Rising Crime Rates in America: Lawmakers Should Listen to Jordan Peterson

CommentaryIn 2018, Dr. Jordan Peterson released “12 Rules for Life,” a book that sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. Of all the rules, number six carries the most truth. In short, before attempting to change the world, Peterson advised readers to get their own houses in order first. Some authors, rather predictably, were quick to ridicule Peterson’s advice. But the clinical psychologist’s rule, like all his rules, was (and still is) important. Rule number six is not just applicable to individuals; it’s relevant to countries. If a house (or a nation) is divided, then it is destined to fall. China knows this only too well. Does the United States? Thirty-five years before Peterson burst onto the scene, two other academics were busy making headlines. In 1982, the social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling put forward a theory that generated heated debates within academia and broader society. With their broken windows theory, the duo argued that visible signs of crime, disorder, and deviant behavior—no matter how minor—would have a snowball effect, fueling further acts of crime, disorder, and deviant behavior. It starts with a broken window, but where does it end, they asked. With more broken windows, they answered. To prevent more serious acts of crime, including murder and rape, the theorists said law enforcement should target minor crimes like vandalism, loitering, and public drinking with more enthusiasm. Four decades from Wilson’s and Kelling’s sound advice, the United States has become synonymous with broken windows. Not the theory, but actual broken windows. Major cities like Los Angeles and New York City have been decimated by vandalism and looting in recent times. NYC has also witnessed a sharp spike in violent crimes, such as the recent subway shooting. Police and emergency responders gather at the site of a reported shooting of multiple people outside the 36 St. subway station in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on April 12, 2022. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Decriminalizing Crime Across the country, somewhat unfathomably, the decriminalization of retail theft is in full effect. As the journalist Thomas Hogan recently noted, officials “in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Baltimore, Chicago, and Philadelphia have either explicitly told police not to arrest people for shoplifting or have systematically declined to prosecute the charges.” Interestingly, the mayors of the five cities all identify as Democrats. Make of that what you will. However, when it comes to tackling crime, even The Washington Post is questioning the left’s inability to identify brazen acts of crime. According to Hogan, the message being sent to criminals in the abovementioned cities is clear: please, go ahead; you “can steal with impunity.” Thousands of miles away, in China, a different sort of message is being sent to thieves. The Chinese authorities take stealing seriously. If you steal, you will be punished swiftly and severely. For example, if an individual is caught stealing a manhole cover, they may be sentenced to death—a random thing to steal, no doubt. And a ridiculously stern punishment, but China’s stance on theft and the destruction of property is telling. This is not to praise China’s policies. I have written hundreds of articles criticizing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). I reference China for a reason. It is the United States’ biggest competitor. The country that wins the war on crime at home is better positioned to exert real geopolitical influence. Right now, China is very much struggling. The CCP’s “zero-COVID” policy is proving to be disastrous. Nevertheless, to capitalize on China’s weaknesses, the United States must be in a position of strength. Sadly, it’s not. Theft and the destruction of property have become recreational activities for many Americans. Hogan referenced a rather interesting report in the aforementioned article, which I decided to check out. In the United States, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association, organized retail crime has taken a heavy toll on small business owners. In 2020, average losses for NRF members topped “$700,000 per $1 billion in sales.” More than 60 percent of NRF members want law enforcement to combat the scourge of organized retail crime. Shoplifting is now America’s number one crime. Roughly 1 out of 11 people are shoplifters, and 25 percent of offenders are children. Some Americans argue that shoplifting is okay—but only if you happen to be black. They believe shoplifting is a form of racial justice; it’s nothing more than reparations for slavery. According to some people, those broken windows and broken skulls are a small price to pay for centuries of oppression. This is where the United States now finds itself. Thieves are hailed as modern-day heroes. Meanwhile, in China, thieves are met with the full force of the law. Again, this is not to praise the CCP but to state the

Rising Crime Rates in America: Lawmakers Should Listen to Jordan Peterson

Commentary

In 2018, Dr. Jordan Peterson released “12 Rules for Life,” a book that sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. Of all the rules, number six carries the most truth.

In short, before attempting to change the world, Peterson advised readers to get their own houses in order first. Some authors, rather predictably, were quick to ridicule Peterson’s advice. But the clinical psychologist’s rule, like all his rules, was (and still is) important.

