SHAPIRO: The Left’s Most Destructive Myths

The group heads out of Nubian Square toward City Hall during the march on June 10, 2020 in Boston. The FTP (For The People) youth protesters gather in Nubian Square for a speaking program and then march to City Hall. They call for defunding the police and to remove police from schools. There have been several protests since the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police. (Photo by Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Left is destroying America one lie at a time, including lies about the country’s founding and its founding documents, lies about racism, lies about the criminal justice system, lies about education, and lies about what brings true prosperity and best allows people to maintain liberty and pursue happiness. Below are 8 leftist myths that are doing grave damage to the country and the lives of individuals.

MYTH 1: America is defined by racism, sexism and greed.

TRUTH: America’s founding principles and documents have allowed it to become a model of freedom and democracy for the world.

The Left tells a dark tale about America that goes something like this: Once upon a time, a group of brutal white colonial Christians arrived in North America from a far-off land. They brought with them disease, murder, and rape. They savaged the natives, enslaved people across the earth, and founded a country based on racism and sexism. That country’s founding document — the United States Constitution — was an ode to the propertied class, to sexism and racism, to slavery itself. America has never been able to escape those sins, and only the growth in power of the federal government controlled by people of the Left has been able to carve away at that dark legacy over time — but that legacy will never be erased, except by a complete reshaping of American society and politics.

But the truth is, America, while certainly not perfect, has long been a beacon of hope and a model of freedom and democracy for the world.

Rather than the Left’s grim rewriting of America’s history, the nation’s enduring identity is more accurately presented in the conservative view: European colonists arrived in America in order to establish a country founded on principles of liberty and religious toleration. America is guilty of many sins in its past — but the principles enshrined in the Constitution are eternal and good. The Constitution’s central natural law principles laid forth the notions of individual liberty and rights to one’s own labor — and over time, those rights would be perfected in the United States, not through centralized government, but through good people struggling to bring about change through blood and sacrifice and persuasion. The growth of an overreaching federal government now threatens those very liberties in the name of tearing away at the system upon which our freedoms and prosperity is based.

MYTH 2: Socialism is morally preferable to capitalism.

TRUTH: Capitalism is morally preferable to socialism.

A Harvard Institute of Politics poll in Spring 2016 found that democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was the only major party candidate with a net positive rating among 18 to 29-year-olds: 54 percent viewed him favorably, compared with just 31 percent viewing him unfavorably. That same poll showed only 42 percent of young Americans supported capitalism, with 33 percent saying they supported socialism. Full-scale socialism. Fully 50 percent of all Democratic voters said they favored socialism over capitalism.[1]

That poll isn’t an outlier. A 2014 Gallup poll found that 43 percent of young people said they favored socialism; 33 percent of people aged 30-49 liked it. Those who remember the Soviet Union well — those above age 65 — reject socialism wholesale, with just 16 percent favoring it.

Now, some of this is surely just ignorance, but ignorance hasn’t stopped Americans from embracing socialist candidates who pledge to stop income inequality and take down the nefarious One Percent. Columnists like Jesse Myerson of Rolling Stone have encouraged millennials to fight for government-guaranteed employment, a universal basic income, collectivization of private property, nationalization of private assets and public banks.[2] This is idiotic.

Capitalism is the greatest single force for the empowerment of human beings in the history of mankind. Free markets defeated the global scourge of communism, which was responsible for the impoverishment of half of mankind and the murder of a hundred million people; free markets raised nearly the entire globe out of abject poverty.

So why is capitalism unpopular? Because all policies with concentrated benefits and diffuse victims are popular. Big government always benefits specific people in heavy measure, while small government benefits everyone in less tangible ways. If we tax everyone in the United States $0.01 and give all the money to one lucky American, that American walks away with $3 million. He’ll surely be grateful to the politician who made that happen. And most Americans won’t feel that one cent leave their pockets.

That’s why the conservative efficiency argument in favor of free markets tends to fail politically: those who are already employed think the system could be better, and those who aren’t want more government. The failure to make a moral case for capitalism has doomed capitalism to the status of a perennial backup plan. When people are desperate or wealthy, they turn to socialism; only when they have no other alternative do they embrace the free market. After all, lies about guaranteed security are far more seductive than lectures about personal responsibility.

