Monday, November 05, 2018

Most Popular Least Controversial Issue In US Elections? Surprise, Surprise: Justice Reform

Posted by Peter Quennell

1. Chronic Reform Problem Worldwide

First, consider Italy.

Compared to most countries, Italy is far down the road in terms of effective policing, courts and rehabilitation. Its crime rate is comparatively low.

But its relatively minor need to speed up the court system is hampered because the parties in parliament tend to lock up at the nitty-gritty level, and so nothing gets done. Very common around the world.

Now consider the US.

This political lockup tendency is made worse in the US because, almost alone among the world’s countries, the US tends to elect or politically appoint its police chiefs, prosecutors and judges. (Italy’s system is career-path wall-to-wall.)

This tends to result in a hard line. Meaning mass incarceration has been ballooning through the roof.  Both main parties in the US, with a majority of its politicians former lawyers, tend to take quite a hard line too.

2. The US’s Surprising Reform Edge

But almost alone among the world’s countries, allowing the citizens to fix aspects of this system problem one by one, the US also has an ace up its sleeve. 

At election time, reform measures can be put on the ballot, and the electorate gets to decide on each one directly, thus leapfrogging the political infighting.

On Tuesday, a record number of justice-related proposals will be on various ballots.  VOX has a very long article with numerous examples of what various voters will get to decide.

Anti mass incarceration measures are being put before over 100 million voters this year.

3. A Likely Positive Spread Effect

And finding such common ground should have a strong ripple effect across the political landscape as a whole.

When adversaries work together for the first time on a joint venture that serves both their needs, they discover new pathways for collaboration. Like neuroplasticity in the brain, when we learn to do something that yields satisfaction, we rewire how we think and behave.

This is already taking place in the area of criminal justice reform, especially with juvenile offenders.

After decades in which the “war on crime” was a wedge issue that roiled tensions about racial injustice and public safety, Republicans and Democrats have been cooperating on an integrative model of restorative justice that serves interests on both sides.

No one wants to see at-risk youth jailed for rash mistakes that crossed the line into criminal conduct. We may not agree on much, but few Americans want to watch children enter the notorious “pipeline to prison.”

And no one likes to spend tax dollars needlessly. Keeping a teenager out of incarceration is far cheaper than surrendering him to it. Prevention programs that connect teens with adult community mentors cost far less than prosecution and imprisonment. Because those youth make amends to their victims, personal responsibility is codified and enforced.

People on the left are pleased by the social progressivism; people on the right are happy about cutting government spending. Everyone gets something when we exercise our capacity for ingenuity and enterprise, which are, in the end, signature American traits.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/05/18 at 06:55 AM in

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If you consider this to be good news for almost every US voter out of this election… If you own US stocks here is some more of it.

After EVERY midterm election for nearly 40 years, regardless of result, stocks have jumped - an average of 18 percent - in the next year.

Not once have they dropped or even sunk down to the long-term average which is about 11 percent.

My guess is this stems from midterms creating a “better” balance and reigning in excess. Investors like these checks and balances and comparative calm.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/06/18 at 05:51 AM | #

The morning after… There ya go! Big surge in stocks. Up one percent in the first half hour. Only another 17 percent to go, and a whole year to get there.

The issue that seemed to have driven most American voters most nuts? Healthcare costs. Its 18% of the economy and life expectancies are the same as in Europe at only 9%. Specifically through-the-roof drug prices which “divided” government should be keen to push back down hard.

Most of the justice measures did get approved. One early report:


Added: seven hours later, US stocks finished up over 2 percent for the day.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 11/07/18 at 06:26 PM | #

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