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Some thoughts on a bad week

In my state, our governor pledged not to raise income taxes on the rich to make up revenue shortfalls. He prefers regressive taxation, like gas taxes, or raiding pensions, including police pensions, btw. Now our governor claims he supports police, while he raids their pensions, and even worse, shifts the burden of raising revenue – the most difficult part of the governor’s job – to our police force. So naturally politicians everywhere rally behind the police, because they’re using the cops to do the most difficult and dangerous job in history: tax collection. Our governor is a pioneer in the abuse of the police force in this manner, an outright fraud. How he was considered a presidential front runner at one time is mind boggling, considering what he’s done as governor. The bridge scandal was the least of it.

Our policemen are good union workers, for the most part, but the municipal court systems in many parts of our country (not just my state), of which police are an integral part, are used to make up revenue shortfalls that should be addressed by elected representatives through tax policy. So the police spend their days in urban communities across the country raising revenue, which puts an inordinate amount of stress on the urban poor. Here they issue alternate side parking tickets, for example, and nobody likes the tax collector, though parking enforcement fines are as significant a source of revenue, in urban neighborhoods, as property taxes. They raise huge money, and they’re totally regressive. They are oppressive and burdensome on the working poor. The complete abdication of the legislative branch, to raise revenue through taxation, is evident in other areas. There are yellow light cameras that cause more accidents than they prevent, but because they raise huge revenue, are everywhere.

Police no longer protect and serve, at least in lower income urban communities – they’re wandering tax collectors with guns, like you’d find in a third world country. And it isn’t an accident, and it isn’t their fault. It’s sad, actually, because poor people worry about routine traffic stops these days, and many feel targeted based on race, and I wonder whether the cops are just so over stressed, doing the work of raising revenue that the politicians won’t do, i.e., the hard work of raising revenue that, in a functioning system, properly results in politicians being held to account, by being voted out of office. But big money has corrupted our politicians, and corporate taxes and personal income taxes are off the table because of it. So, while we’re not paying attention, the politicians have been bought and abdicated their role, as tax collectors, and put that terrible burden on the backs of law enforcement. If we’d just reestablish that it is the legislator’s job to raise revenue, and not the policeman’s, and also take money out of politics, you might see at least some of the stress that’s causing so much harm dissipate…

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