Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Regulatory State: An Engine of Minority Repression

Swarms of armed police invaded nine barbershops in Orange County, Florida, with as many as 14 armed agents involved. The shops had one thing in common—they catered to black or Hispanic patrons. Of course, it could be a coincidence.

The police entered without warrants. This was allowed because they accompanied agents of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, who are allowed to enter any barbershop at will.

This is one example of how regulatory powers can be used to target minorities on behalf of the police, in ways that would not be legal otherwise. Thirty-seven people were arrested; the majority accused of “barbering without a license.”

Florida police claimed the raids were a general campaign singling out criminal “hot spots.” None of those arrested appear to be guilty of a real crime—one with a victim. Thirty-four of the 37 arrested were ONLY charged with the “crime” of barbering without state permission. The remaining three were charged with victimless crimes; such as owning a gun without permission, or possession of illegal substances—small amounts of marijuana in these cases.

Capt. Dave Ogden, who commands the area where these raids were conducted, justified arresting people for barbering because: “It was a misdemeanor crime being conducted in our presence. We decided to make arrests.”

Barbershops play a special role in the black community. Books have even been written about how they were seen ad community centers and places where individuals would gather to discuss the community and matters of politics. On black publication, writing about a similar raid, said police raids like this “attacked one of the Black communities most sacred institutions: the barbershop.”

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Walter Williams says he doesn't understand.... and then proves it.

Walter Williams shows his conservative side—being good on economics does not make one a libertarian—in statements he made about the gay community. Williams claims gay men should pay higher premiums for life insurance because "life expectancy at age 20 for homosexual and bisexual men is eight to 20 years less than for all men."

He claims the reason they don't is because gays have intimidated the insurance companies with accusations of discrimination, but Williams would be okay with anti-gay discrimination because "it is acceptable for insurance companies to discriminate against smokers and the obese but not homosexuals."

The only basis for Williams's accusation is an outdated study done with old data from the height of the AIDS crisis and limited data to one large Canadian city—hardly a representative sample. Even the authors of the study admit current evidence does not warrant such a. It should be noted that Williams entirely neglects to mention the AIDS issue in that study—surely he knows how dramatically wrong projections about AIDS turned out to be, so why leave out that important detail?