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Charles T.

I also think America imprisons too many people but for a different reason. Most criminals will sit in prison for four or so years doing nothing to benefit society. This is too much of a drain on the rest of America who has done nothing wrong except live in the same nation as these criminals. On a related note since when was a sentence of labor cruel/unusual punishment? Its obvious to me prisoners need something to do while in prison otherwise they are just a drain on society. Personally I think you give all imprisoned men a chance to work for minimum wage and time off their jail term and you will have less repeat criminals and less drain on society from prisons.


Jack, Ah yes! Perhaps the ancient world and in the not too distant past here as well was on to something. Sentenced to the mines or galleys and formely here to the chain gangs and hard labor. At least we would be recouping something of value instead of creating constant expenditure losses... ;)

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All of the sci-fi stories pointed to a shorter work week, more leisure time and industries developing around increased leisure time coupled with the income to enjoy it.

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There‘s always going to be people that hurt you so what you have to do is keep on trusting and just be more careful about who you trust next time around.

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Global demographics instruct that manufacturing job growth in nations with emerging economies will continue to outpace manufacturing job growth in America.

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Thanks Mr Becker for sharing the information.


Tans........ sounds a bit "talk-radio-ish" for me.

My disgust for the Bushies were more focused on coming in with a pre- ha! unmeditated plan to sack Baghdad, their provincial ignorance of not understanding they'd kick off a civil war, and doing so too fast and with inept planning. They took longer to build even a few "up-armored" HumVees than we took to build fighter planes in WWII.

On the economic front, of course I'm saddled with the knowledge that ladling out tax bennies primarily for those who have plenty with which to engage in our consumer oriented economy does not spur the economy as would some form of "trickle down" to those with out the means to turn needs and wants into demand. The Bushies created $2 trillion of additional D E B T to little benefit when, had they balls or a reasonable facsimile should have been passing the hat to pay for the war they foolishly ginned up.

Then of course was the gross negligence of oversight of the bankster.

Take a look at the following graphs, not only at the curve of median home prices soaring above median ability to pay for them, but the other chart showing the departure of ownership costs from what could be expected in rents WERE one to have to move or be unable to sell their home.


Any one theoretically on watch would have to be sound asleep not to have sounded warnings rather than brag over rising percentages of "home ownership" if that is the right term for having taken one on with a defective mortgage of 105% of fictitious appraisal value.

As for imprisoning the thieves while there have been some, I'm as frustrated as any that we're not seeing the going in boxcar lots.

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Thank you for such an informative website and post on the EU debt crisis. German tax-payer will react to the prospect of higher taxes oer many years to bail out weaker EU member nations. This is particularly the case when there seems to be constant and volatile opposition in these weaker EU nations to austerity measures.

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I think it's hilarious, albeit tragic and appalling, that those who think like pathological narcissists or sociopaths - content not to think beyond the cramped confines of their own comfortable little plutocratic niche.


NEH sez "At least we would be recouping something of value instead of creating constant expenditure losses... ;)"

Jack retorts only partly tongue in cheek, that if the labor of our unusually high prison population is harnessed for the typical low skilled work, they'd be taken the last hopes for a job from those of the highest unemployment group, who'd then have to turn more desperately to supplying various sorts of vices to those who have the money to pay for it and soon join the others on the chain gangs.

Now if they could be taught to compete with WS thieves and price manipulators, perhaps the competition might lower the spreads so much that our best and brightest would be driven to honest work in mfg, making the necessary energy transition, and competing on perhaps thin margins to improve exports in the global market place?

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Snich! Lets go!


Jack, How true. ;) But just think of the possibilities? Driving wages, salaries and benefits to the lowest common denominator world wide. Talk about a competitive boon for all owners, operators and coupon clippers. Is this what they mean by the, "Race to the Bottom"? ;)

Talk about time to think about selling the house, the car, the wife, the inlaws, the kids; buying a horse, a mule and kit then heading into the hills...


Jack -- sometimes you have good things to say. On the other hand, reasonable readers may question why you shout the term, "talk-radio-ish," whenever you encounter a viewpoint with which you disagree, but to all appearances lack a better response.


