Imagine no police

The NYT is certainly in decline. The recent Tom Cotton op ed got a lot of attention, but you can find many similar examples of sloppy reasoning. Yesterday, an op ed called for the abolition of police:

When people, especially white people, consider a world without the police, they envision a society as violent as our current one, merely without law enforcement — and they shudder.

No, that’s certainly not what they “envision”. Most people don’t envision a world as violent as our current one, they envision a world that’s 10 times more violent. Unless you understand the thinking of those on the other side, you won’t get anywhere.

I’m not saying the world would be 10 times more violent if the police were abolished; perhaps it would be no more violent than our current world. First we need to consider what would replace the police.

I suspect that where I live (Mission Viejo), the police would be replaced by private security companies. I’d sign up, and so would my affluent neighbors. You might argue that when people call for abolishing the police they also mean abolishing private police forces. But of course if you abolished the police then there’d be no one to enforce the abolition of private police forces. So that’s what we’d get in Mission Viejo.

What about in neighborhoods where people were too poor to pay for private security forces? In that case, I’d expect gangs to patrol neighborhoods and extort “protection money” from residents. Perhaps this already happens to some extent, but it would likely happen to a greater extent without a police force. Recall the theory that the first “governments” were roving groups of bandits that settled down to maximize revenue. Fortunately, America doesn’t have many neighborhoods that are that poor.

I suspect that the private security companies in Mission Viejo would contract with arbitration firms to take over the role of courts. In poorer areas, vigilante justice might become more common. I don’t expect private police to waste much time with a war on drugs, but who knows?

Some of you know more about anarchy than I do. Please let me know what I’ve missed.

PS. Some people worry about the current wave of political correctness. While PCism may be the wave of the future, stupidity is not. In the long run, the cream will rise to the top. In the long run, there’s no danger of the lunatics taking over the asylum. If the NYT completely collapses, then some other paper will take over as the authoritative source of information for intellectuals.



42 Responses to “Imagine no police”

  1. Gravatar of Garrett Garrett
    14. June 2020 at 11:45

    Michael Huemer’s lectures on anarcho-capitalism discuss protection from crime without police:

    His response to the “protection money” argument is that bad security agencies would have higher costs than good ones, and so would be out-competed.

  2. Gravatar of Russ Abbott Russ Abbott
    14. June 2020 at 11:51

    “Please let me know what I’ve missed.”

    What you missed is the rest of the op-ed. A “world without police” is not a world without the government playing an important role in public safety. It means not having the police play social worker. You might want to look at this article on Camden, N.J. (

  3. Gravatar of sabre sabre
    14. June 2020 at 11:59

    Great article, I certainly expect even more than 10x increase in violence if there are no police. Private security companies would come into play, but the issues with overlapping companies is immense… if I live under the jurisdiction of a certain company, but I go commit a crime in the territory of another company, how do they prosecute me? It is possible, but it is similar to the issues with international crime enforcement today, only much more so. Crime deterrent would be reduced by an incredible amount. And really, if there are no police, it isn’t clear that there is a government at all. Who will make me pay my taxes, if there are no police? The IRS is going to have to work with my protection company, and the million other ones, etc. etc. Enforcement of everything will be greatly hindered.

    I disagree with your last paragraph though. I agree that the NYT has been on the decline for some time, but your optimism that the cream will rise to the top is off base. The NYT is the “paper of record” because it has access to power (government officials and classified info), and because it is popular and read by many people. PCism enahnces both these aspects, it is a movement by parts of the government, and it is popular with many readers. Perhaps the intellectual crowd will leave, but that is a fringe group. A new paper which provides intellectual rigor for that group will not be nearly as influential as NYT, and losing that crowd will not be a huge problem for NYT. Intellectuals and people who think for themselves have always been a small minority, and intellectual honesty/rigor has not been a true selective pressure on newspapers for a very long time. That is why so many of the top papers are veering further and further away from it.

  4. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    14. June 2020 at 12:04

    In the long run, there’s no danger of the lunatics taking over the asylum. If the NYT completely collapses, then some other paper will take over as the authoritative source of information for intellectuals.—Scott Sumner

    I hope Scott Sumner is right, but I don’t see it now. The consuming public has made clear it wants its dogmas pandered to, and the New York Times, The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal are accommodating commercial enterprises.

