Dumbed down

The President recently announced his plan to destroy the community college system. It is really a clever plan. In Trojan horse-esque fashion it cloaks the seeds of destruction in an appealing wrapper. Step 1: identify a non-frivolous economic good and declare it to be “free” for all. Step 2: step back and watch prices soar while quality plummets in a vain effort to keep up with exploding demand. Sound familiar? Healthcare. 4-year College education. The President is clearly an environmentalist; how else to explain his effort to recycle this garbage.

By guaranteeing full payment of tuition only for students maintaining at least a 2.5 GPA, this scheme will not incentivize students to work harder, but rather for teachers to inflate grades. Or rather, students may believe they will have to work harder, but it is far easier to inflate a grade than to study, thus grades will quickly reach that floor long before the efforts of increased studying are needed. Once that happens the value of a 2-year degree will be depreciated. There is no way for a prospective employer to distinguish between a graduate that really did learn the material vs. one who is the product of either inflated grades or a “dumbing down” of the curricula.

Once the administrators realize they can raise tuition each year at a rate vastly exceeding the rate of inflation (because the normal feedback of the customer opting to not purchase a too expensive good vanishes), those administrators in turn will make sure the professors understand their salaries depend on maintaining a certain enrolled student count. Of course the blame for skyrocketing tuition will be that the increased student load requires expansion of services (politely ignoring the economic axiom that individual prices tend to fall as volume goes up, not the other way around). That this will happen is not mere opinion or conjecture, but history: 4-year college tuition has risen at over 3x the rate of inflation since 1978.

The odd thing about this proposal is that community college tuition is already very inexpensive. Typically government only wants to make things “free” after they have meddled in the market long enough to drive prices upward. But the states and local communities already subsidize community colleges in order to keep prices low. The fact that tuition is charged at all is a function of the inability of local government to run their own printing press as well as more direct voter feedback on taxes.

It seems like the President is answering a question no one was asking. How much of a barrier can tuition be – there are already millions paying for it now. And even though the barrier is low, it is important to have some sort of barrier, if only to separate the serious from the unserious student. The President’s proposal mistakes a speed bump for a retaining wall and seeks to eliminate even that minimal level of self-selection. The people already attending have proven that they contain the seeds of success. They made the hard choices and saved their money in order to achieve a better life for themselves.

A secondary, and more sinister, effect of removing that self-selection barrier is it will transform the serious student into a less serious one. No longer is their money on the line, no longer is there pressure to perform lest they waste their hard-saved cash. Humans perform best under pressure, and if you remove that pressure you remove the motivation to perform at one’s peak. So, by removing the pressure of being out of pocket for the tuition, this policy will foster the learning style of the perpetual procrastinator. “So what if I do poorly, I can try again and again, and again” (at least until that GPA dips to a 2.5, that is, a practically failing D-).

I’m not suggesting this drop off in motivation will happen to everyone attending community college. What I am saying is that in aggregate this will be the outcome more often than not. There is a reason there are no private charities that indiscriminately fund adult tuition – it’s a bad idea from a utilitarian standpoint – it harms the individual receiving it and by extension the society in which that individual lives

January 20 / 2015

An inconvenient observation

Ok, looking at this picture released by the NOAA on annual global temperatures since 1880 – what strikes me as a odd is that the temperature increase from 1910 through 1940 is 1.2 °F… (followed by  30 years of basically no change) and then from 1970 through 2000 it rises again by 1.0 °F.

 

NOAATempTrend2014

So, let me get this straight. The standard AGW narrative is that man made CO2 emissions are causing the temperature to rise – so since the temperature increases in those two periods are nearly identical, it would then follow that the amount of CO2 emitted in those periods (or in trailing period prior to it) are equal? That is, the amount of CO2 emitted from cars and coal plants from 1910 – 1940 is exactly equal to the amounted emitted from 1970-2000? Really? Doesn’t that strike anyone as odd? I think there were a lot more cars and coal plants in 1985 then there were in 1925 (midpoint of each period). I’d say it’s pretty darn amazing that the rate in increase in temperature hasn’t changed given the substantially greater output of carbon in more recent years.

