SOCIETYWATCH

From the August 2016 Trumpet Print Edition

American males: Jobless or incarcerated

One in six of America’s 18-to-34-year-old men were out of work or in prison during 2014. Out of 37.8 million males, about 5 million were jobless and 1 million incarcerated, the Congressional Budget Office (cbo) reported May 9.

“Nearly one third of young men without a high school education were jobless or incarcerated,” the cbo report said, “as were more than one fifth of young men with only a high school education.”

The report’s authors attributed these record numbers to economic changes, policy changes and changes in the skills of young men with less education. These changes affect young men with the least education the most. “The especially large increase in joblessness among less educated young men may be partly attributable to changes in technology that have reduced demand for [their] labor,” the report said.

It also suggested that federal spending on means-tested benefits (cash payments or other benefits for people with relatively low income or few assets) could have reduced young men’s incentives to work.

The most striking cause suggested by the cbo was minimum wage increases. Minimum wage limits don’t affect those with higher education as much: Workers holding bachelor’s, master’s or professional degrees make up only 8 percent of minimum wage earners.

Raising the minimum wage to $15—as is happening in New York and California—mostly hurts low-skilled workers in their search for jobs. To an employer legally obligated to pay workers significantly higher wages, the 5 million largely uneducated young men look less desirable.

On signing the California bill for the $15 minimum wage, Gov. Jerry Brown said, “Economically, minimum wages may not make sense,” yet the push for a higher minimum wage continues.

Save a gorilla or save a child?

After a silverback gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo was shot dead on May 28 when a 3-year-old boy fell into its enclosure, many people expressed outrage.

Harambe, the gorilla, grabbed the child, dragging him back and forth in a moat for 10 minutes before zookeepers decided to shoot the gorilla to rescue the child. The boy was fortunate to walk away with only a concussion and a few minor scrapes.

The story made headlines worldwide. Much anger was directed at the child’s mother, as well as at the zoo itself for not providing adequate fencing. Celebrities spoke out, ranters and trolls bombarded comment sections and social media feeds, and animal rights activists condemned the treatment of animals in captivity. A candlelight vigil and memorial adorned with flowers and cards for Harambe were set up at the zoo.

This outrage over a dead gorilla should be viewed in contrast to the silence over the increasing violence in America today. In the first 150 days of 2016, over 5,475 Americans were killed in gun-related violence. Murder rates have increased in at least 30 major cities. Nearly half of all cities surveyed by the Major Cities Chiefs Association showed an increase in murders over the same period in 2015.

At the time of Harambe’s death, his hometown Cincinnati suffered 27 homicides on the year and a total of 855 violent crimes, including homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. And these tragedies are dwarfed by the violence in Chicago, where murders have jumped a staggering 72 percent this year to 302 and counting: roughly 12 murders per week. Shootings are up more than 88 percent.

The fact that none of this raises much outcry, at the same time that people denounce the death of a gorilla to save a child, reflects some terribly warped moral values.

Radical Ozzie prisons

Prison may no longer be the best place to send Australia’s terrorists. Recent reports indicate that Muslim radicals are using penitentiaries to garner new converts. Through intimidation, violence and coercion, the Islamic State has gained a foothold in prisons nationwide, sparking fears that when prisoners are released, many will be newly converted, dangerous extremists.

The Australian reports that 8 to 9 percent of prisoners in Victoria and New South Wales identify as Muslim, compared to the 2 to 3 percent of the Australian public. Many of these prisoners want to convert non-Muslims—by force if necessary. The Daily Telegraph reported Oct. 10, 2015, that authorities had uncovered plots to behead those who refused conversion, including guards and staff. One entire yard apparently had been converted to Islam, except for six Christians. The Muslim inmates planned to behead one Christian, film it on a phone, and post it online as propaganda for the Islamic State.

Australia has been conducting raids and police stings across the nation to crack down on those seeking to join the Islamic State. But as it turns out, those caught and convicted have opportunities to teach, train and convert within prison. In a situation where being part of a gang is often considered necessary for survival, conversion by the fist is an effective recruiting tool. The system is also full of young men looking for protection, purpose and justification for their actions, a promising profile for radical Islam.