A Philosopher's Blog

Law Enforcement as Revenue Stream

Posted in Ethics, Law, Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on May 11, 2015

After the financial class melted down the world economy, local governments faced an obvious reduction in their revenues. As the economy recovered under a Democrat President, the Republicans held onto or gained power in many state governments, such as my own adopted state of Florida. With laudable consistency with their professed ideology, Republicans routinely cut taxes for businesses, the well off and sometimes even almost everyone. While the theory seems to be that cutting taxes will increase the revenue for state and local governments, shockingly the opposite seems to happen: state and local governments find themselves running short of funds needed to meet the expenses of actually operating a civilization.

Being resourceful, local leaders seek other revenue streams in order to pay the bills. While cities like Ferguson provide well-known examples of a common “solution”, many cities and towns have embraced the practice of law-enforcement as revenue stream. While the general practice of getting revenue from law enforcement is nothing new, the extent to which some local governments rely on it is rather shocking. How the system works is also often shocking—it often amounts to a shakedown system one would expect to see in a corrupt country unfamiliar with the rule of law or the rights of citizens.

Since Ferguson, where Michael Brown was shot on August 9, 2014, has been the subject of extensive study, I will use the statistics from that town. Unfortunately, Ferguson does not appear to be unique or even unusual.

In 2013, Ferguson’s court dealt with 12,108 cases and 24,532 warrants. This works out to an average of 1.5 cases and 3 warrants per household in Ferguson. The fines and court fees that year totaled $2,635,400—making the municipal court the second largest revenue stream.

It would certainly be one thing if these numbers were the result of the legitimate workings of the machinery of justice. That is, if the cases and warrants were proportional to the actual crimes being committed and that justice was being dispensed fairly. That is, the justice was just.

One point of concern that has been widely addressed in the national media is that the legal system seems to disproportionally target blacks. In Ferguson, as in many places, the majority of the cases handled by the court arise from car stops. Ferguson is 29% white, but whites make up only 12.7% of those stopped. When a person is stopped, a black citizen will be searched 12.1% of the time, while a white citizen will be searched 6.9% of the time. In terms of arrest, a black citizen was arrested 10.4% of the time and a white citizen was arrested 5.2% of the time.

One stock reply to such figures is the claim that blacks commit more crimes than whites. If it were true that blacks were being arrested in proportion to the rate at which they were committing crimes, then this would be (on the face of it) fair. However, this does not seem to be the case. Interesting, even though blacks were more likely to be searched, the police discovered contraband 21.7% of the time. Whites who were searched were found with contraband 34.0% of the time. Also, 93% of those arrested in Ferguson were black. While certainly not impossible, it seems somewhat odd that 93% of the crime committed in the city was committed by black citizens.

Naturally, these numbers can be talked around or even explained away. It could be argued that blacks are not being targeted as a specific source of revenue and the arrest rates are proportional and just. This still leaves the matter of how the legal system operates in terms of being focused on revenue.

Laying aside all talk of race, Ferguson stands out as an example of how law enforcement can turn into a collection system. One key component is, of course, having a system of high fines. For example, Ferguson had a $531 fine for high grass and weeds, $792 for Failure to Obey, $527 for Failure to Comply, $427 for a Peace Disturbance violation, and so on.

If a person can pay, then the person is not arrested. But, if a person cannot afford the fine, then an arrest warrant is issued—this is the second part of the system. The city issued 32,975 arrest warrants for minor offenses in 2013—and the city has a population of 21,000 people.

After a person is arrested, she faces even more fees, such the obvious court fees and these can quickly pile up. For example, a person might get a $150 parking ticket that she cannot pay. She is then arrested and subject to more fees and more charges. This initial ticket might grow to a debt of almost$1,000 to the city. Given that the people who tend to be targeted are poor, it is likely they will not be able to pay the initial ticket. They will then be arrested, which could cost them their job, thus make them unable to pay their court fees. This could easily spiral into a court inflicted cycle of poverty and debt. This, obviously enough, is not what the legal system is supposed to do.

From a moral standpoint, one main problem with using this sort of law enforcement as a revenue stream is the damage it does to the citizens who cannot afford the fines and fees. As noted in the example above, a person could find her life ruined by a single parking ticket. The point of law enforcement in a just society is to protect the citizens from harm, not ruin them.

A second point of moral concern is that this sort of system is racketeering—it puts forth a threat of arrest and court fees, and then offers “protection” from that threat in return for a fee. That is, citizens are threatened to buy their way out of a greater harm. This is hardly justice. If it was practice by anyone else, it would be criminal racketeering and a protection scheme.

A third point of moral concern is that the system of exploiting the citizens by force and threat of force damages the fundamental relation between the citizen and the democratic state. In feudal states and in the domains of warlords, one expects the thugs of the warlords to shake down the peasants. However, that sort of thing is contrary to the nature of a democratic state. As happened during the revolts against feudalism and warlords, people will rise up against such oppression—and this is to be expected. Robin Hood is, after all, the hero and the Sheriff of Nottingham is the villain.

This is not to say that there should not be fines, penalties and punishments. However, they should be proportional to the offenses, they should be fairly applied, and should be aimed at protecting the citizens, not filling the coffers of the kingdom. As a final point, we should certainly not be cutting the taxes of the well off and then slamming the poor with the cost of doing so. That is certainly unjust and will, intended or not, result in dire social consequences.


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  1. ronster12012 said, on May 11, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Something is very wrong when a government of any description becomes financially dependent on a revenue stream of fines. A fine is meant to be a punishment for bad behaviour not a sacred revenue stream for someone else. What would happen if the production of ‘crime’ dropped…..it would be a calamity!

    It’s not just in the US either. I heard on the news awhile ago that NSW here in Oz hoped(?) to increase revenue from speeding fines and red light cameras by 40% to $480mil. So a government hopes and is counting on increased ‘crime’. Is that any way for a supposedly ‘moral’ institution to act? In a parallel situation here about 20 years ago a state politician led a campaign to stop the spread of poker machines into clubs and pubs in his state(he lost BTW, silly misguided man, Did he really think he could stop a pile of money being tapped?) . He warned that state governments would end up the biggest gambling addicts of all. And so it turned out.

    But of course when a country sends all its manufacturing ie. making real stuff, to China, what is left is financial games, speculation and fining the citizenry.

  2. TJB said, on May 11, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Mike, you are starting to sound like a libertarian. Congratulations!

    • magus71 said, on May 11, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      Still sounds like liberal mantra to me. The crime stats are made up by law enforcement? For decades? PDs employ a higher percentage of minorities than the neighborhoods’ percentage, generally speaking. As you point out, it’s Dem policies that enable black behavior. Every crime archive shows blacks are more violent, commit more crimes are more fatherless, etc. Is Sowell wrong? is Charles Murray wrong?

      Where was Freddie Gray’s life sentence, given that he’d been arrested 31 times on drug-related charges? I really wish the average person could be a cop for a month in a big city. This country has turned into a massive joke.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 11, 2015 at 3:58 pm

      I was a libertarian anarchist in college.

  3. TJB said, on May 11, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Baby steps, Mike. The next step is to understand how the Dem policies (that you have endorsed) have bankrupted states and cities and have inexorably led to the rapacious behavior of the police that you now deplore.

