The Ferguson Kleptocracy

In Ferguson and the Modern Debtor’s Prison I wrote:

You don’t get $321 in fines and fees and 3 warrants per household from an about-average crime rate. You get numbers like this from bullshit arrests for jaywalking and constant “low level harassment involving traffic stops, court appearances, high fines, and the threat of jail for failure to pay.”

The DOJ report on the Ferguson Police Department verifies this in stunning detail:

Ferguson has allowed its focus on revenue generation to fundamentally compromise the role of Ferguson’s municipal court. The municipal court does not act as a neutral arbiter of the law or a check on unlawful police conduct.

… Our investigation has found overwhelming evidence of minor municipal code violations resulting in multiple arrests, jail time, and payments that exceed the cost of the original ticket many times over. One woman, discussed above, received two parking tickets for a single violation in 2007 that then totaled $151 plus fees. Over seven years later, she still owed Ferguson $541—after already paying $550 in fines and fees, having multiple arrest warrants issued against her, and being arrested and jailed on several occasions.

Predatory fining was incentivized:

FPD has communicated to officers not only that they must focus on bringing in revenue, but that the department has little concern with how officers do this. FPD’s weak systems of supervision, review, and accountability…have sent a potent message to officers that their violations of law and policy will be tolerated, provided that officers continue to be “productive” in making arrests and writing citations. Where officers fail to meet productivity goals, supervisors have been instructed to alter officer assignments or impose discipline.

Excessive, illegal and sometimes criminal force was used routinely:

This culture within FPD influences officer activities in all areas of policing, beyond just ticketing. Officers expect and demand compliance even when they lack legal authority. They are inclined to interpret the exercise of free-speech rights as unlawful disobedience, innocent movements as physical threats, indications of mental or physical illness as belligerence. Police supervisors and leadership do too little to ensure that officers act in accordance with law and policy, and rarely respond meaningfully to civilian complaints of officer misconduct. The result is a pattern of stops without reasonable suspicion and arrests without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment; infringement on free expression, as well as retaliation for protected expression, in violation of the First Amendment; and excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Here is one example:

In January 2013, a patrol sergeant stopped an African-American man after he saw the man talk to an individual in a truck and then walk away. The sergeant detained the man, although he did not articulate any reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was afoot. When the man declined to answer questions or submit to a frisk—which the sergeant sought to execute despite articulating no reason to believe the man was armed—the sergeant grabbed the man by the belt, drew his ECW [i.e. taser, AT], and ordered the man to comply. The man crossed his arms and objected that he had not done anything wrong. Video captured by the ECW’s built-in camera shows that the man made no aggressive movement toward the officer. The sergeant fired the ECW, applying a five-second cycle of electricity and causing the man to fall to the ground. The sergeant almost immediately applied the ECW again, which he later justified in his report by claiming that the man tried to stand up. The video makes clear, however, that the man never tried to stand—he only writhed in pain on the ground. The video also shows that the sergeant applied the ECW nearly continuously for 20 seconds, longer than represented in his report. The man was charged with Failure to Comply and Resisting Arrest, but no independent criminal violation.

Here is another, especially interesting, example:

While the record demonstrates a pattern of stops that are improper from the beginning, it also exposes encounters that start as constitutionally defensible but quickly cross the line. For example, in the summer of 2012, an officer detained a 32-year-old African-American man who was sitting in his car cooling off after playing basketball. The officer arguably had grounds to stop and question the man, since his windows appeared more deeply tinted than permitted under Ferguson’s code. Without cause, the officer went on to accuse the man of being a pedophile, prohibit the man from using his cell phone, order the man out of his car for a pat-down despite having no reason to believe he was armed, and ask to search his car. When the man refused, citing his constitutional rights, the officer reportedly pointed a gun at his head, and arrested him. The officer charged the man with eight different counts, including making a false declaration for initially providing the short form of his first name (e.g., “Mike” instead of “Michael”) and an address that, although legitimate, differed from the one on his license. The officer also charged the man both with having an expired operator’s license, and with having no operator’s license in possession. The man told us he lost his job as a contractor with the federal government as a result of the charges.

Although the report says the initial stop was constitutionally defensible, the initial stop was also clearly bullshit. “The officer arguably had grounds to stop and question the man, since his windows appeared more deeply tinted than permitted under Ferguson’s code.” Deep tinting!!!

Missouri, like most states, has a window tint law which essentially requires that tinting not be so dark as to impede the ability of the driver to see out of the car. Ok. But why does Ferguson have a window tint law! What this means is that you can be fined for driving through Ferguson for window tinting which is legal in the rest of Missouri. Absurd. Correction: the code appears to be the same as the state code but passed as a municipal ordinance so fines were collected locally. The purpose of the law was simply to extract more blood:

NYTimes: Last year Ferguson drivers paid $12,400 in fines for driving cars with tinted windows. They paid another $4,905 for loud music coming out of their cars.

The abuse in Ferguson shouldn’t really surprise us–this is how most governments behave most of the time. Democracy constrains what governments do but it’s a thin constraint easily capable of being pierced when stressed.

The worst abuses of government happen when an invading gang conquer people of a different race, religion and culture. What happened in Ferguson was similar only the rulers stayed the same and the population of the ruled changed. In 1990 Ferguson was 74% white and 25% black. Just 20 years later the percentages had nearly inverted, 29% white and 67% black. The population of rulers, however, changed more slowly so white rulers found themselves overlording a population that was foreign to them. As a result, democracy broke down and government as usual, banditry and abuse, broke out.


I really wish we could force you to run FPD.

That's all you got?

It is possible to like white people and also be appalled at this stuff.

Very good post Alex.

I prefer to remain an equal opportunity misanthrope some days.

Maybe Ferguson PD/rulers need to be voted out of office. What!? Did they actually suspend mayoral/city counsel elections for the past 20 years?

African, liberal NYC Mayor Dinkins was easy on the massive crime (crack, violent drug wars, etc.) punishing NYC. In 1993, he lost re-election to Rudy Giuliani [gasp]. Rudy had two terms and Midget Mike Bloomberg ahd three. No one I know (not even Al Sharpton) complained when Bloomberg, Giuliani and Comm. Bratton made and kept the city safe for the rest of us using simillar "bullshit arrests for jaywalking and constant “low level harassment involving traffic stops, court appearances, high fines, and the threat of jail for failure to pay.”

T. Shaw is obviously white and has no frame of reference with regards to police abuse. To blame Dinkins for the crack epidemic and rise in crime is absurd.

Right everyone knows that was Reagan's fault. Well Reagan and the Contras.

Blaming any politician for the rise in crime in the 70s and 80s is absurd, but if that's what you actually think then who am I to judge?

Nonsense, the problem started when the Americans threw the British out. If that hadn't happened, you'd have no worries about police shootings - because they'd have no guns. They'd be helping little old ladies cross the street and and saying things like 'stop, or I'll shout stop again'.

"Blaming any politician for the rise in crime in the 70s and 80s is absurd, but if that’s what you actually think then who am I to judge?"

Maybe not for the rise in crime, but you can blame them for not stopping it. Look, the anticorrelation between the crime rate and the number of prisoners is stark. Is it so unreasonable to infer that when you put criminals in jail, you get less crime?

"Look, the anticorrelation between the crime rate and the number of prisoners is stark. Is it so unreasonable to infer that when you put criminals in jail, you get less crime?"

1- What evidence are you citing for this? I would hardly describe the correlation "stark"?
2- Public opinion is changing regarding the current state and use of our prison system.
3- If, overnight, a law was passed to outlaw all firearms, millions of responsible gun owners would be criminals. Does that mean responsible gun owners became evil overnight? Actually, let's drop the hypothetical and discuss Colorado's legalization of marijuana. The term "less crime" is a moving target defined arbitrarily.

Looking at US incarceration rates, compared with anywhere else on the globe, yes it's unreasonable.
Extremely unreasonable.


There was correlation into the 1990's that accounted for about 5% of the crime rate drop, but now there's not.

Obviously racist, too!

I didn't blame Dinkins for the problem. I pointed out that Giuliani and Bratton solved the crisis, you nitwit.

Dinkins and Guliani caused a nation wide reduction in crime rates with their policies. It's a Fact!

Actually, they caused an international decline across most developed nations. Kudos.

It was quite the amazing feat.

Dinkins isn't African and Bloomberg isn't a midget. Shouldn't you be over at stormfront?

Dinkins is a black American, not an African. He was born in New Jersey and has lived in the United States his entire life. He fought in World War 2 in the Marine Corps.

I get the impression that your deliberate mis-labeling of him as African is meant to be a slur. In other words, you're a racist.

Um, we are not talking about serious crimes here. No one in the their right mind objects to cops taking a hard stand against murder, rape, and so forth. Alexis talking about penny ante crap that is being done to extort money from the proles, not to keep the community safe. Why is this so hard to grasp? And yes, it's also a problem in NYC (courtesy of Mssrs Giuliani and Bloomberg) and many, many other municipalities. The police are supposed to be public servants, not takers of tribute for the master class.

Many many people complained about Giuliani and Bloomberg! What are you talking about? FYI, It was the job BOOM during the Clinton administration that reduced crime SHAW! All across the country major cities got much safer and crime dropped dramatically not just NYC. It was because during the 8 years of Clinton 30 million jobs were created. During GW Bush 3 million! Do you research SHAW or stop speaking in public!

Nonsense. NYC never instituted anything like the situation in Ferguson. NYC never had and average "3 warrants" per household, etc.

So, Ferguson was a speed trap?

That's what all the hoopla has been about?

Are you serious???

Are Alex and Eric Holder serious?

Eric Holder:

Remember #BlackLivesMatter? Well, never mind that. It turned out Michael Brown was trying to murder Officer Wilson just like he always said.

So, here's the new hashtag:


Many people are called racists unfairly. Unfortunately you're not one of them, Steve Sailer. It really takes a racist to say shit like this in response to the investigation and AT's summary of it.

Sounds like it! Where's the proof that this is racial?

This is a great post, but I think it's interesting that you make such sweeping comments about how all government tends towards banditry and abuse when discussing findings from a government produced report.

Governments are generally very good at critiquing the failures of other governments but are not very good at noticing their own failures. Especially when they are never held accountable by citizens (the U.S) or in extreme cases where citizens are slaves of the state (North Korea).

Some of the critiques of Iran, North Korea, etc lobbed towards the U.S. and Europe are quite true. Yet they fail to see or are in denial about how their own policies are demonstrably worse in many cases.

There are so many people in denial in this blog ("no it is not about race", "it is the big Government fault")... seriously guys? It is everything about race...

