From The Herald Tribune:
Thousands of Florida officers remain on the job despite arrests or evidence implicating them in crimes that could have landed them in prison, a Herald-Tribune investigation has found.
Even those officers with multiple offenses have been given chance after chance through a disciplinary system that has been reshaped in their favor by the state’s politically influential police unions. As a result, officers around Florida carry personnel files that are anything but heroic.
Looks like “our” public “servants” are, once again, given resources that normal people do not have. Imagine committing a crime and be not just sent home (“administrative leave”), sometimes with full pay, but sent back to your job and life as if nothing had happened. Yes, they do work for us indeed.
Not long ago when we had friends and family over it came up that I was a political “atheist,” someone who opposed the existence of the state and wished for political power and authority to disappear so that the prosperity of the market can bring us ever higher standards of living. “I don’t agree with his theories” a family member said. Fine. This is to be expected. After all, the radical libertarian anarchist view is an extreme minority opinion. Yet the vast majority of people with whom we interact are clueless and wobbly on their own views.
At first the statist position seems to be coherent: the power of the many to benefit the few, the respect for the government, the love for law and order, the supremacy of democracy–essentially a rehash of the status quo becomes mainstream reply. Still, one must ask: what, then, dear vulgar citizen, is your hopefully coherent theory? It would necessarily have to be one that allows more or less the same things that exist now because the vast majority of folks though they complain about the details of the political establishment they don’t oppose the basics. For example, in my encounter with left-liberals I find it particularly interesting that often the primacy of democracy is seen as a goal but other times it is a means. Or when the same folks complain when people vote “the wrong way.” Over the last few years the issue of homosexual marriage has come up for vote. If the vote fails, does this mean that democracy has failed? Rarely (or, at worst, barely–there is still support for that institution). What if the courts fail to recognize that issue as a right? Should courts be abolished? Nah, they will say–more political action and education is needed, or reform the court. Most of the remedial proposals have to do with changing not the underlying system (the one that nonetheless perpetually frustrates everyone) but to change everyone and everything else.
Legislative matters like gay marriage is just one issue. Going deeper, things become even messier. How does one measure the value of the good that a piece of legislation imparts on society? What if that good is a bad for some? What if the good is not as good for everyone to the same extent? What if people change their minds? What if they change their minds right after an election? Were it subject to quantification, what if one person has 100 units of displeasure and 99 people have one unit of pleasure each? How can we measure the greater good? What is “the” good? These might seem contrived questions, and yet they are the core of it all. Not only is the mainstreamer advocating and justifying the existing system in a vulgar, offhanded, manner but also insisting that the social and economic calculations necessary to bring about general prosperity can be performed. And regardless of whether such a calculation is possible, the fact that the advocate of the existing system so vehemently opposes the libertarian view while barely offering a sensible grounding shows intellectual laziness. It is the equivalent of saying “this is what exists, therefore it is what should exist.” As the saying goes, LOLWUT!?
I am reminded of what Murray Rothbard once said: “It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.” In my opinion Rothbard’s sentiment applies to politics as well.
In one of my first posts on this blog I mentioned the usage of “the” as a catch-all term to include a variety of government-”offered” “goods” and “services” that people in general refer to offhandedly (“the” schools, “the” roads, etc.).
The Florida Department of Health has launched a campaign to eliminate second hand smoke from bars, parks and other public (or should that be “public”?) spaces. And what better way than to get folks behind this campaign that to be as inclusive as possible. Thus, the marketing/propaganda material uses “our” as much as possible. “Make our bars smoke-free” says one. Another one: “Make our public spaces smoke-free.” And — because we care about “the” children — “Make our parks smoke-free.”
Democracy, the devil that triumphed.
After a horrific and murderous weekend in NYC, Mayor Bloomberg, frustrated that folks determined on committing crimes are ignoring those magical incantations and spells enacted by local legislators, does what must necessarily follow in the mind of the statist: call the feds.
“We cannot tolerate it,” Bloomberg said while speaking at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn. “There are just too many guns on the streets and we have to do something about it.”
New York has the toughest gun laws in the country, but Bloomberg said the city alone cannot stop the onslaught of shootings. “We need the federal government to step up,” he said.
The problem of crime is that it finds a way. And prohibitions are, at best, marginal; but they are totalitarian nonetheless and have no place in a free society. To try to control the means of the few by subjecting the entirety of society to the dictate of a despot is a symptom of desperation. After all, not every place experiences the same level of overall crime or the same numbers of crimes committed by firearms.
And then there is the elephant in the room. As Robert Wicks points out, “‘getting guns off the streets’ is just code for ‘getting poor urban minorities to disarm themselves.’” Indeed, NYC’s own government report on crime shows that minorities both commit and experience a higher percentage of crimes. Yet because most minorities are not criminals but potential victims, gun disarmament leaves minorities in a greater situation of peril. Of course, politicians do not understand economics or how incentives work so they would never think that ending drug (and gun) prohibition, welfare, taxes, zoning and licenses, rent control and compulsory education would radically lower crime across the board.
As for Bloomberg, his policies, and the policies of Albany, are–let’s face it–pretty much an epic fail. The last thing anyone needs is the federal government coming in to “fix” things.
Yesterday I found myself on the grocery store parking lot with a dead car battery, a trunk full of perishable and a toddler in the back seat. The following times/events are taken from my phone’s history.
- 10:03am – Called my wife to come get us.
- 10:05am – Called roadside to get a jump.
- 10:24am – Service dispatched. I get a text meesage with contact info for the company coming.
- 10:40am – Service arrives
- 10:43am – Battery checked. Totally dead. Car is started.
Then I drive across the street and buy a new battery at an auto parts store. Within seconds of purchase it gets installed. I am back home shortly after.
Too bad trying to get things done within the government system of bureaucracy is nowhere near as pleasant or efficient.