    On Friday the Illinois Supreme Court tacitly agreed that the massive industry of government in this state has lost control of itself. The justices reaffirmed a principle they articulated in a similar case last July: Lawmakers who tried to regain some control of future state spending by trimming retirement benefits violated the Illinois Constitution.

    If anyone doubted the truth of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s insistence thatIllinois must radically restructure the costs and scope of government, Friday’s ruling settles that. The state with some 7,000 local governments, with the credit rating worse than its 49 peers, with unfunded pension liabilities above $100 billion and rising by more millions daily, with taxation at levels that already are driving businesses (and jobs) beyond its borders — that state has to overhaul its operations.

    Expect to hear politicians or advocacy groups or finance experts float notions you’ve never heard in Illinois. That to preserve money for pension costs, the state workforce may have to be drastically reduced, that work contracted to private firms that don’t have to provide such benefits. That as the cost of retirement benefits continues to skyrocket, more of the obligation must be placed on the workers who will reap the benefits. That’s not to blame the workers; that’s to recognize brutal reality.

    You won’t hear these and other dramatic thoughts only about state government: Friday’s ruling vastly complicates life for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and thousands of other local officials. They prayed that the court would uphold state attempts to curtail retiree benefits, or at least explain how future laws might be written to meet constitutional constraints. Friday’s decision offered neither. Maybe Emanuel et al. can offer the court more compelling arguments: Unlike the state, cutting benefits really is our last resort. But after Friday’s ruling, they’re running uphill.


    • magus71 said, on May 11, 2015 at 2:41 pm

      What is my personal motive, as a cop, to be rapacious? Do I get a personal cut of fine money? If these PDs unions had any balls at all, they’d call for a general strike. Betting libertarianism won’t look good then.

      • TJB said, on May 11, 2015 at 3:26 pm

        “What is my personal motive, as a cop, to be rapacious?”

        To keep your job. The average cop is just carrying out Department policy.

        • magus71 said, on May 11, 2015 at 3:58 pm

          Who can prove you turned your eye on crime, real or invented? I was call-to-call most days. Why would I have to make stuff up? 99% of criminals’ interaction with police is from a tip from citizens. Most veteran cops I knew tended to be lazy. Also, in my experience, the one thing giant bureaucracies hate the most is bad publicity, not inaction from the bureaucrat. In my career, I had three major events that drew public attention locally ( not that exceptional). In every single case, the complainant outright lied as to the circumstances. People lie about cops, a lot.

          • WTP said, on May 11, 2015 at 4:23 pm

            Of course what is getting glossed over here is the obvious fact that if you can’t pay the fine, no one makes you do the crime. People have control over their own behavior. And as if the criminal poor are actually paying all these fines. More poverty is heaped on the poor by the criminal element in their own communities than what they pay out in fines, so if fines are getting attention, given our current BS media and such, perhaps it’s a system that works. I’d be willing to bet that most of the revenue that has been generated has come at the expense of those who are willing to forgo their day in court, i.e. those a bit above the poverty line.

            And Mike has the gall to whine about fines while at the same time criticizing locking up criminals. Hell, he’s still an anarchist in my book. Well, one who is all cool with anarchy that brings down the system. That takes it to “The Man”. All that other leftist ’60s bullsh*t. There’s no real logic, sense, or philosophy to any of this. It’s just the inbreeding of ideas in the faculty lounge.

            Furthermore, I’d be willing to bet that Magus and most cops are more likely to write a warning for someone who at least appears to accept they were wrong and has a fairly clean record. The biggest whiners about speed traps and such that I’ve known were guys with plenty of money. They were constantly driving muscle cars and such too fast and getting tickets because the fines really didn’t mean that much to them. They’d bitch about the cops as a means of bragging about what “rebels” they were. Nauseating.

            • magus71 said, on May 11, 2015 at 4:41 pm

              It was once noted on one of my evaluations that I had far higher than normal traffic stops, and below average number of tickets.

              How have I managed only three traffic tickets in my life, despite having driven across the US on multiple occasions? Because I’m white maybe?

              Really, am I the only one tired of the black victims trope? If anyone suspects real corruption, look at the top. The fish rots from the head. Look at the black chief of police, mayor and prosecutor. The prosecutor who has not yet said what evidence she has to charge the officers. Though there is evidence from another arrestee in the vehicle, who says Gray was flipping out. When these cops are found not guilty, watch Baltimore burn again.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 11, 2015 at 5:56 pm

              Wait, did you just make Goetz your photo?

            • magus71 said, on May 11, 2015 at 7:09 pm

              Yes, he’s my new, old hero. The first guy in my memory accused of racism for defending himself.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 11, 2015 at 6:02 pm

              Quite right-this sort of corruption does start in the upper regions of the hierarchy. Presumably officers just don’t say “hey, let’s increase revenue by busting people for no reason.”

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 11, 2015 at 4:05 pm

          True-the push for revenue comes from higher up. The officers are not engaged in personal corruption, just following the directives of those who need to pay the bills for the city or town.

  4. ajmacdonaldjr said, on May 11, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    You write as someone who has never experience what you’re writing about. Have you ever been arrested? Spent time in jail? Appeared in court? Had a warrant out for your arrest? Been assessed fines and court costs? You should spend some time sitting in your local county courthouse, so you can see for yourself the people the police and courts deal with on a daily basis. It’s pretty depressing. Not the sharpest tools in the box, and not the nicest either. Come down from your ivory tower, get into the streets, and write another article from that perspective.

    • magus71 said, on May 11, 2015 at 2:39 pm

      No, he hasn’t. Would be shocked if reality beckoned.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 11, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      I have never been arrested, although I did get a parking ticket at the University of Maine for parking too far from the curb. I’ve just been in court for my divorce and as a juror. No, no warrants issued for me. No, no fines or court costs. I’ve been stopped by the police only three times-twice while running, once while biking. I was able to talk my way out of being arrested on each occasion.

      I’m sure witnessing the machinery of the legal system is very depressing. I’m also sure that some folks get just what they deserved.

      Based on your experience, on what points am I mistaken?

      • ajmacdonaldjr said, on May 12, 2015 at 1:02 pm

        From your perspective, fines and court costs are a racket. This is because you’re a law abiding citizen. As a member of the professional class you cannot fathom why anyone would not pay a fine or not show up in court, which necessitates warrants being issued for one’s arrest. The lower class, and the criminal class, do not do as you do. They don’t show for court, and if they do they dress like thugs. You would know better… they do not. You need to realize the police and courts are doing their best to maintain law and order while dealing with people who have no respect for themselves, their families, their neighbors, and their friends. You probably take a shower, mow your lawn, and pay your traffic tickets…. other people do not. They don’t shower, they have a yard full of trash, and they don’t pay their traffic tickets. These are the people the police and courts are dealing with. Most people will pay a fine, and most people want to stay out of jail. To the lower and criminal classes, not paying fines and doing time in jail are a part of life. Like I said, you should spend a week at the county courthouse where you live. See for yourself the people who are there. Watch the trials of local people for local crimes. It will change your perspective.