I dunno. Millions of Asians, Haitians, and African Africans come to this country and are not similarly victimized. Maybe it's about a particular mindset and (dysfunctional) way of life.

Have you heard of Abner Louima? No, I guess it doesn't fit your priors well enough.

It could be both, you know.
Talk about simplistic thinking...

It's class more than race. Low income whites are equally victimized by the same type of police shakedowns.

Although anecdotes are not data:

Actually, anyone who shows a smidgen of "uppitiness" with some police officers is subject to the same kind of police abuse. I speak from experience as an "uppity" white middle class American.

My experience involved a senior, decorated white police officer in a county near DC who lied to me and lied under oath. It is unlikely I will ever believe another police officer's version of events again.

And once it happens to you, even you white middle class Americans, you tend to have a lot more sympathy with people of any color claiming that the police are abusive.

I think human organizations often drift into dysfunction, and more rarely immorality.

The odd thing is that we organize ourselves around blinkered views, as if only one kind of organization does this and must be ... policed.

Suppose a vendor uses sharp marketing tactics to extract more money from consumers than was strictly fair play and then someone said: The abuse by FooMart shouldn’t really surprise us–this is how most companies behave most of the time. Competition constrains what companies do but it’s a thin constraint easily capable of being pierced when stressed.

Then it would hardly be a false statement. Or even a strongly anti-capitalist one. Free-market types would not like it, but they would be on shaky ground trying to deny it. Better to take the message as another reason to improve regulation so that competition can do its work. Similarly, governments are always trying to get away with stuff, and need to be regulated so democracy can do its work.

But democracy constrains abuse THROUGH competition. We don't need to show the competition is a perfect constraint, only that markets are MORE competitive than democracy. A pretty easy case, if you ask me.

Democracy constrains competition through abuse.

I'm not sure most free-market types would have a problem with it. I'm a free-market type and I don't have a problem with it, because I recognize that, imperfect as it is, that competition is a real constraint on such behavior. Government regulation of business often makes the situation worse, as certain companies inevitably get quite comfortable with the regulators and use the regulations to keep out their less well-connected competitors.

Conduct in Ferguson is bad, but I find it ironic the Feds are the ones complaining about it.

The Fed report is not ironic, but an attempt to endear the Federal government with minorities. For this same reason Keynesian economics was invented, as a anecdote to communism by adopting communist redistribution politics.

As for AlexT's report, the fact that "!" exclamation points are used is a sure sign of polemic! And the woman that was arrested for not paying her parking ticket seems to have more than just a parking ticket going on.

Disclaimer: I was once stopped and searched in this manner: "Without cause, the officer went on to accuse the man of being a pedophile, prohibit the man from using his cell phone, order the man out of his car for a pat-down despite having no reason to believe he was armed, and ask to search his car" - why? Because it turns out an actual pedophile, not me, was in the same vicinity and had the same make and model as my car. The police trailed me for a couple of blocks, then pulled me over for no reason. I figured it was something like this, and after I flashed my credentials, showing I am in the privileged class, and providing them the information they required, they let me go. It was all very civilized then again I'm not a minority.

The man in the car was stopped because of tinted windows not because there was a pedophile in the area. The officer generated that accusation with no grounds. The reason why you have such a genial recollection of your encounter is because you're "not a minority" and it didn't end with you being tasered multiple times and once for 20 seconds.

And yes, of course something else was going on with that woman and her parking ticket... she was black in Ferguson!!!!!

But that man who was arrested did not, it seems, have a driver's license. So wasn't the stop actually justified in the end? It's not a good story to use as an example when it turns out in the end that it was a good thing the policeman investigated, even if you don't think he had a good reason to start the investigation.


That same logic would mean that illegal searches and seizures are just fine if they happen to turn up damning evidence.

He wasn't driving. He was sitting in a parked car. Maybe one of his basketball buddies intended to drive.


Have boasted of your borderline pedophilia multiple time on this blog, I can see why you wouldn't be too worked up about that accusation.

Wait, is "Lopez" a pseudonym, or is the comment about not being a minority some kind of comment on US immigration from the south?

Genuinely curios, Ray.

@Berzerker - you're thinking too much; think like a chess player. 1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5... get it?

Ah! If you haven't been, the Escorial is worth a visit.

I'm an upper middle class white guy. In my lifetime I've been pulled over at least 20 times and been let off with a warning probably half of those times. Most recently I was pulled over in a major metropolitan area while quite drunk. I drive a higher end luxury car. I was very polite and respectful to the cop, and I was let off with a warning.

I am an upper middle class (well, at least I think I am ) brown guy. Same experience. Except for the drunk part.




You mean you are not ethnically Hispanic? What are you?

"The worst abuses of government happen when an invading gang conquer people of a different race, religion and culture."

Thus the low rates of abuse and corruption in Detroit, East St. Louis, etc.

"The population of rulers, however, changed more slowly so white rulers found themselves overlording a population that was foreign to them. As a result, democracy broke down and government as usual, banditry and abuse, broke out."

Marginal Revolution - promoting banditry and abuse through open borders since pretty much forever.

“The worst abuses of government happen when an invading gang conquer people of a different race, religion and culture.”

You also see this in Iraq. Mosul conquered by the foreign Americans? A hellscape of torture and random murder. Mosul conquered by the local/related ISIS forces? Good government and respectful treatment of the populace.

they (ISIS) are not really that local...

No true Arab would join ISIS.

Ah, the True Scotsman Fallacy. One of my very favorites.

Same color, same person, I always say...

A war torn country emerging from a dictatorship is hardly an analogous model for a democratic city where the underlying ethnic demographics have changed but not the political class.

Yup, Alex left himself wide open for that one.

That's what I tell my mixed race kids every morning as they go to school.

Watch out for white rulers. Especially if they're straight.

Apparently basic logic is beyond your grasp.

What is below "the worst"? Well that my friend might be "high", not necessarily low. Not that you actually care.

He's talking about invading hordes raping, plundering, and enslaving. Invading gangs...

This post unintentionally makes a case against immigration and integration.

Nonsense. It's like saying that being obviously wealthy attracts robberies so we should make sure no-one is wealthy. Your entire premise is profoundly anti-market.

Most decent, ethical courses of human action have natural consequences that must and can be overcome. Some consequences need more vigilance to prevent, but it doesn't mean the initial act is any less decent or ethical.

I wasn't the one who made the argument that government abuse is maximized when the ruling class is racially, culturally, and religiously different than the governed class, so its not my premise. And no "it's" not like saying that.

The difference is that more wealth is an unquestionably good thing, so you wouldn't want to prevent it. What is the benefit to integration? It seems neutral at best, and probably negative, given that when left to their own devices, people tend to self-segregate.

Yep, all those advanced countries with below replacement birth rates for their native populations should just die a slow death because immigration is, at best, neutral.

I am guessing the set of all countries that died from low fertility and the set of all countries that were saved by immigration sum to zero. But I could totally be wrong.

They're not going to die off. The population would stabilize once those that don't like children die off. Rich white liberals, feminists, you know the type.

Actually, I change my mind that would be a case against wealth. Of course, all arguments against anything would follow that premise - X leads to bad outcome Y therefore X is bad - so I guess all arguments against anything are absurd.

Or 300 years of slavery...

The Federal government extracted 10 B Usd from Bnp Paripas for not following Us law vs Iran.

The Federal government can charge you 500 000 Usd for not submitting the proper form saying you had an account with 10 Yen in a Japanese bank (which didn't generate any interest and which didn't generate any tax).

The American system is extortionate, from top to bottom.

"The Federal government extracted 10 B Usd from Bnp Paripas for not following Us law vs Iran." Actually, I think this was NY state. Just goes to prove the larger point that *every* level of American government is extortionate.

The money was split among NY state, the Manhattan DA's office and the Feds.

And to claim "extortion" on this strikes me as a bit of a stretch, although I'm not expert on the crime.

"BNP Paribas admitted ... that it had hidden billions in transfers to New York banks from entities in Sudan, Cuba and Iran. It is the seventh major bank to be caught trying to evade United States sanctions in a five-year investigation by the district attorney and federal authorities."

Now perhaps they didn't know what they were doing was wrong, but that seems unlikely. And it does seem like they were deliberately evading the law. Perhaps you're arguing the fine is excessive? But it's not clear to me that there's any good way to objectively analyse that.

+ 1

My wife is a US citizen and we live in CHile. Most of you prpbably have no idea of the burden impossed by FATCA to US citizens living abroad and how it complicates our life, even we do not live the in the US and do not benefot from any government services there. This is in addition to her obligation to pay taxes there.

@Ignacio - it's not a big deal, just fill out the FinCen form, which is electronic these days. It does require you to download and install the free version of Adobe Acrobat however, which I don't use and had to uninstall it afterwards. Nevertheless, you do raise a good point: technically, if you (as a de jure US citizen) or your wife die, unfortunately your kids will have to pay inheritance tax on your worldwide assets, and that includes your Chilean real estate. Now before you blast me, keep in mind there's nearly zero chance of the IRS actually finding out about your overseas assets and taxing you--at the moment--since there's no real mechanism for discovering this. Two things could change that: first, if you have enemies, they could tell the IRS, though even then it's unlikely the IRS would act (they are lazy, and always try and tax low-lying fruit, and this kind of taxation of non-resident US citizens is too difficult and unprecedented at the moment, though it's legal), and second, as the US seeks to tax more and more people to make up for their chronic deficits, the US could change the law to require, under penalty of felony tax evasion, that all US citizens list all their foreign assets (not just financial assets as now, but real estate too), so these assets can be taxed with a death tax, or, perhaps, a new federal property tax as discussed here the other day. Gracias!

@those reading this and thinking I'm making this up--nope, it's for real, and California for corporations already does this, taxing worldwide income, calling it a "unitary tax". For personal taxing of assets and estate taxes, some Canadian children who never had visited the USA but had a US citizen parent, were taxed on their Canadian real estate about a decade ago. The case made headlines and the Canadian kids lost and had to pay the IRS. As I recall they made the mistake of visiting the USA and coming to the attention of the US IRS somehow, and they were instantly under the jurisdiction of the US and had to pay taxes on their Canadian real estate under penalty of contempt of court. But it's rare at the moment.

There it is!
death tax !!
There is a $5 million exemption!!!

It's really not that onerous, and you can exclude up to $99,200 from taxation. Not many American voters feel sympathetic towards expats making over $100,000. System seems to be working as intended.

The U.S. is practically the only country in the world that does this. Most tax based on income earned in the country. It is a dumb, unfair policy, and who feels sympathetic to the people under it is not a great measure of its value.

