“About eight of every 10 registered lobbyists who work for scanner-technology companies previously held positions in the government or Congress, most commonly in the homeland security, aviation or intelligence fields…”
I like Chris Beam, but his treatise on libertarianism in New York magazine is, unfortunately, loaded with straw men and caricatures. He doesn’t really consider libertarians’ best arguments, just the versions of them that are easiest to knock down. Wish I had time to get to it in more detail, but I’m sure this will be batted around the web all week.
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on Monday, December 27th, 2010 at 11:25 am by Radley Balko
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80% of lobbyists come from government or congress:
No surprise there. Generally speaking, I am not one to advocate we need a new law……but there ought to be a law to prevent anyone who leaves a gov job from lobbying. Including congressthings. Seems this is the game. We cannot get rid of these cretins!
@Mattocracy, @JS, @Alex “So Radley, we read your links everyday about police behaving badly and I think a lot of us are assuming that it’s getting particularly worse. Has anyone done any research regarding police brutality over the last hundred years or so since we’ve had professional law enforcement? I feel like the out of control power hungry cop stereo-type has existed for a very long time, yet a lot of us talk about current corrupt law enforcement as if there were better times in the past.
Do you think it’s worse now or has it pretty much been the same over time.
Back when I was doing research on the topic in the mid-90s, law enforcement was broken down into three general categories:
1. Urban – poorly trained, little competition for positions, medium pay, low accountability, low education, reactive policing
2. Suburban – highly trained, high competition for positions, high pay, high accountability, medium to high education, community-based policing
3. Rural – poorly trained, medium competition for positions, low pay, medium accountability, low education, community-based policing
The end result is that police in urban areas tended to be the dregs of the potential law enforcement pool. While suburban and rural police departments attracted people who were interested in serving their community, urban police departments tended to attract people interested in having authority over others.
In the years since, there has been a kind of a shift. Urban law enforcement officers receive more training than they did in the 80s and early 90s, but it tends to be a lot like a military boot camp rather than the community-based policing that suburban police forces had received in the previous era. That militarization of law enforcement has trickled down to suburban areas, with suburban police forces becoming more reactive than community-based in its policing. On this site, we’ve even seen examples of rural police forces becoming militarized.
So while I haven’t done any specific research on police brutality, I think we can all agree that the spread of urban policing attitudes and methods to the suburbs and rural areas is problematic.
The most important lesson from the Washington Post’s series on Top Secret America is the way the growth of the national security state has been driven by private companies who lobby for more money and programs, and who spend really amazing amounts of taxpayer money for stuff that mostly ranges from ineffective to actively nasty.
The truth is, there are real terrorists who really do want to kill Americans or hurt the US, but there aren’t that many of them, and they’re not all that resourceful. Our response to them isn’t driven by anything that looks remotely like rational risk management (assessing probabilities and damages and more-or-less trying to minimize the expected damage done)–it’s driven by political rhetoric and media imagery, and *those* are substantially driven by lobbyists and PR departments.
It is a stunningly good business to be in to sell unnecessary $200K scanners to every airport in the US, almost as good a business as selling $100K missiles to the military, to be used blowing up mud huts in Afghanistan and Yemen.
I think another part of the problem stems from the fact that since violent crime in general has been on a downward trend for 10-20 years that cops have to legitimize themselves by creating violence where there was once none.
The Mossy Spaniard |
December 27th, 2010 at 3:33 pm
The Chris Beam story lost me with the Obion County fire department thing. That story was bandied about like it was an irrefutable indictment of libertarianism.
“Ayn Rand is the gateway drug to Libertarianism, though many toke into adulthood.”
I stopped taking the author seriously at that sentence. Then he blew my mind and lost me completely when he referred to my US Representative, Paul Ryan, as an “Econ wonk.” How trite! I don’t have the time or patience to cover all of the fallacies and faulty logic that my mind was just exposed to. That said, I do want to point put this one egregious argument:
“There’s always tension between freedom and fairness. We want less government regulation, but not when it means firms can hire cheap child labor. We want a free market, but not so bankers can deceive investors. Libertarianism, in promoting freedom above all else, pretends the tension doesn’t exist.”
Libertarianism pretends nothing of the sort. With choice comes fairness. Companies who hire child labor would not be solvent today with child labor being so unpopular. Deceptive bankers would go out of business for lack of clientele. I can’t believe NY Mag wasted space with such a blatant pep-rally for anti-Randian socialists. For these people, “let them eat cake” has become “let them eat caviar” and that kind of thinking is much more dangerous than exalting liberty. Nice post, though, Radley. Way to stay on top of things.
Helmut O' Hooligan |
December 27th, 2010 at 11:21 pm
#6 DarkEFang: “So while I haven’t done any specific research on police brutality, I think we can all agree that the spread of urban policing attitudes and methods to the suburbs and rural areas is problematic”
I think that is definitely part of it. Well said. Urban P.D.’s have, for too long, been where young police recruits go to get turned into de-facto soldiers. With the help of government mistakes (Primarily drug prohibition) the war mentality was, unfortuantely, inevitable.
“I think another part of the problem stems from the fact that since violent crime in general has been on a downward trend for 10-20 years that cops have to legitimize themselves by creating violence where there was once none.”
Yes, to a point. If you are talking about obvious cases like wrong door raids or highly aggressive street stops I agree. But in urban areas (like the area I live in), the violence is very real and generally perpetrated by citizens against other citizens, not by police. However, as I mentioned before, prohibition (government policy) does influence this violence heavily.
I’d guess that mostly, police brutality and militarism just seems more common these days, because of the internet and everyone and their dog having an easily carried and accessed camera. Also, policing has gotten less racist and classist; a decrease in racist/classist attitudes with general assholery remaining more or less constant means that more people that “matter” (white and/or middle-class and up) and are sympathetic to the middle class Americans are subject to police thuggery. And of course, this makes people reconsider their opinions of police behavior generally, leading to increased focus and awareness, which leads to more coverage.
10-20 years ago, even some libertarians were taking a pro-cop (even an explicitly pro-cop brutality) line. Today, even some conservatives and center-leftists (traditionally the cops’ best friends) are starting to hate them. An advantage that today’s anti-cop sentiment has over that of the 90’s is that it’s less bound up in partisan hatred for tribal enemies (e.g. Bill Clinton and Janet Reno). Still, it probably isn’t good enough. I’m certain we’ll be back to oblivious cop worship sooner or later, especially if the state shuts down the internet.
Doug Walker |
December 28th, 2010 at 6:17 pm
See something, say something. Receive swift punishment.