Reporting the News as You’d Like It to Be

August 31, 2013
Posted by Jay Livingston

The news media are supposed to report the news – things that actually happen, not things they would like to happen. That requirement – being factual – can be pesky, but it’s easily sidestepped. One effective head-fake is to put a statement in the form of a question. The question headline, a staple of supermarket tabloids, has a long history going back at least to the gossip columns of newspaper days.

In 2006, Jon Stewart skewered FoxNews’s Neil Cavuto for his extensive use of this technique. (The Daily Show clip is here).

But Fox doesn’t need to resort to the statement-as-question.  As long as it can find somebody somewhere to speculate, it can report crazy stuff as though it were factual news.  It’s not the Fox newsreaders or editors who are saying these things; it’s “some” people. 

I don’t know if there is any research on the effect of these techniques.  Maybe Fox viewers are more likely to ignore and forget these doubtful and hedged versions of “information.”  But I doubt it.  As the research by Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler*  has shown, ideas, even false once, are remarkably resilient.  Corrections of false statements don’t do much to change perceptions and can even have the reverse of effect –  strengthening people’s belief in the original untruth. 

A blogpost by Nyhan with a link to news coverage and academic papers is here.

Bird – in Context

August 29, 2013
Posted by Jay Livingston

Charlie Parker was born 93 years ago today.

The conventional story is that in the 1940s, Parker and a handful of other musicians revolutionized jazz, with bebop taking precedence over swing.  The kernel of truth in that version is that Bird, Dizzy Gillespie, and others really were playing different notes and with a different sound.  “Go up to Minton’s and listen to how this kid plays Cherokee,” musicians would tell one another. And swing bandleader Cab Calloway told Dizzy to “Stop playing that Chinese music in my band.” 

But the Great Man version of history – great musicians getting together to create a new music – leaves out the economic, social, and technological context. For example, the 1942 musicians’ union strike primarily against the major record companies (RCA, Capital, Decca, and a few others) allowed smaller labels into the game.  Those labels recorded small groups, not the big bands. So we get Bird’s legendary quintet and sextet sessions for Dial. 

Even the idea of the jazz-musician-as-artist (or even genius) owes much to the decline of big bands.  Big bands are the medium of the leader (also of the composers and the arrangers, but they remain largely anonymous). The musicians are more or less interchangeable. But in small groups, it’s all about the soloists. The melody is merely something the horns play in unison at the beginning and end, just to let listeners know what the tune is. Far more important are the many choruses of solos in between. Most people who listened to Duke Ellington didn’t know or care who the trumpeters were. But if you’re listening to Charlie Parker, you really want to know whether the trumpeter is Dizzy or Miles.* 

Also, what seems like revolutionary change often incorporates conventional ideas. Here’s Parker’s 1953 recording of “Confirmation,” probably his best (and best-known) composition.**

The chord changes for first four bars are the substitute changes Parker often used for his solos on the blues – they’re sometimes known as “Bird changes.”  But they are just a logical way to get from F in the first measure of the blues to Bb in the measure five. 

F  | E-7 A7 | D-7 G7 | C-7 F7 | Bb . . .                   

Even this chord sequence is not completely new with Parker.  Tin Pan Alley composer Harry Warren used the same changes a few years earlier in  “There Will Never Be Another You.”

 * I think that Marc Myers covers this territory and more in his recent book Why Jazz Happened, but I have not yet read it

**To see Bird’s solo go by in real time note by note, see this animation, which for some reason is written in the key of G, not F – which is fine if you’re playing along on trumpet or tenor sax.

Unpack Your Discourses

August 22, 2013
Posted by Jay Livingston

In her “Ten Commandments of Graduate School,” published recently at The Chronicle, Tenured Radical* commands
Thou shalt use the word discourse sparingly; likewise neoliberalism, and other theoretical catchphrases designed to obscure that thou hast not fully thought through thine ideas.
At the ASA meetings earlier this month, I didn’t hear much discourse.  But there were other trendy words.  Narrative, for example, has achieved widespread use even outside of academia, though most of the time the word story would do just as well.  (My post on this word  five years ago had the title “That’s My Narrative and I’m Sticking to It.”)  Both these terms had fallen into relative disuse until post-modernist, structuralist, post-structuralist writing pumped them with new life. 

