The New Right and the Crime Wave

First Published: 2000-04-05

In a Letter to the Editor published yesterday Mr. Michael Stevenson, Lecturer in Criminal Justice at the College of the Bahamas, responded to “Theories for the Crime Wave”, an article by the Institute for Economic Freedom.

He described the Institute, defined as the “New Right”, as focusing attention on “improving the efficiency, quality and scope of the criminal justice system” without offering “insights into the deep-rooted, social origins of administrative failings” and the “deep schizophrenic contempt in our community towards itself.” He describes this failure to agree with his version of the “Old Left” as “mind-boggling”.

Yes… we agree that determining why a society behaves the way it does is valuable. But… for a society as a whole, as in the case of the individual, one does not need agreement on the psychoanalytic origin of a disorder in order to prescribe a sound program of therapy. The Institute simply states that a more fruitful explanation can be found in the historical analysis of Thomas Sowell, Francis Fukuyama and Jerad Diamond.

In proposing a sound remedial program, however, its program draws on the work of the Nobel Laureates Milton Friedman, Gary Becker and Douglas North…the true New Right. Rather than call for a “social revolution” the Institute hits the nail more squarely on the head.

  • Lower the cost of economic transactions. Society needs a common set of values that encourages the efficient exchange of goods and services. Francis Fukuyama defines this capacity as “social capital” or “trust”. The New Right identifies specific areas for action: the rule of law, the prompt and equitable administration of justice, the reduction of corruption and free markets.
  • Invest in human capital. Investments by parents in their children and by adults in themselves and in others… both direct and indirect… are more important than those in physical capital. The adverse impact of the sweetheart culture, absentee dads and the ineffectiveness of the public school system are evident…as is the importance of family, honesty, hard work and education.

Can the intellectuals at the College of the Bahamas take a leadership role in developing programs and incentives that promote real change here?

This is the challenge presented by the New Right to the Old Left.

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