Posts Tagged ‘Fox News’

Abolish the Police

July 18, 2016

A Black Lives Matter activist named Jessica Disu has called for the police to be abolished during what was called a heated discussion on the Kelly File, as reported on Fox News.

A Black Lives Matter activist from Chicago argued during a heated Kelly File discussion that American police forces should be abolished.

“Here are the solutions. We need to abolish the police, period. Demilitarize the police, disarm the police, and we need to come up with community solutions for transformative justice,” said Jessica Disu, drawing some shocked reactions.

The conversation started with Megyn Kelly asking the panel – which included Black Rights Matter supporters, law enforcement officers, conservative commentators and religious leaders – about some who praised the Dallas gunman.

Disu, who described herself as a community organizer, said that Black Lives Matter has never called for violence against anyone.

She did not comment when Kelly pointed out that some protesters have called for “dead cops.”

Megyn Kelly asked her how citizens would be protected if police forces were “abolished.”

“We need to come up with community solutions. The police force in this country began as slave patrol,” Disu argued.

The suggestion is not actually as crazy as it sounds. We believe that having a professional, uniformed, quasi-military style police force is essential for maintaining order in our communities, but in fact, the idea of a body of police officers with the duty of capturing criminals and investigating crimes is a surprisingly recent one, dating back only to the early to middle nineteenth century. Before that time there were no policemen, as we know them. Of course, there have been officials charged with maintaining law and order for as long as human beings have had governments, various forms of county sheriffs. town constables, city watchmen, etc. For the most part, these officials have had the duty of enforcing court orders, serving warrants, responding to citizen’s complaints, and keeping order. Pursuing criminals wasn’t their main function. In most cases, in the ancient and medieval eras, it was up to the victim of a crime and his family to resolve crimes committed against them and to bring the criminal to the attention of the magistrates. Often, there were no public prosecutors, as we know them, and it was up to the victim to bring charges against the criminal in court. If the identity of the criminal were not known, the victims could hire a thief-taker, something like a modern private investigator, to track down and capture the criminal.

This system probably worked well enough in a Medieval setting of a rural country with small villages where everyone knew each other. Social pressure would have prevented most people from committing crimes and it wasn’t too difficult to discover who was responsible for a theft or murder, etc. It perhaps worked less well in the larger cities of pre-industrial Europe, but conditions were probably manageable, at least for the elite. With the industrial revolution, cities such as London or Paris began to grow in population to an extent unprecedented in European history. There were large numbers of people moving to the cities in search of jobs and as a result crime increased to unprecedented levels. It was becoming obvious that something better was needed.

Robert Peel is often credited with establishing the first metropolitan police force in London in, although the gendarmes established by Napoleon in France anticipated his reforms in some respects. Robert Peel was a Conservative politician who would go on to become Prime Minister in 1834-1835 and 1841-1846, when he would prove himself to be something of a reformer. In 1829, Peel was serving as Home Secretary and had become greatly concerned over the rise in crime in London and other British cities. Acting on the recommendations of the committee he had created to resolve the problem, Peel got Parliament to pass the Metropolitan Police Act which created the first, tu, metropolitan police in history.

Strange as it may seem, the idea of having uniformed police patrolling the streets of London was fairly controversial when the Metropolitan Police Act was passed. For many Londoners, the idea of a semi-military force keeping order seemed more fitting for the despotic regimes of the Continent than for a free country like England. The freedom loving Englishmen, along with their former colonists in America had a particular horror of a large standing army as an instrument of tyranny. Kings used such forces to impose their will on the people. For this reason, Peel was anxious to emphasize that the new police force was not a military organization, but was a politically neutral body accountable to the public it served. The police wore blue uniforms, in contrast to red worn by British soldiers (redcoats) and carried no weapon except a club and a rattle, later replaced by a whistle, to call for assistance and he used no military ranks, except for sergeant. Above all, Peel saw his new police force as part of the public, not as something separate. “The police are the public and the public are the police”, he often said.

