We have a police incompetence problem

On July 5th, two Baton Rouge police officers shot and killed Alton Sterling who was selling dvds in front of a convenience store. Cellphone video captured the incident. Mr. Sterling was black. The two officers who killed him seem to be white.

It’s pretty clear from watching the videos that the two cops aren’t good police officers. They looked incompetent while trying to subdue Alton Sterling, especially considering that he didn’t seem to be resisting. When one of the officers discovered that Mr. Sterling had a gun in his pocket, he sounded panicked.

The following day, a police officer in Minnesota shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop over a broken tail light. Mr. Castile was black while the cop who killed him appears to be white.

The horrific incident’s aftermath was recorded on video by Mr. Castile’s fiancé and posted live on Facebook. It’s clear from watching the video that Mr. Castile did nothing to call for getting shot. The officer asked for Mr. Castile’s license and registration. As he was reaching for his wallet, he told the officer he had a gun, but had a license to carry. Upon hearing this the officer ordered him to put his hands up. As Mr. Castile tried to comply follow this order, the cop shot him three times.

Much like the Alton Sterling shooting the previous day, this looked to be an example of gross police incompetence.

When the cop thought Mr. Castile might be a threat because of the fact he told the officer he had a gun, instead of ordering him out of the car with his hands up, he pumped three rounds into him as he sat behind the wheel. Next to Mr. Castile was his fiancé and in the backseat was his fiancé’s four-year old daughter.

Immediately after the shootings, activists began proclaiming that these two killings happened because of racism on the part of the cops. Marches and protests were held demanding justice, even though there was no evidence justice would not be served. Immediately after both shootings, it was announced the U.S. Justice Department would conduct the investigations, not the local police departments.

Thursday evening at a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, Micah X. Johnson shot 14 people including 12 police officers, killing five.

Racist terrorist Micah X Johnson.
Racist terrorist Micah X Johnson.

Before killing Mr. Johnson with a robot, the police say he told them he was upset about Black Lives Matter and wanted to kill white people, especially white cops.

Mr. Johnson’s Facebook page showed that not only was he a supporter of Black Lives Matter, but also the New Black Panther Party.

Although it’s impossible to know at this point if the cops who killed Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile are racists, it’s obvious Micah X. Johnson was. With that said, the Black Lives Matter group is still organizing marches and protests demanding justice, as though justice is like a microwave pizza, something quick and cheap.

Police brutality isn’t a black problem, it’s a people problem. Contrary to the statements made by a guy who pretends to be a doctor on Grey’s Anatomy, more white people are killed every year by police than black people.

The real problem isn’t race, it’s police incompetence. We have the largest police force in the world. Our police are becoming more and more militarized. Too many people are becoming cops who shouldn’t be mall security guards, let alone police officers sworn to serve and to protect. Each individual police force has its own training program not based on national guidance or procedures. Whether officers are even remembering any of their training, let alone employing it properly in the field, is really a mystery.

The cops who killed Alton Sterling and Philando Castile sure didn’t look like they were following any type of proper police procedure. They looked like idiots who have no business being cops.

Neil Gaiman’s $45,000 public library speech fee did not include travel expenses

In the ongoing fracas between Republican members of the Minnesota House and author Neil Gaiman, an interesting piece of information has come to light concerning Gaiman’s 2010 appearance in Stillwater paid for by taxpayers. Gaiman was not only paid $45,000 of the four-hour event, he was also paid an additional $2,719.18 in “travel expenses.”

From the Star Tribune:

Library officials said the nearly $2,800 in expenses included flying Gaiman to Stillwater from Chicago, where he was at the time of the April 2010 appearance. Gaiman said the expenses also included lodging. “They picked up a hotel room for me, which I used to change and have a nap,” he said. “Twenty-seven hundred dollars seems unlikely.”

Unlikely? This whole story seems unlikely. The only thing more absurd than charging a public library $45,000 for a four-hour appearance is to also charge that same public library $2,800 for your travel from another appearance and a hotel room so you can take a nap.

This wasn’t just tax money that was wasted, it was money collected from the state sales tax. Of all the types of taxes, sales taxes are the most regressive kind of taxes there are. Sales taxes inherently impose a bigger burden on the poor than they do on the rich.

I’m not one of those people who thinks taxes are bad. Far from it. I think there are many just and valid reasons for a government to impose taxes on its citizens, both the rich and the poor.

Paying for a hotel room so Neil Gaiman can take a nap isn’t one of those reasons.

If you paid someone $45,000 to spend an afternoon with 500 of their fans, you might think they could pay their own travel expenses. What a shame Gaiman couldn’t just do that.

Neil Gaiman charges a public library $45,000 for a 4 hour appearance

Writer Neil Gaiman recently charged a public library in Minnesota $45,000 for a four-hour appearance where 500 people attended. That works out to be $90 per person in attendance.

With record unemployment, some might think paying someone $45,000 to appear at a public library for four hours is a lot of money, especially considering that the money used to pay Gaiman was derived from a regressive sales taxes. When taxes are collected via a sales tax, low-income people end up paying a much larger percentage of their overall income than those making a high-income. How many of the people who were forced to pay this tax make $45,000 a year?

My guess is not very many.