4 drivers of crime

Crime fiction explores personal motives, like revenge or jealousy, to explain why people commit crime. But what’s driving real crime?

Four drivers to consider:

  • Poverty
  • Lack of respect
  • Greed
  • Lack of political courage

Poverty

You only have to look at the socio-economic demographic of the incarcerated population 2013-02-04 10.36.20to know this is true – if you’re brave enough to do that research.

The average cost of housing a prisoner in Australia is $292 per day or $106,580 per year, according to a recent Productivity Commission report. No doubt the costs are similar in similar jurisdictions across the western world.

It seems we can find the money to lock up the poor in our prisons but we can’t find the money to seriously address the causes of poverty in our societies.

Lack of respect

  • Lack of respect for women.
  • Lack of respect for children.
  • Lack of respect for minorities.

Why are there protests against rape and the failure to address it seriously in so many countries?

Why are we having enquiries into the sexual abuse of children?

Why is there a need for a #blacklivesmatter movement?

Why is domestic violence only now becoming part of the political agenda?

Respect does not have a dollar cost but it does require that we see each other as equal human beings.

Why is that so hard?

Greed

48This is the real reason why we all had to suffer the consequences of the so called Global Financial Crisis. This is the real reason why we are facing what Al Gore told us was the inconvenient truth of global warming. Most of those responsible don’t have a criminal record.

The reverse side of one person’s greed is the impoverishment of many. Think about the leaders of industry who pay themselves millions and their workers the basic minimum wage. What do you think the consequences of that are?

One term used to describe it is the working poor – people with full time jobs whose incomes fall below the poverty line in their society. You wouldn’t think it would be possible in some of the richest nations on earth – but it’s a reality for millions. Remember Mitt Romney’s comment on the 47% who wouldn’t vote for him?

Lack of political courage

Lack of political courage at both a national and personal level.

Politicians don’t want to rock the boat in a world of patronage, where taking the courageous stand will cost them their job. All political parties rely on ‘donations’ to survive.

Governments want to be re-elected. Everyone in government enjoys the trappings of power.

As individuals, we’re all looking after our own interests.

We have forgotten that we are part of a community.

Closing thought

The golden rule – ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.’ – can be traced back to two commandments Jesus gave to his disciples:

  • Love one another.
  • Love your neighbour as yourself.

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There’s is nothing in the intention of the golden rule about screwing one another – either literally of figuratively.

Real crime

Sometimes, real crime stories make the fictional version look like the entertainment that it is.

This week, a friend who had been to Italy, gave me a copy of Chi Ha Paura Muore Ogni Giorno by Giuseppe Ayala. (Whoever is afraid dies every day.)

This is an inside look at the Sicilian mafia war, that led to the assassination of three magistrates – Giovanni Falcone, Francesca Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. The author was one of their colleagues.

Interestingly, it seems the magistrates only started making progress when they switched their attention, away from tracing the movement of drugs from Sicily to the USA, to following the trail of the money coming into Sicily from the USA by wire transfer.

Another thing I find interesting is that it wasn’t until Giovanni Falcone became part of the investigation that the magistrates started fighting fire with fire – Falcone persuaded them that the best way to fight organised crime was with organised magistrates.

Obviously, Falcone and his colleagues were effective – a little too effective for the mafia.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter

Dying days

They spent hours strolling along the beach in the dying days of summer.

What are dying days?

In the context of the sentence above, they are the dwindling days or the last days of summer. They represent that period of transition from the pleasant season of summer to the chill winds of autumn – announcing the imminent approach of winter coldness.

They’re romantic sounding words, evoking images of warm evenings, gentle breezes, and a foreboding of things coming to an end. These are the days we do not want to end.

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Dying days take on a more sinister tone within the context of a murder mystery, where we often find ourselves dealing with an examination of the days leading up to someone’s untimely death. Now there’s another interesting description – untimely death.

Death is, after all, a natural event but we generally only regard it as timely when it occurs naturally, that is without assistance from an outside force – like a blunt instrument being applied to the head.

I wonder what each of us would do differently if we knew we were living our dying days, that dwindling number of days leading up to our untimely death.

Isn’t it intriguing how we live as if we will be here forever?

Yet we all know that there will come a day when we aren’t living our dying days but our dying day.

It’s fascinating reading about someone else’s untimely death within the context of a crime novel, and consoling to know that crimes can be solved and justice applied, but what is it that attracts us to this genre?

As a writer, it’s about creating a web of intrigue based on the darker side of life, taking myself into places in words that I would never go into in life. In the last week, for example, I have spent my nights plotting and then executing a triple murder – all without leaving the house or picking up a weapon.

I wonder why people do things like kill their partner. And, when you read real crime stories as opposed to crime fiction, you discover that people do things for very trivial reasons.

Maybe we read crime because fictional crime is more exciting than the real stuff.

What do you think?