A prediction on police body cameras

As if there’s no problem that can’t be fixed with a government program and money, President Obama is requesting funds to equip police officers with body cameras in order to curtail police brutality. If politicians in Washington told us they needed to fund a government program to make certain the sun rises in the morning, you could take it to the bank the sun will stop rising in the morning.

One reason I am opposed to President Obama’s idea is because the Constitution doesn’t permit the federal government to exert this kind of control over local LEOs. Even if funded and initiated entirely at the local level, I would disagree with the government usurping the role of private citizens.

Historically, government has been incapable of holding itself accountable. The video of Eric Garner’s murder demonstrates the inadequacy of cameras as a means to achieve accountability. Body cameras are not the end-all solution to a morality problem and could engender a false sense of security for the citizenry. I’m all for private citizens having the right to record police, and it’s they who need to hold government accountable. I also support the right of individual police officers to record themselves in order to defend against spurious accusations. But a government camera will hold police accountable to the government, not the people.

If the government’s track record is any indication, body cameras could worsen the problem of police brutality. To believe that body cameras, imposed on officers by a flawed system, will morph bad police officers into good ones rather than good ones into bad ones requires a certain amount of naivete.

Consider the case of Eric Garner. His murder was captured on video – the evidence is about as empirical as it can get. The murderer will not be held accountable. Contrast that case with the case of former police chief Willie Lovett. See: Supporting the police who enforce Sheldon Adelson’s racket. For doing the right thing, Lovett is going to jail.[1] The trend is not for the government to administer justice but to drive up its cost (i.e. drive up the cost of a “bribe” or protection). My rule is to look for the means to further that trend in every political plan.

How will body cameras impact officer discretion? Suppose an officer wants to be courteous by not enforcing an unjust statute – say, letting somebody off with a warning – will that officer be unable to deviate from policy? I believe it will be less likely that body cameras will be used to curtail brutality than to enforce compliance with prevailing policies, which will compel the use of unnecessary force.

I see the proposal for body cameras as the new front line in the battle for our civil liberties. If the plan for police officers proceeds, this will be merely the first step of an Orwellian scheme on steroids. Here’s my prediction: The program, if implemented, will only metastasize. Why not compel everybody to wear cameras? If people have nothing to hide, then why not? If we can place body cameras on police officers, why can’t we “help” veterans by compelling VA employees to wear them? (I would be opposed to such a scheme.) Why not compel all government employees to wear body cameras to ensure they are properly executing their duties? We will then have one huge government full of employees being held accountable by the government.

But then what do I know? Pursuant to the VA, everything I wrote above would no doubt be charted as the manifestation of extreme delusional thinking. Perhaps I can overcome this “delusional” thinking by getting with the program and calling for cameras on all government employees (jestingly). And then the government will be able to ensure VA employees comply with prescribing dangerous psychiatric drugs to veterans for having impermissible beliefs (e.g. believing the profit and loss test on the free market is the best way to ensure accountability to consumers).

[1] – Lovett’s “crime” (he had no victims) was functioning as a de facto tax collector independent of the regime, while Garner’s assailants were functioning as de jure tax collectors on behalf of the regime. From these two cases, one might conclude that violating policy to protect liberty without inflicting injury upon anybody is a greater “crime” than is needlessly taking a life if done in service to the state.

Supporting the police who enforce Sheldon Adelson’s racket

Recently, Senator Harry Reid criticized the Koch brothers for being motivated by the pursuit of wealth while defending his nexus with the billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. Senator Reid’s apologia of Sheldon Adelson is that Adelson is not motivated by the pursuit of wealth. Adelson doesn’t seek money. Money seeks Adelson. See: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/harry-reid-don-t-pick-on-sheldon-adelson

Let’s start with this axiom: there’s a distinction between what’s illegal and what’s criminal. In other words, just because something is illegal pursuant to statutory law doesn’t make it a criminal act. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it lawful or moral. In many instances, enforcing a statute is itself a criminal act. When the government does whatever it wants, that’s called lawlessness.

Gambling is not a criminal activity. If it were, then Sheldon Adelson has a lot of explaining to do. If something is a criminal activity, it shouldn’t be legal under any circumstances. The government ought not selectively grant permission to people to rape one another through a licensing scheme.

I’m not saying gambling is a good thing to engage in, but it shouldn’t be illegal. Gambling is legal in Nevada and on Indian reservations. Apparently, the former police chief of Savannah-Chatham, Georgia, agrees with me that it would be immoral to enforce anti-gambling statutes. For that, he is now being prosecuted. See: https://www.augustachronicle.com/story/news/2014/06/05/feds-indict-ex-savannah-police-chief/14409477007/

Former Savannah-Chatham Metro police chief Willie Lovett is being prosecuted for having taken payoffs from an “illegal” (i.e. non-government-accredited) gambling enterprise to not enforce anti-gambling statutes. He received money in exchange for protecting the enterprise from the LEO that he ran. Repealing anti-gambling statutes would remove the demand for the protection services sold by the former police chief.

