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John Pfaff @JohnFPfaff
, 7 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
1. Nope! Just think about

Cost-benefit analysis of crime/punishment.
in every.

The comparison: the crime-savings from prison vs. the fiscal cost of prisons.

2. That fiscal cost isn’t really a cost, at all. Two-thirds of the $50 billion we spend is wages, so it’s some sort of strange Keynesian job macro-multiplier… thing. (Macro was… not my strong suit.)

But the social costs? In academic cost-benefits?

3. Now that’s a little unfair. Some people admit these costs are there, but we just don’t have any handle on them…

(Why? why don’t we? why don’t those paper express horror and outrage that we don’t? why aren’t their following papers efforts to fix that? But I digress.)
4. Anyway, AFAIK no one has ever tried to systematically measure the full social costs of incarceration—the loss of life in prison, the shortened life spans, the spread of disease, the weakening families, of jobs, of life in general.

We just shrug, and use the easy $50B.
5. Now, one point abt that $50B. That IS the cost… to me, and ppl like me. To well-off white guys who live far (enough) from crime?

That $50B tax bill IS the cost to me. I don’t directly experience those shocking social costs.

Our failure to use the right cost isn’t random.
6. Anyway, it’s an amazing academic and think tank failure that nearly 40 years into this massive mass incarceration project, we haven’t just not actually measured the costs, but we don’t even really TALK about how we haven’t measured the costs.

Just silence.
7. Oh, also: saying prison spending is mostly wages doesn’t mean I think it is a GOOD form of Keynesian employment stuff. Just that it is.

But @john_majoreason has also shown that in the South, prisons are in disproportionately minority areas: the economics are… complicated.
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