in America - Its Conditions and Causes
The Federal Bureau of
Investigation publishes an annual report called The
Uniform Crime Report. This publication divides crime into two categories.
These are violent crime and property crime. Four crimes are listed as violent,
i.e. murder, rape, assault, and robbery. All four are crimes against the person.
Murder, according to law, is
divided into first and second degree killing and also recognizes “negligent
The United States suffers a murder
rate of 5-6 per 100,000 in the population. Compared to European and other
industrialized countries, our murder rate is five times greater than that of
Europe and Japan, where murder occurs at only one in 100,000 in the population.
Because the United States has
approximately 340 million inhabitants and occupies 3.6 million square miles, our
murder rate differs in the several states according to weather, the seasons, and
the nature of the population.
The southern states exceed the
northern and western states in murder frequency. My published paper “The
Influence of the Seasons on the Crime Rate” shows that the southern murder and
violence rate is higher than that of the north because the winter months remain
sufficiently warm in the winter season to allow outdoor activities in far
greater number than is true in the cold north and part of the west. Therefore
potential victims of violence as well as its perpetrators are more available in
the south than in the north. A second reason for the excess of violence in the
south is the presence of a larger Afro-American population in the south than in
other parts of the country. My own research shows that Afro-Americans have a
murder rate of 18 per 100,000, even as the European-American murder rate is only
3 per 100,000. This discrepancy cannot be related to race in a biological sense.
Instead it is the consequence of history and living conditions.
The evidence is that enlisted men
in the armed services have a greater murder rate than officers. Poor people of
any ethnicity have a greater murder and violence rate than middle class and
wealthy people. In fact, with the exception of gender, lower rated populations
have higher violence rates than higher income and higher prestige populations.
Suicide is far more common among upper and middle classes than among the poor.
Since men, even now after
women’s liberation, earn more and are more likely to hold prestigious
occupations, the dichotomy regarding men and women does not hold. Men are far
more likely to commit murder and other violence than is true of women. The
explanation for this phenomenon may be called “relative deprivation.”
Relative deprivation relates to the belief of people of any income that they are
a failure in comparison to significant others in their life. Consider a family
physician who earns $250,000 a year but feels deprived because his doctor
brother earns a million each year because he is a cardiac surgeon. Indeed women
still earn a lesser income than men, but are far less competitive than men in
economic terms than men because women have a primary role as mothers and wives,
which is more important to them than the father role of men. Men commit much
more suicide than women because men, in American culture, are assessed as
winners or losers according to income and occupation. This may gradually change
as more and more women enter high occupation professions, but it remains
anchored in the working class.
It is also significant that the
majority of American murders are achieved by a firearm, since men are more
likely to possess a gun than is true of women. Finally, it cannot be dismissed
that men are stronger than women, and therefore more capable of assault and
murder than is true of women, who are by their nature excluded from violent
rape. Nevertheless, women too can be rapists, in that 25 female teachers have
been convicted of having had sex with underage boys in their schools. The number
of women who have engaged in similar activities is not known.
In our competitive society, which
begins with grade school and continues throughout our lives, those who are
always on the bottom feel constantly emotionally wounded by always being the
loser. Consider the feelings of an African-American who is always working at the
minimum wage, has no means of climbing the ladder to success, and feels rejected
and despised by those who lord it over him all the years of his life. It is
exceedingly difficult to rise from abject poverty to success, a condition which
has also affected Jewish holocaust survivors, many of whom have lived in
relative poverty ever since arriving here and who recognize the contempt with
which they are treated by the Jewish community.
Suicide is of course also a form
of murder, as the very word indicates. People who have benefitted from high
earnings, prestigious jobs, leading positions, and success, will blame
themselves when things go wrong, and therefore are more subject to suicide than
proverbial losers who blame “the system” and others and therefore are more
ready to commit violence than those who were always in charge.
Men commit far more suicide than
women, white people are far more suicidal than colored people, and young men
aged 15-30 are leaders in suicide compared to older men. The reason is that
younger men have little life experience and view rejection, unemployment,
illness, divorce, and other painful events as catastrophes, while older,
experienced men as well as those who have “steel in their blood” can
tolerate setbacks and do not give up, no matter what happens to them.
The school shooters and others who
shoot or otherwise kill people they do not know are also suicides. These young
men have decided that their lives are not worth living and that they are willing
to be “suicides by cop” rather than be rejected and unappreciated. There are
people who would rather be known for negative conduct than not be known at all.
