By the Professional Asshole
Normal people often chafe at libertarian’s condemnation of police. “They protect society from the bad guys, don’t you know?” “Don’t like Cops? Call a crack addict.” With such pithy statements, how could we possibly be right? Even if police have faults, they are necessary to society, so we can’t do without them. This is the normal defense of police, when it’s not “my brother/cousin/boyfriend is a cop. Is he a jerk?”
I’m not going to take the time to go over the many systematic faults of police officers (much higher domestic violence, divorce, drugs, alcohol, steroids, substances in general, and behavioral disorders, and that’s just the beginning) or the free-market alternatives to state-policing (see here, here, and here) that are dramatically superior. What I will address is one aspect of why the state naturally corrupts law enforcement.
The incentives for the state are always to benefit itself. No, duh, right? The individuals are there for themselves, and ultimately state agents want larger budgets and power to benefit themselves. It’s why state workers are much more likely to vote Democrat (excepting the defense sector for obvious reasons).
State agents aren’t more moral than anyone else. They are frequently less so.
But, aren’t most cops just trying to help people out? Doesn’t really matter. The incentive structures they face are the same as all state agencies—to maintain and increase their budget and try to bring in as much revenue (tax) as possible. It’s that simple. That’s why 50% of all police interactions are traffic incidences despite the overwhelming evidence that it does not change or improve traffic patterns. It’s cheap, easy revenue. It’s why when the Parks Service faces a budget cut they cut the Washington Monument or Yosemite, the most painful thing to cut, as opposed to the least painful/profitable thing to cut like a private firm does.
The state, as a monopoly, faces perverse incentives as a matter of course. It can do no other.
A preeminent example was when Tiger was pulled over for a DUI stop early in the morning of May 29, 2017. The officer immediately said, “Have you been drinking? (Because) there’s an odor coming from you.” This was a lie, since he blew a .000 BAC. He was “intoxicated” on Ambien. Ambien is a pill and so does not have an odor. The officer was lying to help secure an indictment based on partial evidence. Ambien intoxication as it relates to operating a vehicle might still be a crime, but it’s a lesser crime because there is no negligence. His lawyer could argue “Woops! Yes to prescription medications with unknown side-effects, but no criminal violation without mens rea.”
Police lie like this all the time by screaming “stop resisting” at the top of their lungs while five officers pile onto a seizing, tased suspect who cannot physically stop seizing (search youtube for more videos than you could watch in a lifetime). It’s an act for the camera to aid in securing the most severe penalty for an act, as opposed to the most accurate, or even least severe, which is what true innocence until proven guilty would suggest it do.
The state benefits from more people in prison (higher budget); it benefits from charging you with multiple crimes, and the most serious of them. Did you ever wonder why when they charge people for stealing a TV from a store it’s never just “theft” but a litany of nearly synonymous charges that all amount to “he stole something and owes it back plus damages.”
This is why you can always count on state agents being liars. They must be. They are always looking to eek a little more green out of your pocket, and don’t care how it comes. If absolute power corrupts absolutely, then the very existence of a monopoly of power would corrupt the entire set-up.
So, yes, your cop brother is an asshole, and so are you.