Or could it be that natural variability is simply overwhelming the influence of manmade CO2 emissions? The fact that the rate has not increased and is actually apparently slightly decreasing could even suggest CO2 emissions are having a slight suppressive effect on global temperature, that is, absent such emissions the rate of increase in temperature would be greater than it is today.

 

January 17 / 2015
Author Greg Morin
Category Climate Change
Comments No Comments

Sticks and stones

The Charlie Hebdo massacre this week left the world in shock. What sort of barbarous evil would drive someone to kill – over a cartoon? Apparently emotions – emotions fed by the infallibility of one’s beliefs. Infallibility is immune from reason, logic, and rational discourse. Infallibility is a necessary, although not sufficient, prerequisite for evil done in the name of the “greater good.” The nature of the belief is irrelevant – all that matters is the perpetrator thought themselves infallible. How then does one fight infallibility? It is a belief not in ideas, but rather the egoism of one’s perfection. Honestly, I do not know. To be sure, one can harmlessly think they have it all figured out and the rest of us are just fools. But, how badly would such a person feel that if for the greater good of advancing their obviously correct beliefs, it became necessary to initiate aggression toward another? Not very, it would seem. How many of us are guilty of not objecting to the passage or existence of some law that we happen to agree with but which restricts the rights of others who are harming no one? How many of us support wars because of the unstated patriotic truth that one’s own country can do no wrong? If the state is defined as social aggression, then any given citizen is a passive-aggressor.

The beliefs of these particular Muslims led them to interpret the Koran in such a way that it was their infallible belief that they had every right to take such actions. Obviously (being infallible myself!) they were wrong in that belief. But, as crazy as it might seem, their belief is not far removed from the laws in France (and many other “Western” countries) as well as the opinion of a good number of Americans. Abstractly, the belief is that one has the right to not be offended by other people, and, if such an offense occurs, one has the right to cease further offenses, by any means necessary. Well it just so happens that France has a law against insulting people based on their religion. Violation of this law includes severe fines and jail time. It also happens that Charlie Hebdo was sued under this law in 2006 by the Paris Grand Mosque and the Union of French Islamic Organizations. Charlie Hebdo won that suit, however the precedent was set. It is ok for society to say “we think that is offensive, you must stop or else.” Had they lost the case and resisted being dragged off to a jail cell, the outcome would have been similar; a gun standoff between agents of the state (police) and Charlie Hebdo. The only difference this week is that the two gunmen didn’t get the memo: violence is only ok if a majority of people approves – morality is a function of a popular opinion don’t you know.

In other words, if Hebdo had lost their case, and the two gunmen had hypothetically been part of the French police force sent in to drag them off to prison and had killed them in the process, then instead of lamenting the deaths people would be excusing it with platitudes like “well that’s what happens when you break the law.” Just to be clear – I am in no way excusing the actions of the gunmen. I am pointing out that the actions of a state, any state, that would compel its citizens to stand trial for the crime of insulting someone’s sensibilities are equally abhorrent.

As Americans you would think we would be immune to this sort of idiocy – home of the 1st amendment as we are. Apparently not. Rapper ‘Tiny Doo’ is facing life in prison in California over his lyrics. And a recent YouGov poll found not insignificant support for “hate speech” laws (36% of all respondents and 51% of self-identified Democrats!). Yes, hate speech is vile, ugly and worthy of being ignored. However, mere words, mere ideas, should not be punishable by fines or jail, lest we fall into an Orwell novel where “thoughtcrime” is equivalent to action-crime. Ron Paul summarizes this most succinctly; “We don’t have the First Amendment so we can talk about the weather. We have the First Amendment so we can say very controversial things.” We should not be so afraid of bad ideas that we drive them into the shadows; rather, we should endeavor to annihilate them under the scorching light of our own ideas, in the marketplace of ideas that is a free society.

