Kudos to left-of-center columnist Richard Cohen for challenging one of the cherished axioms of Leftism:
This is a good news, bad news column. The good news is that crime is again down across the nation — in big cities, small cities, flourishing cities and cities that are not for the timid. Surprisingly, this has happened in the teeth of the Great Recession, meaning that those disposed to attribute criminality to poverty — my view at one time — have some strenuous rethinking to do. It could be, as conservatives have insisted all along, that crime is committed by criminals. For liberals, this is bad news indeed.
Whatever the reasons, it now seems fairly clear that something akin to culture and not economics is the root cause of crime. By and large everyday people do not go into a life of crime because they have been laid off or their home is worth less than their mortgage. They do something else, but whatever it is, it does not generally entail packing heat. Once this becomes an accepted truth, criminals will lose what status they still retain as victims.
Common sense tells you that the environment has to play a role and the truly desperate will sometimes break the law — like Victor Hugo’s impoverished Jean Valjean, who stole bread for his sister’s children. But the latest crime statistics strongly suggest that bad times do not necessarily make bad people. Bad character does.