So what is the moral case for capitalism? It begins in recognition that socialism isn’t a great idea gone wrong — it’s an evil philosophy in action. It isn’t driven by altruism; it’s driven by greed and jealousy. Socialism states that you owe me something simply because I exist. Socialism violates at least three of the Ten Commandments: It turns government into God, it legalizes thievery, and it elevates covetousness. Discussions of income inequality, after all, aren’t about prosperity but about petty spite. Why should you care how much money I make, so long as you are happy?

Conservatives talk results when discussing the shortcomings of socialism. They’re right: Socialism is ineffective, destructive and stunting to the human spirit. But they’re wrong to abandon the field of morality when discussing the contrast between freedom and control. And it’s this abandonment — this perverse laziness — that has led to socialism’s comeback, even though within living memory, we have seen continental economies collapse and millions slaughtered in the name of this false god.

Conservatives must turn to the affirmative morality of capitalism. Capitalism is about the notion that you are not a slave. You own your own time, and you own your own labor, and you may do with it precisely what you wish. The miracle of capitalism is that such freedom doesn’t result in billions of artists finger-painting — it results in billions of people investing their time and effort into creating products for one another. Capitalism results in a sort of reality-forced altruism: I may not want to help you, I may dislike you, but if I don’t give you a product or service you want, I will starve. Voluntary exchange is more moral than forced redistribution. And voting to steal someone else’s money, even in the name of some greater equality, is forced redistribution. 

MYTH 3: America was founded on slavery.

TRUTH: The Northern Founders wanted to abolish slavery.

One of the most-uttered myths regarding the United States is that it was “founded on slavery.” This statement is used to justify everything from affirmative action to federal transfer payments to low-income minorities; it’s used as a scapegoat for elevated levels of black crime and for black educational underperformance. It’s also a wild overstatement.

Slavery was a grave moral evil. It was also common at the time of the founding. The United States did indeed tolerate slavery, and the southern states fought for the continuation of slavery during the Civil War. But virtually all countries in human history also supported slavery during that time, including African countries shipping Africans to the Americas in chains. The first European country to ban import of slaves to its colonies was Denmark in 1803; Britain only outlawed the Atlantic slave trade in 1807; the United States passed legislation banning the new importation of slaves beginning in 1808. Britain only passed gradual abolition of slavery in 1833; Denmark only abolished slavery in 1846, France in 1848, Brazil in 1851; and the United States in 1862. To pretend that the United States was unique in regard to its history with slavery would be historically ignorant.[4] That does not justify American slavery (nothing does), but it does provide vital historical context.

From its founding, the United States attempted to come to grips with slavery and phase it out. The state of Vermont was the first sovereign state to abolish slavery, in 1777. During the debate over the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wanted to include a provision that would have condemned King George III for “wag[ing] cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation hither.” Southern states demanded that this provision be removed in return for joining the revolution. Having no choice, Jefferson removed the clause.

The Constitution of the United States is frequently seen as enshrining slavery, but the so-called three-fifths clause was an attempt to do the opposite. The whole question of popular apportionment rested on whether to count slaves as full people for purposes of representation. To do so would have put the slaveholding south at a significant advantage: they would have counted slaves in their population, not allowed them to vote, then used their increased representation in order to re-enshrine slavery. As James Madison noted, the delegates from South Carolina fought for blacks to be counted as whole people so as to include them “in the rule of representation, equally with the Whites.” The three-fifths compromise was designed to curb the South’s expansionist tendencies with regard to slavery by preventing them from stacking the electoral deck. The Constitution also allowed slave importation to continue until 1808 — but Congress moved in 1807 to end it there.

Then, of course, the United States fought a great and massive Civil War to free the slaves, in which over 620,000 Americans died, nearly half the total number of Americans to die in all wars combined. The economy of the United States was not built on slavery — in fact, the South’s economic power was dismal compared to that of the north, which is why the north was able to overcome the south during the Civil War.

MYTH 4: The U.S. Constitution is no longer relevant.

TRUTH: The U.S. Constitution is a timeless document.