(Click on an image for a larger, clearer view.)

From the 16th to the 19th centuries, learned people wrote discourses – Rousseau on Inequality, Dryden on Satire, etc.  Nowadays, anyone who speaks has a discourse just waiting to be analyzed.  And of course we all have narratives for just about everything we think about. 

A couple of words I heard several times at the ASA were newbies. They just did not exist back in the day.  These were the “ize” words.

Incentivize probably comes to us from the economists.  With contextualize and problematize, it’s harder to guess who’s responsible. 

Maybe it’s because academics travel to these conferences, but at the ASA, and apparently elsewhere, there was much talk of unpacking.  I even think I may have heard someone unpacking a narrative (or was it a discourse?)  Unpack, too, begins is rise in the 1970s.**

Finally, the ASA seemed a good place to look for your lenses. Speakers urged us look at something “through the lens of” this or that theory, or noted that a theory was “a lens through which” we might view some data.  The graph below shows these two phrases as a proportion of all uses of lens references (to avoid the possible effect of an increase in lens caused by “contact lenses”). 

I’m sure there are other trendy terms I’ve missed.  Maybe you have your own favorites.  It’s hard to predict which will sink in popularity as quickly as they have soared, and which will be with us for a while.                     

* Tenured Radical is the nom de blog of  historian Claire B. Potter, who looks like she might have an even more noted relative. Claire is the one on the left.

** “Unpack Your Adjectives” first appeared on Schoolhouse Rock in 1973, but although I love to hear Blossom Dearie, I doubt that she was responsible or all the unpacking going on at academic conferences in the following decades.

Cedar Walton, 1934 - 2013

August 20, 2013
Posted by Jay Livingston

In the 1980s, I used to go hear Cedar Walton at Bradley’s or the Knickerbocker in duos with bassists like Ron Carter and Buster Williams.  He was a musician’s musician.  Few jazz musicians become famous, but even among jazz pianists he was probably less well known than many of his peers.  Still, he played with most of the greats – Coltrane, Rollins, Hubbard, Gillespie. 

In the early 1960s as part of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, with Freddie Hubbard and Wayne Shorter, he contributed several lasting compositions to the group’s book.  His tunes too are less well known, probably because many of them depart from the standard forms.  “Firm Roots,” “Mode for Joe,” and “Clockwise” are part of the jazz repertoire, but they’re not necessarily the tunes that you would call at a jam session.  His best-known tune is “Bolivia,”  with its simple but unmistakable opening bass line.

(Cedar's solo starts at about the 3:40 mark.)

(One detail of his biography that may not make it into the obits: When he first came to NYC from Texas in the 1950s, one of his day jobs was at the Automat. It was a different New York back then.)

Lead and Crime

August 18, 2013
by Jay Livingston

In the late 1990s, I turned down my publisher’s offer to do a third edition of my criminology textbook.  It wasn’t just that editions one and two had failed to make me a man of wealth and fame.  But it was clear that crime had changed greatly.  Rates of murder and robbery had fallen by nearly 50%; property crimes like car theft and burglary were also much lower.  Anybody writing an honest and relevant book about crime would have a lot of explaining to do.  And that would be a lot of work.

I politely declined the publisher’s offer.  They didn’t seem too upset.

If I had undertaken the project, I probably would have relied heavily on the research articles in The Crime Drop in America, edited by Al Blumstein and Joel Wallman.* They rounded up the usual suspects – the solid economy, new police strategies, the incarceration boom, the stabilization of drug markets, anti-gun policies.  But we all missed something important – lead.  Children exposed to high levels of lead in early childhood are more likely to have lower IQs, higher levels of aggression, and lower impulse-control.  All those factors point to crime when children reach their teens if not earlier

Lead had long been suspected as a toxin, and even before World War I many countries acted to ban or reduce lead in paint and gasoline.  But the US, thanks to the anti-regulatory efforts of the industries and support from anti-regulation, pro-business politicians,** did not undertake serious lead reduction until the 1970s. 