I suppose all gov't is on some level and there's no guarantee of fairness in your life. However for most people extortionate gov't is an inverted pyramid. You are very *unlikely* to get bothered by the highest levels of the Federal gov't. Almost no one gets audited by the IRS, and most who do have no real problems. You are not going to get bothered by the FBI, Secret Service, or DEA unless you are a real criminal or a nut sending love emails to ISIS. OK that's extreme, some people do get caught up in the wrong place wrong time.

BUT you are more likely to get harassed by lower levels of gov't closer to home. Consider stop and frisk in NYC. The program to grab people walking on the sidewalk and frisk them, sometimes semi-strip search them in public whose goal was to get illegal guns off the street. First, imagaine if the BATF tried to go into the south and randomly 'stop and frisk' people for illegal guns! But regardless the program scored 600,000 stops and got 600 guns. For every actual gun taken 999 people were put up against a wall and frisked without cause. That's amazing.

Your local gov't is more likely to harass you with bullshit whether it is a speeding ticket, a parking ticket, making you get a permit and inspection to have a deck in your backyard. And a prime reason is that there are few checks on local gov't. The individual incidents of harassment are usually too minor in themselves to put a lot of effort into fighting (for example, 'court fees' with tickets that are equal to or greater than the actual ticket) and since they are local it is harder to tap into national civil rights networks. Republicans care about big business 'harassment' and libertarians delude themselves into thinking your local gov't is more friendly than your federal gov't.

You are more likely to be harassed locally because they are local, and more numerous in your area than the feds. It's not complicated political science, it's proximity.
It certainly isn't because the feds are nicer. You cherry pick some poor local governments and hand wave away fed misbehavior.

@triclops -- against that, it's generally agreed, based on pay scales, that your Joe Friday Federal agent is more skilled and better at this job, meaning nicer, than Bubba Buddy Tyler of the local sheriffs department. When I traveled through the Deep South I got hit by various fines (which I paid via mail) at revenue raising speed traps. I don't think the Feds would stoop so low.

The legislature of Missouri passed a law that municipal governments could raise no more than 33% of their revenue through traffic fines. Surprising that this was passed, but tourism, even more surprisingly, is big business in the Ozarks and rural speed traps were threatening this.

…" more likely to harass you with bullshit whether it is a speeding ticket"…

So speeding tickets are bullshit?

As someone who walks his kids to their school in the mornings, I can tell you that more speeding tickets should be issued.

It seems to me that local Gov. is more corrupt but also more efficient at what we want them to do. Local Go.v. is also less powerful.

Libertarians don't really delude themselves about local government, but Boonton deludes himself about government in general: "You are not going to get bothered by the... "

I think that as long as your foreign accounts, in aggregate, don't exceed $10,000, you don't have an obligation to report.

Defending BNP Paribas?


NOW I've heard everything.

Like Thomas B above: Great post, but maybe over-generalizing and too firebrand-ish.

Also, a little off-kilter. For example, you write:

"… this is how most governments behave most of the time. Democracy constrains what governments do but it’s a thin constraint easily capable of being pierced when stressed."

The chief constraint on what governments do is not any democratic political mechanism but rather the culture, morals, ethics, and ideological outlooks of the individuals in government. The main reason government in Sweden works as well as it does is not that democratic mechanism work so much better in Sweden, but that government officials and employees in Sweden are Swedes.

Nothing excites the internet like rage.

Balko has done a better job factually covering this, using just a thin sneer about the local government as his overriding mood.

Agreed on culture, morals, ethics, ideology, etc. They are incredibly important to constraining abuse of power. I think the general culture of police in this country, and of many police departments in particular, is poisonous at present. There are a lot of factors that have gone into creating such a culture, but I think one part that might be overlooked is the behavior of police in ever cop show and procedural. Every show involves pulling a gun and probably using it, perhaps to engage in a gun battle with dozens of bystanders in the area.. Our protagonists regularly violate Constitutional Rights in pursuit of the Bad Guy - and it's fine, because we know they are Good and the Bad Guys are clearly Evil.

The public's response to police drama depiction of civil rights violations mirrors the public's response to government growth in general: "the thing that is wrong today" is a bad guy who has to be put down, laws, rights, and principles be damned. Of course, when ends justifying means is a first principle in an ideology...

...You end up with government holding people without charges and torturing them.

So where did the democratic oversight break down? Ferguson has an elected mayor: why isn't he trying to fix these problems? Or is the FPD only accountable at state level?

I sympathize with the general argument made about predatory policing, but the DOJ is an odious organization, and they were in Ferguson for contemptible political reasons.

Give me a call once they've explained why they blocked access to Lerner's emails.

Yes, if DOJ devoted a tenth the investigative effort into the IRS's EO division (and especially the cover-up) as it did in FDP, they'd appear less like a weapon deployed for the political/culture war.

Though this report does seem pretty accurate.

Yes, if the DOJ had spent as much time on a political scandal based on the objection of political lobbying groups seeking tax-exempt status as non-political non-profits (a request that seems to warrant extra scrutiny, not a rubber stamp)...if they had spent more time on this Republican false scandal, only then they would not be a weapon in the culture war.
Ferguson isn't the slow processing of dubious tax exemption forms. It's about the local police and government organizing as a sanctioned gang that preys on the population, that focuses on maximizing revenue extraction from its citizens rather than justice and good governance.
Ferguson is far worse. It's sad that so many comments don't want to see that.

False scandal? Incredible. Lois Lerner could confess and you would still remain ignorant.

I wouldn't trust anything that came out of Eric Holder's Justice Department. The riots and disorder that ensued in Ferguson were based on the lie that the Gentle Giant had been gunned down by a racist white police officer while meekly surrendering with his hands up. The DOJ acknowledged that the day after they released the inflammatory report you referenced.

You may have a point about corrupt practices in such police departments, but that is not the goal of the DOJ. Its goal is to stir up racial hatreds and turn this to advantage for the Democrat party. Want to bet nothing else will come of it?

"The riots and disorder that ensued in Ferguson were based on the lie that the Gentle Giant had been gunned down by a racist white police officer while meekly surrendering with his hands up."

Try "the riots and disorder that ensued were based on decades of race-based oppression and finally came to a breaking point when an unarmed black man was shot and killed by a white police officer."

TEENAGER. You forgot to refer to him as an unarmed black TEENAGER. It makes him sound so much more helpless. Dammit, man, we covered this at the meetings....

Victim blaming at it's best. I would suggest you cut some holes into the side of the hood before your next meeting Other Jim.

Funny how blaming the police officer that Brown attacked doesn't count as victim blaming.

But at least you didn't mention that he was 6'4'' weighed 240lbs, had just committed strong arm robbery(against a minority), and was walking down the middle of a busy street.

I didn't mention those things because what Alex lays out are the problems of institutional power. Which is a universal flaw, of which this was a good example of how even in a democracy, with separation of powers, and lots of checks and balances, the problem of capture is a real threat. As to michael brown himself, I'm not very sympathetic to him, beyond being sorry he got killed. I'll admit the history is complicated, in as much as his forefathers did not achieve their freedoms by politely following the orders of enforcers of state power. But I find a combativeness towards authority figures in general and law enforcement in particular to be counter productive to the long term success of his community. But I grew up in a country where cops beat people with impunity, unless you were the cream of the elite, and then you could beat cops with impunity. It left me both fearful of cops, resentful of any lack of policing, and wary of police powers. In other words a jumble of contradictions. From what i can tell, that sort of jumble of contradictions is prevalent in poor communities, particularly ones of colour, to use an American parlance. They want more policing, better policing, but are generally resentful and uncooperative of the police. Scrubbing out what Alex describes, the money hustle that creeps into policing, i think is important to changing that landscape in the long run. But beyond that I have no good working model of how real positive change will come about, except through the long climb of economic empowerment, which only occurs by productivity gains via education and skills.

I don't trust ad hominem Internet posts. Link your facts or you're nothing but a liar.

Even if they contain a tangentially relevant concept, logic is not the goal of fact-free comments. Their goal is to stir up fear and then attempt to use it as an advantage for the Rethuglican party.

You want a link? Here you go, the DOJ report -

Good effort, at least you've mastered the concept of linking to something!

But, still no points. The link needs to actually support the claims you make.

The NYT article validates the usefulness of Holder's claims.. not your lies.

The whole apocalyptic racial overlord thing is kind of nonsense. Megan McArdle @ bloomberg had a much better post a couple weeks back.

The town tries to raise money this way because 1) it needs money to provide services 2) it doesn't have many revenue options - property isn't worth much and some of it's delinquent or in foreclosure, anyhow; there's a limit to how much you can increase rates and fees on what small businesses there are before they move across the town line; you can't put high fees on 'stuff rich(er) people' do, b/c there aren't any. They try to use fees and fines to stay solvent and it doesn't work...

It's the problem of being a small, poor town. Big cities have a better economic mix and industry (unless they're Detroit), better off small towns have property tax, rural small towns don't provide much services.

What exactly are the generous services that Ferguson is providing to its citizens? I suspect most on various types of welfare are getting funds from the Federal and State level of gov't. So I find it unlikely that the small town is running some type of entitlement program off of jaywalking fines. According to the median household income there is $36K and the median home is valued around $100K. No not exactly Manhatten but also not so impoverished that the only way to fund services is harassment. If the police department can affaord tanks and armoured personel carriers I don't think we need to entertain your argument.

Most of the hardware is subsidized by the Feds. Gotta stop terrrorists.

Obamunists included:

A non-exhaustive list of services typically provided at the municipal level:
Fire department, emergency medical services, police, schools, water, sanitary sewer, storm water, streets and infrastructure, public transportation, garbage collection, parks and recreation.

Can you really not conceive of any function of government other than to distribute welfare checks?

Water and sewer should be paid for by home and business owners in their water bills. Fire dept. is fair but as has been pointed out fires are getting more rare. Schools and infrastructure is important as is parks, garbage etc. Some of this stuff gets help from higher levels of gov't and I'm not clear why a community where people average $36K a year and have homes worth over $100K can't fund these things via traditional forms of taxation.

I think if you really looked at it the financial gain from the 'kleptocracy' of bullshit fines and court fees consumes itself. It pays for an over staffed police department and court system rather than generating a surplus that can be used to give the community nice parks and clean storm water drains.

Street repair, traffic lights, fire and police depts, water, sewer, and garbage collection are things local governments do. The militarization of police departments is by the feds, no cost to the city.

I don't condone using the police dept as a revenue source, but that does not mean these problems aren't real.