The same thing could be said about you "affl". Remember, when you point a finger, there are always three pointing back at you. Pretty much says it all...

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become blacklisted for certain jobs, or for other reasons. Nevertheless, Levitt’s study cited by Posner and other studies find that on balance imprisonment reduces crime. The main disagreement is over whether the whole effect of imprisonment on crimes comes from the incapacitation effect, or whether some is also due to deterrence. I believe deterrence is also at work.

Cris Cris

I have to agree about talk radio style commenting. Between the apparent suspicion of the existence of a one pecent and the seemingly random appearence of "your buddy Obama" it's not really bringing a lot of seriousness to the comment box.

I don't really even know why Tans is so proud that he can think of two wealthy people who went to jail during an eight year period. I don't think the president was involved, nor does it matter. Not everything is about the president. Lawrence Duran and Raj Rajaratnam both went to prison this year, what does that mean? I don't think two people makes a trend.

I would like to thank jack for his contribution and Mr. Becker for his characteristically excellent blog entry.


Tans -- Cris-cris summed it up tighter than I ever could. (Thanks!)

My interests run much more toward concepts and policy than that of flawed individuals. Most important seems A. honing our system to select the best to govern B. trying, as would be the case for a good accounting system, to craft our governing bodies such that to prevent too much damage when flawed human beings gain high office.

The practice of lobbyists hauling cash to "make their case" surely is a corrupting practice for all who have to raise millions to gain or maintain their position....... and surely there is culpability of both parties in the banking mess, and that it was the same with Dodd-Frank reforms starting out looking a bit like a whole fish but ending up like one of those skeletons left after a cat got to it in the comics. Three years later and the fences around the hen houses are not close to being mended.

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Luis Hernandez

I think that people that get into drugs specially sellers are by nature dangerous and for them is an easy way to make money. Probably addicted users would be dangerous as you mention too. You assume that if they are not charged by selling drugs they will not look for more profitable means to get money, but i think is unlikely. The problem of legalizing drugs is not so simple because as you know this can create habits and addictions and there is an issue of negative externalities if drugs get so cheap as cigarettes and which types of drugs to legalize and how to control their quality.

Singapore is a counter exception because they punish so hard with the death penalty the drug trafficking and even the consumption that the drug consumption is not a problem. I think for the US because do not respect the human right conventions, and still applies the death penalty, a very powerful deterrent for drug traffic would be to apply this or life sentence to drug dealers.

I do agree that some crimes would be subject to probation but if these individuals fail again stronger penalties would apply to them.

You state that the war on drugs is lost but there is no counterfactual in your argument.


why again? i'm so confused!


Luis -- Many studies find no benefit of the death penalty as deterrent.

I'd speculate that it would increase the incidence of violence and risk of death during an arrest.

My own counter to the tremendous waste and failure of the "war on drugs" is not to consider drug use as an "evil" that could be stamped out if only we could "get if right" is that of treating it as an epidemic illness to be treated and minimized. Surely warehousing "them" in our barbaric prisons at $20,000/ year is costly and not an effective solution.

The other night there was a profile of a women's prison on TV. It was a sort of "good" one in that it worked with Scouts and featured 4 hour family visitations in hopes of holding family together. One woman with cute 9-11 year old girls was hopeful of getting out at parole time. I'm not sure what took place by the parole board decided "not ready" with the next scene being that of breaking the news to these pre-teens that it would be a full year before release could be considered.

Mebbe...... it was the right decision as the program pointed out that they don't know who makes it and who doesn't; some going straight and rejoining family while others scored crack in their first hour of freedom.

Consider the "failures" who immediately consumed drugs; a criminal likely to be straightened out by more time behind bars? or a sick person in need of help?

Paul Smith

Merci beaucoup pour votre article.


The bulk of the comments above illustrate how there is no prison harsher than the jail of leftist ideology.


Pack your stuff affl, you're being transported to the colony on Europa. Welcome to the future...


NEH, foe of economic liberty, return to your Stalinist gulag.

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