Friday, December 05, 2014

Interesting Split

There has been developing an interesting split in the reactions to Ferguson and the Staten Island chokehold.

The left is outraged that the state is not doing exactly what the left expects from an idealized, unicorn state.  In fact, the state is actually made up of actual human-style people, and people are flawed.  The left wants to rely on abstract systems, and then be perpetually astonished when things go really wrong.  It's not bad people that are the problem.  The THING, the thing itself is the abuse, folks.

The right is just denying that there is a problem, the system is working, the jury has spoken, etc.  The only problem is the protests, who are law-breakers.  No surprise there.

The libertarian splinter accepts parts of the both arguments.  The system is in fact working exactly as designed, so the right is correct.  But this is a really bad outcome, and so the left is correct.

The answer is that we need much less of the system.  Of course police officers are going to use excessive force, of course police officers are going to have and act on racial and class-based preferences.  And then the system, in the courts, the prosecutor's office, and the grand jury, is going to protect itself.  That's the system, unless you believe in unicorns.

The solution?  Fewer laws.  We have criminalized so many behaviors (in the Staten Island case, selling packs of cigaretttes!) that we have given the police enormous pressure to perform, and gigantic latitude to act on prejudice, bigotry, and simple anger.

As long as the left (with the active complicity of the non-libertarian right) continues to criminalize being black, it's not surprising that the police will continue to treat black people as criminals.

White people are largely unaffected, because the system is designed to protect white people.  #crimingwhilewhite shows the truth:  rich white people can break the law, but they won't get charged.

This kind of race-based law enforcement is given the stink-eye by our friends on the left, but they can't seem to draw the obvious inference:  the answer is not better police.  The answer is fewer laws.  Decriminalize normal nonviolent daily activity, and the police will have a lot fewer excuses to harass people they don't like and who can't fight back.


Angus said...

Beautiful. Well-said. Kudos.

August said...

Unfortunately, much of America is more likely to follow the media's coverage, and come to the erroneous conclusion that we need a more militarized police.

Dirty Davey said...

How do we know what constitutes "too many" laws? The logic seems to point towards the argument: law enforcement can kill people, so therefore we should not have laws that we think aren't important enough to kill someone over. But this is a really high bar to clear: even lots of "obvious" laws protecting property rights, say, can be violated in ways that aren't important enough to call for violence. Should we permit graffiti while banning arson?

Garner was selling without collecting a sales tax. Saying that law is excessive is essentially saying that there's no way for the state to tax transactions of any kind. Any failure to pay any tax is going to be "nonviolent"—so if the state can only prohibit violent activity then effectively it has no power of taxation.

Maybe I'm unicorn hunting, but I think we need to be punishing bad behavior by law enforcement. And I think this is yet another symptom of our attitude towards taxation coming back to bite us in our collective ass. If we enforced decent behavior we'd have to pay a lot more to get the job done.

Angry Alex said...

I think Mungowitz actually said previously that violent force isn't just a function so much as it is the essence of the state

Pelsmin said...

The facts, as usual, have been absent, even those that exist on video tape. We have a tragedy, perhaps a crime, and an opportunity to make some changes. But many of the issues everyone's talking about aren't issues:
Racism? The black Sergeant supervising the arrest certainly can't be considered an anti-black racist. Let me know if any of you have seen the videos shot from the other side that show her. She was giving the commands that day.
Choke Hold? The guy didn't die from a choke hold. He was taken down and died from lying down with a cop leaning on him to cuff him. He kept telling them he was dying ("I can't breathe!") which tells us two things: 1) he couldn't breathe, and 2) he wasn't choking. You don't shout when your airways have been cut off. The "choke hold" is a non-issue.
The guy died because standard force was used against him and he was too sickly to survive that force. It may have been excessive for the "crime." Why are they even taking in a guy for selling cigarettes? Why not just tell him to move along? But it's non-lethal violence they're using. The guy happened to be on the edge of dying when they did it.
So who's at fault? Maybe the cops for not responding to a citizen's pleas. Certainly the system that calls for taking him by force.

