I was ready to get all over New York cops for making 6X as many stop-and-frisks after crime went down (something like) 4X = 24X as many stop-and-frisks per reported crime.
Then I read this New York Magazine article about how today's beleaguered New York cops are in turn harassed by their own administration -- the kind of pressure to produce results that might be expected by high police administrators transmitted all the way down to the guy on the beat. "I love being a cop; I just hate being a New York cop" is a typical quote. *
Then I had my epiphany. Every American is in exactly the same pickle versus every bureaucracy – they never find the ability to resist anything from above.
When you are in Europe do you miss the TSA? Are you really afraid? Terrorists will only hit somewhere else. And we kill more people by making them drive.
In Chicago, the mayor, former (Democratic) presidential chief of staff, is instituting a 7 1/2 hour school day! The kids will go crazy – they will never see the sunlight. In Los Angeles both city and school police arrested 49,000 children over five years – for being late for school – technically for violating school hours curfew. $500 level fines, parents spend the day in court, handcuffed, first and taken away (not sure what portion the latter).
At the bottom of all this I see the deunionization of America – meaning the complete disappearance of any middle class footprint. Nobody has any sense of the average guy having any pull – nor any embarrassment about pushing him around anymore. In unconscious emotional terms we have been transformed into what bad cops used think of minorities. A big economic thing – translates into an invisible emotional thing – translates into a big political thing.
Not that we ever had unions here – not like they do in Europe. In Europe they set minimum wages by both inflation and average income gains. New York city cops and firefighters did not have a raise in real terms from 1974 until recently even while average income climbed two-thirds. Their so-called union didn't even know.
The craziest example of "taking anything” might be right back in my old Bronx neighborhood. As crime mushroomed we built a brand new courthouse in the 70s to house the overflow – taking the family court, misdemeanor trials and hearings. The old courthouse that no one can tear down (we'll get to that) handled felony trials and civil cases.
Crime got cut by multiples and Mad King Bloomberg decided it was a good time to build a $500 million courthouse right next to the two old ones. ??? Nobody raised a peep.
My answer for everything from cops treating neighborhoods like sentenced prison populations to mad mayors is of course my same old, same old answer for every problem – from gangs (the Crips and the Bloods could not whip a decent paying Ronald McDonald, $15/hr minimum wage would add all of 3 1/2% direct inflation*) to nonfunctioning ghetto schools (the author of “Cracks in the Pavement” who spent nine years on the ground in five New York and Los Angeles poor neighborhoods says the schools there do not work only because the students expect nothing good waiting for them in the labor market so why try hard*) – sector wide labor agreements.
Will someone out there, somewhere in the progressive economic community please say the words "sector wide labor agreements" out loud?
* [added late; more of the same] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/07/nyregion/undercover-officers-under-strain-with-no-clear-way-off-the-beat.html?_r=1&hp&pagewanted=all