        • WTP said, on May 12, 2015 at 1:20 pm

          the criminal class, do not do as you do. They don’t show for court, and if they do they dress like thugs. You would know better… they do not. You need to realize the police and courts are doing their best to maintain law and order while dealing with people who have no respect for themselves, their families, their neighbors, and their friends. You probably take a shower, mow your lawn, and pay your traffic tickets…. other people do not. They don’t shower, they have a yard full of trash, and they don’t pay their traffic tickets.

          B-I-N-G-O…hell, the whole thing. An excellent restating in particulars of what I say above ” And as if the criminal poor are actually paying all these fines…I’d be willing to bet that most of the revenue that has been generated has come at the expense of those who are willing to forgo their day in court”. i.e. life in the real world.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 12, 2015 at 3:43 pm

          I don’t think they are all a racket. I get the need to impose punishments on people and financial costs are a form of punishment and deterrence. However, the main function of a legal system should not be to generate revenue, the fines should be proportional to the offense and the system should not add to the ruin of people, but aim at preventing it.

          You are right-I have little experience with truly awful people. My understanding of the need to impose order with force is largely theoretical-from Aristotle and Hobbes, rather than directly experiencing the state maintaining order or facing off against the worst of humanity.

          However, I think we can do better than we do now-so I push for improvement. I also have an unbroken faith that no one is so far gone that they are beyond all possibility of redemption. I could be wrong about this-perhaps there are people of purest evil and lacking in even the smallest atom of humanity. For now, I must believe that none of us are truly beyond redemption. Experience, could of course, change that belief. As a philosopher, I have to accept that faith is not founded in reason and is, perhaps just hope in fancy dress.

        • magus71 said, on May 12, 2015 at 8:33 pm

          Couldn’t have said it better.

  5. T. J. Babson said, on May 11, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    Magus, any comments?

    The war on drugs now features roadside sexual assaults.

    Jacob Sullum|May. 11, 2015 12:01 am

    Last month the Texas House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill that requires police officers to obtain a warrant before probing the anuses and vaginas of motorists during traffic stops. The fact that the bill was deemed necessary speaks volumes about the way the war on drugs has eroded our Fourth Amendment rights and encouraged cops to inflict outrageous indignities on people they suspect of violating pharmacological taboos.

    How often do Texas cops decide to perform body cavity searches on people they pull over for routine traffic offenses? More often than you might think. Looking for the case that gave rise to this bill, I immediately found three cases, all involving young women suspected of marijuana possession.

    On Memorial Day in 2012, Alexandria Randle and Brandy Hamilton, both in their 20s, were driving home to Houston from Surfside Beach when they were pulled over for speeding on Highway 288 in Brazoria County. Claiming to smell marijuana, Trooper Nathaniel Turner ordered the women out of the car. After he found a small amount of pot in the car, Turner called a female trooper, Jennie Bui, and asked her to perform a body cavity search on both women. “If you hid something in there, we are going to find it,” Bui says on the dashcam video of the traffic stop. It turned out there was nothing to find. The stop ended with a ticket for possession of drug paraphernalia.

    “It was extremely humiliating, especially with my entire family, including my 8-year-old nieces and my nephew…in the back of the car,” Randle told HLN. “They saw all of this happening, as well as everybody on the side of the road….I have a whole different feeling when I see police officers now….It’s a very touchy thing dealing with them.”


    • magus71 said, on May 11, 2015 at 7:34 pm

      Against my department’s policy. That kind of search happened at the jail. We were repeatedly warned not to touch any women’s private parts. All through the academy. As a matter of fact, back in the 70s police would often get accused of raping female arrestees, so it became policy everywhere to call in time and mileage before and after the arrest and transport.

      And here’s what one of the biggest resources for American law enforcement (AKA Jack Booted Thugs) has to say about it.


      And here’s what the director of Texas DPS says: “DPS Director Steven McCraw said in a written statement that the department “does not and will not tolerate any conduct that violates the U.S. and Texas constitutions or DPS training or policy.”

      Three fired troopers. Where is the rotting head of the fish? BTW, I was involved in one of the largest heroin busts in Maine history. Guess where the female was hiding the heroin? Jail found it.

      • nailheadtom said, on May 11, 2015 at 9:45 pm

        If the heroin was hidden somewhere in the female’s body, one of the largest heroin busts in Maine history couldn’t have been very big.

  6. nailheadtom said, on May 11, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    ” In feudal states and in the domains of warlords, one expects the thugs of the warlords to shake down the peasants.”

    In feudal states and the domains of warlords, there were and are mutual obligations that resemble in some ways the relationship between the state and the citizen in the case of the nation/state. Chances are that so-called “warlords” never exacted taxes to the extent of 45% on their subjects, however. At the same time they were required to protect them from outside aggression. Generally, a normal citizen had little or nothing to do with his rulers and at the same time was ignored by them. Their place on the land wasn’t any more tenuous than that of the moderns, whose supposed ownership of property is contingent on their regular payment of taxes. Feudal society gets a bad rap from the apologists of the nation/state.

    • ronster12012 said, on May 13, 2015 at 10:38 am


      Interesting comment re feudalism. I read somewhere that in the Middle Ages(most likely during the Medieval Warm period when things were good) that the average peasant only had to work 100 days a year to support a family. That was when the Church ruled European life and there were probably only 100 days that weren’t fastings or festivals or somesuch.

      Now of course we are better off as we need to work every hour we can to pay the bills….

  7. magus71 said, on May 11, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    The military is going down hill, and fast. I see it with my own eyes everyday.


    • magus71 said, on May 11, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      BTW, polls show that morale is down almost 100% from 2009 and quality of life in thee army is down, too. Can’t wait to leave this broken organization.

      • TJB said, on May 11, 2015 at 10:50 pm

        Magus, you need to realize we live in a decadent time. In a decadent time, the wrong people rise to the top and the wrong decisions are made.

        There is nothing you can do about it. You need to make your peace with it. Find your niche and hunker down.

        • WTP said, on May 12, 2015 at 7:45 am

          There is nothing you can do about it. You need to make your peace with it. Find your niche and hunker down.

          Hear this myself a lot. Decadent times, etc. don’t go away by themselves. They go because someone took action. Granted, many of us who work in the real world have limited powers ( hence the problem), but we do have power. In civilian life, there is work to be done helping those at the margins so that they don’t fall in to this leftist BS of “Ive fallen and I can’t get up without the government”. Don’t know the realities of the military so not sure what a man can do there. But given my limited contact with such at work, it seems like a good bit of the military (well, Air Force FWIK) has surrendered to the BS mentality of government contractor management, so I can guess at what you may be seeing outside of FOB’s…or maybe even in FOB’s.

          As I’ve said before, I don’t see the fight we are in as being military. It’s cultural. And it’s our own culture that is degrading us. The military is just now starting to feel what has been going on in civilian life for 20-30 years.

          • magus71 said, on May 12, 2015 at 8:39 pm


            I believe the military feels the impacts of societal ills in a more acute manner. When your boss controls every aspect of your life, his decisions are paramount. But I also know that the military is just not for someone with my personality.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 12, 2015 at 3:38 pm

          All times are the worst of times, so say the writers in all the times. But sometimes, they are also the best of times.

