Pin the Tag On the REPUBLICANS:
Liberals and Democrats are passing up one of the most potentially powerful concepts in American politics: the difference between a proactive approach to problem-solving versus a reactive approach. It's vitally important to educate the voting public about the concept, because as soon as voters understand and appreciate it, the shallowness of Republican thinking will be apparent.
It is a fundamental concept of modern management.
It explains how the Japanese were able to begin taking over the automobile industry in the early '70s. They learned what we had forgotten: it is much better to PREVENT quality problems than to try to solve them after they occur.
The same with today's environment. Our experience with SUPERFUND demonstrates quite clearly that it is much more cost effective to prevent the destruction of the environment than to clean it up after it has been destroyed.
It's better to prevent health problems than to deal with them after people have become sick. (So, we should fund inoculation programs for children whose parents can't afford them, so we don't have to later fund emergency rooms.)
Today's Classic Example
Of course, the classic case today is the incredible cost of crime to our nation. It has become painfully obvious that it is far less expensive to prevent crime and criminals, than to build prisons to hold people after they have committed crimes. Yet, despite all the evidence, American conservatives insist on putting more money into prisons, instead of preventing crime. .
In 1993, almost 2% of the number of U.S. men in the labor market were in jail. And the public jobs for police, judges, prison guards and so on accounted for around 2% of all U.S.'s full-time employment. In fact, the total cost of arresting, prosecuting and locking up American citizens now accounts for around $100 billion annually. .
The RAND institute did a cost-effectiveness analysis of studies going back to the 1970s. They concluded that prison was the most costly solution to crime. On average, it costs society $21,000 a year per prison inmate, not even including the construction costs of building the prison in the first place.
The RAND institute also concluded that the major causes of criminal behavior in later life are: poverty in childhood, child neglect or abuse, single, especially youthful motherhood, failing schoolwork and clueless parenting. . They estimated that prevention programs, such as modest graduation incentives for at-risk school youths can prevent about 160 to 250 crimes per $1 million spent, or about one-fifth the costs of incarceration.
What the Police Chiefs Say
Northeastern University's Center for Criminal Justice Policy surveyed a cross section of police chiefs about the effectiveness of four different approaches to reducing crime and violence. The LEAST favored option was the one Bob Dole and Bill Clinton endorsed. Only 14 percent o f the 540 chiefs surveyed chose the policy of trying more juveniles as adults and sentencing more of them to adult prisons.
The overwhelming majority said the best way to reduce crime and violence is to increase investment in programs that help all children and youths get a good start. James Fox, Northeastern Center's director, said that studies show that intensive early intervention programs can reduce the later delinquency and criminal behavior of at-risk youths by as much as 80%.Despite all that, and incredibly, Congressional conservatives are trying to kill the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in favor of more youth imprisonment.
The American public must become aware that reducing today's federal deficit is only our nation's second priority, although it is obviously an important one. Our number one priority is to prevent the inevitable explosion of our deficits of the future. And we do that by proactively preventing problems; not ignoring them until we can no longer avoid facing them.