Rule number six is not just applicable to individuals; it’s relevant to countries. If a house (or a nation) is divided, then it is destined to fall. China knows this only too well. Does the United States?

Thirty-five years before Peterson burst onto the scene, two other academics were busy making headlines. In 1982, the social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling put forward a theory that generated heated debates within academia and broader society.

With their broken windows theory, the duo argued that visible signs of crime, disorder, and deviant behavior—no matter how minor—would have a snowball effect, fueling further acts of crime, disorder, and deviant behavior. It starts with a broken window, but where does it end, they asked. With more broken windows, they answered.

To prevent more serious acts of crime, including murder and rape, the theorists said law enforcement should target minor crimes like vandalism, loitering, and public drinking with more enthusiasm.

Four decades from Wilson’s and Kelling’s sound advice, the United States has become synonymous with broken windows. Not the theory, but actual broken windows.

Major cities like Los Angeles and New York City have been decimated by vandalism and looting in recent times. NYC has also witnessed a sharp spike in violent crimes, such as the recent subway shooting.

Police and emergency responders
Police and emergency responders gather at the site of a reported shooting of multiple people outside the 36 St. subway station in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on April 12, 2022. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Decriminalizing Crime

Across the country, somewhat unfathomably, the decriminalization of retail theft is in full effect. As the journalist Thomas Hogan recently noted, officials “in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Baltimore, Chicago, and Philadelphia have either explicitly told police not to arrest people for shoplifting or have systematically declined to prosecute the charges.”

Interestingly, the mayors of the five cities all identify as Democrats. Make of that what you will. However, when it comes to tackling crime, even The Washington Post is questioning the left’s inability to identify brazen acts of crime.

According to Hogan, the message being sent to criminals in the abovementioned cities is clear: please, go ahead; you “can steal with impunity.”

Thousands of miles away, in China, a different sort of message is being sent to thieves. The Chinese authorities take stealing seriously. If you steal, you will be punished swiftly and severely.

For example, if an individual is caught stealing a manhole cover, they may be sentenced to death—a random thing to steal, no doubt. And a ridiculously stern punishment, but China’s stance on theft and the destruction of property is telling.

This is not to praise China’s policies. I have written hundreds of articles criticizing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). I reference China for a reason. It is the United States’ biggest competitor. The country that wins the war on crime at home is better positioned to exert real geopolitical influence.

Right now, China is very much struggling. The CCP’s “zero-COVID” policy is proving to be disastrous. Nevertheless, to capitalize on China’s weaknesses, the United States must be in a position of strength. Sadly, it’s not.

Theft and the destruction of property have become recreational activities for many Americans. Hogan referenced a rather interesting report in the aforementioned article, which I decided to check out.

In the United States, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association, organized retail crime has taken a heavy toll on small business owners. In 2020, average losses for NRF members topped “$700,000 per $1 billion in sales.” More than 60 percent of NRF members want law enforcement to combat the scourge of organized retail crime.

Shoplifting is now America’s number one crime. Roughly 1 out of 11 people are shoplifters, and 25 percent of offenders are children.

Some Americans argue that shoplifting is okay—but only if you happen to be black. They believe shoplifting is a form of racial justice; it’s nothing more than reparations for slavery. According to some people, those broken windows and broken skulls are a small price to pay for centuries of oppression.

This is where the United States now finds itself. Thieves are hailed as modern-day heroes. Meanwhile, in China, thieves are met with the full force of the law. Again, this is not to praise the CCP but to state the following: if the United States wants to be taken seriously on the international stage, it needs to take crime seriously. Or, at the very least, more seriously.

Peterson’s rules might seem ridiculously obvious. But a number of mayors in the United States’ biggest cities could do with reading them, especially rule number six. What’s happening in the likes of Chicago and Los Angeles has tarnished the United States’ global image. The American people are fed up with rampant acts of crime; they have been for a long time.

If the United States can’t get its own house in order, how can it ever hope to compete with China? Law and order have been replaced by lawlessness and disorder. Things must change, and these changes must come soon.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. His work has been published by the New York Post, The Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, National Review, and The Spectator US, among others. He covers psychology and social relations, and has a keen interest in social dysfunction and media manipulation.