    Fox and CNN have set the bar.

  5. Gravatar of JG JG
    14. June 2020 at 12:42

    You would see the Feds intervening much more in the goal of maintaining order. Recall good law enforcement presupposes some semblance of societal order. I am sure all the libs will look forward to trump mobilizing special forces in their neighborhoods.

  6. Gravatar of Mark Z Mark Z
    14. June 2020 at 12:46

    My guess is the anti-police leftist would simply say, ‘we’ll just have an agency for enforcing the prohibition on policing’; one could shut down or take over firearms companies (there is no way the people who want to shut down police departments will give up enforcement of gun control; you can read their twitter feeds right after any mass shooting if you need confirmation). And if Smith and Wesson resisted and a few people got killed in the raid to take over their factory, they would view said victims more like how they likely viewed those Bundy ranchers in Oregon (right wing militia hicks who had only themselves to blame) than George Floyd. It may seem inconsistent, but if someone can simultaneously believe 1) we should end the drug war, and 2) we should send a bunch of ‘phmarma bro’ CEOs to prison for the opioid crisis, then they can also favor keeping enforcement mechanisms to ensure that abolishing local police doesn’t go a different way from how they’d like it to go.

    “Some people worry about the current wave of political correctness. While PCism may be the wave of the future, stupidity is not. In the long run, the cream will rise to the top. In the long run, there’s no danger of the lunatics taking over the asylum.”

    Um, what? If you’re talking about 500 years from now, fine, whatever. If you’re talking about in the next 50 years, the last century alone has provided more than enough examples of things getting progressively worse and staying bad for long periods of time. You’re own opinions regarding the Trump administration and his supporters – single-handedly turning the US into a ‘banana republic’ for years to come – contradicts this sentiment. And suddenly you’re Dr. Pangloss?

  7. Gravatar of Mark Z Mark Z
    14. June 2020 at 12:55

    Russ Abbott,

    Camden is not a “world without police.” They abolished their department, then replaced it with county police because the latter weren’t unionized, so they didn’t have to deal with the police union, but they ultimately hired *more* police officers than when it was the Camden PD. Not only did they not eliminate police, they expanded police personnel.

    Why do people keep insisting on using terms to describe specific things that are the opposite of what the term actually means? “Defund the police” doesn’t mean defund the police. “No police” actually can mean expanding the police, apparently.

  8. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    14. June 2020 at 12:59

    When I was young and naive, I enjoyed reading the NYT.

    As I matured intellectually and saw through the glossy superficiality of its false sophistication to the trite and logically bankrupt ideology it was peddling (not to mention the cheap ink they used in 80’s which stained by fingers), I stopped reading it.

    I was anticipating that as my powers of cognition and discernment declined with old age, I would once again be able find enjoyment reading it.

    Unfortunately, the decline of the Times is proceeding much faster than my own, so I’m afraid it will continue to go unread.

  9. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    14. June 2020 at 13:43

    Thanks Garrett.

    Russ, Yes, I read the entire piece before commenting. Here’s what she said:

    “I’ve been advocating the abolition of the police for years.”

    Camden increased their police force.

    Sabre, You said:

    “Perhaps the intellectual crowd will leave, but that is a fringe group.”

    Not at the NYT! It’s their bread and butter.

    Mark, You said:

    “we’ll just have an agency for enforcing the prohibition on policing’”

    I agree. And there’s a name for that sort of agency—> Police!

    As far as being Dr. Pangloss. I don’t recall a single year in American history when readers could find high quality media outlets. So history is on my side.

    I agree about Camden.

    dtoh, The NYT is a GREAT source of information. When it comes to analysis, however . . .

  10. Gravatar of AMT AMT
    14. June 2020 at 14:37

    I agree that about 10x more violent crime is a valid concern. To me, a decent comparison is how much more violent is it to operate in an illegal underground market vs a normal market? How different is it to operate an import/export business moving oil versus cocaine? Or alcohol during prohibition versus after? The difference there is just the lack of legal enforcement of contracts, which gives rise to a gigantic amount of violence, even though the associated violence is still illegal and prosecuted by the legal system.

