The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, June 06, 2020


The thousands of protesters who gathered over the past 10 days had a legitimate right to be very angry after the events in Minneapolis, and the fact that they were co-opted by leftist gangs (e.g., Antifa and the group, BLM, among others) was not their fault. The violence, murder, looting, burning and chaos that flowed out of the protests were, the media insisted, unacceptable, but understandable as an "expression of rage over a racist America." That position, itself, is unacceptable for any decent person.

The mayors of the major cities in which rioting occurred were all Democrats. Their job, along with the law enforcement agencies under their command, was to protect all of their citizens. Through a toxic combination of woke ideology, cynical political calculation, and sheer incompetence, they failed miserably, and their cities burned.

As city officials inspect the aftermath of the riots—killed and injured people, vandalized property, burned out and looted store fronts, ruined strip malls, and wrecked big box retailers—they have begun to beg the businesses to rebuild and stay.

Why, exactly, would major retailers choose to rebuild and re-open stores that were burned to the ground or otherwise destroyed by rioters? What is there in the current response to riots by big city politicians that provides any assurance that the same thing won’t happen again? If you owned a store in an area that was destroyed by rioters, would you invest more money in the same location? Why?
As a consequence of their woke actions that allowed rioters to have free run in certain neighborhoods, retailers, food stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, and service business  are now destroyed. The question is—will they return? Or ... will the people who these woke Democrat politicians tell us they care sooo much about be left to travel long distances for basic goods and services. 

And now the same politicians tell us they're going to "defund the police." Talk about meaningless virtue signaling that approaches abject idiocy! Defunding the police will result in more crime in the very neighborhoods that need the most protection from it. After all, criminals aren't stupid, given an opportunity to commit crimes in the absence of police, that's exactly what they'll do. So ... less police = more crime, more mayhem, more chaos.

And these morons are asking businesses to rebuild and stay? Really? 

Hinderaker continues:
On the first night of rioting in Minneapolis, looters robbed and pretty much destroyed the Target store on Lake Street. Lake Street is not one of the Twin Cities’ garden spots, and I doubt that Target’s store there was very profitable, if profitable at all. Given what happened last week, if you ran a company like Target, would you make a fresh investment of millions of dollars in a city whose City Council is talking about abolishing the police department?
According to a report from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, nine of the city’s neighborhoods have “nearly become a food desert” after a Cub, Target, two Aldi stores, and many small markets were damaged during protests.
What is a “food desert”? A food desert is an area where crime, shoplifting and, as here, looting and arson have made it unprofitable to operate a grocery store. There is no such thing as a food desert in a law-abiding neighborhood. Here’s a news flash: If you burn down the grocery stores near where you live, you might have a hard time buying groceries.

Riots are terribly destructive, but most of the damage does not occur overnight. It plays out over a period of years. Sadly, much of the progress that has been made by minority business owners and by minority neighborhoods in recent decades has been wiped away by rioters, looters and arsonists.
Of course, the trained hamsters in the mainstream media will avoid that harsh reality, instead glorifying the protesters (from which the riots emanated) as agents of "change." The usual suspects including the mayors of the cities affected, will pontificate about how essential "change" must occur; how "reform" is vital, and how "police violence" must be eliminated. On principle, they're right, but it's all just words. No specific plan, no practical strategy, no meaningful action. Just words.

Already stressed communities have become food and retail "deserts" because of the rioters and the failure of their woke mayors to stop them. Those communities need much more than words. They need a local Walmart (looted and closed) or a Kroger (burned and closed) or a CVS (looted and closed). Instead they get words.

