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Posts tagged Strike the Root

Against privateering

From an excellent recent feature on Strike the Root on a distinction I’ve discussed here before — what he calls a distinction between privatizing and marketizing, and what I called the distinction between privateering and the socialization of the means of production:

… [I]f the New York subway system is basically a government monopoly, then simply leasing, selling, or transferring it from our local Transit Authority to a politically-vetted outside agency doesn’t make it less of a monopoly per se. It’s just the same system with a different face and attitude to hide its statist legacy. All that’s changed is that the privatized option is supposedly run more efficiently.

Indeed, schemes like these are more about efficiency than they are about reducing the state’s presence and legacy.

So many problems arose with the Indiana deal championed by Stossel that even the local arm of the Indiana Libertarian Party opposed it. The contracts were for a 75-year lease in return for $3.8 billion to the government’s coffers – pretty sweet deal, no? The bidding process wasn’t very transparent, nor did it even involve local community input as a courtesy. Ultimately the foreign firms that were awarded contracts by the Indiana government to take over and manage its toll highway are now profiting from an infrastructure put in place neither by their own free efforts nor on their own dime, but by the state. It’s a de facto double charge to drivers, who have to pay high tolls to access the very infrastructure they financed through their exploited tax dollars in the first place. Is that so unlike the government taking away a family’s home via eminent domain, giving the land to a corporation like Wal-Mart, and then celebrating this criminal act as if it were a part of free enterprise?

Every market enterprise involves risks, costs, and profits. The market way is that all three aspects are privatized. . . . But Indiana ‘s privatization scheme involves privatizing the profits while passing on many of the original costs and risks to everyone else whether they like it or not. Governments aim to socialize all three factors — though here again it’s usually small cliques of the politically-connected who reap the most benefits at our unwitting expense. How utterly revealing! Why do so many privatization cheerleaders, however libertarian they may be otherwise, ignore that?

Because they want it both ways.

The appeal of public-private partnerships is that they seem to be a win-win situation — capitalists are happy because they get to make profits through shifting day-to-day management from politicians to themselves; politicians are happy because they still have ultimate control and bargaining power, and can claim to cut waste and big government just in time for the election; customers are happy because the services become nominally more efficient and there’s no taxes or surly public servants involved. Yes, they look like market entities on the surface, and yet we can still have the aegis of the State in the background so as not to appear too radical for the Zogby polls. After all, we love capitalism, right?

The idea that you can somehow run government like a business and get the best of both worlds is absurd because the incentives and economic calculation just aren’t there. Public-private partnerships reek of the Original Sin of state privilege, monopoly and exploitation, and they can never escape that legacy. Even the very language of privatization alienates so many people already that when libertarians talk about replacing government services with market-based ones, folks assume we’re shilling for corrupt things like Halliburton or Blackwater or wimpy school vouchers. Instead of merely privatizing the management of existing monopoly government infrastructure, let’s focus on augmenting and replacing it outside the statist complex, through marketization.

We’ve never had a central state agency handling food production and distribution to all 300 million Americans. We have thousands of independent enterprises big and small that have evolved instead, and this works just fine even with state subsidies and agencies in the mix. This is marketization in essence. We certainly don’t need a monolithic Food Agency to develop, and then evolve into an equally monolithic public-private partnership, because it would be no more effective than the decentralized market structure that currently feeds us.

So I propose to Indiana (and New York for that matter): Instead of just transferring a government-run highway into the hands of some politically-connected firm in a sweetheart deal, why not simply permit firms to build and run their own independent (privately built and owned) highways, subways, schools, hospitals, and taxi/limousine services to supplement and replace the existing statist monopolies? Or better, ignore the state and do it anyway?

— Marcel Votlucka, Strike the Root (2009-03-27): Don’t Privatize, Marketize! Boldface is mine.

Read the whole thing.

See also:

What a shock.

Let’s review.

