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Heather Mac Donald
Restoring the Social Order « Back to Story

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The most important aspect of what the article discusses is only barely touched upon - that is, the failure of the traditional media to recognize these changes and to acknowledge why they have happened, and why they work. The problem here goes back to the by now hoary adage: "those that forget the past are doomed to repeat it." By not revealing the reasons for the drop in crime and poverty, future generation will not understand that the four "misconceptions" or rather wrong assumption, are just that. Even today, the truth as to the reasons why crime and poverty have been reduced is not really understood.

The big question is "why" - why hasn't the traditional media congratulated those that have managed to reduce poverty and decrease crime and made the cities a much better place? What person or organization could be so twisted and just plain evil as to fail to promote ideas that work, and favor ideas that have been shown over and over again to cause decades of misery for countless people?

I believe the answer to the foregoing is simple - the traditional media doesn't acknowledge these ideas because to do so would make people associated with the Democrat party look bad. And the media, now and in the past has an almost pathological aversion to making Democrats look bad.

It is impossible to say when the traditional media - even before it was traditional - began its affiliation with Democrats. It used to be possible to find an article on the internet detailing complaints by Republicans in the 1930's that William Paley's CBS radio was biased in favor of Democrats. Was Paley and the radio media the beginning? Or did the preference have its beginning in the fact that major media started in the cities, which were overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats? Wherever or whenever it started isn't known, but the fact of this preference has had widespread consequences in a variety of contexts. For example, a few years ago a book came out on Joseph McCarthy which convincingly explained that the entire anti-McCarthy wave was simply a reaction against someone who was making Democrats look bad, very bad, and that the attacks on McCarthy were Democrats circling the wagons. And who can forget the favorable publicity about Kennedy and Johnson's "whiz-kids" - like McNamara, who made mistake after mistake trying to run the war in Vietnam from Washington. Maybe, without the bias, it would have been known earlier that wars could not be "scientifically" run from afar by a complete novice. But, the preference for the Democrats made it all too difficult to see these people clearly. And it went against policy to criticize any Democrat.

There are hundreds of other examples. One has to feel sorry for Richard Nixon - yes Nixon, who made plenty of mistakes, but who would have been treated far differently had he had a "D" after his name.

For decades now the traditional media has been changing not only the news but the way that news is perceived. The pro-Democrat inclination of the traditional media is only part of the story - the traditional media is also responsible for the creation of entire movements that make Democrats easier to elect i.e. the counterculture.

But, to get back to this article. It is only now that the failure of the welfare state is starting to sink in. That is happening despite an almost complete absence of assistance from the traditional media, which writes and broadcasts as if the old assumptions are unassailable truths.

What's been put in this comment barely scratches the surface on this issue, which is the biggest story never written. How about it?
Superb article.
The fall in crime was nationwide, and is credibly attributed to the legalisation of abortion in the 70s (citation forgotten). I believe that legalising abortion is generally viewed as a "liberal" policy, is it not?

Bratton deserves recognition, it must be said. His energy and style of policing - the latter of which is widely misunderstood - was I am sure responsible for New York's above-average performance.

Also, there is evidence that the state of the economy does indeed affect the level of property crime. Chilvers & Weatherburn ($file/CJB63.pdf#target='_blank') cite a number of them. The assertion that criminals are themselves victims may be overblown - I presume that most property crimes are driven by the desire to live a certain (high) lifestyle and not by necessity, for instance - but it is hardly a "liberal conceit".
Right ON!
Liberals are mounting the same arguments today as the fight repeal of ObamaCare, which assumes that individuals are not capable of making choices about their health insurance and therefore must be forced to purchase a plan designed by bureaucrats in Washington.
What a great article! Right on! Great job Heather!
Wow! On the back of reading a previous article by Ms MacDonald, "Chicago's Real Crime Society," I reinstated my subscription (that I had allowed to lapse for economic reasons rather than anything else) with City Journal.

I have added "Restoring the Social Order" to my favourites so that I can read it again and again. A magnificent piece of writing right up there with the best from Thomas Sowell.

I will sent it to my white left-leaning colleagues full of pity only but without a trace of straightforwardness. Those who suppose order and self-control can be willed when required rather than by constant practice from a young age.
"With crime in free fall across New York in the 1990s, the tourism and hospitality industries boomed, triggering demand for the low-skilled welfare mothers whom welfare reform was nudging into the workplace."