          • magus71 said, on May 12, 2015 at 8:36 pm

            I remember better times. Much.

            • TJB said, on May 12, 2015 at 11:12 pm

              The warrior culture is slowly being strangled to death by political correctness. A few real leaders still survive, but they’re relics of a bygone era, who will be swept aside like chimney soot in the vast cultural revolution that has engulfed the Army.

              Anyone suspected of not complying with sexism training or whispering comments that are thought to be politically incorrect is purged with the speed and finality of a Soviet commissar’s rubber stamp.

              Under the Obama administration hundreds of high-ranking officers from every service have retired or have been forced to retire because they didn’t fit in with the current climate.

              What kind of a military does political correctness produce? Look no farther than our half-hearted air campaign against ISIS and its kind and gentle spokesman, Rear Admiral Kirby.

              According to Kirby, the 25 daily sorties we’re flying against ISIS is really giving them hell. Shock and awe has metastasized into slap, scream and run.


            • ronster12012 said, on May 13, 2015 at 4:34 am


              “What kind of a military does political correctness produce? Look no farther than our half-hearted air campaign against ISIS and its kind and gentle spokesman, Rear Admiral Kirby.”

              While I am certainly not arguing in favour of the feminization/faggotization of the military, the half hearted campaign against ISIS is because that is intentional. They are doing extracurricular work for the usual suspects, if that wasn’t the case they wouldn’t exist. Simple…

            • magus71 said, on May 14, 2015 at 11:15 pm

              ronster…your’re waaay off target here. You actually believe the US military is competent.

            • ronster12012 said, on May 15, 2015 at 8:31 am


              “ronster…your’re waaay off target here. You actually believe the US military is competent.”

              Insofar as they may be incompetent that may just be a symptom of fighting wars of choice instead of wars of national survival. In a real fight for national survival, LGBTLDSKJRGJDJFGBJGFJM policies go right out the fucking window and *everyone* gets really competent. OTOH military action to make a minor move in the global chessboard for political/economic reasons can afford to have 50% of staff as equal opportunity officers nagging the other 50% about their misogyny/racism/homophobia/transphobia/fatphobia/ and any number of other made up offences that hurt someone’s feelings….

    • ronster12012 said, on May 13, 2015 at 4:27 am


      How can anyone take a prez seriously that orders a country’s military to recruit illegal immigrants? Seriously, WTF is going on there?

      A head of state is supposed to not just uphold the laws of the country but scrupulously obey the in the letter and spirit.

      So when does the impeachment proceedings start??

  8. TJB said, on May 12, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    Magus, WTP, comments? Don’t you ever think the government is out of control?

    Joseph Rivers was hoping to hit it big. According to the Albuquerque Journal, the aspiring businessman from just outside of Detroit had pulled together $16,000 in seed money to fulfill a lifetime dream of starting a music video company. Last month, Rivers took the first step in that voyage, saying goodbye to the family and friends who had supported him at home and boarding an Amtrak train headed for Los Angeles.

    He never made it. From the Albuquerque Journal:

    A DEA agent boarded the train at the Albuquerque Amtrak station and began asking various passengers, including Rivers, where they were going and why. When Rivers replied that he was headed to LA to make a music video, the agent asked to search his bags. Rivers complied.

    The agent found Rivers’s cash, still in a bank envelope. He explained why he had it: He was starting a business in California, and he’d had trouble in the past withdrawing large sums of money from out-of-state banks.

    The agents didn’t believe him, according to the article. They said they thought the money was involved in some sort of drug activity. Rivers let them call his mother back home to corroborate the story. They didn’t believe her, either.

    The agents found nothing in Rivers’s belongings that indicated that he was involved with the drug trade: no drugs, no guns. They didn’t arrest him or charge him with a crime. But they took his cash anyway, every last cent, under the authority of the Justice Department’s civil asset forfeiture program.


    • magus71 said, on May 13, 2015 at 2:12 am

      That is most certainly a case of injustice. DEA, regardless of what the law says, should do the right thing. The law should be rewritten. Now, that said, I would like to know more. What prompted DEA to board that specific train? It’s probably IMO they received a tip stating that someone on board was involved in drug trafficking. The description of the person may have matched Rivers’. I’m a bit suspicious that a 22 year old man says he has $16,000 in life savings. Most people twice his age don’t have half that. Also, NM is a known drug portal. But I would like to see the law changed so that an arrest must be made. Also, as one article states, civil forfeiture has been on the books since the 80s–hardly indicative of a new problem.

      I most certainly think government is out of control. But it’s hardly the local cops that are at fault.

      -The typical budget deficit of the Obama years is about 1.3 trillion dollars–or about the equivalent of the GDP of Australia.

      -The US’s payment on debt interest alone is scheduled to surpass total yearly defense spending. According to historian Niall Ferguson, this is the point at which modern empires rapidly decline.

      -The US’s total dept is just under the entire GDP for the European union.

      -Total debt, including personal and government in America amounts to every American owing $200,000.

      • magus71 said, on May 13, 2015 at 3:05 am

        DEA says it has evidence to produce in a hearing. Probably more to it. Boy heads from Michigan to Hollywood, stops in New Mexico with $16,000 cash? Hmmm. The kids already pointing out that he was “the only black man on the train.” Probably the only guy carry $16,000 cash, too.

        • ronster12012 said, on May 13, 2015 at 4:53 am


          The real point IMO is why should anyone have to justify anything in the absence of of crime? That is the whole point about democracy, human rights and all that……not having to explain yourself to anyone that asks. The onus is on the government to show 1/ that a crime has been committed and 2/ a particular person appears to be responsible with evidence to back that up. This ‘evidence’ that they say they have is bullshit, as if they have any real evidence they would have charged him…..and they didn’t……which means that they just wanted money like a common highwayman.

          • magus71 said, on May 14, 2015 at 3:15 pm


            I’ve conceded I believe there should be an arrest, and thus probable cause that a crime was committed. The DEA spokesman states that there needs to be probable cause for this type of seizure, and says the agent in the case believed there was. The court will decide, as always.

            And again, you’re insinuating that this is some new manifestation of the police state, when the law’s been on the books since the 80s.

            But go ahead and buy the kid’s story. I’m suspicious and willing to hear both sides.

            • ronster12012 said, on May 15, 2015 at 5:12 am


              It’s not really whether I believe the kid or not, it is about the relationship of citizen to state.There are many stories like his. Who would have thought 30 years ago people would come to fear their governments stealing their property like a thief? Sure there is some legal jargon mumbo jumbo pronounced on it, the main aim though is to hide what is really going on.
              I understand that the RICO laws were introduced in the 1980’s aimed at the mafia. So everyone said, “yay, let hit the mob and take all their stuff”, forgetting that in time precedents get used on everybody….they never go away. That is the point about precedents…..it was OK then so it must be OK now.

              This is what the (philosophically fallacious) slippery slide is all about.

        • WTP said, on May 13, 2015 at 9:11 am

          Magus, my suspicions as well. Thanks for doing the leg work. $16K to start a “music video company” in “Hollywood” (not LA, of course). Came from “Michigan” (probably from the upper peninsula, ya think?).

