Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sometimes a Slap Upside the Head...

...seems to be the only thing that will get through, and sometimes I'm not so sure about that:

Crime rate at lowest level since 1973: StatsCan (Emphasis mine)
"Canada's crime rate fell last year to its lowest level in nearly four decades, a statistic that opposition MPs held up as proof the governing Conservatives don't need to spend billions on new jails."
Like brain-dead parrots, the media keeps repeating this line, over and over and over. But they seem to have a wee bit of a problem with math, too (Bold emphasis throughout mine):
"Data released Thursday by Statistics Canada shows the crime rate continued a 20-year decline last year, dropping five per cent from 2009 and hitting the lowest level since 1973."
WTF are they talking about? Four decades does not equal 20 years.
"The statistics agency said the overall police-reported crime rate is still following a long-term downward curve, despite the alarm bells from the Harper government over the need for tough-on-crime legislation."
Really? Statistics Canada said "despite the alarm bells from the Harper government"? I don't think so. You could show us the press release from Stats Can or release the recorded telephone interview, but I suspect this is at least 50% media spin on facts received from Statistics Canada, not words directly from a Stats Cans spokesperson.

And look at this! After setting up the reader with dire, if contradictory and confused statistics implying long-term trends, they tell us "an index which measures the severity of crime fell six per cent in 2010. The crime severity index is at its lowest point since 1998, the first year for which such data are available." Plenty of long-term data there! Twenty years, at least. NOT!!  Oops. Only twelve years.

But it gets worse. After setting up the expectation that one might find a long-term (20 years or 40 years, take your pick) comparison, the rest of the article deals with a two year comparison, 2010 with 2009, hardly a long-term comparison:
"Police reported nearly 2.1 million Criminal Code incidents last year, down about 77,000 from 2009."

Wow! A 3.9% decline but hardly a long-term comparison. Sounds like the global warming hysteria complex, doesn't it.

Throughout the rest of the article, a smattering of reality seeps through:
"There were 554 homicides in 2010, 56 fewer than in 2009. This 10 per cent drop followed a decade of relative stability."
"Police reported more than 22,000 sexual assaults in 2010, up five per cent from 2009 and the first increase since 2005."
"Police reported nearly 200,000 break-ins last year, a drop of six per cent." (Ed. 200,000 break-ins and we're supposed to be happy?)
"While there were nearly 93,000 motor vehicles thefts reported in 2010, that was down 15 per cent from 2009."  (Ed. Nothing to see here folks. Problem solved. Move along.)
"Drunk driving fell six per cent from 2009, following three consecutive years of increase." (Ed. But of course, this is the beginning of a downward trend, right?)
"In 2010, police reported over 108,000 drug offences, about half of which were for possession of marijuana. The rate of drug offences increased 10 per cent from 2009, continuing a general upward trend that began in the early 1990s." (Ed. Reporting that had to hurt.)
"Youth crime was also down. Police reported that nearly 153,000 youth aged 12 to 17 were accused of a crime in 2010, almost 15,000 fewer than the previous year.
Youth crime rates declined for most offences in 2010, including homicide, serious assaults, motor vehicle thefts and break-ins. Robbery was one of the few offences to show an increase for youth in 2010, rising by two per cent.

The index which measures the severity of violent crime by youth showed a four per cent drop between 2009 and 2010, but it was still five per cent higher than in 2000."
I'm sorry folks, but a two year comparison isn't sufficient to call a long-term trend. And besides, "Harper's Conservatives" (scare quotes intended) are talking about recidivism (repeat offenders and the rate thereof), the focus on the criminal rather than on the victim and the relatively light slap on the hand handed down from the judicial bench, the fact that our prison buildings are ageing and in need of replacement or major renovations, etc., etc..

Would that you would give us some long-term, or even short term statistics showing the impact of the criminal justice system's response to those concerns.  What's that you say? There hasn't been a response, other than those initiated by Harper's Conservatives? I know. You'd rather focus on meaningless statistics that poke holes in what you want us to believe is the Harper crime agenda. Nice try, but no cigar.

BTW, although it deals with crime in the US rather than Canada, The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy by Thomas Sowell deals with this very subject, the misuse of statistics by liberal leftists to congratulate themselves and vilify conservatives.  It's not expensive. Buy it. Read it and then start asking some hard questions rather than shilling for the Libs and the Dippers, will ya'.

His benchmark, BTW, is the era before the liberal era of the past 30 to 40 years. Coincidence?

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