The nearly 10-minute video clip, which has drawn nothing but negative comments toward the trooper on YouTube, shows Gardner approaching Massey’s SUV and asking for his driver’s license and registration. Massey asks how fast he was going, which prompts Gardner to repeat his request.

I need your driver’s license and registration — right now, the trooper says.

Massey continues to question Gardner about the posted speed limit and how fast he was going but hands over his papers. The trooper walks back to his car.

Gardner returns to the SUV and tells Massey he’s being cited for speeding. On the video, Massey can be heard refusing to sign the ticket and demanding that the trooper take him back and show him the 40 mph speed limit sign.

What you’re going to do — if you’re giving me a ticket — in the first place, you’re going to tell me why … Massey says.

For speeding, the trooper interjects.

… and second of all we’re going to go look for that 40 mph sign, Massey says.

Well you’re going to sign this first, Gardner says.

No I am not. I’m not signing anything. Massey says.

Gardner tells Massey to hop out of the car, then walks back to the hood of his patrol car, setting down his ticket book. Massey is close behind the trooper pointing toward the 40 mph speed limit sign he’d passed just before being pulled over.

Turn around. Put your hands behind your back, Gardner says. He repeats the command a second time as he draws his Taser and takes a step back.

The trooper points the Taser at Massey who stares incredulously at him.

What the hell is wrong with you? Massey asks.

Gardner repeats the command to turn around two more times as Massey, with part of his right hand in his pants pocket, starts to walk back toward his SUV.

What the heck’s wrong with you? Massey can be heard asking as Gardner fires his Taser into Massey’s back. Immobilized by the weapon’s 50,000 volts, Massey falls backward, striking his head on the highway. The impact caused a cut on Massey’s scalp.

Massey’s wife Lauren, who was seven months pregnant at the time, gets out of the SUV screaming and is ordered to get back in the vehicle or risk being arrested. Gardner handcuffs Massey and leaves him on the side of the highway while he goes to talk to Massey’s wife.

He’s fine. I Tasered him because he did not follow my instructions, Gardner explains to the audibly upset woman.

You had no right to do that! she responds. You had no right to do that!

While Gardner is still talking to Lauren Massey, her husband gets to his feet and approaches the trooper from behind. Gardner takes the handcuffed man back toward his patrol car and again orders Lauren Massey to stay in her vehicle or risk being arrested.

Officer you’re a little bit excited. You need to calm yourself down, Jared Massey tells Gardner before being put into the trooper’s patrol car where he continues to demand an explanation for his arrest.

— Geoff Liesik, Deseret Morning News (2007-11-21): Trooper’s Taser use pops up on YouTube

Cops in America are heavily armed and trained to be bullies. They routinely force their way into situations they have no business being in, use violence first and ask questions later, and pass off even the most egregious forms of violence against harmless or helpless people as self-defense or as the necessary means to accomplish a completely unnecessary goal. In order to stay in control of the situation, they have no trouble electrifying small children, alleged salad-bar thieves, pregnant women possibly guilty of a minor traffic violation, or an already prone and helpless student who may have been guilty of using the computer lab without proper papers on hand. They are willing to pepper spray lawyers for asking inconvenient questions and to beat up teenaged girls for not cleaning up enough birthday cake or being out too late at night. It hardly matters if you are an 82 year old woman supposedly benefiting from a care check, or if you are sound asleep in your own home, or if you are unable to move due to a medical condition, or if the cops attack you within 25 seconds of entering the room, while you are standing quietly against the wall with your arms at your sides. It hardly even matters if you die. What a cop can always count on is that, no matter how senselessly he escalates the use of violence and no matter how obviously innocent or helpless his victims are, he can count on his buddies to clap him on the back and he can count on his bosses to repeat any lie and make any excuse in order to find that Official Procedures were followed. As long as Official Procedures were followed, of course, any form of brutality or violence is therefore passed off as OK ….