          Is the drug war bad? Most definitely. Are forfeiture laws wrong? No doubt in my mind. But people don’t have to enter the drug trade. The cultural mentality of there being no outlets from the ‘hood except crime and athletics is poison. The lack of attention to properly address this problem from CQA and the “leadership” of the “black community” (an oxymoron right there) is beyond shameful. Prohibition is not an excuse for these failures.

          TJ, far be it from me to state the obvious, but the vast majority of these stories are such tiresome BS.. Half the story rarely gets told (kinda like the latest George Zimmerman outbreak..but I digress). They keep popping up because libertarians know their movement lacks the volume of populism to get any serious political traction. So they promote ideas that give them an inroad into the minds of the millions who like to do illegal drugs while at the same time getting all feel-good about police and “the black community”. Which itself is a loser plan because neither of those two groups are likely to show up at the polls.

          • T. J. Babson said, on May 13, 2015 at 4:57 pm

            “TJ, far be it from me to state the obvious, but the vast majority of these stories are such tiresome BS..”

            Mike refuses to see your points about capitalism and you refuse to see my points about problems with the justice system.

            Chew on this:

            It’s Time for Conservatives to Stop Defending Police

            There is nothing conservative about government violating the rights of citizens.

            By A. J. Delgado — July 21, 2014

            Imagine if I were to tell you there is a large group of government employees, with generous salaries and ridiculously cushy retirement pensions covered by the taxpayer, who enjoy incredible job security and are rarely held accountable even for activities that would almost certainly earn the rest of us prison time. When there is proven misconduct, these government employees are merely reassigned and are rarely dismissed. The bill for any legal settlements concerning their errors? It, too, is covered by the taxpayers. Their unions are among the strongest in the country.

            No, I’m not talking about public-school teachers.

            I’m talking about the police.

            We conservatives recoil at the former; yet routinely defend the latter — even though, unlike teachers, police officers enjoy an utter monopoly on force and can ruin — or end — one’s life in a millisecond.

            For decades, conservatives have served as stalwart defenders of police forces. There have been many good reasons for this, including long memories of the post-countercultural crime wave that devastated, and in some cases destroyed, many American cities; conservatives’ penchant for law and order; and Americans’ widely shared disdain for the cops’ usual opponents. (“Dirty hippies being arrested? Good!” is not an uncommon sentiment.) Although tough-on-crime appeals have never been limited to conservative politicians or voters, conservatives instinctively (and, it turned out, correctly) understood that the way to reduce crime is to have more cops making more arrests, not more sociologists identifying more root causes. Conservatives are rightly proud to have supported police officers doing their jobs at times when progressives were on the other side.

            But it’s time for conservatives’ unconditional love affair with the police to end.

            Let’s get the obligatory disclaimer out of the way: Yes, many police officers do heroic works and, yes, many are upstanding individuals who serve the community bravely and capably.

            But respecting good police work means being willing to speak out against civil-liberties-breaking thugs who shrug their shoulders after brutalizing citizens.


            • WTP said, on May 13, 2015 at 9:19 pm

              Oh, don’t play that political game with me. I don’t refuse to see your points. I fully acknowledge problems with the justice system. What I am tired of is libertarians picking the wrong poster boy. There is most definitely a problem with excessive power of the state, but it is far, far worse outside the police. Most of the problems (most, not all) we see attributed to out of control law enforcement stems from problems much further up. If you want a poster boy for excesses of the state, try this guy:

              Or the woman who was busted for having a gun in her car in New Jersey. Or the Florida guy who didn’t even have his gun with him when the Maryland cops, who had mined the Florida CCW database, harassed his wife into confessing possession of a gun they did not even have with them:


              Whose idea was it to mine the FL CCW database and match it with license plates? It wasn’t the cops that pulled him over. Though it seems they were “encouraged” to play the game.

              But spare me the tales of woe of criminal scum and their lame excuses.

            • T. J. Babson said, on May 13, 2015 at 9:32 pm

              From your link. Libertarians are on it.

              But the prosecutor on the case, Steve West, was unmoved. Notified of the hearing by Mr. McLellan’s lawyer at the time, he responded with concern that the seizure warrant in the case, filed under seal but later given to Mr. McLellan, had been handed over to a congressional committee, according to an email exchange provided to The New York Times by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm that has taken over the case.

              “Your client needs to resolve this or litigate it,” Mr. West wrote. “But publicity about it doesn’t help. It just ratchets up feelings in the agency.” He concluded with a settlement offer in which the government would keep half the money.

              Mr. McLellan’s new lawyer, Robert Everett Johnson, said the fact that prosecutors refuse to drop the case shows that self-restraint by federal agencies is not enough and that Congress needs to rein in civil forfeiture. Republicans, led by Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, have filed a bill in the House and Senate to change the practice, and the Judiciary Committees of both houses are working on a proposal.

            • WTP said, on May 13, 2015 at 10:03 pm

              but publicity doesn’t help

              No, it doesn’t help the government bastards. All the more reason this is the story, just like the bullshit raids in Wisconsin where they threatened the victims not to speak to even their family about what happened, should be publicized. Hell, if there was anyone out there with even limited influence who felt one of their main duties was to “preserve humanity”, you’d think they would be very pissed about such and speak up about it. But people who say such things are really cowards underneath all their bravado.

            • ronster12012 said, on May 14, 2015 at 5:21 am

              Regarding the Mclellan case. I cannot actually believe thing have got so bad that a government could steal $100k on no grounds, complain about the victim publicizing it and then offer to give back half. They are criminal *and* stupid. Offering to give back half just makes it look it look more blatantly like theft(if that were possible).

              One thing is to stop calling it ‘civil asset forfeiture’ as that gives it a pseudo legalistic patina and just call it theft.

            • magus71 said, on May 14, 2015 at 3:20 pm

              One problem with many liberal and libertarian arguments against the police TJ, is that too many examples of the police overstepping their power involve really bad criminals. Not all, but many. The best the Left can drag out to defend its position is Rodney King, Michael Brown, and Freddie Gray. Which on of them would you invite to dinner?

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 15, 2015 at 11:15 am

              They are all dead and would thus make awful dinner guests.

            • TJB said, on May 14, 2015 at 9:07 pm

              Magus, the police and prosecutors have great power. They also have great responsibility. All that anyone is asking is that the police and prosecutors are held to the same standard as ordinary citizens.

              Prosecutors cheat and police lie to get convictions. This is unacceptable.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 15, 2015 at 11:16 am

              True. If a person is guilty, the legitimate evidence should suffice to convict.

          • magus71 said, on May 14, 2015 at 3:28 pm

            “So they promote ideas that give them an inroad into the minds of the millions who like to do illegal drugs while at the same time getting all feel-good about police and “the black community”. Which itself is a loser plan because neither of those two groups are likely to show up at the polls.”

            Yes, I’ve heard this argument against Libertarians before, that they’re ideas are aimed at a mass that does not hold to the philosophical reasoning for the idea, but only wants to take advantage of freedom. Less than 1% of pot smokers, I’m betting, read Reason Mag.

