"Surprising, and Testy, Comments by Rep. Ryan on Crime, Guns" by Jackblog | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS


Surprising, and Testy, Comments by Rep. Ryan on Crime, Guns

Today I saw a tweet about Rep. Paul Ryan getting testy with a reporter and stopping an interview so I clicked over to see what he was saying. But what was most interesting was not the testy part; it was what he actually said before that in the clip.

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Did a prominent Republican just say that President Obama isn't trying to regulate guns any more than a Romney-Ryan administration would? If so, the NRA is wasting millions on ads in swing states.

But more important, Ryan made an admission out loud, on a camera, that most Republicans never have: that "inner city" crime results from poverty. As someone who has studied the connections between crime and poverty for many years, as well as the political strategies around inner-city crime, I immediately recognized what a remarkable statement that was (even if it shouldn't be). Just go back and read anything written by Reagan and Bush drug czars about the hopelessness of "super-predators" (racist rhetoric now debunked) to see what I mean. Right here in Mississippi, conservatives won't admit that poverty leads to crime--or at least creates the conditions that make it much more likely.

Of course, if you keep listening, you'll see why Republicans don't like to admit the link between crime and poverty: because it takes resources and education to create the "opportunities" that Ryan said are needed in challenged communities. And when the reporter asked him a very logical follow-up of how that need fit with the Romney-Ryan plan for tax cuts, he got testy, accused the reporter of putting words in his mouth and ended the interview.

Meantime, Gov. Romney said in the debate last week that he would put all costs for education and health care back on the states. That means that poverty in Mississippi will go up -- because we can't afford to pay these bills. Just look at the state Legislature now: It won't even fund adequate education when it has the money to. "Adequate" education. And guess what: We have a crime problem in Jackson, and increasing in suburbs and rural areas, as a result. It's not just an African American problem (as conservatives such as Bill Bennett wanted us to think); we have a serious white gang meth operation in the state in areas like Florence.

This video was very instructive: Ryan gets it to a point, but he's not willing to do anything about it, even as he's not willing to do anything to make it a bit harder for about-to-be criminals to get their hands on firearms. Unaddressed poverty + lack of education + strapped state resources + a state soaked with guns = a much more dangerous place for all of us to live. How can you not be willing to address any of those issues if you have even a basic understanding of the roots of crime (which Ryan indicated)? Even if you don't want to regulate guns, why can't you support access to decent health care, or adequate public schools or smart use of federal resources to help give communities the tool they need to tackle poverty. No, he and Romney just belittle "entitlements," say the states can take care of pre-existing conditions (sick parents can't provide for their families) and turn their heads from the problem, saying the states can "choose" how we want to deal with our problems.

And guess who will suffer from this abdication of responsibility? Poor states like Mississippi. Mark my words. The numbers, and the rhetoric, don't add up.


donnaladd 8 years, 6 months ago

It's also important to note that Mitt Romney's plan for abortion is to get Roe v. Wade appealed and send the abortion decision back to the states. That means that, even though he says he supports exceptions for rape, incest and to save the mother's life, it won't be up to him or the federal government. The states will decide. Here in Mississippi, where Gov. Phil Bryant was co-chair of the Personhood effort (supported by many men in the Legislature), that would probably mean that we get the Personhood treatment: no abortion in any case, or even birth control pills. And they refuse to pass meaningful sex education and are appalled at the idea of readily accessible birth control.

It doesn't take a genius to see how teen pregnancy creates cycles of poverty that, in turn, leads to crime -- which is spreading far beyond the "inner city." The key is to reduce unwanted pregnancy, of course, but these men don't seem to get that at all. Ryan will say there's a "crime problem" instead of a "gun problem"--but without providing any sense that he is willing to address the causes of crime.

We have to be smarter, America.

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