    I suppose private security companies might work to enforce laws and arbitration firms to replace courts and enforce contracts, but I’m not sure how that would actually work in practice. If a gang kills a private security company, what would happen? Who comes in to arrest and imprison people? A government employee, with a gun (aka a cop)? What compels someone to abide by some independent, regional arbitration panel’s decision? What if they just kill the arbitration panel, or bribe them? And who oversees the arbitration to give it authority, that you appeal to when it doesn’t lead to justice (e.g. bribery)? Without ultimate enforcement by the government, there are effectively NO state or national laws, so be ready for the extortionary fine levied by the local arbitration panel for “illegally” chewing gum in their territory. I just don’t really see how you can avoid having the government involved (and willing to use force, because simply asking nicely wont lead to many people volunteering to go to prison). Otherwise it seems likely to devolve into a gang or mob controlled situation, but without even the enforcement of violent crime laws. It doesn’t matter what laws you have on the nation’s books, because if no laws are enforced by it, it will be a lawless nation.

    Compare the murder rate in Mexico vs USA and it’s about 30 vs 5 per 100k. That is with similar laws prohibiting violence, but relatively weaker police enforcement in Mexico.


    P.S. You might enjoy reading this article as well:

  11. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    14. June 2020 at 14:40

    Shorter Ssumner: “GET OFF MY LAWN!”. What an hoot. Sorry but I’ve lived in three countries outside the USA with no real police and it’s fine: Greece, Thailand and the Philippines. The police in all three of these countries, as Ben Cole can attest to for TH, are at half hour away and likely they’ll not do much if there’s a crime, especially if a foreigner calls. But there’s little or no crime in these countries, aside from property theft. The fact is US police are more likely to cause crime than prevent it. I saw a study once that plausibly claimed taxi drivers prevent more crime than police, simply by being more prevalent. BTW, Greece has a maximum de fact sentence for first degree murder of ten years due to overcrowding. Ten years only. Just the other day a mean woman pored acid on a beautiful woman who was a rival to her man and nearly killed her, turned the poor woman into a vegetable, and the news says if they catch her, she’ll only get less than one (1) year in jail, due to overcrowding. Sad. Nevertheless the country is largely safe. As for the USA, I’ve lived in tough neighborhoods (to save money on rent, as I’m frugal despite being in the 1%), in San Jose, CA and in LA, but did not suffer any crime except some close calls (a guy who was disturbed tried to break into my apartment at night, I awoke my neighbors by yelling and drove him off, the police showed up ten minutes later and could do nothing).

    As Sumner says, with no police we’d get private security and likely it would be better since their statutory immunity would be waived, making them more cautious and less likely to kill unnecessarily.

  12. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    14. June 2020 at 15:26

    I generally agree with everything you said. I may be naive, but I believe less than single digits believe we should defund police. But a majority believe we can make useful reforms. I assume that is a good thing . I hesitate to say the following because it is so against the current opinion. A well known disliked black conservative woman made the following statement. “The reason we know there is racism in America is because there are people in America”. I agree. Further, I really dislike playing the statistics game on police activity and race. I can argue with myself and almost come up with any answer regarding race and police. Apparently there are an average of 1000 people a year who are killed by police. We know that the majority are not black. Why are police killing non-blacks? I have not analyzed this. But how do we know the reason for one group is assumed to be racist, but the other group is assumed to be justified—-at least it is not discussed as unjustified. I don’t discount racism in all forms. But we seem obsessed with focusing on one group. There are plenty of policies we can implement potentially to help all groups who are disadvantaged. It feels like bad politics.

  13. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    14. June 2020 at 15:27

    I meant “less than double digits”

  14. Gravatar of Lee Bressler Lee Bressler
    14. June 2020 at 15:59

    Scott – I believe there is a mistake in your reasoning. Defund police isn’t great branding. But the idea is not to abolish police. Instead it is to reallocate some of the funding and the mission of police to other groups. Spend more on public school and social workers. The expectation is that would reduce crime. And so the need for police would be reduced. Maybe some of it is a reallocation of police budgets to other groups – even if spending stays constant, it would be enforcement by groups that are not armed.
    My sense is that police spend a small amount of time on felony crimes. Much of it is in areas that could be readily handled by groups that are less militarized.


