Seven months ago today, Breonna Taylor was killed by police in a drug raid gone wrong.

One hundred forty-one days ago today, George Floyd suffocated to death under a police officer’s knee.

The former was highlighted by the latter, and the latter spawned protests all over the country and energized the Black Lives Matter movement. Libertarians reminded everyone that ‘we’ve been talking about this stuff for many years,’ and reiterated a number of reforms that would reduce such incidents going forward. Some of these reforms:

  • Reduce or eliminate qualified immunity.
  • End the practice of “policing for profit” that disproportionately targets low-income and minority communities.
  • Repeal the “nuisance” laws that are used in the policing-for-profit efforts, whose real purpose is the padding of local budgets on the backs of those who can least afford the fines and fees.
  • Challenge the police unions’ “blue wall of silence” that keeps bad cops from being fired.
  • Institute an individual liability insurance requirement on police officers, similar to what doctors, lawyers, and other professionals carry, and letting market forces drive bad cops out of the profession.

These and others were proposed in the first few weeks of the Floyd aftermath. Yet, today, we’ve seen none of them get past lip service and a still-born bill or two in Congress.

Why?

After all, the party that claims to be on the side of the deceased and the protestors is in charge of the cities where these incidents occurred, in charge of the cities where many other such incidents have occurred and continue to occur, in charge of the House of Representatives, where relevant legislation originates, and at the fore of “supporting” the Black Lives Matter movement.

You might think that the aforementioned reforms, which would help clean out bad cops (making the good cops happier, by the way) and reduce the high-friction interactions between police and poor/minority communities, would be embraced by those who claim they stand with BLM.

Such thinking ignores two truisms about politics: that grievance politics and actually fixing problems are oil and water, and that it’s always about Other People’s Money.

So, instead of changes that would result in fewer Breonna Taylors and George Floyds being killed, we get “Defund the Police,” a “solution” that’s both cynically tribalistic and fixated on OPM. Its advocates distill matters down to “cops simply want to kill black people, so we should have fewer of them,” and “we want to spend that money on things that we like.”

“Defund the Police” won’t fix shit. In fact, it’ll make things worse. The bad cops won’t get culled, the good cops won’t be as able to protect citizens from criminals, and the adversarial relationship between police and minority communities will be exacerbated. That’s before we tally the people hurt or killed by criminals who will be more free to do their thing, thanks to reduced law enforcement, and indeed that is exactly what we are witnessing in big blue cities, where politicians have responded to the BLM movement by simply hamstringing police.

All this suits the cynical people at the top of the various food chains just fine. They don’t want the reforms that’ll work, because they’re not splashy, they’re not headline-making, and they don’t advance personal agendas. Moreso, real reforms wouldn’t feed the social-unrest agenda of the neo-Marxists running things on the protest side. Black lives don’t really matter to them, not in the way they claim. The increases in big-city drive and homicides since the movement started go unmentioned on their side of the aisle, no matter that it’s their own who are disproportionately harmed or killed.

The Republicans have been typically feckless, first failing to address the matter, then falling into the same partisan pattern with a broad-brush “cops are good, we are about law and order” message that ignores the indisputable facts that there are bad cops who are shielded by current policies and that there are bad policies that too-often produce tragic results. A few libertarian-minded pols have offered up good reforms, only to see them go nowhere in the current bitterly partisan environment, where nothing that can credit ‘the other team’ is permitted to pass.

If you are shocked by this display of apathy and cynicism by our leaders, whether they be elected or at the head of advocacy groups, you really haven’t been paying attention. This is the norm, and it’s why good solutions rarely emerge from politicians. There’s little payoff to actually fixing problems, but a great deal of benefit in milking them in perpetuity.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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