Just like NYC, the police force is 400% too large. If they didn't harass their citizens, they would only need 25% of the FTE they currently have.

Ferguson police spend all their time harassing citizens who can't pay.. and follow that up by asserting they need more money/staff to perform the exact functions they deliberately avoided by prioritizing their limited resources to that harassment.

A city riots and neighborhoods are burnt to the ground.

Conclusion: The Police Force is too large.

Where do you live that garbage collection is managed by local government? Nowhere that I have lived in the US is that the case.

You lost me at "Megan McArdle"

That's truly your loss then.

The town doesn't have money because it's citizens are too poor, so they fine people instead? How does that make any sense?

Sounds like if the city is so poor they should cut the police force in half. How much does all that overtime, automatic raises, sick time, pension and health costs add up too?

So then they can put the "negroes" into prison for "contempt of court" or some other ridiculous charge for not paying the fines they can't afford to pay.

The alternative, high local tax rates on the poor, is generally Not Done in America.

They have to destroy the residents of the town in order to save them.

As Charles Pierce says, "It is not about race because nothing is ever about race."

You lost me at "Charles Pierce"

Don't impersonate me, bro.

You lost me at "bro".

The criticisms of the DOJ are hilarious. Local govt. is full of racists and crooks because Holder! good stuff.

Obviously the vast majority of the blame stays with the local Ferguson PD, government, and voters and non-voters. But if one wanted to make a reasonable apportionment of blame to the federal government, then it should be to the Supreme Court (and some of the Circuit Courts) of the last 30 years. We are at the tail end of a generational movement among some federal jurists to intentionally increase the rights and powers of law enforcement through endorsements of virtually any pretext or procedure for an arrest, detention, surveillance, etc... The Court's endorsement of the "war on drugs" and "war on terror" forms only part of the reason for the reactionary jurisprudence. The major factors are the intentional rolling-back and partial mooting of the lines of case law culminating in the 1960s and 1970s that outlined some further protections for citizens in their dealings with law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

US loves Kafka... (but not only, I would say this trend of increasing government control (conveniently sponsored by the pseudo war on terror), is present in most EU countries in the last 30 years)).

Local govt. is full of racists and crooks because Holder! -

The town has had a black majority since 1998, but they could not be bothered to eject the local government via the ballot box, a strong suggestion that the notion that that government was palpalbly abusive is nonsense.

Elites have been mastering the art of retaining control of governance at every level since, well, the dawn of time. Gerrymandering, co-opting, carve-up's, the list goes on. This applies to all tribal elites, black, white, conservative, liberal. Its a group (tribal) instinct.

I recently moved to a predominantly black neighborhood and I can attest that different races have different standards. I often see residents urinating in the street which is something I never saw in the suburbs which were predominantly white and Asian. How do we all agree on a set of community standards? Does multiculturalism work?

Of course multiculturalism works: that's why you have chinatown, japantown, koreatown, little italy, ... arab neighbourhood, jewish neighbourhood, got the point? :D ... Melting pot in your dreams...

You sneer, but relative to most countries in the world, the US is really an impressive melting pot.

It actually is an impressive melting pot. I often tell people when I travel internationally to keep an eye out for how Americans, and to an extent Europeans solve the many challenges that come about in multicultural societies, because this is where the world as as a whole is heading.

@Keith - urinating in the streets is 100% condoned in the Philippines, and you see guys whizzing against a pole or wall everyday (I've done it too). But in Barcelona, even though you can walk down the street naked, you will be arrested and fined for public urination. True!

Re: I often see residents urinating in the street which is something I never saw in the suburbs which were predominantly white and Asian.

You've obviously never been in a college town on a major party night.

"Does multiculturalism work?"


Diversity + Proximity = War

Ferguson'a municipal code is available online. I've perused it and find no evidence for the assertion that Ferguson has adopted its own standard for window tinting. The code provisions on auto equipment aren't voluminous. If I'm right, and I think I am, you may draw your own conclusions about the factual assertions above.

Implying that FPD is even worse, making unconstitutional stops for nonexistent offenses?

You think it's unconstitutional for local police to enforce state law? They'd better not bust anyone for murder before they revise their code.

Perhaps the windows didn't violate state law? Or did that not cross your mind?

Alex's own source says that it's the job of the police to "strictly enforce the window tint law" (as opposed to state inspectors). And drivers must produce the tinting permit on demand.

That seems to fit with the DOJ's narrative: the initial stop was within the letter of the law, but quickly goes off the rails, since the PD is in revenue-generation mode instead of public-safety mode.

No one who has seen how municipalities implement red light cameras will be surprised by that. The length of yellow lights is regularly shortened after red light cameras are installed.

Assuming that Ferguson has no specific window tinting law, FPD is just applying the state-level law more aggressively for revenue purposes.

It points to a sloppiness in this particular coverage of the story, but there's lots of other coverage you can read instead.

The ordinance is
Ord. No. 2010-3425, § 1, 3-23-10


Sec. 44-404. - Vision-reducing material applied to windshield or windows.


Any person may operate a motor vehicle with front sidewing vents or windows located immediately to the left and right of the driver that have a sun screening device, in conjunction with safety glazing material, that has a light transmission of thirty-five (35) percent or more plus or minus three (3) percent and a luminous reflectance of thirty-five (35) percent or less plus or minus three (3) percent.

Like RICO, 'failure to comply' should not be on the books as a law. These meta-laws exist simply to make it easier to prosecute the underlying offenses - if there were any. The government shouldn't be allowed to simply stack up charges like Jenga whenever they have a weak case or would like to increase pressure on a citizen.

So what happens when people fail to comply?

When people fail to comply with an officer's orders, nothing should happen. An arrest could be made if there is probable cause, but failure to obey police orders should not be probable cause for an arrest.

I don't see what's so hard about following an officers orders as long as they are reasonable, but maybe that's just my White privilege showing.

"contempt of cop" should not be a reason to go to jail. It has terrible incentives; a cop can power trip and arrest anyone he feels like, justified or not, and always make up the charge of contempt of cop.
"Excuse me officer, can I have your badge number?" Arrested, contempt of cop.
"I am going to film this encounter for my safety." Don't you dare touch that phone! - arrested, contempt of cop.
Or just plain arresting them for nothing to fill a quota.

Key words: "as long as they are reasonable".

"Democracy constrains what governments do but it’s a thin constraint easily capable of being pierced when stressed."

But MORE democracy means a MORE constrained government. But I am the only person in the world to say this.

How do we get MORE democracy? Again, I am the only person in the world to ask this!
You get more democracy by increasing populist control over the government. The more control the majority bloc has over the government, the higher the degree of democracy.

How do you help the majority bloc gain more control?

By increasing the unity of the majority bloc.


By increasing the degree of common interests?

By decreasing factions among the majority bloc.

There are a number of ways. One, increase homogeneity.
How? Allow racial and cultural segregation. Also, decrease immigration.

Two, decrease the size of electoral districts.
How? Send more power back to the states.

Again, I am the only person in the world to say these things! Yay!

Lots of people say and have said what you are saying including your bete noire Madison. Unfortunately, your writing style, delusions of grandeur, and barely contained rage just scream loser and the easiest way to lose a potential audience is signalling loser.

please CC this to the rest of the dork enlightenment, tyia

The examples in this post are good enough to qualify for the quote I hear pretty often here in Angola and is very common in other African countries:

“This Is Africa”

So we should blame it on the screwed up incentives?

I applaud this site for being ahead of the curve regarding Ferguson and what is really going on. The police was acting as rents trying to collect revenue through brute force. This report really vindicated the MR point of view.

Agreed. Too bad the racetrolls in the comment section have to spoil the vibe.

How else does the government collect revenue except through brute force? And why is it evil in this case but an income tax or property tax OK?

Well, I missed the part about the evil that flourishes when unions exist, and the need to relax regulatory oversight so that any one can participate in the marketplace of providing security to citizens. Though, I guess Prof. Tabarrok's history (with his 'migration background,' to translate the German phrase) means that he can write this - 'white rulers found themselves overlording a population that was foreign to them' without realizing that black Americans are not a population that is foreign.

That being especially true in a place with the history of Missouri - 'The history of slavery in Missouri began in 1720, when a man named Philippe Francois Renault brought about 500 negro slaves from Saint-Domingue to work in lead mines in the River des Peres area, located in the present-day St. Louis and Jefferson counties.

The institution only became prominent in the area following two major events: the Louisiana Purchase (1803) and the invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney (1793). This led to a mass movement of slave-owning proprietors to the area of present-day Missouri and Arkansas, then known as Upper Louisiana. However, the spread of major cotton growth was limited to the more southerly area, near the border with present-day Arkansas. Instead, slavery in the other areas of Missouri was concentrated into other major crops, such as tobacco, hemp, grain and livestock. A number of slaves were hired out as stevedores, cabin boys, or deck hands for the ferries of the Mississippi River.'

Foreign population doesn't necessarily mean what you are implying. Culture is real and population defining. The word foreign derives from the latin for outside. Perhaps foreign wasn't the best word to use for the intended purpose, but the intent was clear unless one has an axe to grind.

Ahead of the curve? Everything Tabarrok has said about this has also been said by the liberal media.

Ferguson is just one example of many in the St Louis region. There are many tiny little municipalities that only stay afloat through fines, if just because they are not independent municipalities from an economical sense. Few people live, work, and shop there. This also gave rise to major issues with eminent domain in the early 2000s, as municipalities would figure out that it's much better to be a commercial area that siphons off sales taxes paid by people from nearby municipalities than it is to have residents that pay sales taxes elsewhere.

This article doesn't go into such detail, but it's easy to imagine how the sociopolitical setup in the St Louis metro area leads to perverse incentives:

As I pointed out above, rural speed traps were interfering with Missouri general tourist traps (Ozark tourism) so the legislature passed a law that municipalities can raise no more than 35% of their revenue through traffic fines.

The Holder Justice department needs a face-saver, Hence this report. Libertarians: ever the useful idiots.

"needs a face-saver" is code for "shows precisely how the old boy network operates in the South."

Republicans: Ever the surveillance state idiots. It would never happen to you, would it?

When you are detained without cause it is not a detainment or arrest; it is kidnapping under the actual black-letter definition of the law, and when such is used to require you to pay money that is extortion.

If you're a fan of the actual Constitution, you should be applauding Holder's work.

The main lesson of Ferguson is clear - if possible, avoid living near black people.

Is it blunt racism?

Yes. It is blunt racism. The comments on this article are rife with blunt racism. It is disgusting.

