The flyer you’re looking at was posted around Downtown Los Angeles recently, seeking participants in discussion groups about “neighborhood safety,” to be paid $25 for 90 minutes of their time. As you can see at the bottom, the moving force behind this was the RAND corporation, a Santa Monica based think tank that has been providing theory-driven rationalizations for all manner of murderous government policies since 1948.
Now, I don’t know what kind of information RAND is looking for here or what they’re planning to use it for, although the multiple layers of deception embedded in the poster itself1 make it hard to believe that they’re working on anything life-affirming. I do know that RAND has a history with business improvement districts in Los Angeles.
BIDs actively collect data about what passes for public safety in zillionaire circles and repurpose it as propaganda in the service of the vast development and gentrification machine in which they are teensy cogs. For instance, as putative evidence that more and more and more police are needed in gentrifying areas, and that those police need increased powers to deal with the putative danger. Or that more and more and more BIDs are needed and that those BIDs need increased powers as well.
Without evidence to the contrary it’s likely that, whatever else the information they’re gathering might be used for, RAND is certainly going to use it for this kind of thing. Or, once published, it will be used for this even if not by RAND. This has happened before. Just for instance, in 2009 RAND released a massive report on Los Angeles BIDs and public safety. Although the results of this study were ambiguous, nevertheless it has been taken up by both BIDs and by governments as weighty evidence in favor of the theory that BIDs reduce crime.
So much so, in fact, that it’s actually cited in the Property and Business Improvement District Act of 1994 as one of the reasons that the State Legislature promotes the formation of business improvement districts, at §36601(e)(1):
Property and business improvement districts formed throughout this state have conferred special benefits upon properties and businesses within their districts and have made those properties and businesses more useful by providing the following benefits … Crime reduction. A study by the Rand Corporation has confirmed a 12-percent reduction in the incidence of robbery and an 8-percent reduction in the total incidence of violent crimes within the 30 districts studied.
Tangentially, this report is surprisingly honest in a weirdly Orwellian sense about what BIDs are up to, much more so than the BIDs themselves ever are. For instance, read this selection,2 wherein the authors “… describe the BIDs in terms of their public safety (or social control), beautification (or broken windows), and marketing (or place promotion).”
Continue reading Why Is The RAND Corporation Paying Off People In Skid Row To Discuss Public Safety? — The Same RAND Corporation Whose Pro-BID Study Is So Influential That It Is Cited In The Actual Property And Business Improvement District Act — The Same RAND Corporation That’s Funded By The Department Of Homeland Security — The Same RAND Corporation That Justified Carpet Bombing And Torture In The Vietnam War For Robert McNamara — The Same RAND Corporation That Paid “Megadeath Intellectual” Herman Kahn And His Ilk To Theorize About Winnable Nuclear War