Posts tagged ‘Ilya Somin’

Intellectual Lightweights

“Bipartisanship” sounds like a good idea in theory, but it usually ends up as broad congressional agreement that the American people have too many liberties or too much money.

Bipartisanship at Its Finest

[P]olitical ignorance strengthens the case for limiting the role of government – especially the federal government.

But David isn’t entirely correct in analogizing faith in government to second marriages. Most people devote far more time and effort to figuring out who they should marry than they do to deciding who to vote for in elections. While many marriages still fail, the average marriage promotes happiness far better than the average politician promotes the public interest. For all its flaws, the marriage/dating market is actually a good example of “voting with your feet.” Participants in foot voting institutions have strong incentives to seek out relevant information and evaluate it rationally because they know their choices will make a real difference. By contrast, ballot box voters have strong incentives to be ignorant, and irrational in their evaluation of what information they do know. Lots of people still make mistakes in deciding who to marry. But imagine what the error rate would be if spouses were chosen in an election, assigned by Congress, or allocated by a government bureaucracy.

Political Ignorance in Congress

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Police State

There’s certainly a lot of overlap between the war on drugs and police militarization. But if we go back to the late 1960s and early 1970s, there were two trends developing simultaneously. The first was the development and spread of SWAT teams. Darryl Gates started the first SWAT team in L.A. in 1969. By 1975, there were 500 of them across the country. They were largely a reaction to riots, violent protest groups like the Black Panthers and Symbionese Liberation Army, and a couple mass shooting incidents, like the Texas clock tower massacre in 1966.

At the same time, Nixon was declaring an “all-out war on drugs.” He was pushing policies like the no-knock raid, dehumanizing drug users and dealers, and sending federal agents to storm private homes on raids that were really more about headlines and photo-ops than diminishing the supply of illicit drugs.

How Cops Became Soldiers: An Interview with Police Militarization Expert Radley Balko

Overarmed federal officials increasingly employ military tactics as a first resort in routine law enforcement. From food-safety cases to mundane financial matters, battle-ready public employees are turning America into the United States of SWAT.

FBI agents and U.S. marshals understandably are well fortified, given their frequent run-ins with ruthless bad guys. However — as my old friend and fellow columnist Quin Hillyer notes — armed officers, if not Special Weapons and Tactics crews, populate these federal agencies: the National Park Service; the Postal Inspection Service; the Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Labor, and Veterans Affairs; the Bureaus of Land Management and Indian Affairs; the Environmental Protection Agency; and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Even Small Business Administration and Railroad Retirement Board staffers pack heat!
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