Inside the Black Gangster Disciple Nation Crack Cocaine Gang-Corporation

In less than 24 hours I completed Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explains the Hidden Side of Everything. Mark Safranski already summarized Freakonomics better than I could, so my “buy this book” post will be a graphical summary of one of the chapters: Why Do Drug Dealers Still With Their Moms?

A heroic grad student named Sudhir Venkatesh worked with a crack cocaine gang — the Black Gangster Disciple Nation — for several years. After attempting to pass out a survey, which began

How do you feel about being black and poor?

(a) Very bad
(b) Bad
(c) Neither bad nor good
(d) Somewhat Good
(e) Very good

Which, besides displaying a lack of symmetry between (b) and (d), left off the correct answer ((f) Fuck you) and almost got young Sudhir killed.

Slowly, though, Sudhir gained their trust, and discovered the corporate structure of the street toughts.

At the top of the pinacle where the Board of Directors, whose twenty boardmen each earned half a million dollars a year. Life was good for a Director

bgdn_board_of_directors_md
20-man Board of Directors, at $500,000 per annum = $10,000,000 annual expense for BGDN

Below the Board of Directors are the regional Franchisees. Operating like Sheiks, they grossed around $400,000 a year. However, with the Franchisee’s autonomy comes fiscal responsibility. Most of the franchisee’s income has to be spent on expenses, letting the franchisee net $100,000 a year.

bgdn_franchisee_md
100 Franchisees, at $100,00 per annum = $10,000,000 annual expense for BGND

The Franchise of the Black Gangster Disciple Nation studied then had three officers: An Enforcer, who shared acted like Barnett’s SysAdmin, maintaining peace from internal threats

bgdn_enforcer_md
The SysAdmin

A treasurer who, just like in Hall Governments, kept charge of the organization’s money

bgdn_treasurer_md
The Money Man

And a Runner, in charge of logistics.

bgdn_runner_md
Amateurs Talk Strategy, Professionals Talk Logistics

The annual salary of three officers was $8,000 per year each.

bgdn_officers_md
$8000 / officer / year * 3 officers / franchise * 100 franchises = $2,400,000 / year expense for BGDN

Below the officers were 500 Foot Soldiers. But like the groundtroops of the System Administrator, their job is not violence. As the local Franchisee reported:

We try to tell these shorties that they belong to a serious organization… It ain’t all about killing. They see these movies and shit, and they think it’s all about running around tearing shit up. But it’s not. You’ve got to learn to be part of an organization; you can’t be fighting all the time. It’s bad for business.

Like Barnett’s SysAdmin, the foot soldiers are mostly “private sector” — their true job is salesman. Each of the 50 Foot Soldiers earned $3,960 (yes, much less than minimum wage) every year.

bgdn_foot_soldier_md
$3,960 / foot soldier / year * 50 foot soldiers / franchise * 100 franchises = $19,800,000 annual expense for BGDN

Below the Foot Soldiers are 200 “rank and file.” These interns wish to rise to the level of Foot Soldier, and pay dues for the chance to one-day rise up the corporate ladder.

bgdn_rank_file_md
$25.50 / R&F / year * 200 R&F / franchise * 100 franchises = $510,000 annual revenue for BGDN

To graph annual income, for an average Director, an average Franchisee, and average Officer, an average Foot Soldier, and an average Rank & File:

Graphically, we can chart the organization structure as:

bgdn_hierarchy
Corporate Hierarchy

Or more traditionally, looking at the organizational structure as a “flow of security”

bgdn_security
Flow of Security

Realizing we can look at the “hierarchy” as just one type of flow, it becomes obvious we can chart the “flow of capital” as well:

bgdn_capital
Flow of Capital

Which opens questions about the political economy of crack cocaine gangs…

bgdn_rich
Suffocated by Fat Cats…

However, in Black Gangster Disciple Nation’s defense, foot soldiers do make up the single largest payroll expense for their gang

bgdn_payroll_md
…Or Starved By Labor?

One might note that if the Black Gangster Disciple Nation is typical of corporate-style crime, John Robb’s suggestions are dangerously wrong.

Interested in learning more? Buy the book.

