Wednesday, December 27, 2006

DC Crime Rate

The murder rate in DC is the lowest it’s been in years. And, in a time when the violent crime rate all across the country is going up, the crime rate for all crimes in DC is going down. This is a good thing, but the plunging crime rate isn’t all about better policing, as Chief Ramsey claims. That’s part of it. However, the population MPD is policing is different than it was 15 years ago. The economy of the city has changed and grown, creating more opportunities. It’s a complicated scenario. It’s no coincidence that the crime rate in places like Prince George’s County is going up at the same time it’s going down in DC. Policing and condo conversions don’t solve the problems caused by entrenched poverty. A problem moved is not a problem solved. It’s just that DC tax payers don’t have to pay for as much of the burden anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy about the change. But it saddens me that as a country and as a city we don’t do more to empower people of all walks of life to make their lives better. Why not use a version of “microlending” here in this country? Basically, microlending is lending small amounts of money to small business people, or people who want to start businesses, enough to give them that little bit extra that could mean the difference between success and failure. Why do all economic revitalization projects in DC have to involve huge amounts of cash and real estate and take years to realize? A small loan and perhaps some business support could help the guy who hauled away junk from my place old place on Capitol Hill buy another truck so he can hire more people; a small loan could help a woman open that coffee shop she’s always wanted to open. If microlending can help India, why on earth can’t we do it here?

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