The Crime Shortage
For the last 20 years, rates of violent crimes of all sorts have been falling throughout the United States and elsewhere. Nobody is sure why; some credit increased enforcement, but this is not supported by the data. (Rates fell both in cities that got tough, and those that did not.) My favorite theory is that banning tetraethyl lead from gasoline causes violent crime to fall twenty years later, when the boys thus unpoisoned enter their prime criminality years without lowered IQ and inhibitions, which lead is known to cause. The 20-year lag has been confirmed in many studies.
This implies an institutional emergency; a crime shortage. With crime rates falling nationwide, there is not enough crime to justify the crime-control measures in place. In a democracy, a crime shortage will inspire reduction in police, courts and prisons; but in an oligarchy, a crime shortage will inspire doubling-down in enforcement and expenditure. To justify the prisons, criminals must be found, even amongst the innocent. Therefore mass surveillance and moral panic.
By the way, there’s also a war shortage, and a terrorism shortage.
Comment by BJ:
Two other more widely accepted theories are that as the Baby Boom matured, a lot of the crime went away, and that when abortion was legalized, the worst sorts of people who would have taken over from the Baby Boom never got created.
I agree with you, however, that WHATEVER the cause, the "crime and punishment industry" has an incentive to lobby so as to still be fed.