While politicians flap their mouths and talk about "reform" but propose few or no specifics to accomplish it, and social justice warriors allow emotion to reign while offering nothing of substance to remedy the problems they enumerate, the rest of us look for actual, common sense proposals that might fundamentally change the status quo. Here's libertarian David Bernstein on the subject:
There are plenty of police reforms that could be enacted from a libertarian perspective that would improve matters. Qualified immunity reform is libertarian. Holding police accountable for misbehavior is libertarian. Reducing the power of police unions is libertarian. Getting rid of overtime and pension abuse is libertarian. Banning no-knock raids is libertarian. Reducing bloated police department bureaucracies is libertarian.

Broader reforms that would reduce the need for police and reduce police/civilian encounters are also libertarian. Getting rid of victimless crimes, especially the drug war, and certain categories of criminal business regulation that should be handled civilly is libertarian. Getting rid of taxes that lead to black markets that in turn lead to police/civilian encounters is libertarian. Abolishing laws that allow local governments to put people in jail for failure to pay civil fines is libertarian. Separating forensic science services from prosecutors' offices is libertarian. Holding prosecutors accountable for misconduct is libertarian. Finding alternatives to prison for certain categories of offenders is libertarian.

By contrast, "defunding the police," if that just means willy-nilly cuts, is not libertarian [though it is a classic example of woke nonsense]. This is true especially given that police departments will inevitably follow the "Washington Monument" strategy, in which bureaucracies respond to budget cuts by cutting what is most painful to the voting public. What is very likely to suffer is the legitimate function of the state in preserving people's lives, safety, and property from criminals, while not reforming the system at all nor doing anything about abusive police officers. [emphasis mine]
But progressives need desperately to virtue signal, and it appears that the "defund the police" meme satisfies that need. No matter that actual defunding would hurt the very people it's intended to help. They don't care. It all about the signaling—the words—not about the results. And when things go bad (as they often do with progressive proposals), the usual suspects have moved on, or blame capitalism, or "the system," avoiding any responsibility for the havoc they wreak.

In the summer of 2019, Steve Malanga writing in City Journal analyzed the current state of major American cities:

Urban America began falling apart in the 1960s, with skyrocketing crime and worsening disorder. Vagrants and drug dealers colonized streets, parks, and other public spaces. Many once-vibrant city neighborhoods collapsed. The crisis had many causes, including the flight of industrial jobs from northern and midwestern cities. But profound changes in attitudes and government social policy played major roles, too. Crucial adjustments to welfare programs, spurred by liberal policymakers’ belief that the poor were victims of an unjust system, discouraged work and undermined families. The 1960s cultural revolution, which endorsed experimentation with drugs, brought more addiction—and more drug-fueled crime. And as the crisis intensified, policymakers lowered penalties for many crimes, seeing lawbreakers, too, as victims of society, so crime got worse still. Though such policies, championed nationally by President Lyndon B. Johnson and locally by mayors like New York’s John Lindsay, were well-intentioned, they helped produce an urban netherworld.

As City Journal readers know well, cities woke up from this nightmare in the 1990s, with smarter and more aggressive policing, tougher criminal sanctions, greater focus on quality-of-life concerns, welfare reform, and other policy changes. Crime plummeted in many cities, and many city economies surged. Some cities, including New York, became models of urban flourishing.

Yet, tragically—and bewilderingly, given such improvements—a new generation of progressive urban politicians seem intent on returning to some of the policies that cost cities so dearly decades ago. They’re pulling back on enforcement of quality-of-life infractions, ceding public space again to the homeless and drug users, undermining public school discipline, and releasing violent criminals back into communities or refusing to prosecute them in the first place. And lo and behold, crime is starting to rise, and the streets of otherwise successful cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and even parts of New York are filling up with human excrement, drug paraphernalia, and illness-wracked homeless encampments. Residents are growing fearful.

Obviously, this was written a year before those same progressive city leaders allowed hysteria about COVID -19 to dictate disastrous shut-down decisions that crippled their cities, and then pandered to left-wing activists by hesitating to stop rioting that led to violence, looting and destruction. The American city, under their leadership is in trouble—big, big trouble.

I'll say it again. They do not deserve to lead.