Note that Gardner never, at any point in the video, claimed that anything that Massey did in the encounter was threatening or that he felt he had to defend himself. He explicitly stated, over and over again, to Jared Massey, to his wife, and to a fellow cop, not that the reason for his actions was self-defense, but that it was to coerce compliance. Gardner also never told Massey that he was under arrest until after knocking Massey to the ground with his taser. However, cop enablers are not about to let the mere evidence of their senses get in the way of fabricating excuses for police violence …

— GT 2007-11-27: Law and Orders #3: John Gardner of the Utah Highway Patrol tasers Jared Massey in front of his family for questioning why he was pulled over

Some days, I really hate being right.

Utah taser probe: Trooper acted reasonably

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah trooper who used a Taser to subdue a stubborn motorist who was walking away from him during a traffic stop felt threatened and acted reasonably, state officials said Friday.

Trooper Jon Gardner remains on leave, primarily for his safety, after numerous anonymous threats were made against him, said Supt. Lance Davenport of the Utah Highway Patrol.

Gardner twice zapped [sic] Jared Massey with a Taser when the driver walked away and refused to sign a speeding ticket on Sept. 14. The incident was recorded on Gardner’s dashboard camera. Massey filed a public-records request and posted the video on YouTube, which said it has been viewed more than 1 million times.

We found that Trooper Gardner’s actions were lawful and reasonable under the circumstances, Davenport said at a news conference, joined by Scott Duncan, commissioner of the UHP’s parent agency, the Utah Department of Public Safety.

The investigation was conducted by officials in the Department of Public Safety, which oversees the highway patrol. The officials have asked the Utah attorney general’s office to also review the case to determine if laws were broken.

Massey was not at the news conference and could not immediately be reached for comment.

The video showed Massey arguing about whether he was exceeding the speed limit on U.S. 40 in eastern Utah. Massey got out and walked to the rear of his vehicle. The trooper pulled out his Taser when the driver tried to return to his seat.

Massey shrieked, fell and said: Officer, I really don’t know what you’re doing.

Face down! Face down! Put your hands behind your back, Gardner said.

— USA Today (2007-11-30): Utah taser probe: Trooper acted reasonably

This seems to be more or less how most cops seem to think that all their conversations with the public that they serve and protect should go.

When Massey’s wife emerged from the passenger side, the trooper ordered her to get back in — or you’re going to jail, too. Moments later, when another officer arrived, one of them said, Oh, he took a ride with the Taser.

Davenport said that comment was inappropriate.

— USA Today (2007-11-30): Utah taser probe: Trooper acted reasonably

Well, that’s mighty white of him.

Officials said Gardner could have issued the ticket without Massey’s signature.

The investigation found use of the Taser was justified because Massey had turned his back and put a hand near his pocket, Davenport said.

For a law-enforcement officer, that is a very, very scary situation, he said.

Nonetheless, the trooper now realizes that other options were available, Davenport said.

— USA Today (2007-11-30): Utah taser probe: Trooper acted reasonably

Remember that at no point in the encounter did Gardner ever claim that he used the taser because he felt threatened or because he believed that Massey was reaching for a piece. In fact, he explained several times why he used the taser, to Massey, to Massey’s wife, and to another cop, and every time he said the reason was that Massey didn’t follow instructions. I’m sure he just forgot to mention that he feared for his life, too. It’s wonderful how a gang of cops investigating possible after-the-fact excuses for another cop’s use of violence can jog the memory.

However, once we strip out the self-serving lies, note that we are left with the following:

Officials said Gardner could have issued the ticket without Massey’s signature.

… Nonetheless, the trooper now realizes that other options were available, Davenport said.

Let’s review.

Officials said Gardner could have issued the ticket without Massey’s signature.

… Nonetheless, the trooper now realizes that other options were available, Davenport said.

And there you have it. In the view of the Utah Highway Patrol, it is lawful and reasonable to torture you with 50,000-volts of electricity in order to force you to comply with their orders, even when those orders are completely unnecessary and even when other options are available.

What a shock.

(Story via Strike the Root and no authority 2007-12-01.)

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