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones has been writing about lead and crime. Because race differences on both variables are so great, it’s useful to look at Blacks and Whites separately.  In the late 1970s, 15% of Black children under age three had dangerously high rates of lead in their blood (30 mcg/dl or higher). Among Whites, that rate was only 2.5%.  By 1990, even with a lower criterion level of 25 mcg/dl, those rates had fallen to 1.4% and 0.4%, respectively. 

The huge reduction in lead was matched – years later when those children were old enough to commit crimes – with a reduction in crime.  (The graphs show rates of arrest, which may somewhat exaggerate Black rates of offending.)

(Click on an image for a larger, clearer view.)

(“Violent crime” arrest rates are the sum of arrest rates of four crimes:
Murder, Rape, Robbery, and Aggravated Assault.

Much of the research pointing to lead as an important cause of crime looks at geographical areas rather than individuals.  A study might compare cities, measuring changes in lead emissions and changes in violent crime 20 years later.  But studies that follow individuals have found the same thing.  Kids with higher blood levels of lead have higher rates of crime.  The lead-crime hypothesis is fairly recent, and the evidence is not conclusive.  But my best guess is that further research will confirm the idea that getting the lead out was, and will remain, an important crime-reduction policy. 

Kevin Drum also emphasises race differences.  And here the evidence is less solid. 
 arrest rates for violent crime have fallen much faster among black juveniles than among white juveniles . . . .  black juvenile crime rates fell further than white juvenile crime rates because they had been artificially elevated by lead exposure at a much higher rate.

But that  depends on how you interpret the data.*** As the graphs of arrests show, the percentage reductions are roughly similar across races.  Among Black youths, the arrest rates for all violent crime fell from 1600 per 100,000 to less than 700 – a 57% reduction.  For Whites the reduction was from 307 to 140 or 54%. But in absolute numbers, because Black rates of criminality were so much higher, the reduction seems all the more impressive. In that sense, those rates “fell further.”

Arrest rates for Blacks are still double those of Whites for property crimes, five times higher for homicide, and nine times higher for robbery.  Lead may be a factor in those differences.  Remember the lag time between childhood lead exposure and later crime. Twenty years ago, high blood levels of lead among children 1-5 years were three times as high for Blacks as for Whites. 

*I even had insider copies of those chapters well before the book went to press. Joel’s daughter and my son were in the same primary school class, and I knew him from parents’ night and other functions.

** See Markowitz and Rosner’s Deceit and Denial (2002). A review is here.

*** Drum basis his article on a paper by Rick Nevins (here).  The source of arrest date is this OJDDP report.

Quotes of the Day

August 16, 2013   
Posted by Jay Livingston

Just a couple of quotes – way too long for Twitter

1.  TV political talk is to politics as reality TV is to reality.  Off-camera producers are always trying to goose up the action. Robert Reich tells this story:
 Not long ago I debated a Republican economic advisor on a cable TV program. During the brief station-break, the show’s producer told me to “be angrier.” I told her I didn’t want to be angrier. “You have to,” she said. “Viewers are surfing through hundreds of channels and will stop for a gladiator contest.”
Back in the 60s, Paul Krassner* made the same point reporting about his appearance on the Joe Pyne show.  Pyne was a nasty right-winger, an ex-Marine who had lost his lower left leg to cancer.
Pyne: So I guess your long hair makes you a woman.
Krassner: So I guess your wooden leg makes you a table.
The audience loved it. Said Krassner, “It doesn’t matter who wins – the lions or the Christians – as long as there’s action.”

2. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Crystal Meth. Dylan Matthews at WaPo’s Wonkblog looks into the accuracy of Breaking Bad’s picture of meth and finds that because of low wages, meth can be an “economic necessity” for working people trying to get ahead or just get by.
Guides to identifying and treating meth addiction, like Herbert Covey’s “The Methamphetamine Crisis,” tell readers to look out for “workaholics or low-income adults who use it to stay awake and perform in multiple jobs. Working, low-income individuals find meth attractive because they must work several jobs or long hours to support themselves or their families. They find that higher energy and alertness (ability to stay awake for prolonged periods) helps them cope with the demands of multiple jobs.”   
That’s also true for working-class women, whose second (or third) job is home and family.  Matthews quotes researcher Ralph Weisheit:
Women who have to have a job and then do traditional homemaking, they’re just exhausted and meth is a pick-me-up, a powerful one.

