No sooner had I reviewed Thomas Sowell's book in which the economist writes of comparisons of prison costs versus college costs, "the relevant comparison would be between the costs of keeping someone in prison versus the costs of letting a career criminal loose in society," than the New York Times issued an editorial complaining, "state spending from general funds on corrections increased from $10.6 billion in 1987 to more than $44 billion in 2007, a 127 percent increase in inflation-adjusted dollars. In the same period, adjusted spending on higher education increased only 21 percent." The Times editorial complains that this spending increase on prisons took place in many states "with falling crime rates," as if increased prison spending and decreased crime were somehow contradictory. In fact the number of murders in America fell to 16,272 in 2008 from 20,096 in 1987, even as the population of the country grew by 60 million. It may be that keeping violent criminals in jail prevents them from committing additional crimes. How does one value the cost of a crime committed by a criminal let out of prison early at the behest of the New York Times editorialist? Never mind that much of the increased spending was driven by mandates supported by Times editorialists for things such as prison-based health care, rehabilitation and literacy programs and other improved conditions for prisoners. Fox Butterfield may be retired, but his spirit is alive and well and writing editorials for the New York Times.