  15. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    14. June 2020 at 16:14

    In any case, I find it really ironic that certain sections of the Western Left, which are otherwise extremely in favor of big government institutions and affiliated unions, now want to abolish one of the largest government institutions.

    And they are now blaming the unions for the inability of certain police authorities to reform. So unions are finally a bad thing now or is it only the police union? You can make your guesses. =)

    I am always really interested in such cases of possibly massive cognitive dissonance because it seems to give us clues as to how our brains work.

    If this is how the American Left wants to conduct its election campaign, then good night, and good luck.

  16. Gravatar of Lee Bressler Lee Bressler
    14. June 2020 at 16:17

    For a good discussion, see this link:

  17. Gravatar of P Burgos P Burgos
    14. June 2020 at 18:07

    @ Christian List

    No one on the left wants to admit this, but Biden seems like a great pick for
    Democrats right now, simply because he is an old white guy who helped pass a lot of “get tough on crime” legislation. So he can go pretty far in calling for reform of policing without seeming like he believes in fairies.

  18. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    14. June 2020 at 18:12

    a good article by Matt Taibbi, see above

    Dr. Ray Lopez; yes, rural Thailand is entirely safe and there is no police presence. From what I read, a person is entirely safe in urban Japan.

    A person is not safe in parts of urban Los Angeles, or Washington DC, or NYC, three cities in which I have lived.

    Incarceration for crime does appear to suppress crime in the US. The relative size of the city police force in relation to population does not seem to matter as much.

  19. Gravatar of Llamado Llamado
    14. June 2020 at 20:33

    Doesn’t have to but private security can lead to overreach and abuse of powers. South Africa for example:

    On disbanding police, if there is nobody to enforce the laws are there any consequence for wrongdoing? (or just vigilante retribution?) Many people focus on the most visible violent crime in this discussion: aggravated burglary, B&E, gun violence, assault, etc but what about crimes such as rape, child molesting and the like? Where victims are often more reluctant to come forward. Would offenders (or would-be offenders) be emboldened to act out these crimes when they otherwise wouldn’t? (or less likely, if police justice is replaced by something else?)

    Hypo: A father finds out his daughter has been raped. He BELIEVES he knows the person responsible and shoots that person dead. The next call is to a mortician?
    Does life return to normal (as possible) for the father & daughter if the community feels this is justified?
    If relatives of the slain man do not agree with the murder who stops them from extracting some kind of retribution? How long does that cycle go on?

    Hypo 2: Somebody kidnaps one of your children to send them interstate (overseas?) for sale to a child exploitation ring. Your next step is?

  20. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    14. June 2020 at 21:50

    Lee, You said:

    “Scott – I believe there is a mistake in your reasoning. Defund police isn’t great branding. But the idea is not to abolish police. Instead it is to reallocate some of the funding and the mission of police to other groups.”

    Did you read the post? Did I say I oppose defunding the police? Where did I say that?

    And this post was not discussing “the idea” of defunding the police, it was discussing a specific editorial in the NYT that said we should abolish the police.

  21. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    15. June 2020 at 00:39

    The policy called “defunding the police” seems nearly equally questionable.

    From what I read police spending has remained consistently at under 4 percent for the past 40 years, while other government expenditures in the areas of welfare/social work, education, health has roughly tripled in comparison. Education is at 31% now, welfare at 22%, health at 10%. And this data is from a liberal thinktank.

    Wherever “defunding” was carried out, there was no defunding at all, but the expenses for the police were even increased and more police officers were hired. The name of the agencies have been changed though, which is really nice.

    When politicians carry out a “reform”, it usually ends with even more money being spent than before.

    If they want to get rid of police unions, they should just do that but directly.

  22. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    15. June 2020 at 06:18

    The New York Times ought to be considered the best friend of the right for giving so much air to fringe left-wing views from some random activist with no position of power or influence while getting embroiled in controversy for publishing Cotton’s op-ed. If I were trying to advance a left-wing agenda at the New York Times, I would only let these far-left views be channeled through reasonable sounding regular columnists, while replacing the regular reasonable-sounding conservative columnists with the most offensive far-right people I could find.