The London Metropolitan Police proved to be effective at controlling crime and police forces based on Peel’s principles were soon organized in other cities in Britain and the United States. Professional police forces like Peel’s have become the norm all over the world to the point where it is simply inconceivable for a modern society to be run without them, yet I wonder what Robert Peel would make of what we have made of his creation. I think he would be alarmed at the extent in which his critics have been proven right.

Remember that the most important principle on which Peel organized the London police around was the idea that the police were not soldiers occupying the city of London but were a professional, civilian organization dedicated to serving the public. Somehow, over the last century that principle has been eroded. All too often, the police today are organized on explicitly military lines with military-style ranks, uniforms and training. We have heavily armed police officers in armored personnel carriers and Special Weapons and Tactics units being increasingly used to perform the normal duties of police work. Inevitably, people who are trained almost as soldiers begin to act like members of an occupying army instead of public servants, particularly in areas where the ethnicity of the police differs from that of the community. They become warrior cops instead of public guardians.

An excellent question

An excellent question

I do not favor abolishing the police. We cannot go back to the simpler times in which a society could get by with informal law enforcement. Yet, maybe it is time to have sort sort of public discussion what sort of law enforcement serves us best in the twenty-first century. We may want to move away from the warrior cop model in which the police become almost as dangerous to civilians as the criminals towards a police force more integrated with the communities they serve. Demilitarizing the police seems to be a good first step. we certainly want to stop this tendency to see the police and the civilians as somehow being opposing sides. Both the police and the public, at least theoretically, want the same things; safe places to live.

For this reason, movements like Black Lives Matter and community organizers like Jessica Disu are doing more harm than good. By all means, police officers who break the law should be punished, and the police do not do their side any favors when they refuse to assist in the prosecuting wrongdoers in their ranks, but it is reckless and irresponsible to paint all police officers as racists bent on killing black men for no reason. This antagonism can only make needed reforms more difficult to enact, particularly when abuses which should concern everyone; Black and White, police and civilian become a matter of Black versus White and police against the civilians. We all have to learn to stand together or we will fall divided.

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Fast Food Strike

July 30, 2013

Employees at some fast food restaurants are planning to walk off the job to demand higher wages. Read about it here at Fox News.

Workers at the nation’s best known fast-food restaurants in seven cities across America are planning to walk off the job Monday to protest what they say are wages that are too low to live on. In a move orchestrated with the help of powerful labor unions and clergy groups, the workers plan to strike for a day to demand their wages be doubled.

The Washington Post reports that the protests will take place in New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Flint, Mich., involving workers at McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and KFC. Some employees at stores including Dollar Tree, Macy’s and Victoria’s Secret are also expected to join the protesters in several cities.

The workers are calling for wages of $15 per hour, more than double New York’s current minimum wage of $7.25.

A network of local community groups, clergy and unions, including the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), are backing the strike.

“SEIU members, like all service-sector workers, are worse off when large fast-food and retail companies are able to hold down wages and push benefit standards for working people,” Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, told the Washington Post.

In New York City, the protests were organized by a group called Fast Food Forward, which states its Twitter account: “No one can survive on $7.25.”

“A lot of the workers are living in poverty, you know, not being able to afford to put food on the table or take the train to work,” Fast Food Forward director Jonathan Westin told CBS New York. “The workers are striking over the fact that they can’t continue to maintain their families on the wages they’re being paid in the fast-food industry.”

The group posted a photograph on its Twitter account early Monday depicting workers who have “walked out” in New York.

Fast-food workers in New York City earn an average salary of $11,000 annually. That’s less than half of the average daily salary — $25,000 — for most fast-food restaurant CEOs. Employees in the $200 billion industry make 25 percent of the money they need to survive in New York City while working at fast-food restaurants, according to the group’s website.

