A map of overall well-being in the United States
It’s that time of year again: it’s list making time! At least two “safest” or “most dangerous” lists have included Springfield and its environs and therefore the media has weighed in with news reports thereon.
I’ll refer any new rational urbanists to my prior work on the topic to acquire a deeper understanding, for this piece it should suffice to remind the reader that the primary flaws of the “safe or dangerous” categorization are that most victims of violent crime are in danger because of behavior and relationships, not place; and (as we are about to see) these lists only analyze crime data and leave out data for auto accidents and suicide, (among other things) both of which are negatively correlated to city living.
This year safewise.com published “The 100 Safest Cities in America” list and boasts “If your city made the list, share the good news by embedding the Safest Cities in America badge on your website.” Of course, Safewise is really a clearing house for selling security systems and I suspect that the point of the list is more the thousands of communities which don’t make the list. Be that as it may, nearly the entire list is made up of immensely wealthy bedroom communities; not viable cities in their own right with crazy things like jobs…or poor people.
What I find intriguing about the list is that it is obviously supposed to work as an advertising come-on: “Live here, and you’ll be safe” (or if you can’t right now, buy one of our alarm systems!). In truth, you might as well publish a list of the wealthiest communities with the slogan “Live here, and you’ll be rich”! But we all know that living in Greenwich doesn’t make you rich, being rich allows you to live in Greenwich, and for most of us trying to live in Greenwich would impoverish us if we even tried!
Again, unmentioned methodologically is the fact that automobile death and injury are far more likely to impact the average person and most of these bedroom communities require long commutes on high speed roadways. As a matter of fact, the one suburban community from the Springfield area which made the list has a higher per capita death rate in terms of traffic fatalities than Springfield in spite of the fact that no interstate highway runs through it and Springfield has an interstate and a connector carrying millions of passengers a month.
I also noticed that the rural character of many of these “cities” meant that in some cases the most common occupation of the townsfolk was farming. Farming! One of the most dangerous jobs in America, so much so that a farmer is 2 1/2 times more likely to die on the job than a police officer! Safe indeed.
Another list, this time of dangerous places, was in the news because, parsed by mini-region (all six New England states can fit inside Missouri) Springfield came in as the “THIRD most dangerous city”, though 57th overall in the United States…a number too high up there to generate the necessary level of public fear, It wasn’t even the most dangerous Springfield in the USA, that honor going to Springfield, Missouri. What was most interesting was the attention paid to the categorization of the “Springfield Metro Area” as the SECOND most dangerous in the New England, all the while ignoring not only the fact that New England by all accounts has the lowest crime rate in the country by far, but also the fact that a metropolitan view actually making the crime situation seem worse for GREATER Springfield than the city in isolation would actually be exculpatory for “The City of Homes”.
“Still, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest. Lie, lie, lie…”