I'm not telling you something you don't already know. The recession is deepening and people are hurting. Economic decline causes an increase in crime. People cannot maintain their living standard and cannot live the American dream when their home is in foreclosure and they have no job.
Complaints are coming into police agencies in record numbers. Holy cow, thieves are even taking bronze metal flower vases out of cemeteries, and Smokey the Bear signs from fire stations. Copper, converters and the like are being stolen and sold to scrap yards. Police reports read like this: someone stole the political sign from my yard, smashed my mail box, burglarized my home and automobile, threw rocks through my windows, stole my identification, forged my checks, robbed me in the parking lot, spray painted my car, made off with my air conditioner and vandalized my neighborhood!
With stories like this appearing daily in the media, is it any wonder that an outside observer like Professor Igor Panarin of Russia would speculate that the U.S. could fall apart by 2010 because of economic decline, unsolved immigration problems or moral degradation?
We agree that our No. 1 issue right now is the economy. Government action thus far to address this problem has been disappointing. Citizens unable to earn a paycheck to feed and house the family, pay their healthcare costs and heat their residences are in stress.
Some of these individuals are so frustrated with conditions that they have turned to crime as a way to solve their problems. Not all criminals are people in economic stress. Some are pros, others are maladjusted, have alcohol or drug problems, poor attitudes, few ideals, are uneducated, or lack goals and have no feelings of compassion for others. A reversal of economic fortune is shocking to anyone and brings feelings of desperation. Not everyone becomes a criminal because of circumstances.
As for our immigration problem, we realize that we are not the same country our grandparents knew. A cultural and social revolution has occurred and millions of people among us are here illegally. They have ignored meeting the requirements to enter the United States through established channels. The loyalties of these people may not always rest with this great country, and they do not share our language or culture. Some of these immigrants do not have our values or morals, may be criminals, terrorists, or have health issues. Others come for the jobs they can get.
Admittedly, we have lots of problems and our crime statistics show not all of us are ethical, virtuous, or just. In fact, some of us are coldblooded, brutal and cruel. We are evil transgressors and we are lawbreakers.
Good citizens are obliged to protect themselves from criminals and work together in neighborhood watches and report suspicious persons and their activities to law enforcement agencies. Precautions should be taken to protect life and property.
It is clear that fear of crime in one's neighborhood affects the safety, well-being and undermines the quality of life for all living there. In fact, property values may fall in areas where criminal activity prevails.
We do face internal and international threats to our security, and our economic position may be contributing to some moral degradation. The police and other government agencies recognize the problems and are working to access them and find solutions. Parents, educators and the good citizens of the community can help the authorities meet the challenges facing our cities, counties and state.
Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.