I’ve been tagged things in my RSS feeds to come back to for well over a month but if I never actually start I’ll just keep adding to it for ever :-). Starting with the oldest ones…
I knew of the incredible population incarceration fetish that exists in the US but I never knew it was this bad:
In 1970 one in 400 American adults was behind bars or on parole. As of 2008, the number was one in 100. Add in probation, and it’s one in 31. The number of people behind bars for drug crimes has soared from 40,000 in 1980 to about half a million today. States today spend one of every 15 general fund dollars on maintaining their prisons. According to the King’s College World Prison Population List (PDF), the U.S. is home to 5 percent of the world’s population but nearly a fourth of its prisoners. Judging by these official numbers, America’s incarceration rate leads the developed world by a large margin, although it’s doubtful that authoritarian regimes such as China’s are providing accurate data, especially about political prisoners. But among liberal democracies, the competition isn’t even close: As of 2008, the U.S. incarceration rate was 756 per 100,000 people, compared to 288 for Latvia, 153 for England and Wales, 96 for France, and 63 for Denmark.
A combination of locking up minor drug offenders, making jails a massive money making business and the confirmed tendency of the public to vote against anyone who has any anti lock-them-up plank leads to this state.
I bring this up not for its own sake but to lead into the next story which is whether it is moral to pay men to are likely to offend to have vasectomies?
I’m not sure how I feel about this kind of thing. On the one hand if someone chooses to take the money and do this for whatever reason it’s entirely up to them and perhaps society will be better off for it. However, it also feels similar to the situation as to why the majority of people entering the army (at least in the US) are from significantly lower income families. Shouldn’t we be fixing the problems rather than fixing the people?