* Krassner was an Abbie Hoffman-style lefty – smart, funny, and willing to be outrageous. He was editor and chief writer of The Realist, a satirical magazine, and creator of the red-white-and-blue “Fuck Communism” poster.

Pink - Gender or Class?

August 13, 2013
Posted by Jay Livingston

Pink, as we all know, is all about gender – ir’s for girls.  And sissies.
The University of Iowa . . . for decades has painted the locker room used by opponents pink to put them “in a passive mood” with a “sissy color,” in the words of a former head football coach, Hayden Fry.
That’s from Frank Bruni’s NY Times op-ed today.  But not all cultures link pink to femininity.  The Palermo soccer team wears pink uniforms as do other European teams.  (An earlier post on this is here, with links to Sociological Images posts on the same topic.)  In the US, it was only in the 1950s that pink took on its “boys keep out” message, and even then, a charcoal gray suit was often matched with a pink shirt or necktie.  In The Great Gatsby, set in 1922, Nick writes of Gatsby
His gorgeous pink rag of a suit made a bright spot of color against the white steps, and I thought of the night when I first came to his ancestral home, three months before.
DiCaprio as Gatsby in the recent Baz Luhrman film.
The suit is pinker than it appears in this photo.

In the previous chapter, Tom Buchanan says that he has been “making a small investigation” of Gatsby’s past.
“And you found he was an Oxford man,” said Jordan helpfully.
“An Oxford man!” He was incredulous. “Like hell he is! He wears a pink suit.”    
Gatsby’s choice of suit colors reveals not his sexuality but his class origins.  An educated, upper-class gentleman – an Oxford man – would not wear a pink suit.  Anna Broadway cites this passage in her Atlantic article and adds,
According to an interview with the costume designer for Baz Luhrmann’s recent film, the color had working-class connotations.
Today, that class connotation is reversed. It’s the preppie type men at the country club who are wearing pink shirts or even, on the golf course, pants. That trend may be reinforced by something entirely fortuitous – a name.  The upscale fashion designer Thomas Pink, perhaps because of his name, does not shy away from pink as a color for men’s clothes. 

False Messiahs -- 1400 of Them

August 12, 2013
Posted by Jay Livingston

Does a baby have to earn its name?

A judge in Tennessee has changed a baby’s name. The parents had gone to the judge in a dispute over the baby’s last name. They agreed on the given names – Messiah DeShawn Martin. But the judge deleted the Messiah and changed the order of the other two. The child is Martin DeShawn McCollough, at least for now. (The story is here among many other places.)

The judge acted on behalf of all Christianity.
The word ‘Messiah is a title and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ.
She also claimed that the name Messiah would harm the child.*
It could put him at odds with a lot of people, and at this point he has had no choice in what his name is.
That last part is indisputable. The kid is only seven months old. But the judge is bucking a trend.  Messiah as a given name is on the rise.

Last year, 761 other Messiahs entered the US population bringing the total to over 1400. They got their names the old-fashioned way. They didn’t “earn” them. Only one Messiah, if the judge is correct, earned the name.

The judge didn’t say how she felt about Jesus. But for some reason, the coming of Messiah matches a waning in the popularity of Jesus. 

*In an earlier post, I noted that in Italy, a civil official to “advise and dissuade overly-creative parents” who propose names that are “ridiculous, shameful, or embarrassing.” I added that in the US, no such restrictions applied.  The parents have appealed the judge’s decision, and I expect that they’ll win.

Working Class – Out of Sight, Out of Mind

August 6, 2013
Posted by Jay Livingston
Cross-posted at Sociological Images

In survey questions, the result you get might depend on the choices you offer.

An article at The Atlantic (here) explains “Why Americans All Believe They’re Middle Class.”  But is that what we all believe?  The author, Anat Shenker-Osorio, started from these numbers from a September 2012 Pew report.

