This argument seems to always be about whether guns should be totally restricted or totally allowed – our government no longer seems to be willing to concede that compromise can be possible for any topic under discussion. There are probably more Americans, like me, who do own a gun but who do understand that in today’s society where children have access to weapons but often without the instruction and supervision that would have occurred several generations ago, that the status quo is no longer appropriate. (As it appears life-terms in the Supreme Court are no longer appropriate, the Electoral College needs to be replaced, etc.)

    I would really like to read your views about Judge Kavanaugh’s performance during the Judiciary Committee hearing last week.

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