Leftists who speak of a “living Constitution” generally mean that the Constitution itself is irrelevant, dated, a vestige of a different time and place. The founders, they suggest, would never have structured our government the way it is if they had only known about iPhones and wireless internet. In 2001, then-State Senator Barack Obama told public radio that it was vital for Americans to “break free” of the Constitution in order to promote government-created “economic justice.” Obama explicitly stated, “We still suffer from not having a Constitution that guarantees its citizens economic rights.” By this, Obama meant that the government was not empowered under the Constitution to do much beyond ensuring so-called negative rights: rights that exist because no one can violate them. He wanted so-called positive rights: rights to goods and services provided by others via the government.[5]

The South African Constitution, like most constitutions composed by the political left, guarantees certain rights to other people’s property, services, and treatment. It vaguely guarantees a right to “inherent dignity,” whatever that means. It also guarantees a right to “access to adequate housing,” as provided by the state, and a right to “health care services, including reproductive health care,” among others. So, this should make South Africa a paradise, no? No, actually, the murder rate in South Africa is 32 per 100,000 residents (in the United States, the murder rate is 4.6 per 100,000, by way of contrast); per capita GDP is $5,691.70 (in the United States, it’s $53,041.98). A piece of paper can guarantee you the fruits of other people’s work, but if people aren’t willing to work, the paper isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

The chief reason for that: constitutions that guarantee positive rights demand labor from others. Involuntary servitude is the precondition to positive rights provided by the government. Wealth must be confiscated; property must be taken; services must be forced. And government force invariably ends in societal breakdown: lack of social capital and trust, lack of innovation and drive.

The founders recognized that, which is why the Constitution of the United States is a timeless document. The Constitution was created to deal with flaws in human nature, not to cope with technological advancements: we may have better means of communication than we did in 1787, but we don’t have better people. People are the same as they ever were. The founders constructed the Constitution on the basis of three main realizations about human beings. First, they realized that human beings are imperfect, selfish, driven by self-interest. They will go to war with each other to assure the victory of that self-interest. The founders agreed with the central theory of Thomas Hobbes, that without government, man reverted to constant warfare: “No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

But they disagreed with Hobbes that the only way to solve this conundrum was a great and powerful ruler. They believed that such rulers were similarly capable of brutality in their own self-interest. They adopted this philosophy from John Locke, who wrote, “The end of government is the good of mankind; and which is best for mankind, that the people should be always exposed to the boundless will of tyranny, or that the rulers should be sometimes liable to be opposed, when they grow exorbitant in the use of their power, and employ it for the destruction, and not the preservation of the properties of their people?” In other words, if rulers invaded the rights of others, they ought to be curbed.

So, how could society survive without an all-powerful ruler checking men? By a series of mutual checks and balances. As James Madison famously stated in Federalist #51: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”

Checks and balances were designed to prevent government from overreaching its boundaries; only widespread agreement could overrule such checks and balances. The judiciary was therefore designed not to lord over the executive and legislative branches, but to interpret the law “under the Constitution”; it was checked by its requirement of funding from Congress and execution from the executive branch. The legislative branch was designed to pass laws in concurrence with the Constitution; the president was given the power to veto laws. Congress itself was checked by distribution of power between the House, chosen by population, and the Senate, chosen by state. The executive branch was checked by the legislature; the executive couldn’t create laws or self-fund, and the legislature could always impeach an incipient tyrant. The federal government as a whole was checked by state governments, all of which had their own checks and balances.

The structural Constitution, not the Bill of Rights, is the essence of American government. And it has nothing to do with technological progress. It relies on the same vision of human nature held by the founders, and the same vision of human rights: that because you are a human being, you have inviolable rights that cannot be removed from you by majority vote.

But the Left despises the Constitution because the Left believes that human nature can change, if only people are granted material wealth. If people are given positive rights by government, they transform, almost magically, into better human beings: less selfish, more giving, altruistic about their time and labor. Marx infamously stated that while animals generated only enough to survive, humans generated excess — and, said Marx, this perverted them into lesser beings. Communism, by confiscating labor and providing for needs, would transform capitalistic people into better people. The state would solve man’s spiritual ills.

The American Constitution rejects this materialist notion. And so for well over a century, the Left has attempted to destroy the Constitution in the name of action.

MYTH 5: Income inequality is evidence of discrimination and must be eliminated by “social justice” policies.