Update: Stephen J. Dubner, a highly respected journalist and co-author of Freakonomics, was kind enough to link to me on the Freakonomics blog

Dr. Steven D. Levitt, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, as well as the other co-author of Freakonomics, was kind enough to comment below.

Update: Over at John Robb, Jamie links to this critique of this gangster of Freakonomics

They do present some anecdotal evidence that the gangsters were not well paid that doesn’t depend on the notebooks, but it’s if anything even weaker. The simple fact that someone lives with his mother is not actually knockdown proof that he is strapped for cash; something like thirty per cent of young Italian men do it for the simple reason that it’s better than cooking and cleaning for yourself. I also think it’s quite naïve to assume that when the gang members (who were, we shall remember, full-time drug dealers) asked Venkatesh to try and get them a janitorial job at the university, this showed that anything, even cleaning toilets on minimum wage, was a better life than the Gangster Disciples. I am hardly the most streetwise guy around, but even I can work out a couple of other possible reasons why a full time drug dealer might want a job which allowed him to wander round a university campus more or less at will. Students buy drugs[5].

Furthermore, even if we take the numbers in the notebooks as reliable, we are faced with the observable fact that crack dealers (even street soldiers) have expensive tastes and hobbies. Even leaving aside the question of trainers and jewelery (on which I have no hard data about ownership to argue against Levitt), it is an undeniable fact that even the most junior members of the Gangster Disciples were able to engage in the hobby of pistol shooting, a popular but expensive middle-class pastime which I would consider to normally be beyond the means of a burger-flipper at McDonalds. The non-salary compensation of JT’s street dealers might be really quite high; access to guns, free admission to nightclubs, favorable deals on stolen goods and clothing, regular social events with local rappers, it all adds up and compares really quite well to the fast food trade, and as far as I can see the informal healthcare plan was also quite generous compared to most mainstream employers in that it covered family members and had substantial death-in-service benefits which would have been worth quite a lot in a neighborhood that was not exactly Hampstead even for non-gang members. I find the seeming absence of any analysis of the non-salary component of compensation quite strange, particularly since the underlying work was done working with a sociologist who would at least have some analytical framework which one might use to measure the value of the benefit to the gang member of being in a gang and thus having some degree of status in a community where status mattered.

Read the whole thing

Interested in the graphics used in this post? Inkscape, OpenClipart, OpenOffice Draw, and Paint.Net are all free — as in speech!

Final Thoughts on Human Cognition and Instruction

Today was the final class in Human Cognition and Instruction, taught by Dr. K. I knew my final grade last week, and final evaluations were handed in at the end of session today.

It was the best class I have had at , and Dr. K is the best instructor I have had in any graduate class, ever.

While I only published my notes for the first half of class or so, in just those weeks we discussed

Dr. K invented the SOAR Cognition Loop. Developed independently of Boyd’s OODA loop, it is best thought of a OODA in a classroom setting. However, it’s not just a “special case” of OODA like Special Relativity is a “special case” of general relativity — rather, it is symbolic framework for mechanically modeling thought that, when combined with the triz creativity system, provides a breathtaking view of human cognition.

My biggest regret this semester, as far as this blog is concerned, is not doing the material in this class justice. In a sense, the tdaxp blog is just my public attempt to properly understand Dr. Barnett, Col. Boyd, and Col. Hammes. I have to add Dr K to that list. This was a first step.

In a recent post, Dr. Barnett asked, “We can either do or we can teach, now which is it going to be?” Dr. K does both. Superbly.

The Geographers New Map, Part III: Global Terrorism

Catholicgauze concludes his three part summary of a recent speech by Dr. Harm J. de Blij. Part I: Climate Change and Part II: China are also available, as is information about Dr. de Blij’s new book, Why Geography Matters.

This is the last installment of my rundown of by Dr. de Blij. The final part of his speech was spent on global terrorism. The most disappointing thing about his discussion on part three was that he only had a total of five minutes left to communicate his ideas about terrorism.

Terrorism: A main point made by Dr. Blij is that the terrorism of today is unlike the anarchists terrorist of the turn of the last century. Those were unorganized trouble-makers with a penchant for killing heads of state. Terrorists of today are the tip of a well organized effort spanning continents. They rely on failed-states and geographic isolation to thrive.