January 13 / 2015
Author Greg Morin
Comments No Comments

Tribes

The recent assassination of two New York City police officers by a sick, mentally deranged animal was truly a tragedy. A tragedy not because they were police officers, but because they were human beings. A tragedy not because of the manner of death, but the reasoning behind it. All evidence left behind by the gunmen (who shot himself) suggests he set out on this murderous rampage to get even with “the police” for the Michael Brown shooting death in Missouri. Revenge is an understandable, albeit dangerous and ultimately self-destructive, emotional response when directed at the particular individual that has done harm. But when it is directed at a group merely because that group shares a characteristic with a tortfeasor, that is the kind of wickedness that has inspired genocidal rampages. Actions taken against members of a group ignore the individual’s humanity by abstracting them into an amorphous blob of adjectival phrases. One is not killing a human being with hopes, dreams, loved ones and friends; no, one is killing “the police”, or “a Jew” or a “n-word” or “a fag”. Murder is so much simpler when the target’s humanity is stripped away.

Why is this pattern of “tribe on tribe” killing so common throughout history? Humans have an evolutionary tendency to lump things with a common trait together and then assume that all those things sharing that trait are identical in nature. If a tiger killed my neighbor, then all tigers are deadly. If a snake bit my neighbor and he died, then all snakes are dangerous. Those that recognized distinctive traits and properly categorized the natural world as dangerous or not dangerous and killed the dangerous ones tended to live longer and pass on their genes. Those that thought we should just give all tigers a chance, well, it didn’t work out so well for them. So in a very real sense the human instinct to engage in “-isms” is why we are here today to discuss how wrong it is now. That doesn’t excuse it, it simply helps us understand “why” this trait exists. But this vestige of our evolutionary past, like the appendix, serves no purpose today except in extreme situations (e.g. it’s still safe to assume all tigers in the wild are dangerous). Unfortunately this instinct, like the appendix, is not something we can shed easily, and therefore we must remain ever vigilant against it, lest it become inflamed to the point where the whole species is put at risk (nuclear annihilation).

To remain vigilant we must recognize its many forms. It is not always so neatly packaged into the frothing rants of hate-speech. Sometimes it wends its way into our psyche like the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. Any sort of tribe mentality, such as the “us vs. them” fervor at a team-sporting event, has the potential to lead down this dark path. That’s not to say we shouldn’t cheer for “our” team, but please do recognize the emotions and language of this mindset speak to a tribal instinct: “we” won, “our” team is the best, “their” team is terrible, “their” fans are uncouth mouth-breathers, etc. Most people just pay lip service to these sorts of platitudes, they don’t mean it any more than they literally mean “god be with you” when saying “good-bye”. But there are some that do take such feelings quite literally (soccer hooliganism, post championship vandalism/rioting, etc.)

And let us not neglect to mention sport tribalism’s big brother – state tribalism, e.g. patriotism. Same idea, just a bigger team. Every country’s citizens (the most zealous ones anyway) think their country is the best in the world and that their people are better, in whatever metric you might care to name, than the people of other countries. And like a fractal pattern this mentality exists at all levels. I have witnessed first hand people tell me the folks in their county are better folk than from neighboring counties. Yes, that imaginary line in the dirt makes all the difference in the world.

Fealty to this patriotic instinct is what helps politicians stoke the flames of fear and envy that create an “us vs them” mindset as they seek to not only start wars, but establish all manner of governmental programs that benefit one group at the expense of another. The deaths of these police officers was indeed a tragedy carried out by an individual inspired in part by the fervor of tribalism. But let us not forget that any actions inspired by tribalism are evil, whether done by the many against the one, or the one against the many.

January 06 / 2015
Author Greg Morin
Comments 3 Comments

The Interview

Last week Sony Entertainment (Columbia Pictures) bowed to pressure from a cyber-terrorist group known as the GOP (Guardians of Peace) and announced that the comedy “The Interview,” which depicts the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, would not be released to theaters or online. The primary impetus behind this decision appears to be the threat of “9-11” style attacks on any theater that might dare show it. Being unsure of the credibility of the threat it would appear Sony decided to err on the side of caution and thus retracted the film from its anticipated Christmas release.

That decision was met with near universal indignation by basically the whole world. Many found it outrageous that a small group of people (believed to be North Korean government) could dictate to others what they may or may not see. Even President Obama weighed in on the decision, stating that he thought Sony had “made a mistake.”

