Tag: public policy

On stimulus means testing

Means testing is just as bad as offering a payroll tax cut. “Hi, family that made 100k in 2019, made 95k in 2020, but hasn’t had anyone employed since mid-December … you’re rich, so suck it!” sounds better than “Hi, family who made 100k in 2019, made 95k in 2020, but hasn’t had anyone employed since mid-December… you’re out of work, so suck it!”. But they’re both essentially the same statement.
 
I’d thought about including some sort of opt-out process. But if you don’t *need* the money, nothing’s stopping you from donating it to the local food bank / homeless shelter / etc either. Or saving it in case you get laid off three months from now (yes, I know “saving the stimulus money” … but what’s bad on a macro level isn’t always bad for the individual). So an opt-out infrastructure is a bit of theater that adds expense and delay (i.e. a Bad Idea).

Re-imagine the Police

The defund movement suffers from a branding problem. There are a lot of people for whom ‘defund the police’ seems to mean ‘decent into anarchy’. Few are looking to cede all property rights, eliminate personal property, eliminate speed limits. To me, defunding the police means funding a new government organization staffed with social workers, psychologists, and mediators to handle the massive number of calls that don’t involve arrest. Possibly moving toward the UK idea of generally unarmed officials with a small group of armed police to respond to situations where armed police are actually needed. Personally, I’d have three groups — social-workers for mental heath issues / inter-personal relationship problems, non-armed responders (the trespassing call we put in a few weeks ago certainly didn’t need an armed guy responding — just someone with legal authority to remove the trespasser), and armed responders for dangerous situations. But that idea is hardly encompassed in the word “defund”.

I’ve been thinking reorganize might be a better phrase — reorganize the police. There’s a shared responsibility for public safety, and it would be beneficial that the two groups not be working at odds. I see St Petersburg “reimagining” the police to include a group of more social-work oriented police. I like that turn of phrase. It doesn’t address the awful historic roots of policing … but there are a lot of institutions in this country (government and business) with horrible pasts. I think an organization’s roots are far more acceptable if the current entity wasn’t exploitative, abusive, or colonialistic. United Fruit became Chiquita — their exploitations today are the problem! “Re-imagine” suggests there was something wrong with the original conceptualization that needs to be changed. By keeping the non-police responders under the same organization, the budget it retained (maybe even grown — move a lot of current funding over to social services, add a little more). And there’s no “but the anarchy” strawman.