I sympathize with these people. Working in a fast food restaurant is an unpleasant job and they don’t get paid what they really deserve. The trouble is that no one gets paid what is actually fair. They get paid according to how much their labor is worth. There is no shortage of people qualified to work at McDonald’s and given the present unemployment rate, I doubt that McDonald’s is having too much trouble finding people to staff its restaurants. These factors tend to keep wages low. On the other hand, it may be unfair that a corporate CEO is paid more in one day than many are paid in a year, but there are not that many people who have the skills and experience to be a CEO. If you try to pay a CEO according to what might be fair, you may find it extremely difficult to attract somebody who is actually qualified, as Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream discovered.

Also, I don’t  about the finances or profitability of these restaurants but it may be that their profit margins are slim enough that they cannot pay their employees much more without suffering losses. Most people do not go to fast food restaurants like McDonald’s for the fine dining experience. They go because the food is cheap and fast, so places like McDonald’s cannot raise their prices by very much, or they will lose customers and money. I am afraid that if these employees force matters, they may find out the hard way that while it is difficult to live on $7.25 an hour, it is far more difficult to live on $0 per hour.

I know this might sound harsh, but we must deal with the world as it is, not as we might like it to be. The simple truth is that your employer is not obliged to pay you a “living wage”. They are only required to pay you what your labor is worth, and sometimes they don’t do even that. If you are trying to live on minimum wage, then you need to take stock of your life and decide what skills and experiences you can acquire that an employer is willing to pay a decent wage for and then figure out how you can acquire them. This is not easy. In fact, it is very difficult, but it may be the only way you can get ahead. You will never get ahead by complaining how unfair life is, or how unfair the other guy was born with more opportunities than you have had. It is unfair, but we each must make the most of what opportunities are given to us.

 

Shut Down Fox News

November 2, 2012

I got an interesting email yesterday asking me to sign a petition to do just that.

Dear David Hoffman,

Help us take Fox News off the air—get the FCC to revoke Rupert Murdoch’s broadcast licenses NOW!

The deplorable actions Murdoch has taken to run his News Corp. empire prove we can’t trust him to act in the public interest. Now, a study by Farleigh Dickinson University shows Fox News can’t even claim to inform its audience: its viewers are less informed than those who avoid news outlets altogether!

It’s the Federal Communications Commission’s job to consider the character of a media owner when dealing out broadcast licenses, and to label programs as news only when they actually inform viewers. The Murdoch Mafia has failed on both counts, and we have a chance to take them down for good. Save the airwaves from bigotry and corruption: tell the FCC to enforce the law NOW!

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION: Rupert Murdoch has failed every “character” test available, and the programs under his broadcasting licenses have both been implicated in scandal and have been proven to make audiences less informed, not more. We urge you to revoke Murdoch’s broadcasting licenses immediately, and to take a stand against his corrupt media empire.

SIGN THIS PETITION

Thanks,
— The folks at Watchdog.net

Actually, I imagine that viewers of Fox News are a whole lot more informed ab0ut recent events in Benghazi than many others. It would be interesting to look up that study from Farleigh Dickinson University.

I am not sure just who is behind this petition, but I don’t think they have thought the matter through. First, there is no way that the FCC would revoke all of Rupert Murdoch’s broadcasting licenses. Just imagine the political firestorm that would follow such an act. Second, I wonder if it has occurred to these people that if the FCC did have the authority and will to shut down news networks like Fox, they could just as easily shut down CNN or MSNBC. It might be easier to move against them since no one actually watches them. The point here, that many on the Left seem to have trouble grasping is that you can’t just think of what you or your allies will do with power, you must consider what your opponents will do.

I actually think this petition is a good argument for ending the FCC altogether. I am not sure I see the need for a government commission to regulate the content of our communications media. I understand that they have been responsible for allocating transmission frequencies when radio and television were new, and the broadcast spectrum was deemed to be a scarce and public resource. I am not so sure that concept applies in our digital age. It seems to me that the powers that the FCC has to deny broadcast licenses might well be used by the government to silence dissenting opinions. In fact, Richard Nixon seriously considered threatening networks with the non-renewal of their licenses, just as these people want to do with Fox.