TRUTH: Income inequality exists everywhere, and “social justice” destroys personal liberty and exacerbates inequality.

Proponents of social justice are the leading antagonists of what they term “income inequality” — the gap between the highest earners and the lowest earners.

They treat “income inequality” as though such gaps have not widened and narrowed over time, or as if there is a correlation between levels of inequality of outcome and general success of the society or individuals within it. It’s quite possible for income inequality to grow while those at the bottom end of the scale get richer. In fact, that’s precisely what’s been happening in America: the middle class hasn’t dissipated, it’s bifurcated, with more Americans moving into the upper middle class over the past few decades. The upper middle class grew from 12 percent of Americans in 1979 to 30 percent as of 2014.[6] As far as median income, myths of stagnating income are greatly exaggerated — as Edward Conard points out:

Misleading income measures assume tax returns — including pass-through tax entities — represent households. They exclude faster-growing healthcare and other nontaxed benefits. They fail to account for shrinking family sizes, where an increasing number of taxpayers file individual tax returns. They don’t separate retirees from workers. They ignore large demographic shifts that affect the distribution of income. Nor do they acknowledge that consumption is much more evenly distributed than income. More accurate measures show faster income growth, especially for non-Hispanic workers, and wage growth that parallels productivity growth.[7]

Proponents of “social justice” continue to maintain that the best way to curb inequity is by curbing inequality. They neglect to mention that social justice can only do so by destroying personal freedom, liberty, and the most powerful economy in the history of mankind. They also neglect to mention that American attempts to quash inequality have actually exacerbated it — we’ve now spent $22 trillion in the so-called war on poverty, to no avail,[8] and we spend $30,000 per year on poor non-elderly families.[9]

MYTH 6: More police presence endangers young minorities.

TRUTH: More police presence protects young minorities.

Today, the Black Lives Matter movement has been fully integrated into the Democratic Party apparatus. The DNC passed a resolution in August 2015 explicitly supporting BLM, stating, “the DNC joins with Americans across the country in affirming ‘Black lives matter’ and the ‘say her name’ efforts to make visible the pain of our fellow and sister Americans as they condemn extrajudicial killings of unarmed African American men, women and children.”[10]

But if black lives matter, the best way to save them is to activate more police in high crime areas. Crime rates declined from 1990 to 2010 because more cops practiced more law enforcement in more high-crime areas. In areas that remained high crime, the problem wasn’t too many police officers but too few. Jill Leovy, no conservative, says in her book Ghettoside that a shortage of cops leads to a surplus of death in inner cities: “Where the criminal justice system fails to respond vigorously to violent injury and death, homicide becomes endemic.”[11]

An adequate, active police presence is necessary to prevent the advent of street justice — gangs fighting each other to ensure “justice” for their friends and fellow gang members. Leovy sees it as a stain on America; for politically correct reasons, Americans have failed to examine the actual problems of criminal justice, fearful of talking about the disproportionate murder rate in the black community.

“Explicitly confronting the reality of how murder happens in America,” Leovy explains, “is the first step toward deciding that it is not acceptable, and that for too long black men have lived inadequately protected by the laws of their own country.”[12]

At the height of America’s violent crime wave, there were more than 50 victims of violent crime per 1,000 Americans. To put that in perspective, over the course of two decades, a majority of Americans would have been victimized by a violent crime.[13] By 2014, however, violent victimization had dropped to below 25 victims of violent crime per 1,000 Americans — sliced virtually in half. Property crime, too, declined dramatically, from nearly 350 victims per 1,000 households in 1993 to just over 100.[14]

Thanks to the tender mercies of politicians like De Blasio, police officers have stopped actively policing in many areas of the country. The result has been rising violent crime in America’s most dangerous cities. In 2015, in the wake of De Blasio’s comments, New York officers simply stopped actively policing, knowing that they could not trust the politicians to back their play. The New York Post reported that by the end of the year:

  • NYPD traffic tickets and summonses for minor offenses had plummeted 94 percent over the previous year
  • Drug arrests dropped 84 percent
  • Overall arrests dropped 66 percent

One source told the newspaper, “This is not a slowdown for slowdown’s sake. Cops are concerned, after the reaction from City Hall on the Garner case, about de Blasio not backing them.” The PBA told its officers not to make arrests “unless absolutely necessary.”[15]

This is one impact of the so-called Ferguson Effect, termed as such by the police chief in St. Louis in November 2014 in the aftermath of the Michael Brown killing.