I'm still waiting for welfare reform to nudge and desire low-skilled men into the workplace - particularly men of color. The lack of marriage in poor communities will continue to linger as long as low skilled men are excluded from the economy.
Marvelous article; wish this was posted in every city newspaper in the nation. Thank you!
Fantastic article, Ms (Mrs?) Mac Donald.
Well done. Write more! (And I'm no fan of conservatism in general...what YOU have to say makes sense because its based on reality, its not just idiot-ology).
Excellent reporting. Simply facts, not mud slinging.the author shows that America is better because of these important changes in policy, not politics.
Nice article
Excellent fact based narrative of something very seldom reported. I am curious if the author has read "Intellectuals and Society" by Thomas Sowell. This book outlines why these policies have been little publicized and what a shame it is.
Thank you and God bless you for your integrity and tenacity in doing your own homework and proclaiming the truth , no matter how politically incorrect . You are doing what used to be called investigative journalism . Nowadays journalists just go to various cocktail parties waiting for the next " deep throar " to show up . The idea of digging for the truth by research is abberant to them . And abhorrent .
The same liberal philosophy - the misplaced sentimental nonsense of exempting people from responsibility for their choices - is the underlying basis for the pathetic school system in the USA. Empty content, "feelings" vs critical analysis, denigration of America as a nation, multi-cultural absurdity, pushing of liberal agenda in science, the idea of education as a "learning experience" that then negates the demand for students to master material, federal Union control of education - Heather MacDonald's article is truth, actual reporting based on facts. Liberal philosophy is the death of a free society and that is why our current government must be defeated.
Great article. Some here have said that it was not necessarily the conservatives who deserve all the credit. It IS true that quasi liberal mayors were instrumental as were other elected officials, in implementation of these policies. But these are conservative IDEAS. If you beilieve in them, you may not be the liberal you think you are.

I lived through those days, though not in NYC and dealt with an inner city population in a mid-sized southern city. The transformation was astounding. It's amazing how people will shape up once they know that it is EXPECTED of them.
As a New Yorker, I find this article very interesting, and partially right. New Yorkers appreciate the improvements in safety that have come from more strategic policing and better management of city government. However, Ms. Mac Donald missed a few key points. Here are some reminders:

In New York City, few of the key players were conservatives. Rudy Giuliani (and successor Mike Bloomberg) ran as Liberal Republicans, and Bloomberg left the Republican Party entirely because it was too conservative. Chief Bratton was never associated with liberals or conservatives--he is, to New Yorkers, a cop. Democratic President Clinton signed welfare reform, as Ms. Mac Donald correctly notes.

Accountability and hard work are not owned by conservatives. Manhattan is full of highly productive people who put in long hours, earn salaries (large and small), and who, by about 3:1.... vote for Democrats. We value hard work, and most of us use the infrastructure of government (subways, bridges, roads, hospitals) but not its handouts. Nonetheless, conservative cuts to funding for these services, punish work in the cities by making it harder for people to get to work.

Most people, across the spectrum, applauded the idea of keeping the streets clear of petty crime, and the Giuliani/Bratton approach (stop people who are observed breaking minor laws; these are the same people who commit felonies when you don't see them.) could be applied elsewhere as well... maybe to our bankers?

There are a number of people who aren't able bodied, aren't qualified to do anything the private sector needs, and may have mental health issues that leave them in need of social services. Put them out on the street by cutting social services, and crime goes.... UP.

The real success story of New York isn't liberal or conservative.
Thanks, Ms. MacDonald, for articulating how conservative ideas produce real-world (and measurable)positive impacts on peoples' daily lives.
The Author speaks with authority but provides no citations for her research. For example, the Author practically wholly credits the NYPD and increased incarceration for the enormous and sustained crime drop in NYC during the 90's, yet there is just as much or more research which downplays the role of the NYPD and incarceration in combatting crime (Andrew Karmen, Harcourt and Ludwig, Todd A. Clear/Jeremy Travis [on incarceration specifically], Steven D. Levitt, Franklin Zimring, etc) while authors such as Silverman, Bratton, and Kelling claim NYPD success.

I myself believe police can and do matter but I know that as long as police are evaluated by the number of arrests they make, not the absence of crime, that they will soon forget why they signed up to join the force and their actions reflect the desire to keep their job and their bosses from losing theirs, not protect and serve.

An officer who makes few arrests isn't automatically lazy; would you rather have an officer that makes a few good arrests, or an officer that makes a lot of bogus arrests? Good police work involves preventing or diffusing crime before it occurs or escalates, not necessarily having to result in arrests. This is why broken windows theory (loved by Giuliuani and Bratton, supposedly the reason for the crime drop in NYC when implemented by NYPD), purported by Kelling and Wilson, stresses the necessity of police discretion - high activity, low arrests, not high activity and high arrests (zero-tolerance).

Other than that, a great article which is spot on concerning poverty and welfare. Government practically encourages and rewards people for not working. I have interviewed countless people in NYC that have received welfare for long periods of times without working and not having any disabilities which prevent them from working.
A very informative article. The last paragraph was beautifully written.
"President Bill Clinton, to his credit, ignored these doomsayers and in 1996 ended the lifetime welfare entitlement."?

