Fleming_01-1995
Perspective

Crime and Welfare

Every few months the gentlemen of the press discover a new threat to humanity that requires decisive government action. Not so long ago the United States Senate, alarmed by reports of a comet striking the planet Jupiter, actually took up the question of protecting the earth against a similar calamity. Conservatives smile, but in the Reagan years, the President's Hollywood imagination was inflamed by a vision of world peace secured by lasers and missiles, like so many angelic swords barring the Soviets from our American Eden.

Usually, however, the crises are more down-to-earth. For several years the lamentations of the press have been directed toward the problem of "children having children"—as if this were something new in the world, when the only thing new is the fact that Americans never grow up.

More recently the declared crisis is children killing children, but since the children killing children tend to be the children of children, it is perhaps all one problem. Although American intellectuals and their journalist camp-followers have failed to mitigate, much less solve, virtually every social problem of the 20th century, their failure does not prevent them from proposing new remedies that are inevitably worse than the disease. And so we hear the familiar refrain: the outbreak of children killing each other will be solved—as the general crime problem will be solved—only when the underlying...

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