A National Strike?

I’ve always known that The Guardian is a left-leaning publication but now I think that it’s really going too far.

Francine Prose wrote this article in The Guardian published on January 30th, 2017. And yes, that is the proper way to write the day you goddamn euros. So let’s just go through it bit by bit and see what’s going on and why it’s absolutely absurd.

“On the morning after Donald Trump’s so-called Muslim ban went into effect”

Yeah, so-called is a pretty good way to describe it, since it wasn’t really a muslim ban as much as it was an immigration ban. Syria is 10% Christian but those Christians are barred entry as well. And I’ll stop a moment here to say that I disagree with the ban, as green card holders were barred entry as well. Just so people don’t start frothing at the mouth calling me an islamophobe or anything.

But why was muslim ban in the title of the article? As Francine points out:

“halting refugee admissions for 120 days”

Quite simply, a refugee can feasibly come from any country. If war were to break out in South Korea tomorrow and people began applying for entry as refugees, they too would be prevented from entry despite South Korea being a mostly Buddhist country with a Christian minority. Is this ban now a Buddhist ban? Well, yes, but not by design. It’s an indiscriminate ban, so stop calling it a muslim ban unless you also want to call it a Christian ban. Whatever. Moving on.

Since Trump’s election, we’ve seen dozens of demonstrations – most notably, the Women’s March on Washington – that have reinforced our sense of solidarity and provided encouraging evidence of how many Americans oppose our government’s fundamentally anti-American agenda.

The Women’s March (as I’ve noted in another post) is inherently contradictory. But yeah, it was a pretty big march. I think it had 300k members in the US which is about 0.1% of our population. Not bad. But I think it’s a far cry from a show of solidarity. Might be a show of solidarity with people across the world, 3 million protestors… but then again, that’s 0.04% of the population… so we may need to find another metric by which to judge the “strength” of these protests.

I’m going to sidestep the issues with implementation here because I do believe that it isn’t necessarily a bad idea and focus on the intent. The intent of the immigration ban (again, not a muslim ban) was to prevent people from countries in which the Obama administration marked as dangerous from traveling to the United States. Never mind that in European countries such as Sweden that have accepted the refugees are now telling their women to not go out alone at night. Officially advising women like that. That’s a hair’s breadth away from victim blaming. This is a map of every confirmed migrant crime that has been coded based on the type of crime. Doesn’t look that bad, does it? That’s just 2017. This is the map for 2016. You can’t even see Germany’s borders anymore. And these are crimes exclusively committed by migrants. Zoom in, it’s probably worse than you think it is. The crime rates themselves are a debated topic right now so I won’t draw any conclusions on those just yet. Those crimes are mostly difference of culture crimes. Add that to the two trucks of peace we saw this year and maybe you get a picture of how vulnerable the United States could be. Again, do I agree with the ban? No. But do I recognize that it has legitimate cause? Yes.

People are criticizing it as human rights violation but that’s absurd. Nations have borders. To say that denying you entry to a specific country is a human rights violation is to say that you have the right to travel to this specific country just because you are human. Why does that country even have a border at that point. Why does the United States even check passports when you enter it if you have the right to enter the United States just for being human. Why is there an immigration process? Rah.

“Taxi drivers went on strike in solidarity with the detainees, and arriving passengers were forced to find alternate ways on getting home. Many used Uber, a company whose CEO, Travis Kalanick, serves on Trump’s economic advisory board, and which thoughtfully suspended “surge pricing” to make it easier and cheaper to subvert the taxi strike.”

Free market at work ladies. Look, if you’re going to go on strike and you provide a service that is easily replaced, be prepared to be replaced. If manufacturers went on strike it would be far more effective because it’s not like I can make toilet seats in my house or something. But taxis? I replace you with public transportation or a phone call to a friend. Symbolic gesture that serves only to put money in the pockets of other people.

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Francine recognizes this, so she says we have to go bigger. We need to work as a nation. We need…

“I believe that what we need is a nonviolent national general strike of the kind that has been more common in Europe than here. Let’s designate a day on which no one (that is, anyone who can do so without being fired) goes to work, a day when no one shops or spends money, a day on which we truly make our economic and political power felt, a day when we make it clear: how many of us there are, how strong and committed we are, how much we can accomplish.”

