Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cost-Benefit Analysis

DeputiesThere is a widespread phenomenon in the Western democracies that I refer to as “hassling the law-abiding”. I’m familiar with the American version, but the Canadian, Australian, and Western European versions are surely similar.

The general idea is this: complex modern welfare states mobilize bureaucrats and law-enforcement agents to coerce conformity from ordinary people — normal well-behaved citizens who are (mostly) peaceful and productive members of society.

The prototype — some might say the Platonic ideal — of hassling the law-abiding occurs every day at the airport. When I travel by air I have to stand in line for half an hour, have my baggage X-rayed, remove my shoes and belt, and endure TSA employees staring at my junk on a screen. These procedures are supposed to ensure my “security”, but all they really do is display the absolute power of the State and allow sadistic low-level employees to get their jollies humiliating and inconveniencing thousands of innocent travelers a day.

Similar examples may be found at police sobriety checkpoints, or in school pat-downs, or at the National Capitol Visitors’ Center. Any added security is minimal, and mostly illusory — how many lives have been saved by these humiliating, intrusive, and authoritarian procedures? And how many billions (or trillions) of dollars do they cost the taxpayer every year?

I could list more examples, but you get the idea. Law-abiding people experience routine hassles because they are, well, law-abiding. The authorities do this stuff to us because they can. Ordinary citizens are generally compliant, and put up with these things because they’re brought up to be lawful, orderly, and respectful towards authority.

Those who might really be dangerous — the guys in the beanies and nightgowns with their women dressed in shapeless black bags — are the ones who get the religious exemptions. Nobody wants to offend their religious sensibilities or, God forbid, profile them, so they can count on having the rules suspended for them whenever they yell loud enough. They’re not all that law-abiding, but they can cause mass trouble when riled. It’s much easier to just hassle Mr. Jones and let the others slide on by.

This syndrome is partly ideological and partly practical. Everyone is frightened of being a “racist”, or at least of appearing to be one. We all want to be tolerant and inclusive. So we apply a different set of rules to ordinary law-abiding Western citizens than we do to the Other.

And, practically speaking, it’s easier that way. So, no matter how much money it costs, no matter how many man-hours it wastes, we have to go through all this pointless folderol.

A couple of recent examples of cultural dhimmitude in Canada seem to fit the above model. The first one concerns a citizen who was handcuffed and threatened with arrest for walking his dog too near some Muslimas in a public park in Toronto. The second incident — which occurred at the same event, the Al-Quds Day celebration in Toronto — involved a cyclist who was similarly treated by police for flying an Israeli flag.

Superficially, these seem to be classic examples of hassling the law-abiding. The victims are ordinary upstanding Caucasian or Jewish citizens. They are being orderly and obeying the law, but are threatened and pushed around anyway.

However, there is one major difference between these cases and the ordeal at the airport.

When I get hassled at the airport, money is no object. Untold billions of dollars are spent on largely meaningless “security” regimes at the nation’s airports and other public locations. There is no measurable benefit served by these procedures. Terrorists are savvy enough not to walk through the naked scanner with something that can be seen that way. The process we all go through is theater, a vast bureaucratic kabuki dance designed to fool the public into thinking that the government is doing something that justifies all those enormous taxes. At the same time it allows the badged and uniformed officers a chance to flex their power muscles. It says, “This is your Government. You must obey us.”

But the situation in Toronto was somewhat different. The same kind of thing occurred in Dearborn a few months ago when those Christian proselytizers were forced out of the Arab Festival by police. And it happens in Europe all the time, especially in Britain, where the EDL is kettled and arrested and hassled and restricted while the Sharia4Everywhere brigades can do just about whatever they please.

The difference is in the cost-benefit analysis. Unlike airport security, money is an object in these street events. That’s because those who are charged with preserving public order are ordinary local police, and not the officers of a huge central government bureaucracy.

There may have been a time when enforcing the law and preserving the constitutional rights of ordinary citizens was foremost in the minds of law enforcement officials, but that time is long past. The police department of a major city — especially given the current economic crisis — operates under serious financial constraints. Policing is an expensive enterprise, what with unions, work-safety rules, and ambulance-chasers hungry for lucrative lawsuits. The bottom line rules.

When those officers on the street in Toronto or Dearborn or Chelmsford confront a potentially explosive situation, they know that they must contain it in the cheapest way possible, or face wrath from above. And, let’s face it, cracking down on Christians and Jews is much cheaper than trying to keep a Muslim mob from murder and mayhem. Just think of the amount of police overtime and fuel use that would be required if the dogs or the crosses or the bacon or the Israeli flags were to get too close to the culturally enriched!

