Monday, September 25, 2006

Vicente Fox: a moron and a hypocrite

Quién viven en casas de vidrio no deben tirar peñas.

That's a literal translation of our English saying, "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." And it applies to Vicente Fox, who has just said the U.S. should work on its own (allegedly) rising crime rates instead of criticizing Mexico's. On an aside, maybe the reporter isn't a native English speaker, but her editor should have caught "knocks". Slang is too unprofessional.
"There is work to be done on both sides. As we've always said, it's a shared responsibility," Fox said while traveling in Puerto Penasco, a tourist destination in the northern state border of Sonora that's referred to in Arizona as Rocky Point.

"I saw that crime rates in the United States increased 3.5 percent so far this year. So they have their own problems," Fox said. "And with numbers of homicides, it's better we don't speak about them, because, even though they show up on the front pages every day, there are many fewer here than there."
Fox pulled a Marion Barry, who infamously said, "Aside from the murders, D.C. has one of the lowest crime rates in the country." Nationmaster maintains a list of per-capita murder rates by country, with Mexico in sixth place out of 62 (0.130213 murders per 1000 population). The U.S. isn't terribly impressive in 24th place, but it has 0.042802 murders per 1000 people -- a full third of the Mexican rate.

Note: the rankings come from "Total reported intentional homicides" in 1998 through 2000, so these don't appear to be annual figures. However, we're still comparing figures in the same time frame. Also, we can't begin to estimate how much higher Mexico's crime rate really is, because many crimes tend to go unreported in undeveloped countries that have a "culture of corruption." In its somewhat subjective ranking of countries by corruption, Nationmaster puts the U.S. at #17 with a 7.6 (a 10 being the "cleanest"), and Mexico at #67 with a mere 3.5. When your brother or cousin is killed by drug dealers, would you report it to Mexican authorities who are probably taking bribes, if not part of drug gangs themselves?

So what sparked Fox's idiotic comment? Apparently our ambassador to Mexico merely warned Americans to be careful traveling to Mexico -- with damned good reason, noted in the article:
Scores of U.S. citizens have been abducted in Nuevo Laredo in recent years and more than two dozen cases remain unresolved.
And that's just one Mexican border town. On the other hand, when was the last you heard that "scores" of Mexican citizens were abducted in one U.S. border down? Even including INS detainees (a ridiculous comparison at best), that just doesn't happen. A Mexican would have to be in the worst parts of New York City to experience the same general risk of an American in Mexico City.

I'm sure some bleeding heart will say, "But you're comparing apples and oranges. Mexicans generally don't have as much money and so aren't as valuable to kidnap for ransom." That's beside the point, though: when comparing crime rates, it's ludicrous to adjust for socioeconomic differences. Should we adjust for income levels and educational background when comparing the Scarsdale Metro-North stop with the regular subway stations on 125th Street? Once we do, we're just as stupid as Marion Barry trying to downplay D.C.'s crime.

Oh, all this time I forgot to mention that "overall violent and property crime" in the U.S. has hit a 32-year low. Does Fox need to fire his advisor that provided him that "3.5%" statistic, or did Fox just pull a number out of his trasero?

Well, that last article does note a sudden increase in U.S. murders and robberies, 4.8% and 4.5% respectively. However, that's such a serious jump for the U.S., and a "preliminary report" anyway, that we can immediately lean toward questioning the statistical methods used, rather than believing crime actually jumped. One factor to consider involves what one police chief said: "Every year we're losing 16,000 people to murder, mostly young people and mostly killed by guns," which doesn't account for a lot of those "young people" being gang members who kill each other. That's why the relatively higher homicide rate for young black males isn't just because they're victimized, but because a relatively higher percentage of them are in gangs.

What galls me is the police chiefs' complaint that they can't put as many officers on the street because they're not receiving as much "federal money." And of course, blame Bush, because he cut the federal spending on local law enforcement, whereas Clinton increased it. Just where do these people think federal tax dollars come from, Santa Claus? Actually, they know precisely where the money comes from: mostly from everyone else. The great race, whether you're a sheriff or U.S. Senator, is to get Congress to give you as much of other people's money as you can get.

Oh, and of course we're forgetting that a significant portion of violent crime in the southwest U.S., from California to Texas, is committed by Hispanics -- particularly the illegals whom Fox practically beatifies.

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