Ok, so to summarize the events thus far: group of people A is using the threat of violence in order to influence the behavior of group of people B so that group of people C may not experience something that group A does not approve of. When abstracted this way does this pattern now seem more familiar? Yes, government. The only thing different about this situation is that people who are themselves usually in group A (governments and those that support their actions) now find themselves in group C. Not so much fun when someone else is doing the threatening, is it? As Americans, with our long tradition of (mostly) respecting freedom of expression, we are particularly outraged to be denied our basic human right to bear witness to fart jokes. In public we pretend that film banning doesn’t occur here, but privately we must admit that it does. Films have been banned in the US at various governmental levels for varying lengths of time (see: Monty Python’s the Life of Brian, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Tin Drum, The Profit, and Hillary: The Movie).  Most recently the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Google to remove “The Innocence of Muslims” video from their website. America is hardly free of the stain of participating in group threats of violence to prevent others from witnessing particular media.

But yes, we should be upset that anyone would try to use the threat of violence or intimidation in order to influence what we may or may not watch. However, if one wishes to shed all remnants of hypocrisy, then one must also acknowledge that government, all governments, use this exact same method (threat of violence) in order to ensure that the will of some arbitrary group of people living in spot A is imposed upon some other arbitrary group of people living in spot B. Sometimes these threats seek to enforce a ban on a film and sometimes they seek to enforce other arbitrary edicts masquerading as “law”. The ends matter not; it is the means that are illegitimate. If one is rightfully offended that North Korea might seek to use threats of violence to alter ones behavior, then one should likewise take equal offence when anyone, anywhere, at anytime, seeks to alter the peaceful behavior of another with violence or intimidation irrespective of what honorific they endow themselves with.

Fortunately this story has a happy ending. A few days later Sony reversed their decision and announced that “The Interview” would appear both online and in theaters, albeit in a limited fashion. Considering how hard someone tried to make sure I couldn’t watch it, well, naturally now I had no choice but to go out of my way to watch it! Was it worth it? Well, as they say, there’s no accounting for taste, but, I did enjoy it. As long as one is exposed to puerile humor in small, intermittent doses (like capsaicin) it can be amusing. This film was not meant to be a political satire. There is no stinging tongue-in-cheek critique of North Korea (although unexpectedly the Kim Jong-un character zinged his American interviewer with the fact that per capita the US has more people in prison than North Korea (thank you drug war)). There is just some good old-fashioned escapist daydream-as-a-plot in which the main character kills the bad guy, saves the country from nuclear annihilation, and becomes the hero he always believed himself to be.

December 29 / 2014

If I had a hammer…

This past week President Obama did a stunning impression of Ron Paul as he outlined a change in US policy toward Cuba. This new, friendlier stance is one Dr. Paul has advocated for years. Nice to see Mr. Obama finally coming around to Ron’s ideas. Perhaps next week Obama will announce an audit of the Federal Reserve! Although I don’t agree with the president about very much, he deserves to be commended for making a move that runs counter to the status quo. Introducing this new policy, Mr. Obama pointed out all the same facts that Dr. Paul brought up in the 2012 debates; primarily that after 50 years the embargo has been an abject failure in its goal of bringing about the downfall of the Castro regime. On its face the policy makes little sense given that the US has strong diplomatic ties and allows trade with other autocratic Communist regimes (China, Vietnam, Venezuela, etc.).

Yes, Castro is a monster, a cruel tyrant that has directly or indirectly, murdered, tortured and stolen from countless thousands of fellow Cubans. In a very real sense the Castro regime is running an island-size plantation; Cubans are in many respects slaves to their government. So it is understandable why Cubans living in the US would be opposed to trade with Cuba. Doing so is tantamount to buying cotton from a slave plantation. So in theory, cutting off trade seems like a moral and pragmatic idea. It is neither. The empirical evidence of the last 50 years shows us its failure at undermining the Castro regime (if anything it has supported the regime, as the embargo was used as the scapegoat for the failures of the communist system). And although trade restraint might be a moral decision if made by the individual, when the option to make that choice is forced upon us by our government, the morality of this course is drained away. It is OUR right to choose whether or not we will trade or associate with someone, not governments.