Cracking down on the guy walking his dog and the guy riding his bike is far easier — and cheaper — than actually enforcing the law. Police know that natives are far more likely to be peaceful and compliant than the enrichers. So they twist the arms of the law-abiding, and make sure they comply.

If it takes, say, twenty officers to manage those annoying white guys with dogs and flags, how many would it take to contain the rage of all the Rage Boys if the flames of Islamic righteousness were to be ignited? A hundred? A thousand? Ten thousand?

Think of all the overtime! And the negative headlines! And the official investigation! And the questions on the floor of Parliament or Congress!

It’s far, far cheaper to hassle the law-abiding kaffir.

The fact that this actually amounts to the enforcement of sharia in the democratic West doesn’t ever have to enter the minds of those who do the enforcing. At most, they’re hoping to avoid being fired or sued for being “racist” and “discriminatory”.

They’re not thinking, “Gee, I want to do my part to bring Islamic law to my country!”

But they’re doing it anyway.

That’s the real cost. And there are no benefits.


Anonymous said...

There is a huge benefit, but not to the people. The benefit is to the ruling class which, in the U.S., may be defined as the Washington-Manhattan-Chicago-Los Angeles axis, such axis shortened in every European country to Brussels in addition to the local capital city.
What the elite is in fact doing is spreading onto the broad population the punishment for the elite's own 50 years of multifarious treasons, gross errors and outright lunacies. This allows for both camouflaging the connection between all that malfeasance and its consequences, as well as keeping the wide base of serfs in check, lest they rise against their masters.
Takuan Seiyo

Nemesis said...

Having worked as a police officer I can attest that there is indeed a cost analysis in place by authorities to reduce police overtime and employing extra police officers.

There is also 'duty of care' in place on all police officers that makes it mandatory upon every officer when assessing incidents where altercations or rioting may occur, to identify and remove the 'trigger' for any possible trouble before the actual trouble starts.

Those cops in Canada may have been a little exuberant in arresting that dog owner, but in arresting him they effectively removed him from the scene where his ignorance of Islamic sensibilities may have got him into physical trouble.

I would not have gone to the extreme like they did, but I would have suggested he and his dog move away from the area so as to keep the peace.

Obviously, in situations where a 'victim' and attending police are seriously outnumbered by agitated trouble makers, it is wiser to retreat with the complainant arrested for his own protection, than in standing firm and laying down the law.

Once upon a time when police were respected, two cops may have gotten away with controlling brewing trouble in a crowd by just their physical presence alone, but not anymore!

Bill said...

Extremely well-said Baron. I am spreading this as far and wide as I can. It shows an unrecognized way of Islamization of the world. Essentially another use of fear.

RonaldB said...

The comment by Nemesis is quite sensible. In an uncertain situation, it is better for discretion to be the better part of valor, and simply give the Muslim mob a wide berth.

But, the situation reminds me of when I attended a lecture by the economist P.T. Bauer 30 or 40 years ago. He was a specialist in the economies of developing nations. He talked about how the police would enforce measures to control violence, primarily focusing on law-abiding businessmen. For example, in Jamaica, draconian measures against the possession of guns were passed. The street gangs were carefully avoided by the police, but the occasional businessman or traveler with a stray bullet in his possession would face years of imprisonment.

The dynamic, of course, is that aside from a cost-benefit analysis, it is simply far safer for the police to deal with compliant citizens rather than the real criminals.

This is why I think that sometimes the police authorities ought to be given some discretion, even if they make the wrong decision, such as requiring police officers to attend a Muslim "outreach".

The fact is, the more you make the police command responsive to political pressure and displays of public opinion, the less likely they are to take risks in really doing their jobs. The knife cuts both ways.

Will S. said...

This is, of course, what has been labelled 'anarcho-tyranny'; tyranny for the good, law-abiding folks; anarchy for the criminal element...

Anonymous said...

Other than taking to the streets in vast mobs, I don't know what else can we do to turn the tide. Only by adopting the tactics of our enemies can we get the "authorities" off our backs and get these issues talked about in the media, congress. If we stage massive street protests, there's no way they can ignore that.
What are they going to do, send the whole country to jail for racism? Oh, wait...

Anonymous said...

In many parts of the U.S. the people know the police aren't there to help them or protect them from criminals.

