Just picked up this story about a minute ago. The “broken windows” strategy that Giuliani used in New York City to successfully harass and intimidate (largely black and Latino) working class New Yorkers had already been persuasively debunked. Even James Q. Wilson, chief proponent of the theory noted that it was only speculation, not backed up by data.What is impressive about the lead-based argument is that to make the claim the researcher tested the relationship in nine different countries over time and found the relationship in every single case he studied. To my mind this is a powerful example of social science that both moves the scholarship forward and lends itself to sound practical application. It also further undermines Giuliani’s case as “America’s mayor”, which I always felt was weak even discounting his habit of alternately ignoring and demonizing non-white New Yorkers.This last bit gets to the crux of the matter:
Nevin’s finding implies a double tragedy for America’s inner cities: Thousands of children in these neighborhoods were poisoned by lead in the first three quarters of the last century. Large numbers of them then became the targets, in the last quarter, of Giuliani-style law enforcement policies.