The Outstater

September 11, 2022

Indy Crime and Overcoming the ‘Envy Barrier’

ALTHOUGH WE OUTSTATE would rather ignore it, someone has to explain what has gone wrong with Indianapolis. This is in reference, of course, to the city’s uncharacteristic inability to address a serious crime problem.

Indianapolis made international headlines in this regard recently. Three members of the Dutch Commando Corps, in town on free time after a nearby training session, were shot outside their hotel, one fatally, by local thugs, police say.

It is hard to imagine worse publicity, or more deserved. The crime rate there is now 45 per one thousand residents, one of the highest in the nation. The chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime is one in 22. That is in a city that only a few years ago was dubbed “nap town.” Something bad has happened.

Public safety, it must be said quietly these days, is important. It defines civilized society, linked to the Rule of Law and the right of private property, the two miracles of Western Civilization. It is why some places are livable and some are not, some prosperous and others impoverished. It obviously should be a top priority in the capitol of a state like Indiana.

Nonetheless, members of the ruling class there, for reasons that are not obvious, have refused to apply proven anti-crime strategies — i.e., targeted policing, color-blind prosecution, level sentencing, the certainty of incarceration.

Something is holding them back.

That something is what cultural anthropologists might call the “envy barrier,” the inability to overcome political manipulation of man’s inherent envy. It not only separates the undeveloped countries from the developed but it marks America’s unhappy urban cores, manifesting itself specifically in the self-defeating Antifi and Black Lives Matter, and more generally in the new Democratic Party.

It is why cities like Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, cannot supply potable water, why some Chicago neighborhoods are unsafe at any time of day, why San Francisco is a drug-infested hell hole.

In a sentence, it is the observation that you can’t govern a city effectively when you are trying to do something else entirely. Let the late sociologist Helmut Schoeck explain the politics of it:

“It would be a miracle if the democratic process (by itself) were ever to renounce the use of the envy motive. Its usefulness derives, if for no other reason, from the fact that all that is needed, in principle, is to promise the envious the destruction or the confiscation of assets enjoyed by the others; beyond that there is no need to promise anything more constructive. The negativism of envy permits even the weakest of candidates to sound reasonably plausible, since anybody, once in office can confiscate or destroy.”

Are the summer 2020 riots making more sense now?

Schoeck goes on to say that actually improving a community by ensuring public safety, enlarging capital assets, creating employment, etc., requires a detailed program, not merely punishing the envied or the supposedly privileged. “And the more precarious the state of a nation’s economy at election time, the stronger the temptations for politicians to make ‘redistribution’ their main plank, even when they know how little margin is left for redistributive measures and, worse still, how likely they are to retard economic growth.”

So, in the basest terms, go woke and go broke. When you elect politicians who ignore the duties of office to exploit the envy found in a constituency, sooner or later the streets become unsafe, the garbage doesn’t get picket up, the lights go out, the toilets won’t flush.

Those who love Indianapolis will try to make certain that the envy-driven are kept far away from the policy machinery. They have gummed it up something awful. — tcl


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