This change in policy has more to do with how the governments of each country interact with each other and little to do with what the citizens of those countries are permitted to do. For Cubans, all the same government restrictions on basic economic and social freedoms will remain in place. For Americans there will be an ever so slight loosening of the collar that holds back truly free and unrestricted trade. The hypocrisy of this policy, even in its slightly more liberal state, is laughable. It seeks to punish a tyrannical state that subjugates its citizens by subjugating the rights of citizens in this country. The citizens of both countries are but mere pawns in the game of their masters.

While President Obama is heading in the right direction now, it is a tepid first step at best. If Obama is serious about making a true change, he must pressure Congress to repeal the Helms-Burton Act (1996)  (this act makes it impossible for the President to unilaterally repeal the embargo – thank you President Clinton!). Once repealed, Mr. Obama could finally end the embargo once and for all.

Although ending the embargo would certainly benefit the Castro regime, the benefits to the Cuban people would overwhelm any short-lived financial windfall to the government. They cannot levy a tax on information. Through tourism and business there would be a cross-pollination of knowledge that would fuel the fire of change. Once lit, that fire spreads rapidly, nor is it easily quenched. For example, it is has been proposed that the TV show “Dallas” played a pivotal role in cracking part of the Iron Curtain. Back in the late 1980’s “Dallas” was shown on Romanian state television because the state thought it would engender distaste for the decadence of the west. But it backfired. Once exposed to the possibility of wealth, the people wanted that same opportunity for themselves (income equality sucks when everyone is poor). The lies of state propaganda are the dam that holds back the truth. It takes much effort to build and maintain, but once a crack develops nothing will stop the truth from breaking free and spreading. If only our government will allow it, the American people could be the hammers that crack the Castro’s dam of lies.

December 23 / 2014
Author Greg Morin
Comments No Comments

Look at the flowers…

The release this past week of the Senate’s “Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program” has exposed the dark underbelly of intelligence gathering to the bright daylight of public opinion. This is a good thing (the exposure, not the torture). The release of this information and subsequent national soul-searching reflects the somewhat schizophrenic nature of the American soul (insofar as a country can have such a thing). We, as a nation, are able to strike out and destroy anything that might be harmful while simultaneously being filled with remorse for doing so. “Look at the flowers… look at the flowers” (Walking Dead reference).

So while it is heartening to see the justifiable outrage of those who have learned of the sadistic crimes committed in the name of their “safety”, it is equally discouraging to witness a vigorously jingoistic defense of these crimes. The most common defense offered is a plausibly reasonable one: it produced actionable intelligence that saved lives. You know, the greater good and all. Unfortunately for that narrative, according to the published report, that is not the case. At best the torture only confirmed information that had already been acquired elsewhere using non-torture means.  At worst, people were tortured to prove a negative. That is, the CIA didn’t think the detainees knew anything of value, but they tortured them anyway just to make sure. Let me repeat that so the enormity of that evil sinks in. They tortured people they thought were innocent and of no intelligence value.

The more reprehensible torture defense is the “I just don’t care” defense. This is most succinctly portrayed in a burgeoning Internet meme depicting a person falling from the World Trade Center with the text overlaid “This is why I don’t give a damn how we gathered information from terrorists.” Yes, 9/11 was an awful, horrific, tragic event, but it is a complete non sequitur to conclude that anything done in the name of preventing something similar or finding those responsible is justifiable. For example, the US could nuke every country on the face of the earth except ours – that would definitely prevent another 9/11 and kill the perpetrators – but that doesn’t make such an action “ok”. So if we rightly repudiate the notion of killing billions of innocents to punish the guilty, we should also repudiate the killing (or torture) of even one innocent. It’s not worth it. Why? Well ask yourself how you would feel about that proposition if you were the one innocent person. Not so gung ho now.

Did the CIA likely have some really bad people in custody? Yes. But they also (based on the report data) had a lot of totally innocent people as well. The reason we don’t (or shouldn’t) engage in torture is the same reason we have an innocent until proven guilty court system; it is not out of concern for the guilty, but rather concern for the innocent. This protects you and me from being thrown in prison or tortured on the mere word or hunch of somebody; “so you say Jane’s a witch (terrorist) do you? Well that’s all the information I need, let’s go kill her.”