Let’s establish another axiom: as Murray Rothbard saliently articulated, bribery isn’t inherently wrong. When an employer pays an employee to work, that employer is bribing the employee. If somebody pays a neighbor to mow their yard, that person is bribing the neighbor to mow their yard. If somebody pays somebody to murder somebody, that’s totally immoral and criminal and needs to be stopped. The consequential issue is not that a person paid somebody to do something. The consequential issue is what the person paid to have done.

In the case of Willie Lovett, his “transgression” was in not enforcing anti-gambling statutes. From a moral point of view, it would be wrong to jail people who voluntarily engage in a victimless activity. Unless somebody was forced to gamble against their will, it makes no sense to call gambling a crime. From an economic point of view, shutting down the gambling enterprise would not be in the interest of the local government. Instead, it would make more economic sense for the local government to leave the enterprise intact and collect taxes – kind of like what the former police chief was doing. Objectively, the former police chief is being prosecuted for behaving like a tax collector rather than a kidnapper.

Prosecuting Willie Lovett for doing the right thing by not enforcing unjust statutes against gambling makes sense only from the point of view of Nevada casinos. Objectively, Nevada casinos benefit by having the federal government wage a war on gambling in other jurisdictions. The real racketeering is the prosecution of Lovett, suppressing competition for casinos in other parts of the country.

Pursuant to Sheldon Adelson, statutes against online gambling have nothing to do with his own economic interests. Instead, online gambling exploits vulnerable people. To prevent that exploitation, people should travel to Las Vegas and visit one of his casinos. See: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-adv-adelson-online-gambling-20140521-story.html#page=1

But then Adelson does say that he’s in favor of gambling. It’s just that online gambling he’s against. Then perhaps Adelson can use his political pull to help repeal anti-gambling statutes in Savannah-Chatham and then cover the legal defense of the former police chief. Or does he only support the police who enforce his racket?

California’s broken justice system

A few days ago, I was watching a true crime story on Investigation Discovery about two serial killers named Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris. The duo was responsible for such horrific crimes that I was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point that I couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night. It is hard to describe the feelings I experienced while watching the re-enactments. I wanted so badly to be able to change the past and save the victims by talking aloud to the television, trying to tell the victims not to get into the van.

Both Bittaker and Norris had long rap sheets. They met in prison, only to be released to go on their killing spree in 1979. It seems to me that there was enough evidence to sentence both Bittaker and Norris to death. Bittaker was sentenced to death almost 30 years ago. Unfortunately, the prosecutors exchanged a much lesser sentence for Norris’ testimonty against Bittaker. Norris is eligible for parole beginning 2010. To my shocked disbelief, Bittaker is still awaiting execution at San Quentin 30 years later!

So here is my proposal to Governor Schwarzenegger and the State of California: stop collecting death row inmates. Execute them. That Bittaker could die of natural causes defies both common sense and justice.

From watching some of these true crime stories, a frequent common denominator is drugs – both recreational and psychiatric. This would make sense, since drugs dull emotions, thus dulling the conscience. There are some things that people should get angry over, e.g., if a loved one is harmed by somebody like a Bittaker or a Norris. There are some things that people should feel sorrow over, e.g., if a loved one dies. There are some things that people should feel guilt and remorse for, e.g., bad behavior. Without emotions, one can’t empathize. Emotions play an important role in governing the conscience. Dulling emotions dulls the conscience, and thus engenders irrational behavior. Both recreational drugs and psychiatric drugs subdue emotions, i.e., subdue the conscience. That some people can’t control their emotions is undeniably true. But psychiatric drugs and people with homicidal tendencies don’t mix. It is a calculus for disaster.

Something else is usually involved in these cases, which is also a part of the broken justice system: so-called psychiatric diagnoses and “treatment” for bad and evil behavior. Doctors morph evil behavior into diseases. I’m sorry, but evil behavior is not a disease. The “remedy” is then to drug the criminal with psychiatric drugs, i.e., dulling the conscience. Norris, a serial rapist prior to his release from prison, would have been better “treated” with castration way back in 1975, rather than treated as a “patient” with a “disease.”

I propose that the criminal justice system be reformed by separating itself from psychiatry. The state of California could save money by firing psychiatrists who prescribe crime-inducing drugs, and then hiring surgeons to castrate people like Norris instead.