Only 8-9% of Americans put themselves in the lower or upper class. The other 91% say that they are “middle class,” some with a modifier (upper or lower), some without. Shenker-Osorio continues:
Researching how people’s unconscious assumptions affect their perception of economic issues, I explored the linguistic dynamics behind the term “middle class,” especially in comparison to other economic groupings.
Exploring unconscious assumptions would be fine, except that both she and Pew made one huge omission:  the Pew survey didn’t include Working Class as an option.  Out of sight, out of unconscious assumptions.

How big an omission is this? Since 1972, the GSS has asked a similar question to tap “subjective social class” (i.e., what class people think they are regardless of their objective circumstances).  But the GSS includes “working” along with the upper, middle, and lower.They are the blue part of the bars in the chart below.

Like the Pew survey, the GSS finds less than 10% putting themselves in the upper or lower class.  But for the past forty years, the remaining nine-tenths of the population have been evenly split between “working” and “middle.”

Shenker-Osorio’s linguistic analysis runs into other data conflicts.  It’s not always easy to know what Americans mean by upper, lower, or middle class, she says, because 
Americans are relatively skittish about mentioning class. Contrasting databases of text from U.S. and UK sources, we find that Brits use “upper class” and “lower class” more readily; we prefer “wealthy” and “poor.”
But another database, the books in Google nGrams, shows something much different.  I constructed a ratio of American to British for the terms “upper class” and “lower class.”  A ratio of more than 100% means that the term appeared more frequently in American books.

(Click on an image for a larger view.)

In general, since 1900, US and UK books used these terms at about the same frequency.  But from 1955-1965, the US heard a crescendo in class talk. By 1965, US books mentioned the “lower class” four times as often as did UK books.  After 1965, class talk in the US declined as rapidly as it had increased. (For some reason, Shenker-Osorio was unaware of my earlier post on these matters.)

The real US-UK difference is in “working class,” the term that Shenker-Osorio ignores. Since 1935, it has appeared less frequently in US books.  For the last 30 years, British books have mentioned the working class twice as often.

It may be that the databases Shenker-Osorio used are better than nGrams, and it’s frustrating to find different sources of data pointing in different directions.  More important, we still don’t know what people mean when they say they are middle class. Shenker-Osorio sees it as a category of exclusion.  The images we have of upper and lower are so extreme as to apply to almost nobody.
Not finding popular depictions of wealth and poverty similar to our own lived experiences, we determine we must be whatever’s left over.
True perhaps, but it tells only what people think middle class is not. I’m not familiar with the research on subjective social class, but it seems that we still don’t know what people think “middle class” actually is.  Nor do we know what they have in mind when they say they are working class.  I have my own hunches, but I will leave them for a later post.

“Blue Jasmine” – Social Class Made Simple

August 4, 2013
Posted by Jay Livingston

Long ago, some comedy sketch team did a parody of Tennessee Williams style Southern drama. At one point, the young woman asks what she’s doing that has turned people against her.  The Big Daddy-ish character tells her: “Drinkin’, lyin’, and puttin’ on airs.” 

The joke is that in American culture, all sorts of sins can be overlooked.  Lying, cheating, drinking, robbery, drug dealing, murder and other forms of violence – none of these necessarily disqualifies a character from being an admirable person or what we used to call a hero.  Puttin’ on airs is another matter. 

The line popped into my head as I was watching “Blue Jasmine,” Woody Allen’s retelling of the “Streetcar Named Desire” scenario.  A pretentious and slightly delusional woman suddenly falls from her life of great wealth and has to move in with her working-class sister Ginger in San Francisco.  Hilarity does not ensue.  (Come to think of it, “Streetcar” doesn’t have too many laughs either.) We cringe at each scene where Jasmine disdains the tastes of the people in her sister’s working-class world. We egalitarian Americans are put off by the character who takes pride in his or her educated, sophisticated tastes.  That character is heading either for a bad end or perhaps a redeeming turnaround complete with a slice of pizza and a lite beer.