    Christian, if it’s cognitive dissonance to support large government in general while being against police, isn’t it also cognitive dissonance to support small government in general while being for police? I think the latter case is more dissonant actually—one can imagine a philosophical position that’s pro small government for the sake of small government such as anarchism or libertarianism, but there’s no philosophical position that’s pro big government for the sake of big government—people who are pro big government are only pro big government that does things they want.

    P Burgos, I agree. Biden is severely underestimated as a candidate. Just anecdotally, the less activist and less-online people I know overwhelmingly supported Biden. Moreover, very few people on the Democratic side actively oppose Biden the way they actively oppose other candidates. Biden is relatable to a lot of people and comes off as a decent, non-malicious person who will listen to everyone even if you don’t agree with his policy views. He is also pretty shrewd in that he is good at positioning himself in the middle of the Democratic Party (there was a good analysis on FiveThirtyEight showing that he was close to the median vote among Democratic senators for his entire tenure). He was the best choice and has an excellent chance to win against Trump.

  23. Gravatar of Mike Rulle Mike Rulle
    15. June 2020 at 06:45

    Good article by John McWhorter—-particularly because it was written in 2016.

  24. Gravatar of Justin Justin
    15. June 2020 at 08:16

    If Scott’s right, the ultimate victims of this movement will probably be very poor minority neighborhoods. Remember that unjustified police killings, as bad as individual cases are, only end up killing a handful of unarmed minorities per year, whereas organized gangs may well kill that many each day.

    A part of me wonders if in a generation’s time, if we actually abolish police on a wide scale, we’ll hear progressive politicians say things like “security is a human right, not a privilege” and “we need government funded security for all”.

    For the middle class, I think there will be a lot more effort to take security into one’s own hands. Private companies may be part of this, but also more private firearms ownership.

    This is already happening, at least near me where local gun dealers recently sold out of all of their firearms – and there was a pretty diverse crowd buying, with plenty of minorities arming themselves and taking CCW courses. If my local town disbanded its police, I would probably move to a rural area and rely mostly on an expanded set of firearms/armed neighbors for personal defense.

  25. Gravatar of Justin Justin
    15. June 2020 at 08:20

    –“Christian, if it’s cognitive dissonance to support large government in general while being against police, isn’t it also cognitive dissonance to support small government in general while being for police?”–

    Not at all. The minarchist view of government is essentially that it exists to supply protection (policy/army) and resolve disputes (courts). Maybe roads too, depends on the person. They would probably oppose militarized police and unionized police, but not police per se.

  26. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    15. June 2020 at 09:10

    Justin, You said:

    “If Scott’s right, the ultimate victims of this movement will probably be very poor minority neighborhoods.”

    That’s possible, but note that I never made that claim.

  27. Gravatar of Justin Justin
    15. June 2020 at 09:41

    –“That’s possible, but note that I never made that claim.”–

    That’s fair, you didn’t, but it’s the increase in gang rule you predicted is likely to be a very negative outcome.

    Rich people, who will have private security (and in many cases have it already) aren’t really affected, and the middle class will probably just replace their tax dollars with an $XXX/mo subscription to a private security force, which may well be more effective than the public version.

    Just seems ironic to me that this policy from the progressive left might well ultimately benefit the rich and middle class at the expense of the poor.

  28. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    15. June 2020 at 12:37


    I don’t have a problem with cognitive dissonance per se. I just think that’s how our brain is wired.

    people who are pro big government are only pro big government that does things they want.

    I believe people are deceiving themselves. If that is to be the motivation, then it would be better if they spent every dollar themselves. Then they can be sure that their money does exactly what they want. It’s the whole effect (or side effect, if you like) of “socialization” that large parts of your money paid just don’t do what you want. From this point of view, the other position makes more sense to me: They want to spend as much of their own money as possible; and the police is there to protect their rights and their property – especially in a “Nachtwächterstaat”.

    Your point also does not explain why the Left is against unions only in this one case. The whole point of unions is to enforce the special interests of their few members against the interests of the community, society and the greater good. Of course the police union acts like this as well, that’s what it’s there for.


    Just seems ironic to me that this policy from the progressive left might well ultimately benefit the rich and middle class at the expense of the poor.

    That seems to me to be the whole point. My impression is that most BLM activists and other social justice warriors come from the upper middle class or upper class. Most of these activities look like lip service or signaling to me.