Pakistan and the former Afghanistan provide a great example of Dr. de Blij’s point. In the tribal areas communication is difficult so local control is a necessity. However, if the locals are crazies (in the words of Bishop Catholicgauze and not Dr. de Blij), it becomes a lot easier for a terrorist group like al Qaeda to set up shop.

A strong state which wishes to grow and connects into globalization would resist a reactionary group like al Qaeda and their ilk. It is then easier to understand why the same group that attacked the World Trade Center (al Qaeda) is actively trying to topple allies of the United States (the Republic of Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) and America itself. They need failed states so they grow like a cancer and then spread to other countries and if strong countries resist and retaliate, the cancer dies.

An example which concerns Dr. de Blij is Ethiopia. Ethiopia borders the troubled , the three Somalias, and Sudan.

three_somalias
Somalia, Somaliland, and Puntland

Ethiopia also is a gateway into Kenya and southern Africa with minimal interference from the Sahara Desert. Islamic terrorists have been slowly dragging Ethiopia into turmoil hoping to turn the whole horn of Africa into a giant center for operations. He citied the increase of Caucasian Chechens (who in a variety of reports I have learned are the most fanatical and “crazy” of all Jihadists) in not only Ethiopia, Iraq, and other hot spots but also those caught trying to bomb targets in South Africa. If a strong country like Ethiopia were to fall to the jackals of terrorism, nothing could stop them in the Horn of Africa.

As an aside Dr. Blij talked about the recent pirate raid on a cruise ship 100 miles off the coast of Somalia. He pointed out it would take a organized group with technology and intelligence to try to ambush a lone ship in the open ocean.

To wrap up his speech Dr. Blij stressed the importance of geography in planning. He blamed the current “mess” in Iraq to planners who knew nothing about the cultural geography of the country and pointed out how the position of Geographer has been empty at the State Department for years and has been vacant through many administrations. (Catholicgauze wishes to give a shout-out to anyone in the State Department and he offers nominates himself to the position of Head Geographer!)

Dr. Blij then wrapped up his speech by taking questions on China and Climate Change and went outside to sign books. I had other pressing affairs and had to skip out on the book signing. But I must stress he is correct in the assertion that the United States of America needs more geography education.

In the seven core areas of No Child Left Behind only one receives no geography funding. About half of the US school-attending population cannot locate Texas immediately on a map of the country and about a quarter of school-attending children cannot locate the Pacific Ocean on a map of the world (source: the latest NGS PSA). If our future leadership generations are more attuned to popular culture and illiterate when it comes to global affairs, apathy and false ideals like fascism or communism can easily led society astray down the tubes. It happened before to the British Empire and it can happen again. We need to stress a true liberal education with math, science, history, geography, and the arts. A well balanced citizenry will be better able to handle the problems that face us in the twenty-first century and beyond.

Great series, Catholicgauze!

One Free Korea Breaks State Department Scandal? Nicholas Burns’ Illegal Diplomacy?

NKHRA Progress Report: Who Is Keyzer Soze?,” by Joshua, One Free Korea, 23 November 2005, http://freekorea.blogspot.com/2005/11/nkhra-progress-report-who-is-keyzer.html (from Live from the FDNF).

At the State Department…,” by Mi-Hwa, One Free Korea, 26 November 2005, http://www.haloscan.com/comments/stantonjb/113278554598136125/#133605.

Mi Hwa…,” by Joshua, One Free Korea, 27 November 2005, http://www.haloscan.com/comments/stantonjb/113278554598136125/#133611.

Props to Eddie of Live from the FDNF for alerting me to an OFK post that I missed.

Why, some of us want to know, has the North Korean Human Rights Act lodged in the State Department’s windpipe? Why, over a year after the bill was signed into law, does an executive agency that’s nominally answerable to the President of the United States fail to accept North Korean refugees who knock at the embassy gates? I specifically cite Section 303 of the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, which is now binding law:

The Secretary of State shall undertake to facilitate the submission of applications under section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act [meaning, asylum applications] (8 U.S.C. 1157) by citizens of North Korea seeking protection as refugees (as defined in section 101(a)(42) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(42)).

