Chicago homicides are symptoms and not just in Chicago

by Bob Schwartz

Chicago reported the most January homicides since 2000. This is a symptom and not just in Chicago. A number of American cities are seeing similar increases.

This is a symptom of a socio-economic underclass with little hope of moving up on any significant scale. And now for the first time in the post-World War 2 era, we have a socio-economic middle class also seeing and believing that upward movement is beyond expectations and aspirations. This is expressed in the current level of nonpartisan political dissatisfaction.

These symptoms require hard and unsparing self-awareness as a nation. Whatever the underlying conditions are, the treatments being prescribed have not worked. It is dangerous folly to think that just because a person has been relatively healthy over a pretty long time, with the occasional ups and downs, the standard remedies are bound to work for any conditions. Not to mention that some treatments once lauded turned out to be ignorant and deadly. Consider that bloodletting—cutting blood vessels or attaching leeches to extract the disease—was once the height of medicine (and why barber poles are striped red and white).

According to some experts, there is a tiny chance we may fall back into a 2008-style recession. There is also a chance that in some cities we might see a summer of 2016 that looks a little like the hot summers of the 1960s. However small those chances are, we might not want to be waiting around to see if these and other symptoms go away on their own. Sometimes they do. And sometimes they don’t.