 

Shut Down Fox News

November 2, 2012

I got an interesting email yesterday asking me to sign a petition to do just that.

Dear David Hoffman,

Help us take Fox News off the air—get the FCC to revoke Rupert Murdoch’s broadcast licenses NOW!

The deplorable actions Murdoch has taken to run his News Corp. empire prove we can’t trust him to act in the public interest. Now, a study by Farleigh Dickinson University shows Fox News can’t even claim to inform its audience: its viewers are less informed than those who avoid news outlets altogether!

It’s the Federal Communications Commission’s job to consider the character of a media owner when dealing out broadcast licenses, and to label programs as news only when they actually inform viewers. The Murdoch Mafia has failed on both counts, and we have a chance to take them down for good. Save the airwaves from bigotry and corruption: tell the FCC to enforce the law NOW!

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION: Rupert Murdoch has failed every “character” test available, and the programs under his broadcasting licenses have both been implicated in scandal and have been proven to make audiences less informed, not more. We urge you to revoke Murdoch’s broadcasting licenses immediately, and to take a stand against his corrupt media empire.

SIGN THIS PETITION

Thanks,
— The folks at Watchdog.net

Actually, I imagine that viewers of Fox News are a whole lot more informed ab0ut recent events in Benghazi than many others. It would be interesting to look up that study from Farleigh Dickinson University.

I am not sure just who is behind this petition, but I don’t think they have thought the matter through. First, there is no way that the FCC would revoke all of Rupert Murdoch’s broadcasting licenses. Just imagine the political firestorm that would follow such an act. Second, I wonder if it has occurred to these people that if the FCC did have the authority and will to shut down news networks like Fox, they could just as easily shut down CNN or MSNBC. It might be easier to move against them since no one actually watches them. The point here, that many on the Left seem to have trouble grasping is that you can’t just think of what you or your allies will do with power, you must consider what your opponents will do.

I actually think this petition is a good argument for ending the FCC altogether. I am not sure I see the need for a government commission to regulate the content of our communications media. I understand that they have been responsible for allocating transmission frequencies when radio and television were new, and the broadcast spectrum was deemed to be a scarce and public resource. I am not so sure that concept applies in our digital age. It seems to me that the powers that the FCC has to deny broadcast licenses might well be used by the government to silence dissenting opinions. In fact, Richard Nixon seriously considered threatening networks with the non-renewal of their licenses, just as these people want to do with Fox.

 

John Stossel

April 12, 2012
John Stossel

John Stossel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I always like watching John Stossel back when he was the consumer affairs correspondent on 20/20. It was always fun to watch him expose scams and con artists. Since then, he has moved on to Fox News and his political views have changed dramatically from the typical liberalism of most people in journalism to strong Libertarianism. He talked about this transition in his first book Give Me a Break.

What caused Stossel’s conversion? As he tells it, in his work as a reporter, he made some observations that caused him to change his worldview. It is not often that someone will do that, especially a person with a career in the public eye. Most people would rather die than ever admit they were wrong, or change long held beliefs. John Stossel seems to be one of the few honest and courageous enough to do so.

Stossel’s first discovery was that most business people are not, in fact, crooks. This may seem counter-intuitive to anyone raised on Hollywood’s anti-business and anti-capitalist fare, but Stossel realized that the great majority of people who own a company try to run it honestly and ethically. The scam artists he made a career exposing were in the minority and they were never very successful in the long run.

Here, Stossel stumbled on an important aspect of a free market economy. In order for a business to flourish, it has to provide customers with a good quality good or service at a price they are willing to pay. A company that does not do this will, sooner or later, fail, unless it convinces a government that it is too big to fail. The classic example here would be the American auto industry. After World War II, the big three auto makers; Ford, GM, and Chrysler had a near monopoly on the US market. They began to get lazy. They began to sell poor quality cars to the American consumer, thinking that the consumers had nowhere else to go. They were wrong. Now two of the three are owned by the government.