In plain English, that means that our embassies violate federal law if they fail to “facilitate” asylum applications at our embassies abroad. Yet Tim Peters not only informs me that our embassies are refusing to take these refugees, he’s said the same to Congress under oath, and he has it on film, thanks to CNN. One overseas ambassador, so another source tells me, went so far as to seek legal advice from Foggy Bottom as to how to interpret the law. He was told in no uncertain terms not to ask again.

One Free Korea‘s Joshua Stantaon is a well respected blogger. He recently met with Ambassador John Bolton, and a plaque he designed now hangs prominantly in Bolton’s office. Maybe that’s why a government leaker has chosen OFK to release the news

My source says that Burns doesn’t want our State Department taking any actions that would unduly offend Kim Jong Il, such as taking in refugees, or letting any pesky part-time Special Envoy muck it all up with unpleasant remarks about investigating infanticides, concentration camps, or gas chambers. Hence, we hear relatively little from Lefkowitz, and shouldn’t expect to hear much more of consequence. Just to be sure–according to a different source–State has placed individuals sympathetic to the Burns world view in Lefkowitz’s office . . . to better keep him inside the range of his electronic ankle bracelet.


Nicholas Burns: Rogue Diplomat?

Of course, this is only a leak — it may not be true. Conceivable it could be part of a power play by a secret cabal – a conspiracy – to embarrass a pesky enemy. But given the State Department’s history of rogue policy, the news is all too believable.

On the story’s discussion thread,” Mi-Hwa wonders if Dr. Barnett’s old enemy, the Department of , is behind the trouble:

At the State Department, the buck stops at Condi Rice. She obviously does not welcome North Korean refugees. Homeland security is probably the reason — they don’t want North Korean spies or terrorists.

The news even has Joshua, a firm Republican, questioning Secretary Rice‘s leadership

Mi-Hwa, Other than your speculation about Homeland Security being the culprit (one doesn’t need one if my source is right about State), I’m actually forced to admit that I agree with you.

Condi Rice is responsible for what her subordinates and our ambassadors are doing, or failing to do. She has sworn to uphold our nation’s laws. She must be accountable if she fails to do this.

Unless we kill Kim, we break North Korea through connectivity — not guarding the gates of Pyongyang’s prisons for them.

Blogger Redecorates John Bolton’s Office

I previously blogged Josh of One Free Korea meeting with Ambassador :

josh_bolton_md
Josh on far-left

During his trip, he presented him with a plaque

Several days before the trip, I suggested that we should present Ambassador Bolton with a plaque to thank him for his blunt words about North Korea, as well as his efforts to make human rights an element of U.S. policy toward the North. I designed the plaque with one photograph, which you see here . . .

Half-Slave, Half-Free

. . . and Lincoln’s “half slave, half free” quote. When I presented it to him, I stated that we shared his appreciation that some issues really are black and white. I told Amb. Bolton, not quite half-jokingly, that I hoped he would put it where the Chinese Ambassador would see it. I won’t print his response, however; I’m not sure he’d want me to.

Over at Josh’s discussion thread, one of Bolton’s staffer’s announced that the plaque is now prominently displayed in Ambassador Bolton’s office!

Josh,

I am the staffer who had the pleasure of meeting with you and your colleagues in New York a few days ago. While I will steer clear of the debates in this thread, I would like to confirm that the plaque you presented him with is now on display directly outside of his door.

Regards,

Mark

Congratulations Joshua!

"1491" and "Why Geography Matters" Around the Blogosphere

Stuart Berman of My Kids’ Dad and I must run in similar circles. His recent post discussed two books that I have just heard about

Stuart on 1491 : New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus:

1491

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles Mann is a discussion about the forgotten civilizations of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus. Mann refutes the notion that the Amazon is fragile and virgin, but that perhaps as many as 100 million indigenous peoples lived throughout the Amazon basin at any time within the last several thousand years. He shows evidence of the aggressive land management techniques used to tame these now wild places and how the civilizations were quickly laid waste by disease as Europeans engaged in trade with these civilizations. Mann also notes that the lack of available domesticable animals led to culture that had little resistance to disease since the great pandemics have typically been the result of disease mutations where the sicknesses have jumped from an animal species to human.