With the police under political attack across the country and the White House celebrating the racist, anti-cop Black Lives Matter movement, crime rates began to climb. As The Washington Post detailed, “The numbers of murders, rapes, assaults and robberies were all up over the first six months of 2015.” A few of the grim statistics:

  • “Between January and June 2015, the number of murders was up 6.2 percent, with the biggest jumps seen in the country’s smallest and largest areas.”
  • “Murders were up 17 percent in areas with fewer than 10,000 residents….”[16]
  • Over the entirety of 2015, the murder rate in America’s largest cities jumped 17 percent.
  • That included a 15.6 percent jump in San Francisco, an 8.5 percent jump in Los Angeles, a 25.2 percent jump in Houston, 5 percent in New York City, 83 percent jump in Nashville, 62 percent in Oklahoma City, and 54 percent in Washington D.C. [17]
  • Murder jumped over 60 percent in 10 disproportionately black cities.[18]
  • Overall, this represented the largest single homicide increase nationally in 25 years.[19]

On October 23, 2015, FBI Director James Comey finally acknowledged the obvious: the Left’s takeover of America’s major cities, combined with the federal crackdown on police forces, had led to a skyrocketing crime rate. The only way to stop suffocation of the community, Comey stated, was through “removing those who were strangling it, so that seeds could be planted to allow good things to grow and fill that space,” Comey said. “And let’s be clear: far more people of color are being killed in America’s cities this year. And it’s not the cops doing the killing.” Comey cited Chicago, Tampa, Minneapolis, Sacramento, Orlando, Cleveland, New York, DC, Baltimore, Milwaukee, and Dallas as cities across America experiencing crime spikes.

Comey concluded: “a chill wind [is] blowing through American law enforcement over the last year. And that wind is surely changing behavior.”[20]

That sentiment wasn’t just promulgated by Comey: it was repeated by mayors across America, 100 of whom met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in October 2015 about rising crime rates — and reportedly broke into applause when someone mentioned that those rates had risen in response to “officers’ sinking morale.” The acting chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Chuck Rosenberg, said the same thing in October.[21] He said Comey was “spot on. … Rightly or wrongly, you become the next viral video. … Now you can do everything right and still end up on the evening news.”[22]

  • From January to April 2016, murders jumped 9 percent in America’s largest 62 cities, and non-fatal shootings jumped 21 percent.
  • Murders in Chicago skyrocketed 95 percent compared with a comparable period in 2014.
  • Not coincidentally, police stops dropped 90 percent over 2015 in Chicago.[23]

As Michael Barone wrote in the Chicago Sun Times, “The most accurate word [for this increase] is unprecedented.’ The only double-digit increases in national murder statistics going back to 1960 are 13 percent (in 1968), 11 percent (in 1966, 1967 and 1971) and 10 percent (in 1979).”[24]

In June 2016, the National Institute of Justice released a report from University of Missouri St. Louis criminologist Richard Rosenfeld. “The other explanations [for the increase in crime] have a difficult time … explaining the timing and magnitude of the increase we saw in 2015 and continue to see in some cities in the current year,” Rosenfeld admitted. But he said that the Ferguson Effect wasn’t limited to police getting hands-off — it extended to communities deciding not to trust the police, and becoming “more likely to take matters into their own hands.”[25]

MYTH 7: Our public education system is doing fine; we just need to throw more money at it.

TRUTH: Our education system is not designed to educate — it’s designed to socialize.