In some areas of Los Angeles county, the residents know better than to call 911 in the event of shots being fired because the police won't show up, or if they do it's a drive by. Other areas don't even warrant a patrol or you get a 1 hour 911 response time.

Should a wave a Islamic terrorism hit the U.S. I would suspect the first thing the police would do is drop the hammer on the law abiding citizens. Curfews imposed, cops going door to door doing gun confiscation, arresting anti-Islamics, etc.

Something similar happened after Katrina, the police declared war on the law abiding gun owners, took(stole) their guns at gun point. The guns were never returned.

Yes, the police will protect the Ummah. The police and politicians know they have more to fear from a bunch of gun wielding Muzzies, than Joe sixpack(JSP) who just wants to get by.

So in order to save their skins, they will go after the law abiding citizen.

justicia2012 said...

Well, isn't that just ducky? Canadian cops, Toronto cops, sworn officers of the law are afraid of a crowd of Muslims. Why? Because they know they will be violent? Who has the guns? Man up, protect us! So, in Toronto, they arrest, handcuff 1 and harass 2 Canadian citizens, one flying an Israeli flag and one walking his care hospital visiting mastiff "Cupcake", in Queen's Park, our public Ontario park, where all can go freely. Apparently, OOOHH, one cop, not a young one either, was shaking so bad he handed his notes to another cop. Puhleeze, what a weenie. So, the al-Quds hatefest group won. They were protected, citizens of Ontario and Canada weren't. Toronto police gave in to fear of Islam, which is as disgusting as it gets to a Canadian like me. Iranian sponsored al Quds haters spouted their hate, but not as much as usual since the eyes of the non MSM was on them, but they still managed to spew their disgusting bile and hatred toward Israel. And us. I used to respect Toronto cops but after this fiasco, they will surely have to earn it back. Shame on the politicians, shame on the sergeant at arms, shame on the police. Obviously, Canadians will have to take their own power back, as these 2 men did, since police aren't up to the task. Of protecting Freedom. It seems to me Toronto Police Services, they used to be called Toronto Police Force, are as politically correct as those pathetic cops in the UK , and many in Europe,who back down every time they are confronted with a mad muslim crowd. Police could have dealt with the crowd but chose to deal with 2 people. Wimps. SHAME.

Anonymous said...

Your argument supports a situation in which basic civil liberties, such as freedom of speech and assembly, can be violated by both Muslims and the police-- with impunity.
Is it reasonable to suggest that authorities might needs to make a stand in defense of these basic liberties? Or do we just allow them to be contravened?

Anonymous said...

typo: authorities might need to take a stand

Anonymous said...

If one studies American history one will see the numerous times the Military/police and Pinkertons(hired killers)has been used against restive citizens and even military vets.

Neither the military nor police are your friends if the government drops the hammer. And in case you haven't noticed, the police have turned into a paramilitary goon squad replete with storm trooper armor, armored cars that can take a RPG-9 rocket, .50 cal sniper rifles(these blow people in half at 1500 meters), drones, gear to see through walls. This is all military tech. And most of the guys they hire now are combat vets, men who have zero compunction about killing. This isn't law enforcement.

These guys are preparing for war against the American citizen should we get uppity with the boss class.

Not the gang bangers who can bribe a city official and find the home addresses of every cop, judge and DA in the U.S. and go Zeta on them when they're at home smoking a blunt.

One can see it the behavior of police where they treat citizens like dirt over the littlest of offenses like skateboarding. Yet ignore complaints of crack and meth houses operating in plain sight.

alcade said...

Nemesis says: it is wiser to retreat with the complainant arrested for his own protection, than in standing firm and laying down the law.

Then he begins his next paragraph by stating:

Once upon a time when police were respected, [...]

Correct me if I'm wrong, but perhaps police acting like nannies and "arresting complainants for their own protection" is part of the reason no one respects law enforcement anymore.

Anonymous said...

I heartily agree with alcade and anonymous, and with Nemesis and his secondary point of the police not being respected anymore. I would suggest that this sort of harassment of law-abiding citizens is a big part of the reason the police have lost respect.

Nearly everyone who has been given a three-digit ticket for a minor traffic infraction will agree with me. One quickly comes to the conclusion that the police go after the timid little rabbits like me that will meekly accept a ticket, and avoid the violent thugs that are as likely to shoot as they are to sign a ticket. Policing these days seems to be more a matter of revenue enhancement that law enforcement.

Why, then, should we respect them? They are basically useless.