    • ronster12012 said, on May 13, 2015 at 4:44 am


      Is that the same DEA that is in bed with the Sinaloa cartel? Shaking down ordinary citizens for a few bux, seems a bit small time. Can’t they just tax the cartels for their shipments, so many $/kilo and leave it at that?
      Or do they do that already and want more?

      BTW, don’t you have something in your constitution that says it is very naughty to do unreasonable searches and seizures, or did they just redefine ‘unreasonable’ to mean anything they want?

      • WTP said, on May 13, 2015 at 9:35 am

        Don’t know to what extent it may apply to this specific case, but our constitution went out the door generations before we were born in Wickard v Filburn. We’re mostly coasting now. Takes a long time for some ideas, good or bad, to realize their full impact. Sometimes ideas take centuries to realize their full potential. The Romans had the steam engine but didn’t do much with it but open temple doors. Leftists are generally lazy. The Stone Court handed them a powerful legal tool. It’s taken some time for them to realize its potential.


        • ronster12012 said, on May 13, 2015 at 10:25 am


          I read that link you provided and am not really the much wiser except that I have become an even bigger fan of garrotting 90% of lawyers(on a strictly random basis). There are just way too many of them.

          There has never been a bureaucrat that thinks his department is too big and with the help of an army of lawyers it can be even bigger.

          I know this is a stupid and naive statement but whatever happened to respecting the spirit of the constitution as well as the letter of the law?

          In Oz we have the same problem, bastards who cannot and will not respect the constitution and just see it as an obstacle to be evaded. Govcorp here complains that we defeat referendums and so they need to go about doing what they want to do by other means. Screw ’em.

      • T. J. Babson said, on May 13, 2015 at 10:41 pm

        “BTW, don’t you have something in your constitution that says it is very naughty to do unreasonable searches and seizures, or did they just redefine ‘unreasonable’ to mean anything they want?”

        Ronster, I used to believe that we in America were exceptionally free, but the more I have traveled the more I realize that this just isn’t true–maybe it used to be true, but not any more.

        There simply are not enough people left who value liberty for liberty’s sake. We have traded it for the security state, the nanny state, the welfare state…you name it.

        • ronster12012 said, on May 14, 2015 at 5:31 am


          The exceptionally free thing is just marketing……there’s a little asterisk(did you see it?) that says ‘terms and conditions apply, please read the fine print blah blah blah’ lol.

          But you do have an excellent constitution, especially the first, second, and fourth amendments, though constitutions are only as good as a vigilant society who is prepared to defend it. Unfortunately your govcorp is the same as mine, bought and paid for by people whose names you and I will never know.

        • ronster12012 said, on May 14, 2015 at 8:03 am


          I just stumbled across this http://reason.com/archives/2015/05/13/disobey-all-but-the-most-useful-regulati

          It’s an article about Charles Murray’s new book in which he advocates only obeying sensible laws

          “Murray’s suggestion—laid out in By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission—will make some people nervous. He argues that citizens and companies should start openly defying all but the most useful regulations, essentially ones that forbid assault, theft and fraud.”

          Interesting thought….

          • T. J. Babson said, on May 14, 2015 at 8:16 am

            Yes, it is pretty frustrating as the regulatory state keeps growing no matter which party is in control.

            Another effort along these lines is the argument that it is impossible nowadays for anyone to actually know all the laws, so that ignorance of the law should actually be a valid defense in some circumstances. If we can get judges and juries to go along, who knows what might be accomplished…

            • ronster12012 said, on May 14, 2015 at 8:45 am


              Not just nowadays unless you are talking of a century or so ago. The previous gov in Oz passed 470 pieces of legislation in three years. I can guarantee you not 1 person in a hundred could even name correctly more than two of them (I can’t even name one)let alone the actual provisions without considering the possible interpretations and supporting regulations etc etc. Even lawyers can’t know all the law….which says to me that we have an overcomplexity problem. Even if we all did understand them we’d have to spend our whole lives studying them so who is going to collect the garbage and fix the roads?

              Unfortunately, one man’s simplification of laws is another man’s income so guess what happens lol?

              What Charles Murray is suggesting is something I have been practising for quite a while….nothing too heinous, just push back always. The more compliant we are the more some jerk in a suit and a title will find a way to screw us further.

        • ronster12012 said, on May 15, 2015 at 5:25 am


          I was thinking about your point of exceptionally free today while I was doing something exceptionally boring, and it occurred to me that, given freedom and morality are intertwined, to be exceptionally free means then to be exceptionally moral. Unfortunately being exceptionally moral means that you can’t do all the shit you wanted the freedom to do in the first place………..totally no win situation lol

          • WTP said, on May 15, 2015 at 10:29 am

            Bingo…except it is not a no-win situation. Freedom works not because anyone can do anything the hell they want but because there is no outside influence on people restricting them aside from reality/God/Whathaveyou. Fail to behave in a manner consistent with nature/reality/God, with what works, and over the long run, you will perish irrespective of Teh Law. With freedom everyone is free to try their own thing without the interference of some know-it-all central planner, who actually doesn’t know it all…or even know a little. As a result of everyone doing their own thing, the odds are good that one of those things will prove to be the best way to do things. Diversity. People then follow that path going forward. But only because they choose to. Others are free to repeat the mistakes of the past in the hopes of finding a better road or a road that was missed. But it’s their risk. “Morality” is simply the accumulation of knowledge of these past discoveries. But there are many perspectives on “morality” which is obvious when you look at how various moralities have evolved over time. The immoral becomes moral, the moral becomes immoral based on the factors of the chronological or cultural environment. Which is why attempts to legislate such are folly. No legal system can keep up with the bazillion changes, thus government is best which governs least. The vast majority of us do win out in the end.

            • ronster12012 said, on May 15, 2015 at 11:27 am


              Yes, I know that it’s not really a no win situation just that the irony amused me…..you are free when you don’t really need external coercion and have your own policeman in your head.

              I would add to your ” thus government is best which governs least” a proviso that it is subject to some conditions. A fairly homogeneous culture so that the ” no outside influence on people restricting them aside from reality/God/Whathaveyou.” is widely shared.

              I know you have a problem with central planners and so do I(though I don’t lose much sleep over them) due to obvious failings, but when the SHTF ie. war or major disaster everything is then centrally planned. Primal human behaviour maybe?

            • WTP said, on May 15, 2015 at 1:23 pm

              but when the SHTF ie. war or major disaster everything is then centrally planned. Primal human behaviour maybe?

              Things become more centrally planned, yes, because everyone (presumably) has the same goal of defeating the enemy. And the more existential the goal the more (willing) cooperation the planners will receive. But even in the context of war, especially WWI and WWII, one advantage we had over our enemies was we allowed our troops more capability to make their own decisions. One analysis of Germany’s failure at Normandy was that they had tank divisions available but nobody wanted to wake The Corporal to ask if they could be moved. Not sure how much of that is apocryphal and it’s not quite as simple as that as there was genuine concern that Normandy was the diversion and the real attack was going to be in the south of France. Surely more than just Adolph were concerned about that.