Until 1965, the federal government had almost no input in state and local education. Then President Lyndon Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, designed to provide federal aid to low-income schools. In 1964, the federal government spent $6.7 billion on elementary and secondary education; by 2010, the number had multiplied to $80 billion. As the National Center for Policy Analysis reports, the federal Department of Education exponentially increased its regulations from 2,000 to 10,800 from 1980 to 2010.[26]

What have we gotten for all of that? We certainly haven’t gotten better school performance. As Marc Tucker of Education Week writes, “the United States led the world in educational attainment from the middle of the 19th century well into the second half of the 20th century.”[27]

Then the federal government kicked in. From 1971 to 2012, Americans have not increased their math or reading scores. High school students have actually shown a decline in math performance.[28] In 1955, the practice SAT national average score in math was just below 420. The National Defense Education Act was passed in 1958; by 1966, the score had dropped below 400, and it hadn’t recovered to its prior highs by 1980. Andrew Coulson of the Cato Institute testified before Congress,

Math and Reading scores at the end of high school are unchanged over the past forty years, while Science scores suffered a slight decline through 1999…. We spent over $151,000 per student sending the graduating class of 2009 through public schools. That is nearly three times as much as we spent on the graduating class of 1970, adjusting for inflation. Despite that massive real spending increase, overall achievement has stagnated or declined, depending on the subject.  

Federal efforts haven’t even been successful in closing performance gaps between black students and white students.[29]

America has fallen further and further behind the rest of the world. More accurately, while we’ve been stagnant, other nations have been passing us. American students didn’t become less educated between 1995 and 2009, but other nations improved their performance. In international tests in 2012, for example, American students charted 25th globally in math, 17th in science, and 14th in reading. In 2006, only 6 percent of American students counted as “advanced.” America’s rate of educational improvement is lower than other developed countries ranging from Germany to the United Kingdom to Israel to New Zealand to South Korea.

Harvard found that throwing money at the problem would have no effect, either.[30] American workers between the ages of 16 and 34, are third from the bottom of the industrialized world in literacy, dead last in mathematics, and second-to-last in technical problem-solving. And those numbers are headed in the wrong direction.[31]

Because the education system is not designed to educate but rather to socialize, both the federal government and states have decided to jettison actual educational standards in favor of watered-down requirements. That’s also due to the rising cost of education — the government must simultaneously pretend to educate its children and throw them out of school without educating them. To that end, we’ve been dumbing down all of our curricula. Tucker explains: “the typical high school text is written at the 7th-or 8th-grade level, four to five grade levels below the community college text, which is itself written at one grade level below where it should be… a large fraction of high school graduates, perhaps a majority, are unable to do the work required in a typical college math course.” Those college math courses have been dumbed down to middle school math.[32] All of this is designed to create the illusion of educational progress — hey, more kids are going to college! But college kids are dumber than high school kids used to be. At least 20 percent of college kids nationally will need some form of remedial learning to be up to standard.[33]

The children may be ignorant, but there’s good news: they feel good about themselves. While students in the late 1980s said they studied at least six hours per week, only a third did by 2009 — and yet as of 2004, 52 percent of teens said they were “near the top” or “above average” in their class, as opposed to just 9 percent who said they were below average.[34]

MYTH 8: The homeless have a right to live on the streets.

TRUTH: Leaving the homeless on the street is cruel to the homeless and destroys cities.

Homelessness is a nexus of factors: drug use, single motherhood, economic dislocation, disability. But to truly understand the homeless problem, we must begin with the chronic homeless — not the people who fall into and out of homelessness on a short-term basis. There are approximately 112,000 Americans defined by the federal government as chronically homeless. According to Dennis Culhane of the University of Pennsylvania, somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of them are severely mentally ill.[35]

That’s a low-ball estimate. As E. Fuller Torrey, author of The Insanity Offense, writes, “Multiple studies have reported that at least one-third of homeless men and two-thirds of homeless women have serious psychiatric disorders, often exacerbated by alcohol and/or drug abuse.” Torrey places the number of severely mentally ill homeless Americans at 175,000. They are far more likely to be chronically homeless than the non-mentally ill. As Torrey points out, one 2003 Miami study found that every single permanent homeless person they could interview was mentally ill.

