That would be the celebrity elite that can afford their own private police force, right? Riiiiiight. One might think that a week-plus of rioting and looting would demonstrate the necessity of effective community-based policing, but not in Elysium, apparently:
— John Legend (@johnlegend) June 3, 2020
A catalog of celebrities have signed an open letter urging local communities to defund police department budgets.
Celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Lizzo, Natalie Portman, Megan Rapinoe, and others signed the letter, according to Rolling Stone, which urges people to vote to decrease funds going to police departments to instead have the money go toward healthcare and education.
“We call for defunding of police and for those dollars to be rerouted to create a public national healthcare system,” the letter states, citing the Urban Institute’s findings that police budgets have increased by 220% since 1977, estimating $194 billion was spent in 2017.
Before we actually get to this data — and its full context from the Urban Institute — we should ask this question. Will every celebrity that signs this petition also pledge not to ever hire private security again for the rest of their lives? If they want to consign the rest of us to live without police protection — those who can’t afford to buy protection and justice — they should be willing to live under the same conditions. Right? No more gated communities, no more security for their homes or concerts. If the rest of us can’t have our businesses protected by the police, why should they be able to hire their own?
As far as the funding issues go, this take on UI’s data is so facile it could only come from limousine liberals. The 220% increase in spending didn’t just apply to police. If one bothers to read the actual study, the very next sentence shows that police spending rose in proportion to all other government expenditures:
From 1977 to 2017, state and local government spending on police increased from $42 billion to $115 billion (in 2017 inflation-adjusted dollars). However, as a percentage of direct general expenditures, police spending has remained consistently at just under 4 percent for the past 40 years.
Actually, this chart from the Urban Institute suggests police funding increases have lagged — and police spending is a very small amount in any case:
The idea that police and corrections funding eclipses the programs that these celebrities want to bolster is pretty much nonsense, as this chart from UI also demonstrates:
Anyway, the expansion of police budgets have kept pace at best with expansion of all other spending. Why might that be? For one thing, state and local governments keep passing more laws for them to enforce. For another, populations have grown significantly over the last 40 years. Note that none of this data is presented in a per-capita context. Both of those trends mean that communities require more police for enforcement.
If celebrities want police reform, great, but let’s be clear what that means. For one, it should mean repealing some laws that require more intrusive policing, where biases can play out in the ambiguity. That’s not just drug laws either, but all sorts of intrusive issues relating to domestic issues and family law. Since their suggestion is not to have police at all available, that shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Second, let’s be sure we direct demands for police reform where they belong — at the state and local level. Police operate on authority from their cities and counties, almost all of which have been run by one party for decades — and it ain’t the GOP. If “systemic racism” exists in those systems, then the celebs should take it up with their political allies, George Korda writes in the Knoxville News:
Below are pertinent questions, given the way the Democratic Party defines itself as being the party of tolerance and inclusion, and many Democrats’ characterizations of Republicans or conservatives as racists or racially insensitive.
“Minneapolis, Minn. has been under Democratic control since 1978. Chicago has been under Democratic control for 89 years; its present mayor is a black woman. Philadelphia has had Democratic mayors for 68 years; three of its last five mayors have been black men. Six of the last seven Atlanta, Ga., mayoral administrations were led by black Democratic mayors, and the present mayor is a black woman.
“A city runs its police department and other services; therefore, if there is so much ‘systemic racism’ in these organizations, why hasn’t it been corrected over so many years under Democratic leaders?
“Why aren’t these cities garden spots of racial tolerance, understanding, and virtue?”
There have been no answers. …
When people talk about the need to deal with systemic racism, if they’re not willing to talk about the systems run – often for generations by the political party or politicians they support – they aren’t interested in an open and honest conversation; instead, they want only to use the issue as a club against people who aren’t them.
Anyone who doesn’t direct the efforts for reform and calls for political change at the local level where they belong simply are unserious about the matter. That applies in truckfuls to the limousine liberals calling for “defunding the police” rather than dealing with the real issues and hard work of reform.