Mann also describes the diversity of cultures within the Americas, the Incas were very centralized and rigid – whereas tribes in the North East of North America were libertarian in nature

I read an Atlantic Monthly version of Mann’s work a few years ago. New tdaxp commentator Biz, proud owner of the new Confessions of a Bibliophiliac blog, gave it a quickie-review:

It’s about the Indians before Columbus came by and farked everything up. It’s the same type of book as 1421, in that “Holy shit, I had no idea” way. I’ve never been an American history fan, but this was really good. And researched like a mofo.

Stuart on Why Geography Matters: Three Challenges Facing America — Climate Change, the Rise of China, and Global Terrorism

why_geography_matters

Why Geography Matters: Three Challenges Facing America — Climate Change, the Rise of China, and Global Terrorism by Harm de Blij is a powerful discussion of the impact of geography upon human fate. He tries to show us that despite all of the debate today we are living in a golden age.

Harm de Blij warns us of the coming global cooling and that he has great faith in the ability of the Earth to recover from most types of events whether human induced or through some externality such as an asteroid. He states simply that climate change has been part of the planet’s life for 460 million years and that we are in the middle of a 35 million year ice age, which in the last 450,000 years features 4 periods of global warming (called interglacials) lasting each around 10,000 years separated by glaciations (cooling periods) of around 100,000 years each. The current warming period has lasted 13,000 years so we are due for a sudden and prolonged cooling period.

But Harm de Blij is also brilliant as he discusses topics such as the spread of global terrorism, which he states is fostered by failed nation-states and inaccessible terrain (such as the Pakistani mountain ranges). Just like Tom Barnett, he warns of the spread of terrorism into sub Saharan Africa due to these conditions.

Better stock up on blankets.

tdaxp Commentator Catholicgauze is currently writing a series on this same talk

And a post-script: Thanks to Kobayashi Maru for linking to metwice — and adding me to his blogroll! 🙂

Antonin Scalia Bitchslaps "Foreign Law"

Scalia Asks: What Does France Know?,” U.S. News & World Report, 7 November 2005, http://www.usnews.com/usnews/politics/whispers/articles/051107/7whisplead.htm.

While enjoying Thanksgiving, grokking Foreign Dispatches, and reading Freakonomics, I couldn’t help cheering at judicial hero, Antonin Scalia. I wonder what Big Cheese thinks of this:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is stepping up his campaign against judges using foreign laws to decide cases at home. And he’s doing it with tart sarcasm. We ran into him last week at an American Spectator dinner, where he poked fun at fellow justices who like overseas opinions. “It will seem much more like real legal opinion if one can cite a foreign opinion to support the philosophic, moral, or religious conclusion or pronouncement,” he said with a sneer. “You can put it right there in the opinion. It looks like legal opinion. It says so and so versus so and so.” The justice considered the most conservative on the court added, “I dare say that few of us here would want our life or liberty subject to the dispensation of French or Italian criminal justice.”

Pimp that ho, my daddio!

Thanksgiving

As with Dawn’s Early Light, Tom Barnett, New Persuasion, and The Metropolis Times, it is a very tdaxp thanksgiving. It’s been 440 years since the first thanksgiving at a permanent settlement in a US state, where Pedro Menendez de Aviles and hundreds of Catholic settlers shared a Thanksgiving feast with Timucuan Indians. Subsequent spontaneous thanksgivings were held by settlers in Virginia, Massachusetts, Texas, and other states.

I have so much to be thankful for, including

family
friends (real and blog)
Lady tdaxp
God
Samuel Alito

and, of course, many more.

It’s also neat that each of the last three posts where written by three different authors — Catholicgauze, Aaron, and myself. I am so thankful for this community. As thankful as Koreans should be for Japanese Imperialism. (And thankful to Simon for that link!)

I hope every had as great a Thanksgiving as I had!! The food was delicious!

Take care, and God Bless!!!!

Dan tdaxp

The Geographer’s New Map, Part II: China

Loyal tdaxp reader Catholicgauze recently attended a lecture by H. J. de Blij in Washington, DC. Dr. de Blij is the author of Why Geography Matters: Three Challenges Facing America: Climate Change, The Rise of China, and Global Terrorism.

