Lawlessness is a contagion. It tends to grow worse over time, unless strong efforts are made to restore order.
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This is easy to demonstrate in almost any environment. Rarely will you find an otherwise orderly setting in which only one important law is treated cavalierly. Military authorities have long understood this principle, making an effort to enforce minor regulations to prevent a unit from growing disorderly and sloppy in more significant ways. An appreciation for the contagious effects of lawlessness was also key to Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s remarkable success at cleaning up crime in New York City – his “broken windows” strategy involved dealing with minor but obvious crimes, such as vandalism and graffiti, which previous administrations had largely ignored while focusing their attention on the “big stuff.” Giuliani understood the continuum that existed between minor offenses and the “big stuff.”