Cops as revenuers

Expect more stories such as this one in the Sacramento Bee today, in which an 18 year old man was fined $500 for riding a bicycle without a seat (it was stolen) and without brakes. Other news reports suggest that fines are going up all over the place. Police increasingly are becoming by-the-book revenuers who aren’t so much concerned about public safety, but about increasing revenues for cash-strapped agencies and governments. We’re also becoming — actually, we’ve become — a nation that is rulebound and unforgiving. In a normal society, a cop wouldn’t even write a fix-it ticket — he would say, “Sorry the bike seat was stolen, but you better fix those brakes! Don’t let me see your riding it that way again.”  Even better, no self-respecting cop would even harass someone for riding a bike without a seat. It’s probably a sign that there’s not enough to do. These days, there’s no room for flexibility or common sense. We’re the zero-tolerance society, which perhaps explains why our society is becoming at times a bit intolerable.

–Steven Greenhut

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