This post is the second of a three-part series on Catholicgauze’s reflection on de Blij’s presentation. Part I: Climate Change was published on November 18, and Part III: Global Terrorism on the 28th.

I have only heard three complaints against Dr. de Blij speech. Two of them were from liberals who decried his refusal to solely blame humans for climate change. The other complaint, the one with validity, was that he spent more time on climate change than the other two topics combined. However, in the limited time he had left, Dr. de Blij continued to wow the crowd and myself.

China: “I never lost sleep during the Cold War. While others were going bonkers with M.A.D., the Cuban Missile Crisis, and The Day After; I knew there wasn’t going to be any real war between the Soviet Union and the United States. They liked our music and we liked their ballet. We were from the same cultural realm. We mistrusted each other but we knew each other. Similar history, religion, and the ability to realize the stupidity of total nuclear war was found in both of us.

“With China; however, all this is thrown out of the window. I fear that a grave cultural misunderstanding may lead to a war involving all the powers of South-East and Southern Asia.”

This is how Dr. de Blij began his section on China. The words have been stuck in my mind since he uttered them.

Dr. Blij pointed out how China is already an empire. While the vast majority of Chinese are descendants of Han Chinese, the vast expanses of land to the northeast and west are not “brothers or even cousins” of the Han Chinese. An interesting thing mentioned (which I ask all bloggers to try to find more information on and report back) is that on average there are “thousands of acts of ‘rebellion and insurrection’ against Beijing a year.” Dr. de Blij most of these are incidents are in the minority areas of China like Manchuria, Hong Kong, Tibet, and Xinjian (It would be interesting to read Dr. de Blij book to find out what exactly is an act of “rebellion and insurrection’).

Dr. de Blij went on to show that China is not satisfied with its current empire. To demonstrate this he told us a story about his previous geography book Human Geography: Culture, Society, and Space. This textbook has been sold the world over but the publisher was unable to get an acceptable contract with China. However, one day a package from East China Normal University’s Geography Department came asking for Dr. de Blij to sign the book. Dr. de Blij, “being a good sport,” signed the book without looking it over. Then, he started receiving angry letters from fellow Asian geographers asking why he was so pro-Chinese. He obtained another copy of the Chinese edition and saw something that disturbed him. The book talked about “lost lands” that included, but not limited to, portions of Eastern Russia, all of Mongolia, Taiwan, parts of India, Nepal, Burma, huge swaths of Indochina, both Koreas, and a good deal of Kazakhstan. He showed us a copy of the map that looked a lot like this

asian_empires_catholicgauze_crop
Click Image for Full Map

During question-and-answer time Dr. de Blij had to put up with what I call “lack-of-knowledge” or what most would call stupidity. The most LOK question was “Isn’t calling China an empire going to be sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. They haven’t been aggressive in the past.” Dr. de Blij responded with a strong “NO.” He pointed out China openly engaged US and UN forces in the past in Korea, openly talks about Nuclear War with its neighbors and the US, massacres its own citizens, and has an educational program which teaches aggressive foreign policy.

The main point of this section was political geographic knowledge. Dr. Blij compared the average Chinese classroom, where knowledge of the world around them is strong and schools teach how to succeed in the world, compared to the average American classroom, which all agree do not have a decent geography program and fail to give many children the skills needed to survive in the global market. Adding on to this point is a recent survey from National Geographic which showed 50% of 18-25 year-olds cannot immediately locate Texas on a map of the United States and 20% cannot locate the Pacific Ocean on a map of the world!

tdaxp’s Comment: As before, thanks to Catholicgauze for his excellent post.

Several posts in the blogosphere help illuminate Catholicgauze’s points. In particular, Curzon remembers Imperial Asia, Tom Barnett’s sanguin, Publius looks at Chinese riots, Bill Rice looks at Chinese expansion into Latin America, John Robb sees China desperate for energy, Mark Safranski worries about Chinese corruption, Simon hopes for a China without Communism and updates on repression in Taishi, and tdaxp got censored.

Update: Coming Anarchy and Sun Bin both look at Chinese “expanionism” through maps. CA’s more hawkish.