Jimmy Carter & Clean Air Act

I came across a research paper:

Click to access LeadCrimeNBERWP13097.pdf

The conclusion of the researchers was:

“This paper argues that the removal of lead from gasoline in the late 1970s under the Clean Air Act is an additional important factor in explaining the decline in crime in the 1990s. The main result of the paper is that changes in childhood lead exposure are responsible for a 56% drop in violent crime in the 1990s. This paper argues that theremoval of lead from gasoline in the late 1970s under the Clean Air Act is an additional importantfactor in explaining the decline in crime in the 1990s. The main result of the paper is that changes in childhood lead exposure are responsible for a 56% drop in violent crime in the 1990s.”

Isn’t that interesting?

Who was responsible for this vast decrease in crime? Jimmy Carter was the force behind getting the Clean Air Act passed.

So, why is Jimmy Carter considered a failed president? By passing legislation that reduced pollution, he ended up reducing one of the biggest problems that America has ever faced. What did Republicans do during that time? They fought their culture wars blaming all crime on inferior character and inferior classes of people. They attacked minorities with their War on Drugs and attacked ‘welfare queens’ and gangsta rappers for destroying America’s moral fabric. While Republicans fought their culture wars, Democrats like Carter tackled tangible problems which had tangible results. The War on Drugs, on the other hand, has been a dismal failure and has actually increased criminal activity of gangs and drug cartels. Imagine if we had both the War on Drugs and high levels of lead pollution, crime would have skyrocketed beyond anything this country had ever seen.

This fits into other data about such topics as abortion and sex education. Democrats focus on the practical problem and Republicans worry about promoting their message. If the Republicans had been right, their having lost the culture wars should have meant crime would increase and yet that isn’t the case. Similarly, legalizing abortions decreases abortion rates and there is no evidence that sex education encourages teen sex (for certain, it decreases the rates of teen pregnancy and STDs).

See my previous post:


There is another example that is almost exactly like the crime issue. So, it turns out lead, rather than immorality, is the central cause of increase of national crime trends. Similarly, it turns out that hormones in food and hormone-like chemicals in plastic containers, rather than immorality, are the central cause of kids sexually developing at a younger age and hence a lowering of the age of sexual activity. If you simply morally preach at kids, it won’t help them deal with unnatural early sexual development. Like getting rid of lead, it’s getting rid of hormones and hormone-chemicals which will take care of the problem at it’s most basic level.

See another post on this topic:


If Republicans had their way, neither the Civil Rights Act nor the Clean Air Act would’ve been passed. We would now be living in a very different America. Imagine if we had to wait for businesses (big and small) to change their racist and polluting policies. It might’ve taken another half century or longer (if it would’ve happened at all) for businesses to change their profit-making policies. Even another couple decades of lead pollution could’ve been enough to create a society so crime-ridden as to be nearly dysfunctional. Furthermore, combine such high crime rates with the policies of this last half century that have led to high wealth disparity.

On the other hand, imagine what America would be like if (along with lowered lead-related crime) there had also been a decrease in wealth disparity and increase in workers wages. Imagine if we hadn’t spent all our tax money on wars, tax cuts for the rich, and corporation bailouts which lead us into debt and instead imagine if all that money had gone to education, social programs, small businesses, community centers, and infrastructure. Imagine if the tough on crime policies had never been implemented and we didn’t have 1 in 200 citizens in prison. Imagine if conservatives hadn’t fought against civil rights and we truly lived in a post-racial society where minorities weren’t disproportionately targeted by the ‘justice’ system (even getting longer sentences for the same crimes as committed by whites). Imagine if the worker unions hadn’t been disempowered causing union membership to go down and instead we had an increase of workers rights as seen earlier last century (child protection laws, safety regulation, living wages, etc). Imagine if all the increase in social problems correlated with wealth disparity had never happened because we had maintained a decreasing wealth disparity as was seen with early progressivism.

See the following post about income inequality and social problems:


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