Professor: Cheryl Williams
WHY DO CRACK DEALERS LIVE WITH THEIR MOTHER’S
Topic: Crack Epidemic
Speaker: Steven Levitt
Discussion: The discussion was a comparison between a gang and a business. Sudhir Venkatesh is William B. Ransford’s Professor of Sociology and author of “American Project” and “Gang Leader for a Day”. Sudhir risked his life to study a gang in a housing project in Chicago where he was held hostage for a night and went back the next day and was then allowed full access to their lives and financial records. Based on the data collected Steven compared the gang to McDonald’s because their orc charts are similar starting with the highest position to the lowest position. He also found that the wages were like McDonald’s wages. The lowest paying jobs in the gang where the most work and came with the highest risks. Steven came up with an annual death rate per person, the foot soldiers which are the members in the gang that are at the bottom got a rate of 7%. Inmates on Death Row got a 2% annual rate. Inner city black teens during the crack peak got a 1% rate. U.S. military in Iraq got a 0.5% rate. Steven also felt that the gang had great Marketing skills the members would trick people into thinking that if you joined the gang you could have all the luxury cars, jewelry, and money you wanted. But the image the gang presented was all an illusion none of those material things were theirs, the cars were leased the jewelry was of cheap quality and the pay was not good at all. In reality you risked your freedom and most importantly your life for $3.50 an hour.
Recommendation: I recommend reading Sudhir Venkatesh’s “American project” and “Gang Leader for a Day” to get a better understanding of Venkatesh and Levitt’s research and study.
Learned: I learned that gang life is a lot more organized than people think it is and it really does not pay as well as people hope.
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