            • ronster12012 said, on May 16, 2015 at 8:50 am


              This lack of real ‘ existential motivating factor’ is IMO one tell tale feature of the global warming scam(currently going tits up). In a real crisis, governments, regardless of political persuasion say you go there and do this, you go there and do that and if there is any backchat I will put a bullet in your head. Instead, in this scam it was always about the money and trading carbon futures. Sort of like trading ammunition futures during WW2. How would that have gone down? People would have worked out in two minutes flat that there was something bogus going on if that had been the case.

              As for WW2, I doubt very much it was anything like “one advantage we had over our enemies was we allowed our troops more capability to make their own decisions.”. The main winners (despite what Hollywood says) was the Soviet Union(supplied with American materials) and they were prone to urging their soldiers on with a machine gun at their rear, because Uncle Joe said not one step back.

              The real advantage the Allies had over the Germans was simply numbers and productive capacity.

  9. ronster12012 said, on May 13, 2015 at 4:19 am


    Is this what you are getting at?


    Revenue production or what?? The public are then seen as a cow to be milked.

    We have the same sort of mentality here. Cops have roadside mobile radars. They don’t want to ‘overfish’ any particular area so it is all done in cycles and each cycle lasts about as long as the average person takes to forget about radars…. Years ago on the highway where the speed limit is 100 or 110k there was a bit of leeway, say 5-8 km over. Now that everyone has cruise control and they sit pretty much on the limit it has come down to 1km leeway. Tyre wear and inflation not to mention inherent speedo errors accounts for more than that. It would affect revenue otherwise apparently.

    I always make a point of flashing oncoming drivers if I see a speed trap but unfortunately over the years people have forgotten how to cooperate and let others get pinged. Sad to see. Dumb kids that think it is everyone for himself instead of helping each other defeat the revenue raisers.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 14, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Yes, that is a good example. The red light cameras have had some issues here in my adopted state of Florida. They do seem aimed at revenue rather than safety-but claims about intent can be challenging to prove. After all, they may work badly as safety devices, but that does not prove that was not the intent. But they do certainly rake in the cash.

      • ronster12012 said, on May 15, 2015 at 8:40 am


        What this raises for me is the probity of public private partnerships in some cases. If justice is important then it is too important to subcontract, no matter how many ‘consultant’s’ reports say it is a good idea.

        “but claims about intent can be challenging to prove.”

        Knowledge of human nature+ incentive+ outcome=case closed(for most purposes)

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 15, 2015 at 11:17 am

          Subcontracting justice does seem to be generally bad idea. But perhaps a great idea for a new comic book: Justice, Subcontracted. Trademark.

          • ronster12012 said, on May 15, 2015 at 11:30 am


            You are on a winner there.

            Possible storyline….one day in the life of a private sector execution company.

    • magus71 said, on May 17, 2015 at 5:56 pm

      Revenue raisers? Should people speed? Do the speed limit and no one will get your revenue.

      • ronster12012 said, on May 18, 2015 at 10:31 am


        There’s speeding and then there’s speeding. One or two k over the limit is nothing, it’s less than speedo+ tyre wear and inflation errors…..and we get pinged here in Oz for that shit. Not me because I am never in a hurry but we are talking about proper policy, not personal experience.

        I really don’t mind almost anything done for road safety purposes…up to a point. And that point is somewhere about where the prime objective turns into a milking operation ie. reducing amber light times at traffic lights and trivial speed fluctuations. We have random breath testing(and now drug testing) which I am totally fine with as I don’t really drink and definitely don’t do drugs. We used to have a joke here many years ago that if you were too drunk to walk home thank god you could still drive……all changed now.

        Just looked up the stats and Australia’s road toll last year was the lowest since 1945 with 1155 deaths and a population of 23 million. The US road toll @32000 for a population 320mil is quite a bit worse than Oz but you have to deal with much much worse weather with snow etc which would account for much of the difference.
        I wonder how much of the decline in road deaths in many countries id due to better cars, better suspension, airbags and better roads?

        • WTP said, on May 18, 2015 at 11:03 am

          Here in central Florida, a state lawmaker got ticketed for going less than 5 mph over the limit on a 30 mph posted road in a small community that he regularly drove through. He was so upset by this, he got a law passed in Florida such that the cops can’t issue you a ticket for going less that 5 mph over the limit. If you do get stopped for going say 8 mph over, your fine is computed from the actual limit but they’re not supposed to stop you for less than 5 mph. So this guy thinks he’s scored a victory over this small community. Well the community was very concerned about this specific road being dangerous, so what they did was lower the the speed limit on that road to 25 mph.

          • ronster12012 said, on May 18, 2015 at 11:55 am


            Seems a little er, corrupt may be too strong a word but ‘special pleading’ IMO.

            IMO all these questions as to speed limits should be about actual road conditions that is if road safety is the primary criterion and not some politicians pet peeve because he got pinged. That said a bit of leeway for actual conditions is in order.

            I have driven in the US and Europe(and Morocco, what a horror), all good except for you lot driving on the wrong side of the road….and doing right hand turns at red lights! I only ever got confused twice and that was on empty roads. American drivers seemed more sensible than Europeans….driving one night to Dresden on autobahn, it’s snowing and sitting on 160-170kmh(just keeping up with the traffic) and some idiot is sitting 2 feet off my tail. Crazy, that’s why they have 50 car pileups… But in France they have wet and dry speed limits which IMO is very sensible…..though they don’t obey either lol

          • magus71 said, on May 19, 2015 at 2:03 pm

            As long as I can remember, people have bitched about traffic enforcement. Hardly evidence of a new police state. And still, blame the cops for giving tickets for under 10 mph over…So that means that the new speed limit is 10mph higher than the posted. Almost all officer have a threshold of about 10mph. 15 over and you’re drawing attention to yourself. My favorite street-lawyer types are the ones that complain a cop pulled them over for speeding, and didn’t give them a ticket. As if this is some proof of darker intentions.

            Bottom line: People hate cops. If they enforce rules, people will not like them. I once arrested a man who tried to OD on heroin (found drugs, spoon, needle, etc). Someone called and reported what he was doing. He screamed at me from the back seat:

            “How does it feel to have the most hated profession in the world?”

            This was 10 years ago, before NSA/NWO/Police state was so vogue. We had a saying: “Everyone loves a firefighter.” You can work side by side with police officers when you’re a fire fighter and everyone will love you. When you’re working in an ambulance, and a drunk dude flips out on you, you just call the cops and let them do the dirty work.

            Wake up America: The nature of police work involves handling things no one else wants to.

            • WTP said, on May 19, 2015 at 2:38 pm

              Just for the record….Some of us understand it’s a difficult, often thankless job. And much pressure is put on the police by irrational expectations of society, politicians, philosophers, community activists, and such.

              One thing that bothers me is the more irrational the expectations of society, the fewer rational people will take such a job and eventually via osmosis the pool of potential cops will become more and more concentrated with sociopaths. As I’ve noted before, my complaint with police has more to do with them not wanting to do their job than with any mistakes they make doing it. But I really can’t blame them (much) because, as I have often pointed out to Mike in many other contexts, the risk of taking action are becoming greater than the risk of doing nothing. Take action and you might upset someone. If the reward fails to compensate for the risk such that the net probability of the outcome becomes negative, no action will be taken. Applies to police, doctors, engineers, bankers, true capitalists, workers in certain companies, and on down the line.