Someone ought to crack a history book because Bill Clinton "ended the lifetime welfare entitlement" in the same fashion as a wrestler about to have his arm broken says "uncle". Welfare reform came to Clinton's desk three times and it was only the prospect of going into a presidential election with three vetoes of welfare reform, and Dick Morris' advice ringing in his ears, that caused Bill Clinton to do any "ending".
Yes Fred, that is exactly right. The schools stink because of the unions. The unions do not care about the children that is not their job. The sole job of the unions is to protect teachers. Individual teachers might care about the kids but not the unions. Children do not pay union dues.

Institute a city wide voucher program that includes all schools, parochial, private, and public and schools will improve as quickly as the rate of crime dropped in the 90's. One other ingredient, allow discipline to be restored in the classroom.
We are still waiting for Ms. Edleman to be brought out of the shadows. With the help of such luminaries as H. Rodham Clinton, she has tapped into a mother lode of grants and Foundations support. And she is most assuredly under the benevolent eye of B.Hussein Obama. The nay-sayers have to protect their fifedoms from prying eyes; optomism not allowed.
and conservative values also made our economy in NY so great so that no banks etc needed bailing out because the GOP had truly used good values to make sure the economy did not falter and give us a deficit, right?
too much bullshit here to begin to refute. How much money did NY City get from a liberal Washington govt? does that count? NY cleaned itself up and pushed out many of the lower classes and now we have gentrified just about everything and left the poor to shift for themselves. Try visiting SoHo, Lower East Side and you will see what is taking place.

NY is still the magnet of the world, and it is indeed much nicer than it had been. But to simply blame the Bad on liberals and the Good on conservatives is playing the partisan game.
ps: NY schools stink. Fault of course of the unions, right?
An interesting article, except for giving Bill Clinton any credit. He vetoed the bill twice then signed it only when his handlers told him it wass costing his potential votes in the 1996 election. However, the idea that only SOME people should be held accountable for their actions is beginning to take ohld again, especially given the election of the Ultimate Narcissist as president.
One correction, Bill Clinton had to be dragged "screaming and kicking" to accept the concept of welfare reform. He did it to save his political hide.
Every legislator and voter in this country should be required to read this.
Absolutely terrific article. Wish I could write this succinctly.
Right (write) on!!! Great article. I believe the greatest downfall of this nation will be the entitlement attitude. By perpetuating the welfare lifestyle which the Democrats embrace, many Americans will not realize the self respect that comes from contributing to society instead of taking from it. Everyone needs a helping hand up at times, but that hand should never have to prop you up through life.
At last its clear. Heather is really Snake Pliskin.

What a fine writer!! Thank you.
In the last 20 years, conservative ideas, including the value of all work, which binds us to each other through the strange beauty of commerce and voluntary exchange, have done more to turn around American cities than four decades and hundreds of billions of dollars of welfare entitlements, social programs, and public housing ever did.
Dear Heather: Well said. When I see your name I always pause to read what you have to see. As a teacher I find that the culture of poverty is profoundly anti-moral and anti-intellectual. Hows is it anti-moral? Because it encourages people to lie and sneak around to get money and benefits. The great thing about have no marriage is that it makes it easier to hid assets of a significant other. We have young people who sign up for WICK (aid to young mothers) and then SELL THE BABY FORMULA on line to make some extra cash. We are developing a permanent underclass without any discipline or ambition. The majority of the non-college prep students are apathetic and lazy. They are just going through the motions as students. Ever year I share an article from Walter Williams on how not to be poor. I think I reach a few. But for the rest we have made life so easy for them that they really don't appreciate the educational opportunites before them. What is the answer? I think we need to have more vocational programs and make high school optional past the 10th grade. The only way schools can improve academic rigor is being able to exclude the non-producers UNTIL they are ready, willing and able to do academic work We also should stop rewarding illegitimacy.
Excellent article Heather! Again! You are a big reason I love City Journal. The battle to roll back decades of 'progressive' social engineering will be a long and difficult slog.
You have given me hope for America's future!
Heather just doesn't get it. The policies are supposed to fail. That's how the majority White opinion elite keep their jobs. They can always blame the evil Whiteys for abandoning the public space during White flight, and while blaming Whiteys, they automatically get more status and pay raises. It's a systemic moral disease, but it works just the way it's supposed to.

Heather in acting all idealistic, and our enemies are fully utilitarian. January 06, 2011 at 10:10 PM
Thanks for some TRUTH, Heather. You could start a movement and I'd both join and recruit!

lynn bateman
kure beach, nc
Thank you for this perspective. Now if we could just solve the school problem!