Rat Fishing, Sport in the Inner City

“Rat Trap”, was a documentary shown on PBS tonight. “Rat Trap”, put forth a parallel between the preferred environment of rats, and some of the human population.

The documentary was very interesting, but its main point drifted right over me. What caught my focus was a sideline in the documentary. There were two ideas and two methods of Rat Collection which I found interesting. Firstly, it was established that when Rats overtake an area such as a neighborhood, the dynamics of harvesting the Rats changes.

You read it right. A new sport in the inner city.

Reducing the number of Rats is equivalent to increasing the food supply for the remaining Rats. Fewer Rats means more food for the remaining Rats, leading to a population boom. The environment can now support more Rats so the remaining Rats breed faster to fill the vacuum (food surplus).

Secondly, and perhaps unique to the location was the biggest Rat populations of present day are location identical to the largest Rat populations of the previous century. The most Rats lived in the poorest neighborhoods. Rat populations were also linked to the crime rate. More Rats meant more crime.

The first method of Rat collection was one that plays across YouTube until you get tired of watching. Shooting rats with pellet guns was a sport for some of the local residents. Nothing new there, except I wish I lived close to where I could go rat plinking, it looked like fun.

A second and more unique method of collecting Rats (and birds) was fishing for them! The ‘Fisherman’ had a normal fishing rod and reel, sinker attached, and two single hooks, that looked to be about size six. He would bait up his hooks with turkey and peanut butter, and cast to where he saw the most rats moving about. Keep the line tight, hook them, and reel them in in. The caught Rats were dispatched by his fishing friend who used a baseball bat. Think hitting a ball hanging from a string. Rat dispatch may need some work.

Unfortunately , the main point of the documentary was lost on me. The idea of rat hunting far outweighed the parallels of the economics of people and the number of rats in their environment.

Crime Reduction, Crime solution, Crime out of Control

I find the excerpt (below) interesting in that it fits what is happening here. We have a crime problem that feels out of control. Police are working overtime in an attempt to reign in crime. Courts cannot keep up with arrests, and jails are over full.

People want Police to be more active, work more overtime, prevent crime, and arrest more people. In the mean time, arrested suspect criminals enjoy having their cases dropped because courts are overloaded. For those who are incarcerated, other criminals are being let out of jail as they are not “violent enough” as there are not enough cells for everyone.

I thought until I read this excerpt, Joe Arpaio, former Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, Phoenix area had it right. Make jail time so miserable that no-one will wish to go to jail a second time. No doubt Sheriff Arpio’s  jail kept repeat offenders from offending again, or at least they became smarter about committing crime.

Maybe there is a way to manage crime and criminals better? I know Detroit, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois to name a few cities, are having major crime issues of their with no hope of crime reduction on the horizon. Honest work is a better solution, but jobs are needed for people to have honest work that is both meaningful and supports their families.

What out of control crime feels like. Its hard to remember that criminals are human.


Below is what I read. I hope the excerpt has merits for you and your city if you are suffering these same issues. I know Detroit, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois are having serious crime issues with no hope of reducing crime on the horizon. Maybe this excerpt will help city officials make more informed decisions.

I did not use quotes for the excerpted text; I have no claim to typing and transcribing skills and may have misquoted the original text.


Economics of Social Issues, Twenty-First Edition, Charles A. Register & Paul W. Grimes, Authors, McGraw Hill publisher

Page 124

Paragraph 3: ‘…equimarginal principle. The crime budget should be allocated among police, courts, and corrections so the last dollar spent on any facet yields the the same addition to the benefits of crime prevention as the last dollar spent on the others….’

Paragraph 4:

‘As an example, suppose the crime prevention system is relatively over-loaded in the area of detection and apprehension. The courts cannot handle all those being arrested, so many of them must be set free without trial, or in the case of plea bargaining, sentenced for a lesser crime than the one committed. The mere fact of arrest will have some crime-deterring effects, but the deterrent effect will be much less than it would be were there adequate court facilities to try the persons apprehended. The contribution of crime prevention of an additional dollar’s worth of police activity at this point is low. On the other hand, an expansion of court facilities would increase the likelihood of speedy trail and conviction of those apprehended. We would expect crime-deterring effect of a dollar’s worth of such an expansion to be greater than that of a dollar spent on detection, apprehension, and subsequent freeing of those apprehended. Suppose that taking $1 away from police work brings about enough of a crime increase to cause a 75-cent loss in GDP to society. Now suppose that court activity is increased by $1, and the increased activity deters criminal activity enough to make society better off by $3. Under these circumstances, society will experience a net gain of $2.25 in GDP by a transfer from police activities to court activities. Such net gains are possible for any dollar transfer among police activities, and corrections activities when the marginal social benefit of $1 spent on any one activity equal the marginal social benefit of $1 spent on any one of the other activities.’