People who are discharged from mental facilities routinely turn to homelessness: 27 percent of such people in Massachusetts were homeless within six months, 36 percent in Ohio, and 38 percent in New York. Such homeless people are also significantly more likely to commit crimes against others. One study in New York found that the homeless mentally ill, who almost never take medication, were exponentially more likely to commit serious and violent crimes than non-homeless mentally ill people. Forty-one percent of people who pushed strangers onto subway tracks in New York were homeless, and 59 percent were psychotic. One study in California found that homeless people who had been hospitalized for mental illness were three times more likely to be convicted of a felony than their counterparts.[36]

It wasn’t always this way. In 1955, the federal and state authorities housed 558,000 people in mental hospitals. Today, there are just 40,000 people in mental hospitals — even though our population has increased by well over 40 percent. That’s not due to medical advances. That’s due to terrible public policy decisions. More than forty state mental hospitals have totally disappeared in recent decades.[37]

The result: a homelessness explosion. In 2015, the city of Seattle declared a state of emergency. A one-night count of the homeless in the city found 3,772 individuals living outside in King County — a spike of 21 percent over the previous year. Dozens of homeless people died in Seattle that year while sleeping on the streets.[38] It’s not just Seattle. San Francisco has suffered a massive increase in the homeless problem — over 17,000 people were living on the streets as of November 2019.[39] So does Los Angeles, where by June of 2020 over 40,000 homeless were residing in the city and over 66,000 in the county.[40]



[1] “Harvard IOP Spring 2016 Poll,” Harvard.edu, Spring 2016 http://iop.harvard.edu/youth-poll/harvard-iop-spring-2016-poll

[2] Jesse A. Myerson, “Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For,” RollingStone.com, January 3, 2014 http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/five-economic-reforms-millennials-should-be-fighting-for-20140103

[3] Daniel Yergin, Joseph Stanislaw, The Commanding Heights (Simon & Schuster: New York, 1998).

[4] “CHRONOLOGY – Who banned slavery when?,” Reuters.com, March 22, 2007 http://www.reuters.com/article/uk-slavery-idUSL1561464920070322

[5] Paul Roderick Gregory, “Why the Fuss? Obama Has Long Been On Record In Favor Of Redistribution,” Forbes.com, September 23, 2012 http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2012/09/23/why-the-fuss-obama-has-long-been-on-record-in-favor-of-redistribution/#2aa890225db6

[6] Josh Zumbrun, “Not Just The 1%: The Upper Middle Class Is Larger And Richer Than Ever,” WSJ.com, June 21, 2016 http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/06/21/not-just-the-1-the-upper-middle-class-is-larger-and-richer-than-ever/

[7] Edward Conard, The Upside of Inequality (Portfolio/Penguin: New York, NY, 2016), 165-166

[8] Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield, “The War on Poverty After 50 Years,” Heritage.org, September 15, 2014 http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/09/the-war-on-poverty-after-50-years

[9] Edward Conard, The Upside of Inequality (Portfolio/Penguin: New York, NY, 2016), 204

[10] Alex Seitz-Wald, “DNC passes resolution supporting Black Lives Matter,” MSNBC.com, August 28, 2015 http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/dnc-passes-resolution-supporting-black-lives-matter

[11] Jill Leovy, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America (Random House: United States, 2015), 8.

[12] Ibid, 12.

[13] Michael R. Rand, James P. Lynch, David Cantor, “Criminal Victimization, 1973-95,” Bureau of Justice Statistics http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/Cv73_95.pdf

[14] Jennifer L. Truman and Lynn Langton, “Criminal Victimization, 2014,” Bureau of Justice Statistics, August 2015 http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv14.pdf

[15] Larry Celona, Shawn Cohen, and Bruce Golding, “Arrests plummet 66% with NPYD in virtual work stoppage,” NYPost.com, December 29, 2014 http://nypost.com/2014/12/29/arrests-plummet-following-execution-of-two-cops/

[16] Mark Berman, “FBI: Murders and other violent crimes increased last year,” The Washington Post, January 19, 2016 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/01/19/fbi-murders-and-other-violent-crimes-increased-last-year/

[17] Max Ehrenfruend and Denise Lu, “More people were murdered last year than in 2014, and no one’s sure why,” WashingtonPost.com, January 27, 2016 https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/2015-homicides/

[18] Heather Mac Donald, “The ‘Ferguson effect’ is fueling a growing crime wave,” NYPost.com, May 24, 2016 http://nypost.com/2016/05/24/the-ferguson-effect-is-fueling-a-growing-crime-wave/

[19] Max Ehrenfruend and Denise Lu, “More people were murdered last year than in 2014, and no one’s sure why,” WashingtonPost.com, January 27, 2016 https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/2015-homicides/