Many of the school shooters were students in the schools they attacked,
while others killed colleagues and supervisors at workplaces who had fired them.
The fact is that our achieving
society produces many people who feel that they are failures, and therefore want
to get even with those who are “big shots.” Even among people who are not
dissatisfied with their lives, there are many who resent the achievements of
others and who criticize anyone who has written a book or painted a picture or
made some money or was seen on television. Indeed, criticism is far easier than
achievement, as Alexander Pope wrote so eloquently in his “Essay on
Criticism,” which is not an essay but a poem, including the immortal line,
“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”
Rape is so heinous a crime that it
was once a crime punishable by the death penalty in those states which allow
this atrocity to continue. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that the death
penalty, which is also a form of murder, cannot apply to rape.
Assault is almost only a male
crime. Much assault is domestic and is conducted by men against women. There are
numerous men who have been jailed for beating a woman but then killed their wife
or live-in after being released from jail. Men who assault women and children
are usually the children of violent fathers. Sociologists have shown that
violent delinquency is common among children raised
in violent homes. In fact,
criminologists have found that if violence at home were eliminated, juvenile and
adult street violence would also disappear. It is therefore of the utmost
importance that adults do not beat
children. Unfortunately, a large number of American adults beat their
children and claim that this is a good thing to do.
Robbery is a crime against the
person. It is usually conducted outdoors, and promoted by the use of a gun.
Robbery is of course also a crime against property, but is seldom successful if
it includes bank robbery. Today banks have so many electronic devices to prevent
robbery or to identify the robbers that those who seek to steal from a bank can
do so by far more hidden means than to risk using a gun.
The FBI also lists burglary,
larceny, auto theft, and arson. Burglary is also known as breaking and entering.
This requires a certain amount of skill in identifying houses that are not
occupied, knowing what valuables to steal and where they may be found, and
knowing how to leave in a hurry if someone approaches a house or apartment while
a burglary is in progress.
Larceny is another name for theft.
That is the most common American crime. More
money is lost by means of larceny than any crime other that so called “white
collar crimes” such as Ponzi schemes. Women commit more larceny than men.
Women are more often looking for clothes and jewelry in stores. Here we find
women who have the money to buy what they stole. This behavior relates to people
who feel deprived and by stealing are giving themselves a gift. Some exceedingly
rich women have been apprehended while committing larceny. That
brings us to auto theft, which is conducted by professional thieves who drive
the stolen cars to a garage, where all numbers on any part of the car are
removed, the license plates changed, and the stolen cars sold to “decent
people” who pay the car thieves for the stolen cars.
Arson, the deliberate setting of a
fire to a house or business or other building, may be the conduct of some people
who want to see fires and enjoy burning down a structure. Some of these people
actually work as firemen, while others burn a dead person they have killed or
burn a building that has some significance for those who are disliked by the
arsonists. An example was the burning of a church in Washington, DC during the
riots in several American cities in the summer of 2011. Some arsonists set
forest fires by carelessly throwing away a burning cigar or leaving an open
flame in a wooded place.
Criminologists have designated
some offenses “white collar crimes.” These are crimes usually committed by
business owners who cheat others by such methods as Ponzi schemes. Ponzi was an
Italian immigrant who devised a lucrative method of gaining money from fools
whose greed led them to believe that Ponzi could pay them far more interest on
an investment than any bank. The victims of Ponzi’s claims would
be told that Ponzi would pay them far more interest than available
anywhere else. As agreed, Ponzi actually did pay the victims more than they
could have gotten elsewhere. Ponzi was able to do so because he told the next
investor he would pay much more interest than anyone else. He then used the
money given him by investor two to pay investor one. He of course kept a good
part of the money for himself. Next he used investor three to pay investor two,
and so forth. Finally, however, there were not enough new investors or for some
other reason investors wanted their principal back and Ponzi could not pay as
promised. He landed in jail, as did so many others who have repeated this scheme
over the years.
There are of course numerous other
kinds of fraud. I have written a book on fraud which can be had at any library.
In sum, we learn here that crime
is rampant in the United States not only because the Biden administration
refuses to enforce the laws, but also because a large number of voters elect
officials, such as mayors and prosecutors, who fail to protect the
American citizens from the marauding criminals who roam our streets.
It may well be that if we taught
all schoolchildren that most important commandment in the Torah, “V'ahavta
lereiacha kamocha,” we would be able to elevate the American people to peace
and a better life. May Shem Yisborach help us to escape the American crime
Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including The American Jewish Community in the 20th and 21st Century (2021).