Uncommon Sense

September 3, 2020

See the Pattern?

Filed under: Culture,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 1:13 pm
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Here are two accounts from recent news stories:

Tahir Ahmad Naseem – who his daughter remembers as the kindest and most gentle of parents – was on trial in Pakistan for blasphemy when he was shot dead last month in a high-security courtroom. The teenager who pulled the trigger, Faisal Khan, was arrested after the shooting and charged with murder. But he was also feted as a “holy warrior”.

Meanwhile in Kenosha, Wisconsin, US of A . . .

But a white teenager, Kyle Rittenhouse, could walk down a public street in that same city during a chaotic protest — in violation of a curfew — with a military style semi-automatic long gun strapped over his shoulder, and police officers didn’t stop him. Instead, they tossed him a bottle of water and thanked him for his help. According to news reports, protesters actually shouted to police officers riding in armored trucks that the 17-year-old Rittenhouse had shot someone. Yet not one officer grabbed hold of him. Not one officer used a Taser. Not one officer drew a weapon.

On Friday, Daniel Miskinis, Kenosha’s police chief, told reporters, “There was nothing to suggest [Rittenhouse] was involved in any criminal behavior.”

See the pattern?

How does a man toting a gun walk into a “high security courtroom” . . . with a gun. Gosh do you think that man represented the dominant culture and that was one of his privileges?

How could a young man walk down a public street during a raucous protest, with a rifle looped around his neck, with people shouting at the police that the kid had just killed two protesters, and the police did nothing? Could it be that young man represented the dominant culture and that was one of his privileges?

Do you see the pattern?

June 10, 2020

Defunding the Police (Poor Choice of Words, Correct Idea)

Filed under: Culture,Economics,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 10:52 am
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In a local newsletter here in Chicago a post entitled “Chicago Has Nearly Tripled Per-Capita Police Spending Since 1964, Data Shows” showed up today. Here’s the subtitle: ““Chicago is spending more on policing per person than at any time in the last half-century despite a persistent drop in crime over the last two decades, while the vast majority of murders remain unsolved.”

When we first moved to Chicago, we signed up to have the Chicago Tribune delivered (a desire of mine along the lines “When I retire . . .”) and the first notable news stories were an accident on the El (blamed on the train driver as they always were apparently) and a court case involving police brutality (the details of which are both gory and disgusting). It was then that we learned that the Chicago Police budget 2-3 million dollars per year to pay judgments in court cases. (You don’t pay if you win.)

If you look at the graph below, you will note that the spending was adjusted for inflation and is all “per capita” based. (Yes, that per capita, President Trump. The one that means “per person.”)

So, the common definition of insanity being doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, we do make note that as spending went up, crime went down. Correlation is not causation, now or ever, so some unpacking of the results of that spending needs to be made. And is that cost effective spending. If not, then reductions are in order.

Now, there is a lot of yada, yada, yada in the air along the lines of “if we defund the police, who will protect us?” I keep saying . . . the police do not actively protect people. If you call the police claiming that your neighbor is getting full on Jack Nicholson in The Shining, they will tell you that until he has broken the law, they cannot do anything. So, you have to wait until your neighbor kills you to file a complaint.

And what is the crime we want deterred the most?

Murder, of course.

(And, also of course, my cartoon mind pops up Jack Benny’s response to the mugger who says “Your money or your life!” And Benny’s response is “I’m thinking, I’m thinking!”)

The crime we want most to be deterred is murder. How is murder deterred? Do the police show up to prevent murders? Not often. Murders are often crimes of passion, crimes of the moment. (“It was an accident, Officer! I was robbing the guy and my gun just went off. Cheap damned thing!”) The response times for police 9-1-1 calls is not particularly good anywhere and I certainly would not bet my life on their coming to save me.

So, how are crimes deterred? By catching and locking up the criminals. Criminals in jail aren’t out on the street doing more crimes. If every (or 70% or 80%) of murders were caught and significantly punished, borderline murderers would be reluctant to put themselves in a position where they are likely to do just that.

So, the crime we want deterred the most? Murder.

The crime that Chicago’s police seems to be least effective in deterring? Murder.

So, we are paying more and more and expecting different results.

Hmmm, that’s a definition of something . . . what was it . . . ?

What Defunding the Police Actually Means
It is Business 101 that incorporating your business (I have done it, it is cheap to do.) provides protection. If you run afoul of creditors or your own bad business practices, you can disincorporate, that is kill off your corporation. When it dies, many things die with it. Labor contracts, unionization agreements, many debts . . . all gone. Some corporations disincorporate on Friday and re-incorporate on Monday (same officers, same building, same office equipment, etc.) This is what Camden, NJ did when they were unable to institute a change in the culture of their police department. They disbanded it. Killed it dead. And started up anew, from scratch, with new hiring and training standards, a new culture, new leaders, etc. This is a standard business practice, people, but calling it “Defunding the Police” was a mistake as people will misunderstand that phrase, deliberately sometimes, but innocently also. Better would have been “Disband the Department—Start Over” or “Replace This Department with a Good One.” Trying to “re form” the departments we have hasn’t worked anywhere to speak of in the U.S. And, if you don’t like a firm you hired, what do you do? You fire them and hire a new one under different terms. Donald Trump has a known tag line of “You’re fired!” so he can hardly complain. (Won’t stop him, but his complaints will be baseless.)

As I said, this is a standard business practice, so the Repubs should love it.

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