Anonymous said...

He was selling "loosies", single cigarettes, not packs. Likely the cigarettes were untaxed but that has not been mentioned. NYC/NY state
cigarette taxes are above $6 per pack and it is estimated that 40% of cigarettes sold in the state are untaxed. This also occurs in other high tobacco tax states, you remember the early scenes in "Good Fellas" and "Hollywood Cop"? It has been so for decades, now they sell individual cigarettes, which is a point of crack down recently in NYC.

Anonymous said...

memory blank: Beverly Hills Cop, not Hollywood Cop...

Tom said...

Dirty Dave wants to know how many laws is too many. Well, Dave, thoughtful people can disagree about that. It's like the size of a drink cup: 16 oz. is good; some say 12, even 32. Those arguments are set aside when faced with Lake Michigan-in-a-cup!

Your two examples, graffiti and arson, betray a lack of understanding of the question. In both cases, someone gets hurt. Who is hurt by the sale of untaxed cigarettes? ...Um NO. You don't get to say "cigarettes do hurt". That's not true, in the opinion of the buyer. (At least, buyer believes the benefit outweighs the risk.) Only a stinking elitist asshole, imposes his own opinion on those who are involved.

I wish you had not said "punish". Parents punish; dog trainers punish; Societies must protect their members, otherwise "punishment" is for gods and bronze-age ignoramuses.

You ARE seeking unicorns. I'll suggest a standard for tax rates: if you are killing people to collect it (or threatening death), then taxes are too high. I countenance ostracism or withholding of (some) services as tax payment incentives. That will make it difficult to finance $2 trillion to invade a far-away country; so be it.

BR said...

About a year ago, I ran some rough numbers on the potential profit from smuggling cartons of cigs from VA to NYC. A 6-figure income is pretty do-able, and likely worth the risk for many folks who are sufficiently healthy to receive "standard force" from the NYPD. That's a good sign your tax is too high. Smuggling gas into NC is a little trickier.

Dirty Davey said...

(1) In the case of graffiti, no one "gets hurt". Someone's property is damaged. But when we start talking about the infliction of injury and death--as the police did to Eric Garner--I think it's intellectually dishonest to claim that property damage is equivalent to pain.

(2) I can guarantee you that for any tax rate greater than zero, there is someone who will choose to fight to the death to avoid paying it.

(And in the case of selling untaxed items, the issue isn't the seller not being willing to pay--it's the seller being unwilling to collect the tax from the purchaser and convey it to the state. The damage to the state is arguably less than the damage to the law-abiding sellers who lose business to the tax-evading seller.)

ecroberts73 said...

What are some examples of the left criminalizing being black?

Anonymous said...

Minimum wage laws come to mind.

Jim Oliver said...

Humans being what they are the only way that I see to avoid the problems related to Ferguson and the Gardner case is to hire more black police, but blacks do not do well on the civil service exams but for efficacy's sake we need mostly black police in mostly black areas.
So you need to have very different civil service standards and perhaps different pay rates for blacks until you get enough black police to maximize effectiveness of the force. What do you think?

stan said...

The jury was right in the Zimmerman case. The system worked. He wasn't white to begin with. And the Left told lots and lots of lies throughout.

The grand jury was right in Ferguson. The system worked. Michael Brown's color had nothing to do with his getting shot while attacking a police officer. And the Left told lots and lots of lies and continues to do so.

There is nothing about the system to attack with regard to either of those cases. And the basic principle of self-defense would lead to the same results if there were no law at all applicable to the facts.

Jim Oliver said...

One more point. These things probably happen more often to blacks but they also happen to whites. Examples:
When I was in high school one of the students (a thug) died in police custody. The police claimed that he fell down the stairs.
I also once saw a police car purposeful hit another thug teen and sent him sprawling.
I was once held by a policeman on the side of the road for about an hour and verbally abused because he said I matched a description of I guy seen stealing. He then let me go saying they had ruled me out.
I was also once tapped on the chin with a heavy flashlight by a policeman at the site of an auto accident.