An example of a business that does thing right is Amazon.com. My Kindle stopped working yesterday. The screen developed large patches that seemed frozen. I called their support center and they said they would ship me a replacement. There was no trouble. I did have to pay $69 because the warranty had run out, but considering that buying a new one would have cost me $139, this seemed a bargain. Why did Amazon do that. They might have made more money by telling me “tough luck” and expecting me to buy a new Kindle. Then again, maybe not. There are other people out there selling e-readers. I suppose Amazon is making a profit out of the deal, but even if they are not, it is worth taking a loss to keep me a satisfied customer.

Imagine, if Amazon.com had a monopoly on electronic publishing. Better still, imagine if this monopoly were enforced by law, or that Amazon.com were a government agency. Would they care about making me happy? Probably not. Just look at our public school systems if you have any doubts about how well governments respond to consumers.

This is not to say that business people are all wonderful or even especially virtuous, much less that they are somehow superior to people who work in government. They are not. Nevertheless, anyone in business has a certain incentive to maintain a good reputation that people in government do not. This is why the free market is far, far superior in meeting people’s needs than any centralized planning agency.

The other thing Stossel discovered was that government regulations designed to save people from being taken advantage of often hurt the very people they are meant to help. The simple truth is that the crooks will always be able to game the system for their own advantage and care little whether or not they are following the rules. Honest people who are obliged to comply to an ever more complex system of rules and regulations find themselves at even a greater disadvantage against the unscrupulous. And one should keep in mind that it is all too easy for the powerful and well-connected to change the rules to benefit themselves against their less fortunate competitors. An inconvenient truth is that big business is not often really opposed to big government, if big government can help them crush the competition. Remember the anti-trust suit against Microsoft? Bill Gates’s enemies relished the opportunity to use the government to to take him down.

I would also consider the efforts to curtain the production of methamphetamines in this light. Here in Indiana you have to show an ID to buy any cold remedy that contains pseudo ephedrine, an ingredient of methamphetamines. There are limits to how much you can buy, etc. This is an inconvenience to anyone suffering from a cold but has it worked? It seems that the police are discovering a new meth lab in our county every week. Obviously the meth dealers are having no trouble getting around the law.

I don’t get to watch John Stossel on television much any more, but I have read his first two books. He has just now come out with another one called No They can’t. Maybe I’ll download it when my kindle arrives.

Perry’s Out

January 19, 2012

Rick Perry has dropped out of the Presidential race and has endorsed Newt Gingrich. From Fox News.

Rick Perry dropped out of the presidential race Thursday and endorsed Newt Gingrich, a move that comes just two days before the South Carolina Republican primary.

The Texas governor, saying he will return to his state “with pride,” announced in South Carolina that “there is no viable path forward for me in this 2012 campaign.”

After surging to the front of the GOP field upon entering the race last summer, Perry struggled to sustain that support and endured disappointing finishes in the leadoff Iowa and New Hampshire contests. He said Thursday he entered the race with a “sense of calling,” but realizes “when it’s time to make a strategic retreat.”

I’m surprised he has lasted this long. Meanwhile Gingrich has been having troubles of his own, namely his ex-wife Marrianne giving an interview on ABC news.

Newt Gingrich lacks the moral character to serve as President, his second ex-wife Marianne told ABC News, saying his campaign positions on the sanctity of marriage and the importance of family values do not square with what she saw during their 18 years of marriage.

In her first television interview since the 1999 divorce, to be broadcast tonight on Nightline, Marianne Gingrich, a self-described conservative Republican, said she is coming forward now so voters can know what she knows about Gingrich.

In her most provocative comments, the ex-Mrs. Gingrich said Newt sought an “open marriage” arrangement so he could have a mistress and a wife.

She said when Gingrich admitted to a six-year affair with a Congressional aide, he asked her if she would share him with the other woman, Callista, who is now married to Gingrich.

I guess the moral is that if you want to run for president, you shouldn’t ask your wife for an “open” marriage. Newt is supposed to be really smart, but I doubt many married men are foolish enough to suggest something like that to their wives.


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