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January 17, 2016

DAILYKENN.com -- Wisconsin State Rep. Bob Gannon observed the anchor status of Milwaukee last week when he wrote:

Milwaukee leads in murders and mayhem per capita, with a large number of these crimes occurring in mainly Black neighborhoods, the same neighborhoods with the worst unemployment rates in the state. Could one make a connection between employment opportunities and the level of crime on those same streets?

If Gannon is implying a cause-and-effect scenario, he's misunderstanding the underlying dynamics. 

Unemployment does not cause violent crime. 

That was made evident during the Great Depression when most all Americans faced a dire economic crisis without a societal breakdown. Currently, the poorest region in the nation is Appalachia. Violent crime in that area is virtually non-existent. 

Poverty does cause crime. 

Does violent crime cause poverty?

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Adjusted for inflation, Al Capone's violent empire was worth about $1.3 billion before the gangster was hauled off to Alcatraz. Pablo Escobar, Frank Lucas, and Griselda Blanco are among the many who leveraged violence into economic empires. 

If poverty doesn't cause crime and crime doesn't cause poverty, what is the correlation?

Think of Milwaukee's crime and violence as fraternal twins. One does not beget the other. Rather, they are the offspring of another source: genetics. 

Males between the ages of 18 and 49 with an IQ range spanning from 70 to 90 fit the profile of most violent criminals. Milwaukee has a disproportionate number of people fitting that profile and, consequently, has a disproportionate share of the state's violence and crime.  

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