According to the report, the elites of ferguson took just the opposite lesson, one that has a well established historical footing. They just put a modern spin on it, to fit the times. living near poor black people while you control a government entities with the power of both taxation and a monopoly on the use of force, allows you to extract rents. The old model of course involved land-sharecropping-voting constraints, and even further back, land-serfs-political monopoly. But it's all the same thing.

Mind you, in big U.S. cities like Atlanta where wealthy black people like to congregate, allot of rich white people are quite happy to live near rich black people. And anyone that lives in middle class suburbia will find themselves living near middle class black people.

You don’t get $321 in fines and fees and 3 warrants per household from an about-average crime rate. You get numbers like this from bullshit arrests for jaywalking and constant “low level harassment involving traffic stops, court appearances, high fines, and the threat of jail for failure to pay.”

Traffic fines are levied on anyone using local thoroughfares, not on 'local residents'. There are no 'bullshit offenses'. Citations for small offenses are necessary for public order maintenance. Bully for you if you live in a suburban enclave which can get along with lax enforcement, but Ferguson was not such an enclave. Police have real responsibilities. Libertarian chatterboxes do not, and can afford the luxury of maintaining an adolescent worldview well into adult life.

Yea there are 'bullshit offenses'. The problem is not the laws but the enforcement. If police are writing an average of one ticket for every house in an area and there is not some type of massive crime spree going on, that's bullshit enforcement. Traffic laws are, of course, necessary but they are not designed to be enforced 100% of the time nor should they be. Imagine a cop followed you around 24 hours a day. How many tickets could he write you? Probably at least a few every day, a dozen a week.

No I think the problem is the laws, not the enforcement. We shouldn't design so many laws that are meant to be minimally or occasionally enforced. That allows for discretion, and discretion allows for discrimination. Obviously there is some need for discretion, and some need for laws that allow discretion. But a system of laws that makes everyone a habitual offender and thereby gives the local police near total discretion over whether to target one individual or another is made to be abused.

@ Boonton "Imagine a cop followed you around 24 hours a day. How many tickets could he write you?" - I would guess that after a day or so of that I would be modifying my behavior pretty significantly so that the answer would be zero.

And if the cop has a 5 ticket a week quota? Remember in the example Tyler gave a guy got a 'giving false information' charge for saying his name was Mike when his actual legal name was "Michael"

Objectively wrong, but that's all Republican trolls can pump out.

When you are detained without cause it is not a detainment or arrest; it is kidnapping under the actual black-letter definition of the law, and when such is used to require you to pay money that is extortion.

You should be happy about Holder's work - but hey, you don't support the actual Constitution. You're just a fan of the fantasy inside your head where nothing bad ever happens to white people.

From the actual documents: African-American drivers were more than twice as likely to be searched during a traffic stop than white drivers, but that those black drivers were 26 percent less likely to be found to be holding contraband.

Translation: They searched black people not because they were more-often in possession of contraband (that is, the suspicion objectively was reasonable, in that it led to the find of something unlawful) but rather because they were black.

Deal with it - you're wrong.

That doesn't necessarily follow. You would expect the percentage of successful searches to decrease at the margin, but we don't know how rapidly. INOW, if they'd have stopped more white people, they almost certainly would have had a lower rate of successful white searches, and possibly a lower rate than that of the blacks.

you're basically a fascist. you know that, right?

fascism is on the upswing again, get with the times comrade

You have a nice facade of sophistication and logic, but this is a great post for highlighting your roots as a militant, bigoted, close-minded asshole with a kink for justifying abusive behavior because They Deserved It.

You're posting on a post documenting example after example of clearly, obviously illegitimate offenses, but I guess we have to stamp them again deliberately under your post. Here's one:

"The officer charged the man with eight different counts, including making a false declaration for initially providing the short form of his first name (e.g., “Mike” instead of “Michael”) and an address that, although legitimate, differed from the one on his license"..

The surrounding media on Ferguson is literally rife with articles of people being charged for either misinterpretations of the law, or on the kind of flagrantly stupid and obsolete charges that most sane police departments pretend don't exist.

But seriously, fuck the legal arguments. There's a gap between legal and right, and non-loathesome people in this comment section, and the owners, clearly understand that the FPD and town's behavior is substantively evil. If you can't appreciate it, the comment section would be improved if you permanently fucked off.

We now know the Hands Up, Don't Shoot was a lie. A lie from Day 1. And the racist dirtbags Holder, Obama, Sharpton all knew it was lie.

But Holder and Obama were willing to let a city burn in the hopes of boosting black turnout for the 2014 election.

The bigot Holder could have easily tamped down the mindless black rage by explaining how Hands Up, Don't Shoot was a lie. He had access to the facts. He knew it was a lie.

But Holder and Obama thought the spasm of black violence would benefit the Democrats politically, so they repeated and encouraged the Hands Up, Don't Shoot.

Extraordinarily evil. But typical for Progs.

Yes you are right, all black people have only a single brain and right now Obama has control of it. From the White House he craftily sends out his mind control beam selectively burning down cities all in a giant conspiracy to make your life harder.

Now the problem is since you've learned the truth, what should be done with you?

Send him or her to Africa! Mwahahahahahah!

Then should he survive to 2100 the population of Africa will be 4,000,000,001. I wrote it out rather than just say 4 billion so we can think about it--- 4,000,000,000. Of course there will never be a African population of 4,000,000,000. I dread to think of what will stop that from happening, but it won't be pretty.

In fairness, blacks do vote with an almost single mind.

I see what you did there. You evaded his points and caricatured his arguments. Then you pretended to have won the argument by sneering.

But you did make the most of nothing. What was your alternative?

We now know Republicans are liars - but that's typical for conservatives.

Two things:

If it can be proven the FPD and court system were predatory and not acting as a "neutral arbiter of the law" then the entire justice system loses all credibility and every conviction is suspect. Why are class action lawsuits (overturn convictions or monetary damages) not in the discussion? Is there a legal impediment?

The population of Ferguson has to step up and participate in the democratic process. If nothing changes in the next election, they have only themselves to blame.

The population of Ferguson has to step up and participate in the democratic process. If nothing changes in the next election, they have only themselves to blame.

Presumably, they lived there and knew about the supposed "abuse" before it became a national story. So the question is, how do we find a way to blame their refusal to participate in the democratic process on White people, the only group that can be blamed for anything?

Ferguson's municipal code is online. So far as I can tell from quickly reviewing it, there is no Ferguson code provision regarding tinted windows. Go check, the code provisions on autos aren't long. If I'm right, then Ferguson police were enforcing a state-wide law. And the DOJ got a simple fact wrong and then Alex repeated it. It's the sort of thing that may make you wonder what the point of the exercise is.

The problem is not window tint laws, the problem is bullshit enforcement.

The problem is not window tint laws, the problem is *racist* enforcement.

No standards or no peace, finally we are getting some honesty from the racialist demagogues. Standards are racist.

I know what the point of the exercise is.

Wow, so much racism here.

No logic from you.

Empirical observations don't require logic.

You have a strange notion of what is empirical -

based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.
"they provided considerable empirical evidence to support their argument"

Please point out where you have provided something that is verifiable. I believe that what you wrote is an unfounded assertion.

It's almost like these new commenters have been dispatched to play the race card. Seen it before - it's losing its effectiveness.

I would have much more respect for you if you would own up and admit your racism, as opposed to *being* a racist but then cowering behind sophistry when you are called out on it.

Racist. Coward.

You're right, racial solidarity is nothing to be ashamed of and should not be cowered from. Pragmatically speaking we are not quite back where we can be openly racist without risking our jobs or social position, but we're working on it.

I support a team, not the entire league!

If I operated a website that attracted the sort of disgusting racism in the comments of this piece I'd be pretty embarrassed. I would at least close comments once it was apparent the discussion would be fruitless.

If I commented on a site with such racists using my real name I would go into hiding. Run, James Hare, run!!! The concern trolls have a cave you can sleep in!

Yes, because being disgusted by racism is "concern trolling."

Yes, because you are pretending to care about Alex, and saying he should shut down his comment section for his own good.

Back to Tumblr, child.

JH the concern troll,
You are not a regular here. The racist trolls aren't either. The sophistication of this discussion would vastly improve if you and your racist antiparticles took your balls and went home.

I don't comment here regularly but that doesn't make my observations less valid. I read the blog nearly every day. Alex _should_ be ashamed that his audience apparently includes a number of out and out racists. I certainly would reconsider my views if racists found them appealing.

But apparently y'all think racism is fine and dandy. it's just being reminded that it is racism that is the problem.

Alex pretty much started by posting about a report released by the US Racist General.

What incredibly incisive commentary. I think I liked it better in 2nd grade when people said "I'm rubber, you're glue. Whatever bad things you say about me bounce off and stick to you."

Your opinion of the attorney general doesn't change the findings of this report. He didn't have anything to do with the racially biased policing in Ferguson. He didn't force officers to send racist emails. Those were the decisions of the demonstrably racist Ferguson Police Department.

Alex didn't force folks to make racist comments. They did that entirely on their own.

One telling piece of evidence that the media is indeed liberal is this drive to shut down comments, because commenters are almost always more likely to be further to the right than the producer of the thing being commented on. This goes even for conservative sites.

I know, I've worked/work in media. The editor at my last gig was constantly trashing the commenters, wishing they'd just go the hell away already.

Maybe it's because comments on stories about race seem to draw the racists out? I can understand being frustrated by comment sections. The loudest voices are almost always the least informed.

Alex, I'm a little disappointed in your commentary. It seems that somewhere, in all caps, should be a direct quote from your and TC's textbook: "INCENTIVES MATTER!"

The 'discovery' of market economic thinking was, perhaps, the most powerful force for good in the 20th Century, on net. But when you commodify the justice system, suddenly there's lots of good reason to find, catch, and imprison "criminals" and to expand the definition of "criminal" as widely as possible.

Are you not aware that law enforcement had tons of abuse before this massive wave of coomodification you imagined ever started?

Some suddenlys matter more than other suddenlys:

Alex, do you believe Tiebout competition isn't at play here or that it's not an effective model for thinking about municipalities? Just curious.

There are a lot of towns to choose from when living in the St. Louis area, so why choose Ferguson? Moreover, if these cities were privately run (whether that included some form of democratic governance or not), wouldn't some places have these types of rules to discourage certain types of people from living there or make others who do live there feel more safe?


A privately run city would have even more incentive to behave like this(if they really are as bad as the Obama justice department says) because the "owners" could openly keep the fines as "profits."

