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Among the great mysteries of the universe is that I have often found myself in conversations with folks who find that some of the things governments do to be utterly tyrannical. And I’ve been in conversations with folks are utterly outraged that governments and big business are doing the Tiger Woods / waitress thingy. Yet, no matter what the evidence, not matter that at base the government is the only tool that can “legitimately” coerce folks, they cannot help but see government as the answer to all of their problems. Where’s the cognitive dissonance when you see reports like this:

Radley Balko via Coyote reports:

Cop runs license check on a suspicious vehicle. Although they apparently committed no traffic violation, cop insists that his decision to run a check had nothing to do with the fact that the occupants were black, and happened to be driving in an affluent, predominately white neighborhood. The cop’s partner apparently then enters the wrong license number, which returns a car that had been reported stolen. So cop follows car into driveway, which happens to be the home of the driver’s parents, where he lives. Cop approaches driver and occupant with his gun drawn. Driver’s parents come out to see what’s causing the commotion. Cop roughs up driver’s mother. Driver gets up from ground to tell cop to lay off of his mother. Cop shoots driver, a full 32 seconds after pulling into the driveway.

The driver, who was unarmed, will now carry a bullet in his liver for the rest of his life. The cop was charged with first degree aggravated assault. A jury acquitted him. Now this week, U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon dismissed the driver’s lawsuit against both the cop that fired his gun and the cop who entered the wrong license plate number, citing qualified immunity. According to Harmon, the officer acted “reasonably,” and moreover, wrongly accusing an unarmed man of stealing a car, pointing a gun at him, then shooting him in the liver, “did not violate [his] constitutional rights.”

Both cops are back on the force. The guy with the bullet in his liver? Tough luck. He’ll be paying his own medical bills.

I have a new theory. Folks actually do not see this as government. And so do not equate this sort of thing with the myriad other things they want government to do.

Which is bizarre, isn’t it. I’ve been told by more than one person that “if you only saw how industrial animal raising happened, you would become a vegetarian.” OK, maybe that’s true. I know I cannot manage to kill an ant in my house. So, why don’t these same folks see how “industrial government” works? Why does that not make them want to be government vegetarians?

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4 Responses to “The Great Mysteries of the Universe, Vegetarianism and Bad Government”

  1. Rod says:

    I have a big problem with sovereign immunity. If government officials can get away with behavior that would be illegal (and actionable in civil court) if one of us ordinary serfs did it, it sets officials like police in a superior class, the sovereigns, who have limited accountability. What’s more, the police handle investigations into their behavior in a special way that tends to shield them from legal action, and they all (not sure about all, but most will do) belong to the Fraternal Order of Police, a union that proclaims a special fraternal relationship among them.

    Not all police are well-trained, either. When our township disbanded our police department, a major consideration was the fact that while the department spent a lot of money, their arrests resulted in few convictions, either as a result of honest mistakes or a result of utter incompetence in following standard police procedures for the simplest of things. Most of the time, their principal concern was recording criminal incidents and the “delivery of services” to the public which would then be used to demonstrate the need for more police. An honest analysis of the department’s record of protecting and serving the public revealed that their output was mostly wearing out police cars.

    Now, two of three boroughs inside our township have a police department, and I have to say that they are much better trained than our old Upper Hanover department was. Nonetheless, they are an expensive enterprise, and they are cradled by the Fraternal Order of Police in their pursuit of high salaries and lavish benefits. While they do indeed risk their lives in a very small number of incidents, most of the time they do not intercede between violent criminals and members of the public. It costs over a million dollars to sustain this department, and the annual loss of property to crime is usually under a hundred thousand. One of the three boroughs even dropped out of the joint police commission because they could not afford their $300,000 share. The police commission and the department also regularly pressure Upper Hanover to share expenses, and some times in the past they have had policies that order their officers not to respond to calls in Upper Hanover when the State Police are unavailable (now they will respond, but the borough councils of the two boroughs resent Upper Hanover for being “free riders.”)

    Some people defend sovereign immunity because the taxpayers would wind up paying the legal bills of officials who might be criminally or civilly liable. I see that point, but I think one could still find the individuals liable for wrongdoing just like the rest of us. Why should the government cover their expenses?

    And I’d also deny sovereign immunity to federal officials, especially if their actions are shown to be done in malice. Thus a politically motivated EPA official would be on guard to purchase an umbrella liability policy (with no federal mandate to do so) and to lose his house and the rest of his possessions if his actions screw over an individual or even a class of individuals. Penalties could also be assessed on the government when a whole department or administration conspires to fleece and destroy an industry — maybe they’d have to mend their damages with their own labor, on weekends, like the drunk drivers who pick up trash along the highways.

    The sovereigns in this country are the people, and the people give their consent to be governed to a government that will follow the constitution.

  2. Speedmaster says:

    Great post, and points.

  3. chuck martel says:

    Law enforcement in this country (and probably in all countries) is a domestic occupying army, financed by the citizens. Instead of quartering them, as our ancestors did the Hessians, we are forced to give them generous salaries, fabulous retirement and health benefits, immunity from prosecution, and total subservience.

    Interestingly, in this area two recent cases, http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_20132005/ex-minneapolis-park-police-chief-admits-child-molestation?IADID=Search-www.twincities.com-www.twincities.com

    and: http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_20293191/former-coon-rapids-police-officer-sentenced-sexual-abuse

    You would be able to use the same reasoning as is used in suits against the Catholic church and pedophile priests in pursuing damages in cases like these. No doubt we’ll find out soon if the public is on the hook , since the legal profession is always on the alert for expanding its opportunities.

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