Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Let's Stop Expecting Hammers to Install Air-Conditioners

Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic:

Police officers fight crime. Police officers are neither case-workers, nor teachers, nor mental-health professionals, nor drug counselors. One of the great hallmarks of the past forty years of American domestic policy is a broad disinterest in that difference. The problem of restoring police authority is not really a problem of police authority, but a problem of democratic authority. It is what happens when you decide to solve all your problems with a hammer. To ask, at this late date, why the police seem to have lost their minds is to ask why our hammers are so bad at installing air-conditioners. More it is to ignore the state of the house all around us. A reform that begins with the officer on the beat is not reform at all. It’s avoidance. It’s a continuance of the American preference for considering the actions of bad individuals, as opposed to the function and intention of systems.
And of course the reason we are expecting police to be social workers and teachers and mental-health professionals and drug counselors is because thirty years of austerity budgets and tax cuts for the rich have left local governments without the money to hire anyone but cops.

Tax the motherfucking mooching rich out of existence and use the money to restore government that works: government with all the teachers, social workers, mental-health professionals and drug counselors we need and then some.

Not to mention janitors and engineers and hospital orderlies (remember them?) and park rangers and researchers and maintenance workers and artists and scientists and philosophers and musicians.

The booming economy of the 1950s and 1960s that grew the world's strongest and most affluent middle class ran on millions more government workers - paid with 90 percent taxes on the rich - than we have today.

And millions more government workers, paid with the same soak-the-rich taxes, is what it's going to take to not just restore that economy, but stop the epidemic of cops murdering people who need help.

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