I heard a conservative talk radio host lamenting the opposition to Chicago police filling a car with Nike sneakers in a low income area as bait for young black men. Some stole sneakers, some didn’t, but community activists cried foul. All the while white conservatives said, “if you don’t want to be arrested, don’t steal them.”
And on the surface, that argument flies. But dig just a bit, and you’ll see that it’s not a black or white thing, it’s just a thing. Back in the 70’s, sociologists gave 1000 customers at a bank in an affluent area $20 extra each time they withdrew money from a bank, both from the drive-thru and inside the bank. Fewer than 10% returned the Jacksons. Granted, some may not have realized the mistake, and it is different than reaching into someone else’s car. But when the experiment was repeated in a less affluent area, 50% of the poorer customers returned the money.
These are cynical times. The immigrant children ripped away from their parents, the Russian scandal, Manafort, Gates, Flynn, and the pay for play Congress all add to our distress. And it weighs upon a weary nation.
Although I’m not sure what these epidemiological studies prove, they do raise a question. Instead of appealing to man’s less attractive side, why not replace the bait-van with an opportunity van, and fill it with hope? That may sound naive, maybe even pollyannaish, but I believe one can still rise above these dark clouds and shine on a cynical day.