Should the suspected terrorists have a trial? Yes, every last one in custody. Otherwise how can anyone know if they are actually terrorists? If there is proof, then there should be no problem getting a conviction. But, if you subscribe to the notion that we won’t always have concrete proof, that sometimes we just have to go on conjecture, hearsay, or hunches, then here’s hoping you never end up in a prison of a like-minded country.

December 16 / 2014

“It stops today” Eric Garner, hero

“Please just leave me alone” – these final words of Eric Garner contain much more than a plaintive request. They embody the spirit of his final actions: independence, resistance, and finally resignation. Eric Garner exited this world exhibiting the universally lauded virtue of willing self-sacrifice in pursuit of defending one’s liberty. We have a word for that: hero. Indeed, throughout human history the traits of independence, resistance to tyranny and self-sacrifice are the very qualities universally held in highest regard. But, because Eric chose to tilt his lance at the windmill of the state, that monstrosity we have been fooled into believing serves our interests, his deeds are portrayed as simply foolish. But make no mistake; Eric is every bit as courageous as any of history’s venerated heroes.

He declared his independence from the state, not with fanfare or proclamations but by living and acting as though it did not exist. Some libertarians pay lip service to living this way, but Eric actually did it, courageously, out in the open, and with no shame. Eric was no “libertarian” per se, but one does not need to identify as one to desire to live their life free of nettlesome busybodies. That instinct is natural; it is the state that betas it out of many of us. The state’s petty rules concerning what products may be sold, for how much, and who is “authorized” to make such sales were as relevant to him as the rules of hopscotch are to anyone walking on a sidewalk. It’s not that he was unaware of the “law” concerning the sale of untaxed cigarettes, it’s that he rightly recognized it as being inimical to the rights of Everyman to earn a living. No one should be required to ask for permission to earn a living. But, anyone who stands up for their rights will necessarily distinguishes themselves from a crowd all too eager to surrender theirs. The man who does so makes himself a target.

Now, being a target, Eric was set upon by the forces of the state, wending their way through the city as phagocytes travel the bloodstream, seeking to engulf and remove that which does not belong. The state will not long suffer the independent man. In the video we learn this was not Eric’s first encounter with the police. We see a man who is simply weary of the constant harassment. So on this fateful day he took a stand and resisted in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr, Mahatma Gandhi or the Freedom Riders; non-violently. He did not fight back; he simply stood and refused to submit. It seems that civil disobedience against racist laws of the state is celebrated whereas civil disobedience against the authority of the state itself is frowned upon. Strange indeed, given that it is this state authority that gave those old laws their teeth.

Eric’s resistance served as a metaphor for state action against any citizen. He starts out strong and willful as cop after cop attempts to subdue him, but each is repelled by his sheer mass, like ants attacking an elephant. Eventually, even the strongest of us, like an elephant, will succumb to the attack of so many Lilliputians. And in the end Eric was resigned to his fate, having the tiger by the tail as it were. He could either be choked to death while laying prone and offering no resistance, or he could fight back and most assuredly be shot dead. Literally damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

In the end the state does the only thing it can do to those that might resist its authority: it wields deadly force until that “threat” to its authority submits or is eliminated (and if submission accidentally results in elimination so much the better for the state). So to those that believe the state is not a violent entity merely because they do not daily witness such violence on their front lawn, then look no further than what happened to Eric Garner to see the falsity of this belief. This, this is what happens to anyone that resists. Prisons also lack overt daily instances of police violence, but that doesn’t mean the very real threat of it is not the thing that keeps the inmates in line. So too is it with the state. Resistance is futile. You have already been assimilated.

December 08 / 2014
Author Greg Morin
Comments No Comments

Perpetual Panopticon of Permission

Got this from Western Union today (I have a business account with them)

“In order to meet our legal and regulatory responsibilities we undertake regular Know Your Customer checks to verify the identity of our customers and to establish the source of funds and the nature of the transactions being undertaken.”

Now bear in mind I just set this account up only 4 months ago. They already have all the information they are requesting. Information that never changes (operating agreement, IRS letter showing the EIN number, etc).