  29. Gravatar of Michael H Cardwell Michael H Cardwell
    15. June 2020 at 13:40

    If the NYT completely collapses, then some other paper will take over as the authoritative source of information for intellectuals

    Some other paper will be the “most informative source” but there’s no guarantee of absolute improvement. One can look at history and see many examples where things simply fall apart.

  30. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    15. June 2020 at 13:47

    You say

    if it’s cognitive dissonance to support large government in general while being against police, isn’t it also cognitive dissonance to support small government in general while being for police

    Not necessarily. Large government comes from legislation that tries to meet positive rights(right to healthcare, right to a reasonably comfortable retirement, right to a free education, right to replace unfriendly overseas governments, right to have drug-free neighbors…). If the government stuck to legislation that was more focused on protecting negative rights(free speech, self-defense, property rights…) you could be pro-police and pro small government.

  31. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    15. June 2020 at 17:22

    OT but in the ballpark:

    Like so many other central bankers, President Mary Daly of the SF branch calls for more fiscal stimulus, while the central bank provides an expansionary policy.

    What is disappointing is, like so many other central bankers, she fails to close the circle and discuss QE in connection or coordination with fiscal policy, or whether additions to the central-bank balance sheet will or should be permanent.

    I credit Daly for at least saying the recovery from 2008 Great Recession was too slow, and the US cannot wait 10 years to recovery from the self-inflicted 2020 Depression.

    Let us hope the US macroeconomics profession and commentariat argue for excess, and that too-high inflation will be a small price to pay if a robust economic recovery can be engineered.

    I realize it is heresy to say so, but there are more-important macroeconomic results than holding inflation under 2%

  32. Gravatar of Jonathan Miller Jonathan Miller
    15. June 2020 at 18:43

    I haven’t read the NYT article, but I found The Atlantic’s article to be good.

    I imagine that if you closed all the city police departments, that city services, county and state police and the FBI would all have to become stronger to make up for it.

    No one I have read, including those who want to abolish the police, want to abolish the court system. But I haven’t read the NYT piece.

    I currently read The Washington Post, The Economist and The Atlantic.

  33. Gravatar of Aladin Aladin
    15. June 2020 at 19:32

    The mafia call themselves “private security agencies” offering “protection” to local businesses … I’d imagine the same thing would occur if you do abolish the police.

  34. Gravatar of Mark Z Mark Z
    15. June 2020 at 20:17

    Mark (the other one),

    Of that of all aspects of the state the one that it’s least inconsistent for someone who favors small government to support is probably law enforcement. That’s basically the Northian/Coasean branch of classical liberalism – that the state is necessary to enforce property and personal rights and contracts. It’s usually first or pretty close to first on the list even free-marketeers think the private sector just can’t do. They may be wrong of course – I’m semi-sympathetic to privatization myself – and the police also enforce laws that have nothing to do with property and personal rights. That should be the focal point of reducing the role of policing.

    People who favor across the board reduction in policing need to explain what their model of crime is. Presumably they don’t mean for private security to replace it, which is the libertarian answer to the problem, as usual. Do they believe criminals are more or less rational like Becker? In which case less police likely would mean more crime, but perhaps that’s tolerable, maybe the cost of law enforcement at the margin is greater than that of the crime it prevents. That’s a plausible argument. Or do they believe crime is invariant to policing intensity? Also plausible. Or that crime is a ‘social problem’ that can be resolved with social services, hence the idea to reallocate police funding to such social services? I find this model to be the least plausible.

  35. Gravatar of bb bb
    16. June 2020 at 07:19

    I think you might be misinterpreting the quote you posted in the article. I read it, along with the rest of the article, to mean that our current level of violence, which is way too high for a developed nation, does not need to be the baseline from which we start to “defund the police”. By implementing social programs, which would reduce homelessness, provide more and better mental health care, provide alternative solutions to domestic violence, maybe get rid of some guns, …; we would be starting from a much lower baseline of violence.
    I agree that framing others’s views is presumptive and a great way to lose your audience, but on the whole I think it was an interesting article. I definitely would not put it on the same level as Tom Cotton’s call to send in the troops.
    I generally think we could get by with less policing. I think we would be better off with fewer traffic stop. Why not just mail people the tickets rather than pulling them over? Less harassing of teenagers seems like a good idea. I have a 17 yo son, and I have not desire for police to arrest him for drinking or possession. Let mental health experts deal with people who need that care. Maybe have programs to help extract people from domestic violence. It’s not a crazy idea to reduce how often we send officers with guns.
    As for NYT, like all other news outlets, the editorial section has become too dominant. The same is true of the Post and cable news is exclusively editorial now. The actual news reporting done by the NYT remains very good, and we are very lucky to have it. Opinion sections have always been bad. Remember the halyon days when Thomal Friedman eplained to America whe the Iraq war was a great idea? Maureen Dowd, Brooks? The Opinion section has always been bed, it just get more attention now than it used to, because people find news reporting to be boring.

