Of course, the most confused group of individuals in the world are always the experts.


Well, mainly because what experts think makes them experts is their reliance on dogma derived from formulas, such as "during times of economic recession, crime rates go up." Or "when more people are incarcerated in prison, crime rates go down."

Turns out both of those assumptions by "the experts" are wrong.

According to the FBI, crime in the United States dropped dramatically in 2009, the third straight year of decline, and last year's drops were even steeper than those of 2007 and 2008, despite the recession and despite the dramatic decline in the prison population.

There were words of caution from the experts, though: "It's fabulous news, but I would draw an analogy to global warming: Even if you believe the long-term trend is increasing temperatures, it doesn't mean you can't have a cold year," said Jonathan P. Caulkins, a professor of public policy at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College.


Oh, right, another hallmark of an expert is that he or she cannot simply say: "Hmm... maybe I was wr-wro---wrong!"

By the way, here's another stat you might enjoy: in many major U.S. cities, the crime rate went down after there was a decrease in the size of the police force. After!

Well, not to sound like an expert here, folks, but maybe (experts never say "maybe") patterns like criminal behavior follow consciousness and the self-hypnotic messages we give ourselves. More people in prison, more cops lurking about sends out a message not just to criminals, but to all citizens: "Human beings can't be trusted." (Full permission living? Ha!) Likewise, who says shifting economic times means more people are desperately going to turn to thievery and thuggery? Well, if we do, it will be so.

So, maybe the downturns in crime rates is a reflection of an upturn in our consciousness. Maybe we are coming to believe in our own inherent goodness and worthiness, instead of "original sin." And maybe we are actually relieved that the economic paradigm of the last few centuries is coming to an end. (See my post "The End of the Job" spun off from a 1994 article of the same name in FORTUNE Magazine)

Things are changing that's for sure.

In spite of all the rabid, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, proudly ignorant right wing blather, Barack Obama was elected by a large margin in 2008, and will almost certainly be re-elected by an even larger margin next year. (Another uplifting statistic: in a new report by Arbitron, Rush Limbaugh's ratings were down 33 percent since October and Sean Hannity's were down 28 percent.)

Finally, while a few loudly clamoring, religiously zealous baby souls are convinced that the Wave upon us actually is a portent of doom (The Rapture was supposed to have been last Saturday, in case you missed it.), maybe it's just the end of the world as we knew it.

And I feel fine.

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