[20] James B. Comey, Speech at University of Chicago Law School, FBI.gov, October 23, 2015 https://www.fbi.gov/news/speeches/law-enforcement-and-the-communities-we-serve-bending-the-lines-toward-safety-and-justice

[21] Heather Mac Donald, “In Denial About Crime,” City-Journal.org, Winter 2016 http://www.city-journal.org/html/denial-about-crime-14118.html

[22] David A. Graham, “The White House Smacks Down Its DEA Chief on the ‘Ferguson Effect,’” TheAtlantic.com, November 9, 2015 http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/11/white-house-dea-chuck-rosenberg-ferguson-effect/414993/

[23] Heather Mac Donald, “The ‘Ferguson effect’ is fueling a growing crime wave,” NYPost.com, May 24, 2016 http://nypost.com/2016/05/24/the-ferguson-effect-is-fueling-a-growing-crime-wave/

[24] Michael Barone, “‘Ferguson Effect’ real – and dangerous to African Americans,” Chicago Sun-Times, May 24, 2016 http://chicago.suntimes.com/opinion/ferguson-effect-real-and-dangerous-to-african-americans/

[25] “‘Ferguson Effect’ is a plausible reason for spike in violent US crime, study says,” TheGuardian.com, June 15, 2016 https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jun/15/ferguson-effect-homicide-rates-us-crime-study

[26] “The Growth of Federal Involvement in Education,” NCPA.org, August 28, 2014 http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=24794

[27] Marc Tucker, “Are We Just Fooling Ourselves? Is American Education a Colossal Failure?,” Edweek.com, April 16, 2015 http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/top_performers/2015/04/are_we_just_fooling_ourselves_is_american_education_a_colossal_failure.html?r=1712163358&preview=1

[28] “The Growth of Federal Involvement in Education,” NCPA.org, August 28, 2014 http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_ID=24794

[29] Andrew J. Coulson, “The Impact of Federal Involvement in America’s Classrooms,” CATO.org, February 10, 2011 http://www.cato.org/publications/congressional-testimony/impact-federal-involvement-americas-classrooms

[30] “US Students Still Lag Behind Foreign Peers, Schools Make Little Progress In Improving Achievement,” HuffingtonPost.com, September 22, 2012 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/23/us-students-still-lag-beh_n_1695516.html

[31] Marc Tucker, “Are We Just Fooling Ourselves? Is American Education a Colossal Failure?,” Edweek.com, April 16, 2015 http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/top_performers/2015/04/are_we_just_fooling_ourselves_is_american_education_a_colossal_failure.html?r=1712163358&preview=1

[32] Marc Tucker, “Are We Just Fooling Ourselves? Is American Education a Colossal Failure?,” Edweek.com, April 16, 2015 http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/top_performers/2015/04/are_we_just_fooling_ourselves_is_american_education_a_colossal_failure.html?r=1712163358&preview=1

[33] Valerie Strauss, “How college remediation rates are distorted – and why (updated),” WashingtonPost.com, July 7, 2014 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/07/07/how-college-remediation-rates-are-distorted-and-why/

[34] Linda Lyons, “Which Teens Have High ‘Academic Self-Esteem’?” Gallup.com, June 15, 2004 http://www.gallup.com/poll/12010/which-teens-high-academic-selfesteem.aspx

[35] Dennis Culhane, “Five myths about America’s homeless,” The Washington Post, July 11, 2010 https://works.bepress.com/dennis_culhane/96/

[36] E. Fuller Torrey, The Insanity Offense (WW Norton & Company: New York, 2012), 124-128.

[37] E. Fuller Torrey, The Insanity Offense (WW Norton & Company: New York, 2012), 2-3.

[38] “FAQ: State of Emergency on Homelessness,” Seattle.gov, November 2, 2015 http://murray.seattle.gov/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/11.2.15-Homelessness-FAQ.pdf

[39] Jill Cowan, “San Francisco’s Homeless Population Is Much Bigger Than Thought, City Data Suggests,” The New York Times, Nov. 19, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/19/us/san-francisco-homeless-count.html

[40] Jill Cowan, “What Los Angeles’s Homeless Count Tell Us,” The New York Times, June 12, 2020 https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/12/us/la-county-homeless-population.html


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