COLUMN: Agar – Back to the future for crime and anti-social attitudes

- August 7th, 2012

Old ideas should be new again

Violent crime is down, but as the Sun’s Lorrie Goldstein has reported, it is still more than twice as high as in 1962.

What to do?

Economist Walter Williams, who grew up poor and black before civil rights, wrote, “At best, laws, police and the criminal justice system are a society’s last desperate line of defense. A society’s first line of defense is not the law but customs, traditions and moral values.”

Ah, yes, the 1960s, when we started telling decent people that it was none of their business how other people live.

Kids having kids? None of your business who’s sleeping with whom.

We’ve lowered standards to the point that loud profanity and boorishness are common in public places and if a parent of young children asks the boors to tone it down the parent is likely to be rewarded with a profanity laced retort.

Williams writes, “Much of what’s accepted today would have been seen as bizarre and lowdown yesteryear. Out-of-wedlock childbirth was a disgrace and surely wouldn’t have occasioned a baby shower. Popular TV shows such as The Jerry Springer Show and Maury feature guests who openly discuss despicable acts in their personal lives, often to the applause of the audience. Shame is going the way of the dinosaur.”

Shame is what is needed in part to stop young girls from raising future gang-bangers in public housing. Far too many children in public housing are fatherless.

We have devalued marriage by acting as though traditional marriage is just an old fashioned idea and anyone standing up for the value of marriage, as I have discovered, will experience a furious attack from the left.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada reports that the marriage rate was only 4.4 marriages per 1,000 people in 2008, less than half the level it was in 1972.

The National Fatherhood Initiative in the United States reports that children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to be poor. Youths in father-absent households have significantly higher odds of incarceration than those in mother-father families. In some public housing communities 80% of the kids are fatherless.

Good, responsible, hard working people find themselves raising children alone, even though they did not intend to. They are not the problem.

But for too many, it has become a lifestyle that we created by failing to treat this social ill as the dysfunction that it is. We ladle out welfare, effectively rewarding young girls for their irresponsibility, facilitating the lifestyle.

There is an economic principal that you get more of what you pay for. Why do we pay for it?

It is time to get back to a sense of shame regarding out of wedlock breeding of children.

Not so long ago only the insane would spew loud profanities on the street and no one would go on television to parade their dysfunctions. Able-bodied people were told to get to work, as welfare was only for people temporarily in need or mentally incapable of employment.

A return to civil society might get us back to pre 1960s crime rates. It might not, but to the people who shouted those things down over five decades, we tried it your way. It isn’t working.

Time for the old ideas to be new again.

— Agar is the 9 a.m. to noon host on Newstalk 1010

Categories: Contributor Columns

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