Violence in Indy: Beyond More Police

July 9th, 2013 at 9:44 pm by under Eric Halvorson's Blog
red light 3Private citizens and politicians share at least one sentiment this summer.  Frustration.
It’s driven by day after day of stories about violence.  Someone shot.  Someone killed. 
Putting more police on patrol is one way to fight back — or at least feel like we are.  But, back in May, Mayor Ballard told me: more officers can’t solve everything.  When it comes to crimes of passion, he said, “there’s almost nothing you can do there.”
And that feeds the feelings of frustration.  What else can we do?
Because of that question, I heard something in a panel discussion that made me think of us.  The panel, former members of the George W. Bush administration, came together to talk about the future of the Republican Party.  But, I couldn’t help thinking that some of their thoughts could be applicable to the future of Indianapolis. 
Near the end of the session, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao talked about “a widening gap between people who earn a lot of money and people who don’t.”  She went on to blame that on ”a skills gap.  More and more, we are a knowledge-based economy.  And,” she said, “employers are paying higher wages to those workers that possess more knowledge.”
Former speechwriter Michael Gerson followed that with: “a significant number of people at the bottom of our system, about a third of workers now, which is a scary notion, lack the education, the skills, the family structure and background … these are the three major factors that determine social mobility — to compete in an increasingly meritocratic economic system.” 
Gerson admitted that might be seen as “a natural outcome” of capitalism.  But, ”in a situation where you can’t move from the bottom to the top, inequality is a caste system.  It’s essentially condemning a whole group of people, generation after generation, to not have the ability to compete in a free market.”  And, he said you can’t get social mobility without a dynamic economy. 
Former Bush adviser Karl Rove condensed the topic into one simple sentence.  “The main driver of this is family and education,” he said. 
I hear people around here saying similar things, now.  And, if those are the roots of this summer’s violence, how much does that complicate the campaign to bring peace to the streets?  

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