We need a national strike. We need to not spend money or produce money for a day? That’s your solution? I like to think of myself as a typical American, so let me explain to you the train of thought that’s going through my head when I think of ‘strike for a day’.

I make $13 an hour, if I strike for a day then I’m losing $100 from my paycheck at the end of the month. Sure I could go a day without purchasing something, but what’s the point? If I was planning on going to the store that day, I’m just going to go on the next day and the store would still get my money at the end of the day. On top of that, I make things inconvenient for myself as now the stores will be more crowded because everyone is buying what they would have bought yesterday. 

When she adds the caveat, “anyone who can do so without being fired” it just falls apart. Why should my employer tolerate my political activism? My employer pays me to do a job. I should do my job per my contract which both my employer and I agreed to. One is tempted to argue “With this national strike we could make great change”. Let’s suppose that is true. You then run into the prisoner’s dilemma which you and I both know results in at least one snitch. I need to be assured of the participation of enough people (whatever that number may be) to convince myself to participate. But I imagine that sort of trust is hard to come by, so I’ll always have some niggling doubt, leading to my defection.

On top of that, what does a one day strike accomplish? It sends a message, okay, but sooner or later you’re going to have to work. You’re going to have to buy food. Shoot, you’re going to have to pay rent, which you might find difficult if you’re not going to work. And I realize this may sound pessimistic, in which you are owned by the world around you, but you can’t escape the reality that the world runs on money. Your life is dictated by money. And if you give up money because you disagree with a president, be prepared to lose future endeavors because without money you have no power.

And it’s incredibly ironic that this is coming from the left because the social programs that they champion come out of taxes. And if no one is spending money or making money, where do the dollars for these programs come from? It only gets worse. Imagine we did organize a national strike. What’s going to happen to the sick people? Cancer doesn’t take a day off (or more) just because you do. Someone breaks into your house or burns down a building, what happens next? Well if the police and fire department are really devoted to their protest, it’ll really suck for the victims.

If you want to send a message, that’s fine. Send messages. Send all of the emails, boycott all of the products, make all of the phone calls that you want. But when you try to drag the entire country down because you disagree with a particular president, expect to meet particular resistance.

And maybe a little bit of ridicule.

Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

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A National Strike?

Police Brutality – The Myth

Update: Youtuber Sargon Of Akkad does a much better analysis of the statistics than I in this Youtube video. Please check that out if my attempt to explain the lack of bias is unclear.

Let me make clear that I do not in any way condone violent acts by officers in situations that do not call for it. I saw the Alton Sterling videos. I saw a man that appeared to be subdued get shot. In that same vein, I’m still going to exercise healthy skepticism until all of the details are in. That said, this event has brought all of the BLM wannabes out of the woodwork, so we’re going to set the record straight.

First, I’d like to direct your attention to two websites.

killedbypolice.net and The Guardian’s Police Fatality Counter

Isn’t The Guardian a British publication? Why are they involving themselves with the United States’ domestic issues? I guess the world loves to laugh at us gun nuts.

The numbers differ between the two, so we’ll use The Guardian’s numbers since they have a breakdown by race. 566 people have been killed by the cops in the United States. I wish that number were lower, but I don’t know the situations that led to every shooting. I don’t know if I would agree that each shooting was justified. So I won’t comment on it. The Guardian has the tab set to “Per Million (capita)” so it looks like Native Americans get the raw end of the deal followed quickly by blacks. I don’t like this type of comparison. Consider the following situation.

The population of Goldville is 100 people. 30 are Red, 70 are Blue. Crimes are committed entirely by Red people. Whatever the living situations of these Red people are, it just drives them to commit crime. Now Goldville has some cops, some Red, some Blue. Sometimes when they go out to stop the Reds from committing crimes, they shoot them. Sometimes the Red people shot by the Goldville police die. But since only Red people are committing the crimes prompting a police response, only Red people are killed by police. So 100% of police kills are Red people, but Red people account for only 30% of the population. So the natural conclusion is that the cops are racist for only shooting Red people, right? It would be, if you’re a Red Lives Matter activist. But it seems a bit of a poor comparison. Why would you ever expect a Blue person to get shot by the cops when the Blue people aren’t committing crimes that would prompt a police response? Seems batty to me.

So instead, we will do the following comparison. We will compare the percentage of people shot by race to the percentage of people committing crimes. This is a far more appropriate comparison. If we go back to my prior example, if 100% of crimes are committed by a race, and 100% of police fatalities are attributed to that very same race, it makes sense. So I found a table of crime statistics by race for 2013. This comes straight from the FBI so I would be inclined to trust that source. We see from the table that the arrests rates are as follows:

White: 69.8%
Black: 28.3%
Native American: 1.6%
Asian: 1.2%
Pacific Islander: 0.1%

(There’s also another column labeled Hispanic vs Not Hispanic. In which, Hispanic folk are 16.6% of arrests.)

You may have noticed that this adds up to 101% This is likely due to rounding errors in everything being given by the tenths place. Bear in mind that this seems to just be arrests. What we are doing with the following comparisons is assuming that no criminal gets away from the police. Realistically, this is false. Several people kill in a year but do not get arrested until several years later. However, for the purpose of demonstration, this will perhaps suffice.

Let’s compare the percentages of police kills by race.

White: 49.3%
Black: 24.0%
Hispanic: 15.5%
Other/Unknown: 7.1%
Native American: 2.3%
Pacific Islander: 1.8%

Now we run into the issue of ‘hispanic vs. not hispanic’. But let’s see if we can work around it. About 4.8 million arrests are in the hispanic set of columns. The question is whether or not that total (which we’ll call Total2) is a subset of Total1 (the number of arrest reported at the far left) or its own set of arrest, leading to a total of 14 million arrests in 2013. A Google search has led me to believe that they’re to be two separate totals with some kind of intersection of 2 million arrests. Which coincidentally enough is close to the number of arrests for drugs according to the DrugWarFacts.org link I used. But they also cite a different number of arrests compared to the FBI chart. But drug related arrests are accounted for in the FBI table. How inconvenient.

So long story short, my charts are far too different and I have 2 million arrests unavailable for comparison. Since hispanic isn’t included in the FBI table in the full range of races, I assume that ‘hispanic’ is split among what is listed in some way (after all, 2 million arrests are unaccounted for). My guess? The hispanic people are factored primarily into the white column. Why? Because The country is primarily white, so if there are mixed children, the probability of them having a white parent is much higher. Second (and this is anecdotal), latino folk can often pass as ‘white’ to a first glance. But they can also count as black-white mixed as well. In the case of mixed-race, I suspect the attribution to go to black. This is because there’s a culture associated with being black that’s often described as inspiring. Whereas the culture associated with being white is conquering countries and owning slaves.

For the purpose of demonstration, I will focus on black vs white in the following example. In our police kills by race percentage list, we have 22.6% of police killings locked up by hispanic and other.The country is 63.7% white, and 12.2% black (2010 census). If we split 75.9% of that 22.6% between the blacks and the whites, what do we get? Well first is that the black kill percentage goes up to about 25% which matches quite the 28% of crime committed statistic better. And the white kill percentage goes up to about 65% which is also comparable to the 70% of crimes being committed by white people statistic. Which turns out nicely, but again, this is all off of a guess of the ‘hispanic’ and ‘other’ distribution between whites and blacks.

So at the end of the day, I don’t see that much in the way of racism. If anything, Pacific Islanders get the raw end of the deal. Of course when we look at the actions cops take, there’s a ton of racism. Cops take 0.23 seconds longer to shoot black people. Cops are three times less likely to shoot unarmed black people. But that’s all based off of one study, so I don’t want to read into it too much.

Is there racism in the police force? Definitely. Is that a problem? I would not say so. I don’t have any problem with people holding racist ideals (or any ideals for that matter) if they don’t use those ideals to harm other people. I will trust a racist surgeon to operate on me just as much as I would trust a non-racist surgeon to operate on me. Because the racism shouldn’t be relevant to how well you can do your job. Even though the cops may hold racist views, it’s clearly not making them shoot more black people. Don’t hurt our cops. Thanks for reading.

Artemis Hunt

Police Brutality – The Myth