              OTOH, what we see with politicians, philosophers, community activists, and such is that they take little to no action, expose themselves to little to no risk, but claim credit (reward) for positive actions taken by others. Thus the probability of a net probability of the outcome becomes (for them) positive. Thus we gravitate to a society with fewer and fewer reality-based actors and more and more worthless windbags.

            • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 19, 2015 at 5:14 pm

              Maintaining order is ugly work, even when everything is done right. I suspect policing is rather like the meat industry: people generally like the results (order and burgers) but do not want to know what it takes to make that happen. But, people should know.

            • WTP said, on May 20, 2015 at 8:44 am

              But, people should know.

              Yes. If only there were people in a position of authority or respect who were willing to teach them. You know, like by taking the abstract definitions of certain fallacies and applying such to real-world current events where ill-informed perception based on such fallacies wrongly puts law enforcement and similar in a very bad light. You know, events like Ferguson, Eric Garner in NYC, Baltimore, even George Zimmerman. Teachable moments…If only…

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 19, 2015 at 4:58 pm

        I have no objection against enforcement for the sake of safety. My main issues are with things like the (alleged) short yellow lights on traffic cameras and excessive fees in the court system. That is, with things aimed not at safety, but revenue. Florida recently took the step of banning ticket quotas-there had been complaints that officers got marked down on their evaluations because they were not ticketing enough.

        • magus71 said, on May 19, 2015 at 5:27 pm

          The question should not be whether departments have quotas, the question should be, was the ticketed person speeding? No department in Maine had quotas. As I stated earlier, my old deprtment supervisor noted that I gave a below average number of traffic tickets during one rating period. Never affected my career.

          Another issue that must be pointed out: Traffic violation fines go to the state, not the municiplaity, at least where I’m from. This even further removes the money incentive from local policing, which comprises well over 80% of total in-state police forces.

          Here’s a sneaky tactic for getting out of speeding tickets that’s worked for me for 20+ years of driving: Try doing the speed limit. Of the three speeding tickets I’ve received in my life, I was, surpisingly, speeding at the time the cop pulled me over. Thus shattering my dreams of protesting against the dark police state, injustice of driving while white, and lying, evil, jack-booted cops, bent on making my life miserbale For No Good Reason.

          And if you can’t stop speeding, try using something everyone born before 1990 knows gets people on your side: Be polite. Maybe the Orwellian local cop will take mercy.


          How I Avoid Speeding Tickets

          March 30, 2008UncategorizedJohn Scalzi

          Because, as it happens, I get out of speeding tickets nine out of ten times I pull over. Here’s how I do it: I admit I’m speeding and tell the cop to please go ahead and write me up. Usually the cop is so shocked that I’m not even trying to argue with him that he’ll let me off with a warning.

          This morning, for example, after I was pulled over for zooming out of the airport:

          Cop: Sir, you were doing 50 in a 35 mile per hour zone.

          Me: I’m sure I was.

          Cop: Can you tell me why?

          Me: Because I just got off a plane eleven hours late and I just wanted to get home to my family.

          (This was true, incidentally)

          End result: Friendly warning.

          Now you might think the “dude, I just want to get home to my family” hearttugger is what did it, but I’ve also had times when they asked me why I was speeding and I said “I have no excuse whatsoever. Go ahead and write me up if you need to,” and it’s worked pretty much the same. Cops like it when you acknowledge that they are not stupid, and you were breaking the law, and that you recognize this is their job. I’m sure there are other things that help (in this case, I was driving a minivan, I was polite and friendly to the cop, and I didn’t look like I was on a meth bender, etc), but I think just admitting guilt is the kicker.

          Now, this doesn’t work every single time, and I suppose that’s the risk; since you’re admitting you’re speeding, you’re going to have problems contesting the ticket in court later. But come on. It’s a speeding ticket, not murder. It’ll cost you points on your insurance at most. But like I said, it generally works for me, because I’m letting the cop know that I know he’s caught me fairly, and that it’s entirely his call to ticket me, and I’m not going to show up in traffic court with some articles I downloaded from the Internet proving his radar is totally borked or whatever. It’s refreshing to them, is what I’m saying.

          Worth a try for you, in any event.

  10. T. J. Babson said, on May 13, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    This just in. Mike, you do understand why lefties would hate Thomas the Tank Engine, right?

    When the Telegraph revealed that the classic British children’s character Thomas the Tank Engine was a figure of hate among some Left-wing parents and academics, readers registered their astonishment – and irritation.

    Opponents of the talking locomotive – who have branded the 70-year-old series authoritarian and conformist – were rounded upon by commenters for holding “bizarre”, “politically correct” views.

    Now Christopher, the son of Thomas creator Rev W Awdry for whom the series was originally written, has also come to the defence of his father’s make-believe world.

    Mr Awdry, 74, said the main moral of the stories was that “good triumphed over evil” and the principal values his late father, a railway enthusiast and a Church of England curate, wanted to instil in his young readers were a love of steam trains and an appreciation of what it meant to be a loyal friend and a useful member of society.


    • ronster12012 said, on May 15, 2015 at 8:44 am

      It’s OK, he is probably a mason and did the secret hand thingy to the judge and prosecutor. Gotta help a brother out…

      • WTP said, on May 15, 2015 at 1:17 pm

        Those founding fathers of ours you admire, the more influential ones were Masons. As for “help a brother out…” would that not be akin to A fairly homogeneous culture so that the ” no outside influence on people restricting them aside from reality/God/Whathaveyou.” is widely shared. except on a smaller, more manageable scale? Anyone of good character and reputation, granted as they define such, can become one. Or start you’re own similar fraternity. The Catholics have Knights of Columbus. There are others.

        • ronster12012 said, on May 16, 2015 at 8:29 am


          Yes it is a tricky one, freedom of association versus potentially corrupting influence. I’d be interested in how many times a freemason judge has recused himself because of a freemason defendant. Not often would be my guess…. not that I have anything against masons in principle but when they infest the judiciary as they often do that is a worry. How can you have justice when a judge has promised to help his brother?

          Yes I do admire your founding fathers in many ways especially because they gave the British government a much needed kick in the teeth.

  11. magus71 said, on May 21, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    I’ve split with modern consrvatism. They’ve forgotten how fragile civilized society really is. I used to think like they do. Then I joined the Army, and saw that when given a permissive environment, the lowest common denominator will dominate. I’m for wisdom in our leaders, those who know there is a time to reap and a time to sow.

    • magus71 said, on May 21, 2015 at 9:10 pm

      Meant to post this link above: Police stop policing, and violent crime spikes. Both the Left and Right don’t believe this is the consequence. The Right is feeding in to the police state meme, which in turn is feeding the permissive degradation of all classical creeds.


      But this is what decline and fall looks like. A twisted ball of Wicked Problems, that even the most wise cannot unwind. For to unwind one problem means to strengthen another. The limits of human knowledge prevent us from seeing the root of the problems themselves, and even if we could, we would not have the power to to convince or change much.

      The only thing one can do is Ride the Tiger.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 22, 2015 at 4:08 pm

      So, have you embraced the way of the Hobbes?

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