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Sunday, March 24, 2002

Thatcher on the European Union

My latest rant I will leave as a simple quote with no further comment beyond this paragraph. Being English, Margaret Thatcher is not very well known to me but everything I've ever heard her say about most issues has been dead on. This latest quote is brilliant and expresses better than I could my complete sentiment regarding the European Union. She correctly assigns this pending disaster to the long standing aims of various pseudo-intellectual fads that have been popular in Europe since the late 19th century, most notably the Comintern. This quote, I am told, comes from her book "Statecraft," which I intend to read soon.

 " . . . Europe is the result of plans. It is, in fact, a classic Utopian project, a monument to the vanity of intellectuals, a program whose inevitable destiny is failure: Only the scale of the final damage is in doubt." Margaret Thatcher
That's all.

Monday, March 04, 2002

Cops Wrapped in Flags
I was watching the news today and saw a report on how the policemen of Sultan, Washington were in such dire straits that they had to fix their own equipment. It was a petty thing to be putting on a national news program and I don't understand how even people with "standard" views of the police would think this newsworthy, but there it was on Jim Lehrer's show. And there was some wheezing old police chief complaining that he was trained to be a cop, not to troubleshoot problems with his computer. I don't know where he gets off, almost everybody I know has to tweak their computer, especially the more high tech their equipment gets.
The trouble is not that he thinks that he's too good to work on his computer, but that the police have way too much technology in their vehicles. If their equipment is down for repairs, then that's a good thing. That means that they aren't acting as highwaymen and robbing the peaceful populace of money. The less time they have with operating equipment, the freer I am to move about the country without fear of their confiscation of my money. Besides, their budget is given to them by their citizens, and the police themselves usually get to decide how to spend it. They can hire people or they can buy new equipment, or they can be more austere and just do with less equipment. Their whining is largely focused on priorities they themselves set. I hate it when public servants complain about how much money we give them to spend. Every civilian company I have ever worked for had tight budgets too.

So, again, I have let my bias show. But my point is not that the police have too much equipment, it is rather that they tend to be arrogant. The old policeman that couldn't even breathe comfortably used the old line "I put my life on the line" as his excuse for needing more money to maintain his equipment. I'm tired of the police wrapping themselves in the flag.

But Skyler, you've been in the military, do you feel the same way about veterans? Yep, I do. I hate it when veterans who served in peacetime, or even as pilots flying milkruns over Kosovo claim that they are deserving of special status because they "put their lives on the line." Our military and our police forces are made up of volunteers who are compensated in many ways. They get paid, they get career opportunities, and they get excitement. In fact my first rant a few years ago was about this very topic. The short version is that only the reservists who have to interupt their lives to serve in extremis, or anyone in the military who was in sustained and bloody combat is due any special respect.

But there is a big, BIG difference between the military and the police. The military exists to protect the people. The police exist to control the people.

The Posse Comitatus Act, although much modified since Reagan started his "war on drugs" still has the effect of keeping the military out of domestic police matters. The military's sole role in our nation is for defence.

The police, on the other hand, have the stated purpose of "protecting" us, but in reality their role is to provide crowd control, to prevent disorderly conduct, to occasionally arrest people, but mostly to generate revenue by ticketing people who are traveling peacefully and taking their money from them. All of these tasks involve controlling the citizens' activities to some extent. We would like to believe that this control extends only to violent law breakers, but for the most part their focus is on revenue generation and on filling jails with people who use or sell drugs. Their violent and oppressive function towards drug use has escalated crime in this country to levels unseen since Prohibition and they have even used the "war on drugs" to circumvent the Fifth Amendment and fill their coffers with property confiscated from people who are not given due process.

So I have little sympathy for some old policeman who has to work a little harder to lie in wait and rob people of their money. I have little patience for a man who claims a higher status when the main part of his job is to ambush peoceful people. I have little regard for a man who tells me that I should stand in awe of his dedication and his willingness to "put his life on the line" when he is little more than a thug who enjoys striking fear into the lives of the people who pay him. Besides, our nation's highest court has ruled this past year that Police Officers are not allowed to be very intelligent, and the police often prove this rule in practice.

Athens in its classical days went for about 400 years without any police of any kind. When a crime was committed, passersby were expected to take action. It's unreasonable to expect that this enlightened attitude towards allowing the people to be armed and empowered will be made policy any time soon, but if it were, I think crime would probably go down. No one would be put in jail for drug use because most people would mind their own business. Crimes would again be only things like murder, assault, rape, and robbery, which all people recognize as criminal. Civil courts can take care of fraud and other crimes. But then, I'm dreaming again. Mostly if selling and buying and using drugs of any kind were made legal, almost all organized crime would end overnight. Why would a business engage in violence if it were easier and cheaper to operate legally and peacefully?

I hope the out-of-shape, wheezing policeman from Sultan, Washington suffers much difficulty with his high tech ambushing equipment and I hope that the people he tries to control are given that much relief from his ambushes as a result. I hope that the mantle of superiority that he wraps around himself gets moth-eaten and recognized by others for the insulting fraud that it is.