And, if they were run on a true "libertarian" basis, they could simply exclude undesirable minorities from the city in the first place. Libertarianism, if it actually could exist, would be quite "radical" and not PC at all. But the un-PC parts, such as having no anti-discrimination laws, are almost never mentioned by "respectable" libertarians.

Then there's also the whole issue of how a privately run city gets authority to run the affairs of people living in it without having a monopoly on legitimate violence or access to an entity with same without being just another government.

The same way a landowner has authority over those living on their property. I'm also fine with the perspective that every form of social arrangement is a type of government.

The worst abuses of government happen when an invading gang conquer people of a different race, religion and culture. What happened in Ferguson was similar only the rulers stayed the same and the population of the ruled changed. In 1990 Ferguson was 74% white and 25% black. Just 20 years later the percentages had nearly inverted, 29% white and 67% black. The population of rulers, however, changed more slowly so white rulers found themselves overlording a population that was foreign to them. As a result, democracy broke down and government as usual, banditry and abuse, broke out.

Democracy never broke down, Ferguson's Black population just never bothered to vote in fellow Blacks rather than Whites. Perhaps they never saw any of these "abuses" or perhaps, coming from Black-run areas, they thought it was normal.

Gee maybe a racist police force might drive down voter participation? Maybe if the government acted like you were the enemy you would lose faith in democratic solutions? If your interactions with government consist of violent abuse and shakedowns why would you volunteer to interact with government in any way?

They did have Ku Klux Klan members posted outside all voting booths.

No, but they did not have the Black Panthers there. Racist!

But then again, they are so horribly oppressed that asking them to take time out of their day to vote is racist. I propose that wherever Blacks are the majority White citizens be disenfranchised from voting in local elections so that Democracy can Work.

"Maybe if the government acted like you were the enemy you would lose faith in democratic solutions? If your interactions with government consist of violent abuse and shakedowns why would you volunteer to interact with government in any way?"

This works as well for blacks as whites too.

When I was a stupid youth I once told a police officer to go fuck himself when he gave me a ticket. He chuckled and walked away. I doubt that interaction would have ended the same way had I been black. Once I was charged with a crime and couldn't afford an attorney. I dressed in my nicest suit and had a word with the prosecutor before my case came up. I was able to negotiate my own plea deal that left me with no criminal record. Again, I doubt I would have been nearly as successful if I was black.

The statistics are not ambiguous. "Justice" in America is not color blind. Black people commit crimes at about the same rate as any other race but they're far more likely to actually be arrested and punished by our criminal "justice" system. Trying to pretend that things "work as well for blacks as whites" is missing the point entirely.

Black people commit crimes at about the same rate as any other race - .
Is the sky plaid or polka dot on your planet?

As others have pointed out up-thread, while I commend Alex for this post and his earlier ones, Alex needs to square this with his take on open borders. A follow-up post is sure to come.

"In 1990 Ferguson was 74% white and 25% black. Just 20 years later the percentages had nearly inverted, 29% white and 67% black."

In my mind, an economist, particularly interested in policy, should look at the causalities behind the demographic shift or perhaps, the per capita wealth shift, assuming that, as a result of poorer neighborhoods, government will seek ways to extract rent from its population (in an abusive manner) in order to 'survive'. You know, 'rise the tide' and what not.

I don't get your logic - are you saying that police forces inevitably act in a racist way, and so we shouldn't let immigrants in because it will cause police forces to act racist? Shouldn't we just try to stop police forces acting racist?

No -- that's not what I'm saying and no, we shouldn't _just_ stop police forces from acting racist.

In this post, Alex points to assimilation issues, and the obvious catch up effects that are a result of (relatively, swift) demographic changes in the governed relative to the polity (leadership). The "worst abuses of government happen when ... white rulers [find] themselves overlording a population that [is] foreign to them", he says. I agree. However, he also advocates unthrottled immigration (open borders). These two notions seem to be at odds with each other. Assuming he agrees that assimilation issues and catch up effects are real, then I would think he'd be more for a throttled (controlled) immigration approach.

_Just_ stopping police forces from being racist does not deal with the underlying issues in Ferguson and other poor municipalities. Poverty leads to crime and lowers the tax-base, leaving municipal governments to seek other ways to extract rent. The combination of the two - poverty and overlording - create the perfect storm that leads to the issues in Ferguson. It is my view that dealing with the poverty aspect of the issue will help deal with the assimilation issues and naturally lead to a polity that represents the governed.

"The worst abuses of government happen when an invading gang conquer people of a different race, religion and culture. What happened in Ferguson was similar only the rulers stayed the same and the population of the ruled changed. In 1990 Ferguson was 74% white and 25% black. Just 20 years later the percentages had nearly inverted, 29% white and 67% black. The population of rulers, however, changed more slowly so white rulers found themselves overlording a population that was foreign to them. As a result, democracy broke down and government as usual, banditry and abuse, broke out."

Insane. If banditry and abuse is a good description of the Ferguson government, then why did all these people of a different race move in to be ruled by it?

So white flight chases away all of the tax revenue, and the city responds by raising funds through fining criminals rather than raising taxes on the innocent.

Not sure why I'm supposed to be upset.

Jaywalking is pretty weak as far as criminality goes. Strikes me that the man-car relationship properly incentivizes the relationship. Unless of course you live in Russia.

Because aggressive enforcement of petty crimes laws is a very small step away from Jim Crow era law enforcement.

Yep. It's the discretion in enforcement of petty crimes. I jay walk all the time downtown and have never had a problem. I've ridden my bike on the sidewalks (I know, I'm a rebel) in front of cops. No problem. If I were black, would it become a problem?

The problem is that in this context "criminals" seems to encompass pretty much everybody.

As opposed to taxation?

Taxation usually doesn't involve jail time or a criminal record or dealing with a guy who can shoot you and probably get away with it.

Try refusing to pay your taxes.

Clover -- cite ONE person shot and killed for failing to pay taxes. Just ONE.

Friedman already demonstrated that there is a significant difference in how we perceive witholding versus roaming tax collectors.

You probably also think the definition of terrorist is "whoever the US kills with drones"

It would be better to just drone everybody?

Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.

To extend the analogy, no, I'd prefer the military not become so large that the need is felt to go abroad in search of monsters to destroy.

The worst abuses of government happen when an invading gang conquer people of a different race, religion and culture. What happened in Ferguson was similar only the rulers stayed the same and the population of the ruled changed. In 1990 Ferguson was 74% white and 25% black. Just 20 years later the percentages had nearly inverted, 29% white and 67% black. The population of rulers, however, changed more slowly so white rulers found themselves overlording a population that was foreign to them. As a result, democracy broke down and government as usual, banditry and abuse, broke out.

Wait, are you suggesting that people might rationally prefer to be ruled by members of their own ethnic group rather than by other ethnic groups? Maybe White people have a rational reason for wanting our countries to remain White-ruled?

Right, American history is rife with non-white rulers oppressing whites.

Whites historically weren't so stupid as to let non-Whites rule them. Look what happened to Whites in Rhodesia and is happening to Whites in South Africa now.

And look what the Blacks do to each other in the countries they rule.

Yep, and I hear the 15th amendment hasn't gone into effect in Ferguson, Missouri.

Do you think that white people have a unique gene that makes them prone to oppressing other races? Or does it seem more likely that this is a common human trait, such that when they have the power, any race might try to oppress other races? I'm not calling for ethno-states, I just don't understand how you can apparently think that only white people are capable of racial oppression. Hell, just look at countries ruled by other racial or ethnic groups, and you can find that they, too, are capable of good old fashioned oppression.

It's an artifact of various "critical" studies.

The Problem: Due to gluttonous spending and extremely generous compensation awarded to government union employees, police nationwide spend too much time trying to collect revenue rather than create safety.

The Tabarrok Response: Write a post on this behavior but specifically focus on Ferguson, MO (where the left has been desperately trying to paint a police self-defense shooting as a racial matter) and helpfully explain that this is just another way for hateful police to inflict pain on the minorities of Ferguson, MO.

This must be another example of those "libertarian leanings" I keep hearing about. Hey, anything to attract the attention of the NYT. Gotta sell those books!

Exactly. Here's an interesting chart....

Wanna take a guess at what the racial majority in St. Ann, Missouri is? I'll give you a's the one that doesn't get blog posts written about it.

Pretty sneaky, sis, but St. Ann is on I-70 and most of that revenue comes from traffic citations. Their citation:warning ratio was over 15:1 in 2013, while St. Louis County was at 1.9:1 overall. I would love to see break down of traffic citation revenue by race in the city, I doubt it matches their demographics.

If that is so, St. Ann is in violation of state law which prohibits municipalities from raising more than 35% of their revenue this way. The law was originally passed because of rural speed traps. Some podunk towns raised all their revenue this way and were causing OZARK TOURISM grief.

Actual change comes about through political coalition building. If libertarians want to achieve some of their desired changes, they will at times need to find potential allies who can be convinced to make a particular change to achieve a particular end, even if their reasons for doing so are completely different.

Everyone hates cops when they are in "public revenue" mode than in "stopping crime" mode. Some police departments are far worse than others. Certain communities are known locally for their speed traps and predatory practices (particular to people not living in the community, but passing through it). Even communities with a fairly benevolent police force can see those cops go on a ticket writing rampage when the higher ups let it be known that the "quota" has not been made that month or quarter.

Racism could certainly play a role, but this is a universal issue. If Ferguson once had higher tax revenues to pay all its municipal employees and other expenditures, but a lower tax base has reduced revenues, I can easily see the mayor's office or city council letting the police chief know that the "quota" has gone up, and the law of bureaucracy take over. However, this is not racism as it would have happened had racial demographics remained the same, but the property values decrease anyway. However, it did not happen that way, as the property values went down only when the racial demographics changed.

There are times when race is an issue, but not exactly in the causative sense that liberals would like which is why there are either increasing logical somersaults required to prove racism, or that they stop looking after correlation has been proved. In this case, I suspect there are other major factors creating this social dynamic that show the general predatory role of government once revenue falls than outright racism. It's much more likely that if the black community in Ferguson was targeted by the cops, it was not because they were black - but because they were poor and less able to complain about treatment and get it successfully resolved. Rich people tend to have resources to fight back against harassment, know lawyers, and have a much keener knowledge of what their rights are and how to assert them. I could be wrong and it is about race. However, after various cases when the initial claims by the left (such as the specifics of the shooting in Ferguson) did not match the actual evidence, I expect a much higher level of proof now.

If the problem is not racism, that does not mean there is not a problem.

It can be both. The government can charge their police with generating revenue and the police can prefer to generate revenue from black people for any number of reasons, racism included. The left really wants this to be about only race, and not inherent governmental flaws, obviously. The correct position is that it is both, and no, we can't isolate the impact of the various influences.