“Streetcar” was a fish-out-of-water story – delicate Blanche in the home and world of the coarse Stanley Kowalski. “Blue Jasmine,” with flashbacks that contrast Jasmine’s former life of opulence in New York with her sister’s working-class world, is more of a morality tale about social class.  And that tale is none too subtle. The elite – especially as represented by Jasmine’s husband Hal (Alec Baldwin)  – are greedy, dishonest, selfish, and narcissistic. Hal is a Bernie Madoff type but with a string of sexual infidelities added to his financial frauds.  Jasmine, like Blanche du Bois, manages to keep herself from seeing the obvious.  (Blanche and Jasmine share a similar neurotic style, though Jasmine nourishes hers with seemingly unlimited quantities of vodka and Xanax). 

Worse, the elite (Hal and Jasmine) destroy the hopes and dreams of the working class Ginger and her then-husband Augie. When they win $200,000 in the lottery, they consult Hal, the successful businessman, about how Augie might use the money to start his own business.  Instead, Jasmine and Hal persuade him to invest the money in one of Hal’s ventures with a promised 20% return. The working-class couple lose everything, and their marriage dissolves.
This negative portrayal of the wealthy (seemingly a requirement in American films) is mirrored in the purity of virtue shown by the film’s working class. It was not always thus. In “Streetcar,” Stanley is not only coarse-mannered and insensitive to Blanche’s mental fragility. He beats his wife Stella, and in the scene that the play has been building to, he deals with his conflict with Blanche by raping her.

Stanley’s “Blue Jasmine” counterparts are Augie, Ginger’s first husband, and Chili, her current almost-fiancé, an auto mechanic.* These characters  are less conflicted, less nuanced. They are basically saints wearing wifebeaters. When Chili gets justifiably angry – Ginger has slept with another man – he breaks a lamp, but he doesn’t hit anyone, and later, he cries. 

Wealthy bad, working-class good.  It’s just about as simple as that.** Of course, you don’t go to “Blue Jasmine” for a realistic and complex depiction of class relations in the US. Movies must simplify some elements for the sake of others.  You go to “Blue Jasmine” to see a tour de force performance by Cate Blanchett in a well-told tale.

[As with most films today, the trailer provides a fairly complete plot summary.]

* The movie follows one other Hollywood convention: to signal working class status, a character must speak with a New York working-class accent.  It matters not whether the film is set in Pittsburgh, Chicago, or San Francisco.  Working-class characters have to speak as though it’s Brooklyn.

** The two middle-class men in the film are not evil but are seriously flawed, principally because of the way they act on their libidinal impulses. 

James Baldwin (dredged from the SocioBlog archives)

August 3, 2013
Posted by Jay Livingston

Reading that yesterday, August 2, was the birthday of James Baldwin, sent me back to a post I did six years ago. The point I was trying to make in that post was that Baldwin was a better sociologist than he was a novelist. Baldwin, Black and gay, had left the US for Europe in 1948, returning periodically to the US.  I excerpted a quote from Baldwin commenting on the differences in social structure and mobility between Europe and the US and how these affect the task of a novelist.

I added that where Baldwin uses the word writer, we could easily substitute sociologist.
    American writers do not have a fixed society to describe. The only society they know is one in which nothing is fixed and in which the individual must fight for his identity. . .

    The time has come, God knows, for us to examine ourselves, but we can only do this if we are willing to free ourselves of the myth of America and try to find out what is really happening here.

    Every society is really governed by hidden laws, by unspoken but profound assumptions on the part of the people, and ours is no exception. It is up to the American writer to find out what these laws and assumptions are.
That last paragraph sounds like it might have been written by C. Wright Mills.

And here is my concluding sentence in that blog post of May 2007:
Being an outsider, doubly so, does not guarantee that you’ll be a great novelist [or sociologist], but it does make you aware of the “laws and assumptions” that others take for granted and often do not notice.

Kicking Ass (aka Stop and Frisk) – Deterrence or Labeling?

August 2, 2013
Posted by Jay Livingston

Critics of stop-and-frisk claim that the policy, when used on a large scale, is counter-productive. Being stopped and frisked is not a pleasant experience, and the vast majority of people searched are not carrying illegal weapons or drugs.* To them, it just looks as though the police are “throwing their weight around.” 