This is the beginning of the perpetual permission state, where like a parolee on probation we have to check in with our master to let know them we are still being a good little doggy and have not gotten in with the “bad crowd”. It won’t be long until your bank starts asking you for similar info (birth certificate, SSN card, proof or residence) all to maintain the privilege of keeping money in a bank account. And there will be no alternative (until bitcoin becomes mainstream) as Uncle Sam has his heel on the neck of every bank on the planet.

This is what the war on terror and the war on drugs has gotten us: life in the Panopticon. All financial transactions must be “approved” by our true owners: the state. We must bow down and humbly offer proof of our non-criminality, otherwise we will be cast out, forbidden to engage in any sort of mutually beneficial exchange in the marketplace.

I for one am tired of kissing the ring. Piss off – my business is none of your business!

December 02 / 2014
Author Greg Morin
Category Anti-state
Comments No Comments

Police Privilege

The St. Louis County grand jury decision last week in the Darren Wilson/Michael Brown shooting case was an affirmation, not of racism or corruption, but rather of privilege – police privilege. By “privilege” I mean the actual dictionary definition of the term, not the incoherent meaning it has when paired with adjectives such as “white” or “male”. “Privilege” is “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.” The police are that very group of people who have been granted (by the state) a special right. It is the right to wield lethal force and never bear responsibility for its indiscriminate use.

When the state grants a monopoly privilege upon anyone, cops, courts, or cronyist corporations, it will be abused. This really should not be surprising to anyone. Honestly, ask yourself, if you were granted the right to engage in any behavior without any risk of repercussions, would you really not maybe test those limits just a tad here and there? And then maybe a bit more. And then a bit more. Until eventually one day you felt so entitled to this “right” you couldn’t imagine functioning without it. That is the nature of the state. It corrupts normal behavior by removing all negative feedback until even saints become sinners. Almost every societal ill can be traced to the actions of some group acting in accordance with the legal privilege granted to them by the state (police shootings of the innocent, subpar public schools, traffic deaths on public roads, inequality fostered by the Federal Reserve, limitation of competition through licensing or outright monopoly grants, etc).

The police and their apologists claim that cops couldn’t possibly do their job if they had to second-guess every decision. Yes, much better to act on instinct and hope for the best. If wrong, oh well, better luck next time. If police and police departments were fully liable for their actions somehow I suspect they would be much more prudent in how they carried out their duties. The implementation and use of non-lethal methods to subdue people would become the new standard in police work. Yes, Michael Brown was not a candidate for upstanding citizen of the year award, but his crimes were certainly not worthy of death.

So the real injustice here is not that an arm of the state found another arm of the state to be innocent of any wrongdoing (wow, I’m shocked), but rather that hundreds (if not thousands, oddly, statistics are poorly kept on such deaths ) of innocent men, women and children of all races are gunned down by police officers every year.  And no, that is not to say all cops behave this way, but for every bad apple there are many more that pretend those rotten apples don’t stink. This lack of internal accountability only serves to aid in the metastasization of consequence free behavior.

Unfortunately the protestors (the peaceful ones, the violent ones are beneath contempt) have the right instinct but have totally misdiagnosed the disease. They are saying these police shootings are racially motivated. They cite as proof the broad racial disparity in the statistics that show blacks are more likely to be arrested, incarcerated or killed by police than whites (adjusting for demographics). So does that mean those who shout “racism” will be satisfied if the proportion of blacks arrested, jailed or killed by police falls to the same level as whites? If 5% of black suspects are killed by cops will it no longer be considered racist as long as 5% of white suspects are also killed by cops? As it stands today if a cop kills a black person the proximate cause is always assumed to be racism. This assumed cause then supposedly justifies greater outrage in contrast to a cop killing a white person. That attitude is abhorrent. It is an equal tragedy in both cases. Saying racism is the most egregious thing about police brutality is like saying the worst thing about a deadly poison is that it tastes bad. The ‘why’ of the death is immaterial. All that matters is that the state says such deaths are always ‘legal.’ As long as they remain legal there can be no feedback to bring such practices to an end.

December 02 / 2014
Author Greg Morin
Comments No Comments
%d bloggers like this: