Thursday, July 21, 2011

I don't fault the police, 'cause the people that run 'em, got 'em on a short leash

The strange thing is that people want to blame the police for this. Cops shut down a lemonade stand being run by 10 year old girls. Excerpt:

“They told us to shut it down [and we didn't know why],” 10-year-old Skylar Roberts said.

“We had told them, we understand you guys are young, but still, you’re breaking the law, and we can’t let you do it anymore. The law is the law, and we have to be consistent with how we enforce the laws,” Midway Police Chief Kelly Morningstar said.

By a city ordinance, the girls must have a business license, peddler’s permit, and food permit to set up shop, even on residential property. The permits cost $50 a day and a total of $180 per year. City officials said it’s their job to keep everyone safe and healthy, and there can be no exceptions to the rules.

“We were not aware of how the lemonade was made, who made the lemonade, of what the lemonade was made with, so we acted accordingly by city ordinance,” Chief Morningstar said.

“It’s almost like they don’t have anything better to do. I’m going to let it go. I’m trying to teach them good. I don’t think if I keep on, it’ll teach them a good thing,” Amy Roberts said.

So the law wins, and what started out as three girls’ dream of a fun summer business is now just a piece of plywood.

This REALLY makes me mad. All you folks who constantly want more rules, more laws, more government intrusion in our lives are the first say, "Awwww, that's not right!" when the police actually try to enforce the law. In fact, the reporter actually says, "So the law wins..." Um...that's what the law DOES, ma'am. The political law of the U.S. is a set of arbitrary, intrusive rules backed by overwhelming, irresistible physical force. It is the unavoidable implication of the corrupt bargain made by those who think the alternative to coercive law is the Hobbesian state of nature. Letting people make their own choices is just not an option to you folks. So enjoy your police state, and STFU.

Look, as I have written before, Chief Morningstar is right: she can't just suspend the law. The thing, the thing itself is the abuse. People who try, like this goofball, to blame the police are just mistaken. Police do not have, and should not have, discretion. It's a violation of equal protection, and in fact a violation of the very idea of rule of law, for the police to say "The law applies to you, but not to you over there."

Then what IS the solution? Get rid of about 3/4 of the stupid rules on the books. These licenses, fees, and paperwork are an important cause of extended unemployment problems.

Corporate Avenger has this pretty much right, I think. I don't fault the police. 'Cause the people that run 'em got 'em on a short leash. (Definitely NSFW, and extremely harsh. Don't watch it if you are a pussweiler)

The money quote from the video:

A society that incarcerates its own population for any minor infraction where there is 100's upon 1000's of pages and pages of laws and reason for the district attorney and the local jurisdiction and the justice system to put its entire force to removing an individual from his family connection...
Enforce rules made by fools
Violence and fear their tools,
They dress to impress thinking fear is respect
And they leave us powerless.

So don't fault the police, folks.

(Nod to Tommy the Brit)

UPDATE: Don't hate the DA, hate the game.



Richard Stands said...

When busybodies in life give you bad laws, for God's sake don't make any lemonade!

Stephen said...

The massive amount of discretionary power that has been given to the police makes them as guilty as the over-eager law makers. Most cops have the power to decide whether to ticket someone or pardon them if they so choose. I agree with you that this is madness, but still hold the cops responsible since they are making the decisions.

Chris said...

In fairness to the law, these were 10 yr. old girls. Maybe they were making crappy lemonade; and maybe their recipe wasn't adhered to properly; and maybe they didn't display sugar content and a diabetic could be vulnerable; and maybe they didn't state the calorie content and people could get fat; and maybe their water is contaminated by a tritaited leak from a nearby nuclear plant; and maybe somebody with an explosive device in their stomach could drink the nuclear water and then get hit by a car and blow up and start world war III. It's science. Ya never know Mike. maybe, just maybe.

John Thacker said...

I hate police discretion, and laws ought to be repealed, but it's also true that there are so many (too many) laws these days that police discretion is inevitable. Not enough time in the day or people to police all those laws. So I understand why people complain when cops are enforcing the stupidest of the laws-- the cops have to prioritize.

Richard Stands said...

And it's a pretty old problem:

"It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood."
- James Madison

Actually, it's a very old problem:

"The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws."
- Tacitus

Tom said...

Police Chief Morningstar: "The law is the law, and we have to be consistent..." -- So, why are the girls not charged? Police demonstrate their use of discretion and then claim they have none. It's all politics. I do blame the police. They are part of the injustice, they know it, and they keep on doing it. Bad cop; no biscuit.

Of course, I blame the system even more.

Matt Bramanti said...

Mungowitz, I'm kinda torn on the "cops shouldn't have discretion" thing for a couple reasons.

1. The law-versus-legislation angle that Russ Roberts has talked about a few times on EconTalk. When the law (the universally-accepted practice) doesn't square with legislation (the black-and-white statute), discretion allows cops to minimize the bad impact of that discrepancy. That's why we don't get pulled over for going 4 mph over the limit, except in Meadows Place, Texas. Thus, legislation is restrained from usurping law.

I see a similar situation here. The legislation says anyone selling stuff has to get health department clearance, permits, etc.

But the law -- what everyone expects should happen -- says that an ordinary kid's lemonade stand is not subject to regulation.

2. I haven't thought a whole lot about jury nullification, but I'm at least a little sympathetic to the idea (wouldn't surprise me if you were too). Isn't this a similar situation?

In jury nullification, citizens acting under the aegis of the state, and motivated by a broader sense of justice, refuse to enforce a piece of legislation. Should cops, acting under the aegis of the state and motivated by a broader sense of justice, do the same thing?

I'll grant there's a big common problem with both my reasons: they implicitly allow the liberty-restricting permitting statutes to stand.

But if we can't topple stupid requirements like "peddler's permits," why not chip away at them when possible?