The critics argue further that these aggressive police tactics reduce the cops effectiveness in doing what cops are supposed to do –  catch criminals and prevent crime.  For that, the police and the city need the help of ordinary people. If the community is largely alienated from the police and the government they represent, people will be less likely to help the police. 
The counter argument is that stopping a large number of people in the pool of potential criminals – i.e., young males – will reduce crime not only among the tiny fraction that are arrested but among the others as well.  Police weight-throwing will act as a general deterrent. As the cop says (the one approvingly quoted by Wilson and Kelling, in their classic “Broken Windows” essay), “We kick ass.”

Does kicking ass deter, or does it alienate?  It would be nice to have evidence rather than assertions.  A recent study by Stephanie Wiley and Finn-Age Esbensen speaks to this very question. It tracked children and teens in seven cities, interviewing them at three intervals ranging from six months to a year.
The key finding is that with participants matched for propensity, those who had contact with the police at time two (compared with those who didn’t) said at time three that they’d feel less guilt if they committed various offences from theft to violence; they expressed more agreement with various “neutralisation” scenarios (e.g. it’s OK to lie to keep yourself out of trouble); they were more committed to their deviant peers (e.g. they planned to continue hanging out with friends who’d been arrested); and finally, they said they’d engaged in more offending behaviour, from skipping classes to taking drugs or being violent. This pattern of results differed little whether police contact involved being arrested or merely being stopped. [emphasis added]

The study lends support to wishy-washy, liberal criminological ideas like labeling and neutralization(if you took the basic crim course, you recognized this old friend in the above paragraph). This does not mean that deterrence doesn’t work. It just means that stopping kids on a massive scale is not an effective deterrent.

The article itself in Crime and Delinquency is here, gated for $25. The summary is free at Research Digest

*Of the 533,00 police stops in New York last year, 729 turned up firearms.  Whether a hit ratio of 0.14% is high or low is of course a judgment call.  (The police also scored 4,700 knives – lucky for me and the Swiss army that I wasn’t stopped.  Including those raises the batting average to 1 in 100.)

G.D.P. - Inclusions and Exclusions

August 1, 2013
Posted by Jay Livingston

What counts as “product” in the Gross Domestic Product?

Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker comment (here) on the new rules for calculating GDP, particularly the change that the money spent to produce “long-lived” entertainments will now be counted as investment.  These include TV shows that get syndicated (“Seinfeld” or “Law and Order”) and franchise films (“Star Wars”).  Those changes add up.  Or as Bernstein and Baker put it
the ultimate show about nothing will now add billions to G.D.P.
They also note that many entertainments that are widely produced and consumed do not get counted at all in G.D.P.  – the time people spend creating and watching YouTube videos, for example (or writing and reading blogs).
What’s really being valued here is entertainment that’s protected by copyright, which in the era of viral videos is actually a declining share of what we watch.
Later in their essay, Bernstein and Baker point out the limitations of G.D.P.
perhaps the most arbitrary part of this or any other G.D.P. revision is not the value of what’s put in, but the cost of what’s left out.
Costs like degradation to the environment.  The value of gas extracted by fracking will be added to the G.D.P. figure.  But 
there is no subtraction for the polluted groundwater or the greenhouse gas emitted when the gas is burned.
Liberals of a certain age reading this will hear echoes of Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 speech,* just three months before he was assassinated.
Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. . . . It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.
The entire passage is  worth reading  or listening to.

Kennedy was speaking about GNP not GDP.  In 1968,  GNP** was the most widely used indicator.  But Kennedy’s point applies to GDP as well. They are both purely economic, with no evaluative or moral dimension.

The antidote for this non-moral measure came from conservatives – the “values” crowd.  In the early 1990s, William Bennett and the Heritage foundation created the “Index of Leading Cultural Indicators,” which did include the strength of our marriages (rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock births) as well as things like violent crime and  SAT scores.  In the next several years, with the national government dominated by Democrats, those indicators generally showed great improvement.  So did GDP. 
* I cannot find any information on who wrote this speech.  I suspect it was Dick Goodwin.

**For more on the differences see Wikipedia.