Using citations for petty offenses as a revenue source is hardly unique to Ferguson. I'd say it is more the rule than the exception in American cities.

Tinting ordinances are mainly enacted because cops like to see through your windows as they approach your car. The safety motive is a canard. Panel vans have no side windows at all. A driverless car wouldn't need windows at all. In my opinion, courts should strike down all laws for which the only purpose is to make law enforcement easier. I relied on such easily obtained evidence as a prosecutor, but I later realized how oppressive it was.

The report's ostensible smoking guns are nonsense. The rate of infractions by Blacks is easily consistent with the fact that they are a majority of that population and the fact that Blacks have a national crime rate ten times that of non-Hispanic whites.

A somewhat milder version of this sort of thing (using the police to extort revenue) is the Speed Trap Town-- which has the advantage that many of the people dunned for money are out-of-towners who have no say in the town's affairs. A community near where I lived in Ohio was infamous for draconian enforcement of traffic laws. I was ticketed there in 1999 for making an illegal left turn-- where the No Left Turn sign has been struck by a car and knocked down. When I challenged the ticket I was told "Sorry, you should know left turns are not allowed there-- it's an unsafe intersection"-- and then fined an additional $90 for "court costs". That town did finally get what was coming to it: they were also not bothering to pass on 2/3 of the traffic convictions to the state of Ohio , thereby cheating the state of its share of the ticket revenue. (which was nice for the drivers, since those tickets never made in onto their driving record either). The state was not amused, fined the town a colossal amount and the local traffic court judges were bounced from office and disbarred.

This. I've been ticketed for turning right on red at an intersection with an obscured sign. I went to court, looked at the docket - 90% of the hundred or so people were in court for that same offense, by the same officer - I'm sure his overtime was nice that week. I suggested to the Judge that the sign was obscured, and that my only evidence was his docket. He was halfway reasonable in dismissing court costs for everyone that offense that day. What really sticks out for me, however, is that laws, and traffic laws especially, are supposed to have a legitimate governmental interest, here being safety, yet, the police, the municipality, and the traffic courts obviously knew that there were issues with that sign: they either chose to put revenue above safety or the law was inherently unjust.

I agree, however my first and second-hand experience on draconian enforcement of speed limits on military bases--I have been stopped for doing 20 in a 15, and I have personally seen a ticket written out for doing 47 in a 45 (I think the fines were about $20 and $10 respectively)--leads me to believe that the incentives don't have to be financial. Sometimes cops are dicks, or are there are institutional motives for obnoxious enforcement guidelines.

There was a street where I lived in Michigan that was on the boundary line between two cities. Westbound in one city it was 35 mph, eastbound in the other city it was 25 mph. Lots of people, including myself, got caught ion that trap.

The Tiebout model is clearly relevant here. Why is Ferguson mostly black? Because of heavy black immigration, very likely from black-politiican-dominated St. Louis. Apparently black people prefer Ferguson's combination of crime, taxes, fines, and law enforcement practices to those of the many other towns in the vicinity. Alternately, to be sure, it could be that white people don't like Ferguson's public policy and have moved out, reducing housing prices, but that seems politically less likely, since white people have dominated Ferguson's politics.

Ferguson whites aren't very public spirited--only 17% vote in municipal elections. Blacks only 6%. The city is 64% black. You do the math--white city council, white mayor..

I already said all this. Ferguson is a majority-black polity ruled by whites. Nobody likes being ruled by the other team. Let Ferguson be ruled by blacks, in accordance with the social and cultural preferences of its demographic majority. Would anybody suggest Jews should be ruled by Arabs? Albanians by Serbians? Ukrainians by Russians? Sunnis by Alawites? The US spends billions of dollars around the globe to advance peoples' goal of rule by their own ethnic/creedal kin. Blacks voted 95% for Obama; they are about as monolithic as a vote can be in their electoral preferences. Imposing white rule on them is just an invitation to violent conflict.

I'm very strongly of the opinion that the problem is the harassment, not the racism. You give cops free reign to be as obnoxious as they want to, and it's ok until they are disproportionately obnoxious to an identifiable interest group? Bullshit.

1. "If you tell me what you have, I can help you"

2. "I have to have you wait here for a K-9 Unit"

3. "This court is inclined to believe the testimony of a sworn officer"

4. "We can plea this down if you plead guilty"

The system really is set up against the accused. Whether it's lies from police, ambiguous statements that contain illegal orders, unjust deference to police by judges, or wide-spread and systematic extortion from prosecutors (assisted by heavy penalties from legislatures).

Excellent piece. It makes you wonder: how many other Fergusons are out there?

Almost certainly thousands. I'd expect these sort of problems from any random town in the South.

Outside the South too.

Undoubtedly; just look at the unwillingness of the police to countenance reform in NYC, a Northern city.

I am shocked, shocked to see a town where Blacks are more likely to be charged with crime than Whites!

You should be. Blacks commit crimes at nearly the same rate as any other race. The only reason statistics in the US are skewed is institutional racism.

Blacks commit crimes at several times the rate as any other race. That's why economists' wives tell their husbands to pay more for white neighbors.

If you're being funny: Good one! d*_*b
If you're not being funny: you know what, buddy? Live in Detroit for a while. The city, not the metro. Or NE D.C. Or East St. Louis. Or Jackson, Mississippi. This will disabuse you of your foolish fantasies. Black crime perpetration rates are typically between six and fourteen times those of Whites, age adjusted. For Mestizos, it's 1.2 to 1.8 times.

Is this Department of Justice report anecdote or data?

Only Government would higher 90%+ white police in 60%+black town. This is wrong just for efficacy.

It doesn't seem fair to fire a 20-year veteran policeman just because the town demography has changed--- or effective either, to replace him with a rookie of the desired race. There's a pretty big legal problem with firing someone because of his race, too.

I think that police officers should be required by law to live in the area they police. That would solve a lot of these issues.

Isn't that how good old boy networks start

Layoffs hurt but are sometimes needed. If they are good policemen they should be able to get a job elsewhere like where all the white people have moved.

And some places would make no sense for that. My alma mater had a state chartered police force and no one would credibly suggest to force the police officers to live in the dorms.

I was looking around last night to discover the party affiliation of those running Ferguson. Turns out it doesn't really matter. The elected officials of Ferguson don't run Ferguson. By the city charter, the mayor and city council cannot directly question or provide direction to city officials. It is all controlled by the City Manager, a professional. A system set up back in the Progressive Era to cut out the elected officials from government. The mayor and city council vote on the selection of the City Manager. They can ask the City Manager to do something, but cannot order him to say give a particular direction to the police department. And the elected officials are all part-timers.

Democracy hasn't broken down. It was purposely replaced. This highlights an opinion I read by John Fiske in 'Civil Government in the United States'. Fiske pointed out that we've got a fair handle on governing towns (direct democracy) and counties (representative democracy), on the whole, but that the forms break down when we try to govern cities. His theory was it was due to the intimacy and number of services that cities provide (writing in 1901) that lead to corruption and breakdowns. Sadly, the United States since the New Deal seems to have progressed along to the point of the federal government becoming more like a super city government and the President more like a super-mayor. With the corresponding breakdown in governing that used to be limited to cities.

BTW, it would be interesting to see if "professionally managed" cities were more or less likely to govern with racial bias compared to those with power vested in elected mayors and city councils.

Also, in the incentives matter bent, cities have very little control over the standard revenue streams. Sales and property taxes are generally collected by the State or county then the city gets their cut. So fines are the big revenue source within the city officials' control. For a city manager, they are a revenue source that is isolated from the elected city officials and within the city manager's control. Are cities run by professional city managers more likely to abuse this revenue stream?

Elected officials are almost never the actual power-holders; "I don't care who does the electing so long as I do the nominating" and all that. Real governing is done by professionals because governance is the kind of job that only a professional can do effectively (see public choice theory).

A moderately-genuine democracy can work without too much dysfunction on the scale of small towns of the "everybody knows everyone else" sort; some collective decision-making and selection of competent people to put in charge of things can be accomplished. However, it simply does not scale. "Democracy" on any larger polity is a sham. (However, no sham is a perfect sham. But to the extent it is not a sham, it gives power to amateurs and is thus inept, and to the extent it is a sham, it is ruled by charming liars.)

The Scandinavians order these things differently...

Alex should move to Anacostia for a year then write a book explaining how its residents are being oppressed by their municipal government.

You should actually spend some time in Anacostia before speaking about it.

As a general rule I have been noticing for the last forty years that whenever the issue is crime by blacks, many attribute it to the individuals lack of morals, ethics, education and what have you. However, when the table is turned, it is always attributed to larger societal problems.

Of course, because the people doing the attribution you cite are racist.

Most traffic stops are for the kleptocracy. Hopefully, the more frequent use of cameras will put an end to most of this abuse.

256 comments so far, one of the highest counts of any MR blogpost. Most of the other top ten comment generators on MR are all race based, particularly ones involving black americans. The comment section here at MR is almost exclusively populated by high status individuals, who often assemble clear well thought out, sometimes biased, sometimes not, arguments on many issues of the day, until the subject strays into the raw heart of the most important of all American tribal identities. When it comes to race it all boils over. There has been an awful lot of victim blaming, deflection, misdirection and obfuscation in this threads comments given that the underlying issue was about government abuse and how government is prone to capture by elites for their benefit. This is a universal problem of government and an important issue to discuss with regards to governance structures. Its not black and white, nor is the real issue about blacks and whites. There are undoubtedly black and white tribal identities in America, but the largest and most powerful tribes in America, whether it be social conservatives or middle income suburbanites are multi ethnic. Its what makes discussion of race strange to any outsider who lives in America, especially for a black african such as myself. I find America to be one the least racist countries in the the world, and yes I have lived and worked in many parts of the world, where the great iceberg of racism is buried beneath the surface, yet aside from South Africa, the most racially obsessed . I'm not claiming there isn't a lot of racism in America, but allot of what is considered racism is tribalism that's has no identity outside of the black and white framing of American political and social discourse. For a group of people who were once enslaved, the progression of the last 150 years is astounding, not just politically, but culturally, and to a lesser extent economically. Whether its the Roma in Europe or Dalits in India, I see nothing even remotely equivalent elsewhere in the world. And yes, maybe i should be excoriated for that comparison, rightfully so. And yes the removal of oppression and then wonderment at the flowering thereafter is an exercise in reverse logic. BUT its an impressive feat non-the-less, and its an expression of what is exceptional about the country itself. And that exception is a country of laws not men/women, with transparent. open systems. and relative liberty. ALL, works in progress clearly, and ALL antithetical to what Alex so succinctly describes in the blog post. And so why do so many libertarians on here, who can otherwise sound very intelligent, find themselves so trapped by the racial component of their tribal identity. One instructive concept I learnt from tyler by reading his MR posts and following the links, is the power and importance of status signaling. And now, the moment I see a comment section with hundred + comments, I will bet you money its about black people, even before I open it. And if its about poor black people, some of the lowest status individuals in American society its open season to signal superiority. Anyway, my soap box was rolling to fast and got away from me, so I'll stop while i'm this far behind.