  36. Gravatar of anon anon
    16. June 2020 at 08:02

    bb, a theoretical what-if. if your 17 yo is drunk driving and then ends up in accident that leaves him a paraplegic or quadriplegic or some severe impact to well being and life, what would you say – “yep, traffic police shouldn’t have been involved much less pulled him in. its just fate that my 17yo drunk drove and lost his quality of life, or life”.

    In general those that advocate for less traffic policing – are you willing to live the effects of drunk-driving or otherwise intoxicated driving, leading to accidents and all other sort of bad/illegal things (say one drunk drives along with his girlfriend and ends up raping her in car somewhere)? at what point strict policing is warranted – at 1% of overall drunk-driven or 2% or 10% or where? when does prevention become better than cure? Or your stance that it isn’t policing but have unarmed some-other-force to handle them? If so, and they aren’t armed, are you looking at only the most physically qualified to be such traffic monitoring officers?

    Nah, drunk or otherwise impaired people shouldn’t be driving in the first place doesn’t cut ice.

  37. Gravatar of Elizabeth Harris Elizabeth Harris
    16. June 2020 at 09:22

    Police dealing with homeless person.

  38. Gravatar of Elizabeth Harris Elizabeth Harris
    16. June 2020 at 09:25

    It’s the video from Albuquerque, NM. Actually this is over 500 videos compiled by an attorney on Twitter on police brutality. He has 1800 more videos to post.

  39. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    16. June 2020 at 10:29

    bb, A good article? It’s written at a very low level, like a high school student. And as for your claim that she isn’t really advocating abolishing the police—maybe so. But if that’s correct, why place this title on the article:

    “Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police”

    Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I still believe that people should mean what they say.

    I still say that drug and prostitution legalization is the best way to reduce police brutality. I have a post on that at Econlog.

  40. Gravatar of bb bb
    16. June 2020 at 10:59

    I didn’t say it was a good article, I said it was interesting. She’s an organizer and a guest columnist, so I’m more interested in her point of view than the quality of her writing.
    Also, I didn’t claim that she isn’t advocating abolish the police. I don’t know what she intends to replace the police with, if anything, so I didn’t touch that. I do think she was advocating a number of policies that would reduce the need for police interactions.
    I agree with you on prostitution and drugs.
    Do you disagree that reducing traffic stops would reduce violence?

  41. Gravatar of bb bb
    16. June 2020 at 12:29

    The drunk driving question was my first thought when I hear this idea too, but it seems manageable.
    As for my 17 yo, if he drives impaired I’ll catch him. And I would much rather it be me than a police officer catch him. As for other drunk drivers, it may make sense to make exceptions for cars that are driving erratically. And maybe more checkpoints make sense. I have never read that traffic stops reduce rape.
    My point is that shouldn’t stop cars for taillights, or running a red light, or missing sticker. Traffic stops are used as an opportunity to investigate people in the car. To arrest people for minor drug offenses.
    Think about the experience of getting stopped. You have to sit there and wait to be told when to talk and what to do. You wait while they look you up in a computer. Maybe quiz you on stuff that is none of their business. And then they either give you a citation or let you off with a “warning”. And they lecture you as if you are a child, because I didn’t notice the no U-turn sign. And they have complete discretion on who to pull over and how to treat the people. I would much rather save the 15 minutes of indignity and just get a bill in the mail.

  42. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    17. June 2020 at 08:44

    bb, Yes, I agree about traffic stops. Especially “driving while black”.

    And the quote I discussed referred to the attitude of the public, not the author of the article. So no, I didn’t misinterpret the quotation.

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