Friday, December 05, 2014

The Garner Case -- Part One

The Eric Garner case is a tough one because there are multiple issues to consider. A few thoughts are in order, but again, here is video of the event -- the one I posted yesterday has been taken down:

And here are the last recorded words of Garner:

He was correct -- it did stop that day
Is the issue here racism? Or is it untrammeled, unaccountable police power? Or is it a hyper-regulatory state that makes it difficult for citizens to stay within the law, because there are too damned many laws? Three thoughts;

  • Race is always an issue, because it is. I'd once thought that we were seeking a color-blind society, but it's been clear for a long time now that many people have no interest in that pursuit, so we're going to continue to talk about race forever and never resolve the issue. There's a lot of money to be made in grievance mongering; as a heartless capitalist I shouldn't really begrudge the racial entrepreneurship of Al Sharpton, right? He's just trying to make a buck out there. But just for giggles, let's throw out a thought experiment -- would this video and event be any less egregious if one of the cops in question had been black?
  • Police power is vast and ever increasing, which should worry everyone. I've posted this picture before, but it's worth looking at again in this context:
    Occupying force
    There are a hell of a lot of crimes that take place every day, but we don't have major war-like skirmishes on the streets of American cities. Our police are equipped for events that aren't really happening. It's not helpful and it sends a message.
  • Finally, let's think about the law that Garner was supposedly afoul of -- he was selling loose cigarettes on the street. Why would someone do that? Well, the cost of a pack of cigarettes in New York City these days can be as much as $14. I quit smoking in 1990 and remember paying about $13-15 for a carton of smokes. I'm not sure where Garner was getting his loose cigarettes, but likely they were from someplace outside of NYC. If you are a smoker and are trying to save money, a guy like Garner would likely seem a blessing. These cops were essentially tax collectors, which makes sense when the excise tax on a pack of smokes is about $4.35 and the city tax is an additional $1.60. There's an interactive map at the link that spells out the price of cigarettes in the region -- if you can get to Pennsylvania, you can buy a pack of smokes for less than half of the cost of a pack of smokes in NYC. Hard to imagine how a black market might set up in such conditions, eh?
We'll pick at this a little more in the coming days.


Gino said...

must be noted: he was accosted for selling the loosies, but as it turned out, he was not doing it this time.

Anonymous said...

So it was just preventative maintenance?