'given that the underlying issue was about government abuse and how government is prone to capture by elites for their benefit'

Actually, Canadian born Prof. Tabarrok wrote this - 'white rulers found themselves overlording a population that was foreign to them' without apparently recognizing just how long black Americans have been living in the St. Louis area. And for the first century and half of that residency, the white rulers were overlording a population of slaves.

There is seemingly no awareness of that what happened in Ferguson is typical American banality in former slave states, where the 'elites' were formerly known as 'slaveholders.'

There is no question that things have improved immensely in the U.S. - but the issue is still not about how some group of 'white rulers' just happened to find themselves in charge. They have always been in charge.

And there have always been white people who find this state of affairs natural, whether using religious foundations (the Afrikaaners and Virginians often used the same quotes from the Bible to justify the situation - including in the case of Loving v. Virginia, where a Virginia judge quoted the Bible to support forbidding races from mixing, that mixing most definitely including marriage - or the pseudo-science that tends to need to change its name on a regular basis - I believe that latest term of racist art is human biodiversity.

That this group is no longer so secure in its ability to enforce its beliefs on putative inferiors and dissenters is a sign of progress over a generation - that they have no intention of abandoning their framework remains evident here.

If Americans could only aspire to the level of inclusion and tolerance shown to Turkish immigrants in your adopted German fatherland, p_a!

‘white rulers found themselves overlording a population that was foreign to them’ without apparently recognizing just how long black Americans have been living in the St. Louis area.

You have it backwards. Ferguson was a majority-white suburb to which blacks migrated, eventually transforming it into a majority-black suburb. So, private sector whites are leaving and public sector whites remain, grimly hanging on to their seniority and pensions. When the public sector whites die, retire or get removed from office, then Ferguson will have a black mono-culture.

This is totally about race. If the gentile giant had been White, or the cop had been Black, no one would have heard of this town.

"Social conservatives" are not a multiethnic tribe. A Black church lady and a White church lady might be similarly disgusted by homosexuality and the like but they won't identify as the same tribe. When people say "social conservative" in the context of American politics they implicitly mean White social conservative.

"If the gentle giant had been white" I agree the story would not have become a national conflagration, As to "the cop had been Black" i'm not sure. This would depend on whether he was a minority part of a larger mostly white police force and Judicial system. Anyone familiar with the story New Orleans knows that majority black police forces and judicial systems can behave in just the same way. But the reason why if this happened to "white gentle giant" it would not have exploded into a national, nay even global issue, is because the community he came from very, very vociferously asserted their grievances in ways that drew attention to them. That's specifically because these grievances had been building up for a long time. And this particular shooting was the match that set it off. I suspect rural whites in appalachia for instance are on the receiving end of similar "gamed systems" by local elites. Similarly, majority latino communities in the California central valley. But, African Americans are socialized within their community and through civil rights legend and lore to believe that collective, disruptive social action works. And guess what it did for them. Similarly, the tunisian fruit vendor was defying basic rules, and Rodney King was in reality not a very sympathetic figure. But these guys were all just the spark that set off combustible fumes that were building up for a very long time. AND, that is why people who keep focusing on the spark, especially smart, often clear thinkers on other issues, versus the ticking bomb come off as wantonly tribalist. yes Clover race was an issue here, but its not whats interesting about that DoJ report. And yes I have all kinds of tribal biases, but i know for a fact they don't contribute positively to discussions on here. What i'm interested in is, what you, or Rich Berger or The other jim, as libertarians, think about the issues raised by Alex.

"The abuse in Ferguson shouldn’t really surprise us–this is how most governments behave most of the time"

Only in America (North and South). Well also some Asian and African countries.
Somehow in Europe the governments generally work for the better of the "ordinary" man. (Okay, maybe UK is the exception, maybe this is an Anglican thing?)

LOL. European countries are classical ethnic nation-states with African and Middle Eastern ghettoes into which they are desperately shoveling transfer payments. The next European wars will be civil.

An impressive number of comments, except half of them are "you are a racist", or some variation of same.

When I first read Alex's post, I was surprised that a libertarian cared about the welfare of poor blacks. But then, of course, he used the exploitation of blacks in Ferguson as an excuse to bash governments. One could say that it took the federal government to expose what happened in Ferguson, but the response is, why didn't the DOJ investigate the situation before the killing? The obvious answer is, had the DOJ investigated Ferguson before the killing, most libertarians would have viewed it as yet another example of overreach by the federal government. In any case, I'm not sure one can blame what was happening in Ferguson before the killing on "government." People blame the government for Jim Crow laws, but those laws were just a reflection of what people in power wanted. If the government had not passed those laws, social custom would have produced the same result. And it required the federal government to end the most blatant aspects of Jim Crow laws.

I understand the excessive fines but I don't see the facts on the racist behavior, at least I don't see that excess fines is in and of itself racist.

I assume there is a correlation between race and being fined. However there are other variables to consider that are co-linear with race. The composition of the town changed over the last 20 years so there is a correlation between new-comers and being fined. That's not odd. In suburbs there are many rules of which city people aren't familiar. As the suburban town tries to maintain its standards it imposes fines on "uncut grass" and other minor problems in an attempt to maintain housing values.

This brings me to another co-linear variable: subsidize housing finance. In the past 20 years we see federal efforts to help 1st time buyers with government help. Thus, there may be a correlation between fines and 1st time buyers. We'd need to know much more to understand if race is a statistically significant factor and not just an anecdotal myth.

1. This is fairly normal for a poorer St. Louis municipality. The richer ones only loot outsiders. 2. The legal profession is complicit in this because of the Missouri tradition that lawyers can easily "fix" tickets with no points or information flowing to insurers: just pay the fine and a fee to the lawyer and you're off. Unless you're poor and can't pay, that is. 3.The massive over criminalization has its roots and legitimacy in "broken windows" policing. Hyper aggressive and picayune "broken windows" policing was the European establishment's response to the breakdown of the old cultural consensus in our cities due to waves of both domestic and international migration from very different cultures. Its top down, coercive nature is an admission by elites that we have not sustained a common culture where everyone abides by common norms. It is an admission of cultural defeat by European America. As is the war on drugs which compliments and intensifies it's effect.

"Bureacracy, the rule of no one, has become the modern form of despotism. "
- Mary McCarthy

Wow. Looks so familiar.
I'm in Bay Area. When I worked in Scotts Valley, I was driving along hwy 17 every day. With 2 "hispanic" stickers (one about Linux, one about Estereo Sol, puro Mexico). Oh, I'm ethnic Russian, I just love Spanish and "hispanic" music.

So, I was being regularly stopped by cops for all kinds of imaginary crimes. Like "slowing down before seeing the cop" means to them that I was speeding. Or driving at 60 where speed limit was 55 (I was not). I went to court, I won. But well, those guys were still just profiling; they would not expect a rogue Russian when they see "Mexican" stickers. Eventually I learned how to talk to them. In a command voice. Slowly. Loudly. Asking them. Where did they see that white Honda I cut off. If I was driving at 55 where speed limit is 55. Driving in the right lane all the time. Then they become really creative. But well, whatever. I know they hate us, humans; and we hate them. That's life. Just try to drive in Russia.


The Nightly Show had some very nice Ferguson skits to bring to life what was happening.

Q&A had the police chief of Baltimore on this week--the Black Guerrilla Family took over the jail!!!!

Lawsuits! There were no lawsuits? Listen to the Police Chief of Baltimore. Sue, Sue, Sue.

Ferguson is hardly the only town, city, or State in the U.S. that raises revenue through tickets. Look at Obama's home city of Chicago where his good buddy Rahm Emanuel has been legally stealing money from Chicago Residents to the tune of $70 million a year with RED LIGHT Cameras that have made nobody safer. Emanuel even had the traffic department shorten the time of yellow lights so he could rake in more abusive stolen cash from Chicago Residents. My bet is if you do a study in Chicago of who pays those extortionist fines you'll find that African Americans and Latinos in Chicago are paying the fines way out of proportion to their percentage of the population, just like in Ferguson. And in the meantime folks the homicide rate in Chicago, with Rahm Emanuel rigging the numbers to make them look lower, is still nearly 4X the national average, and the folks being slaughtered are African Americans. Obama and Holder did all they could to lynch a White Officer for defending his life against a young Black man who had just committed a robbery and who attacked him, but they do nothing about the absolute day in day out slaughter of African Americans in Chicago. The RED LIGHT larceny in Chicago has become such a huge issue that Emanuel's opponent in the run off election says he'll get rid of them, and in desperation trying to save his seat Emanuel has pulled 50 of them. Can you imagine that in Chicago they actually shortened Yellow Lights making it more dangerous at intersections to extort more money from mostly minorities? Yet Obama nor Holder care because their friend runs Chicago? This is all corrupt left wing politics folks. Obama, Holder, and Sharpton couldn't crucify the officer so they are buying off the lynch mob they created by going after the entire city of Ferguson. Meanwhile the corruption and deaths in Chicago are out of control, but nobody does anything, and neither Obama nor Holder care.

Alex Nobody: This is our government. This is the "Rainbow Coalition." This is Al Sharpton bloodsucker of America. This is a WEAK ASS WHITE BOY PRESIDENT OBAMA RAISED BY HIS WHITE FOLK NOT FEELING BLACK ENOUGH & SORRY MOTHERFUCKER THAT AFRICAN DEADBEAT DADDY RAN AWAY TO DRINK HIMSELF TO DEATH AND never saw the boy. HEY, DREAMS OF MY CORRUPT ASS EMPEROR SON: SICK & TIRED OF THE RACIAL BULLSHIT. Broke & dumb-ass people do stupid shit when they can't eat cuz the Chinese took their jobs--it don't matter what color they are. YOU KNOW WHY??? Because THE CHINESE ARE MORE INTELLIGENT than people like BARACK AND MICHELLE. Princeton and Harvard should REVOKE THEIR DEGREES for the destruction these slum lawyers have brought to this country.

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