Shaun King’s 25-part series on stopping police brutality gathered in one spot

I’ve been working through this Syllabus for White People to Educate Themselves, and to make the Shaun King material easier to read in order on my iPad, I decided to make a Table of Contents to all the links, and it makes sense to share.

Introducing a 25-part series on how to reduce police brutality following the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

  1. Solutions for police brutality can begin with our overwhelmingly white male justice system
  2. To help fix police brutality, cops can no longer have less training than the average cosmetologist

  3. Police officers should be routinely tested for drugs and steroids like American athletes

  4. If you want to be a violent racist and never lose your job, become a police officer
  5. Police officers should be required to have a college degree
  6. Every city and state in America must ban racial profiling
  7. 911 operators must ask about mental health issues, a small change that could save lives
  8. To combat police brutality, hire more female cops — studies show they’re better at keeping their cool
  9. Why we must require cops to live in or near the area they police
  10. Communities of color are massively over-policed — effectively criminalizing color itself
  11. American police must be regularly tested for racial bias
  12. American police, who see humanity at its worst, must be regularly tested and treated for PTSD
  13. Why we must take police brutality cases all the way to the Supreme Court
  14. Good police must speak out against bad officers
  15. If nurses and doctors can treat the mentally ill without shooting them to death, so can American police
  16. Why police body cameras are failing, and the exact policies we must enact to unleash their power

  17. If a police officer must use force against a suspect, it should match the ‘crime’

  18. Every American police officer must have three weapons other than guns on them at all times
  19. It must become illegal for police to act violently using only their inaccurate imaginations
  20. American police departments are revenue generating monsters, policing for profit must be banned
  21. Police must record statements explaining their use of force immediately after each incident
  22. All use of force investigations must be turned over to an independent agency with binding instructions
  23. Police departments that fail to report killer cops don’t deserve federal funding
  24. Changing the culture of police brutality needs to happen on the state and local level
  25. Police officers, local prosecutors are two of a kind

Look, people, “welfare state” and “having a few beers with your buds down at the local” are not perjorative terms

My Twitter feed exploded yesterday because I got some retweets and some people who wanted to argue the following points.

1) Rural people are rugged individualists! They don’t want your stinkin’ welfare!

2) It’s not about economics! It’s about how awesome the rural lifestyle is and how you city people don’t respect it!

3) Rethink those last two paragraphs, Missy! How dare you patronize the hypothetical logger and protray this marvelous, wonderful, magnificent, noble man of toil as a drunk?

Ok, let’s handle these in order.

1) I said welfare state. I did mention straight up welfare payments, as those are an option in the welfare state, but welfare state policies include a whole host of market interventions, from Coasean transfer payments to make-work infrastructure programs to social insurance programs, like unemployment insurance.

The welfare state reflects the notion that the state exists, in part, to have a managing role in distributing the spoils of economic growth right along with fostering economic growth. The welfare state is at times denigrated as the “nanny” state, but I’m old-fashioned: I don’t think there is any real point to government unless it is there to help foster the well-being of its citizens.

The neoliberal conception of state, which dominates and has since Reagen-Thatcher, views the state as an entity that exists solely for enabling markets and economic growth, but remains agnostic about who gets the spoils, because, according to Chicago school neoclassicists, any intervention that redistributes downward will slow down aggregate growth, and it’s better to have a bigger pie overall than a smaller pie, as smaller share in a bigger pie is better than a bigger share of a smaller pie. And LIBERTY! Whoo hoo!

Those of you who are good at math know that that last statement is not, necessarily, true; it depends on the percentages and the relative size of the pies. And my first argument yesterday had to do with just this problem: free markets and austerity could well mean a dwindling share of a bigger pie, which means relatively labor in all parts of the world, skilled and unskilled alike, watch while a tiny percentage of people get vasty rich. It’s hard to be free when you are so poor you have to eat whatever crap capitalists make you eat. But hey. LIBERTY.

What does this have to do with rural areas? Trump talked trade protectionism, which is a welfare state approach. Nonetheless, structurally, rural areas are still at a locational disadvantage. If we want money to flow in that direction, it takes a recalibrating of the policy mindset away from neoliberalism and towards a welfare state mindset. I don’t have a problem with that.

But it will also take a specific policy decision to vitiate the locational disadvantage of rural areas relative to major metros even within the United States. I don’t think it will be sufficient to keep jobs from going to Mexico or China or India or Laos. Rural labor and small town labor may be less expensive than central city labor, but it’s not that much less expensive, and I don’t see a locational advantage in Ohio over any footloose industry. We can try to protect steelworkers, specifically, and that will help out Ohio and Pennsylvania. But higher wages there are going to mean higher prices in construction, and that has consequences for labor elsewhere in the US. With trade protectionism, you don’t generally get high wages and low prices: it’s possible under very specific circumstances, but it’s also possible that, like minimum wage laws, better compensated labor (US labor) raises prices.

(Don’t shoot the messenger. If we want places to prosper, we have to make a normative decision to do that. I’m in.)

I had some arguments that land is cheap and rural areas are closer to natural resources, so rural places have advantages in those dimensions. And that’s true. But if cheap land and resource proximity where all that and a bag of chips, rural areas wouldn’t be troubled economically. Cheap land is a sign of something, and it’s not locational advantage. Cheap rural land is not scarce.

2) It’s about the magnificence of the rural lifestyle and how you city people don’t respect us! I am actually not willing to engage much with this argument because I think it’s hogwash. I’m from a rural area, and in general, people there are not this childish.

Like anything else, whiteness and small-town-ness can be a construct of identity politics, I suppose. But honestly, folks, nobody is thinking about *anybody else* on a day-to-day basis, and that stands for me as well as you. I think “flyover country” is rude and never say it, but can I tell you the number of times I’ve had to sit through people from various small towns in Iowa lecture me about how they flew through LAX once and thus they “hate Los Angeles” with all the violence and the traffic and the Mexicans (this is said out loud), etc etc. Nobody ever really understands anybody else’s places or love or hate for those places.

I grew up in a small town. I didn’t like it. I like where I live now. Just like I don’t like Cherry Garcia ice cream (I know, right?), I prefer one thing to another thing, but I’m pretty sure that people who like Cherry Garcia know what they are about, and our difference in preferred mode of living is just that, a preference, not some grand indicator of taste.

As to the magnificence of the rural lifestyle, sure. If you like it, great. Good on ya.

The other reasons this whole “rural pride” argument strikes me as off the wall is that goes where everybody says it shouldn’t: straight to white supremacy. If rural pride is really… “We are the REAL AMERICA”…uh-huh. No, America is a pluralistic place, and has been for a long time now. The fact that anybody thinks they need to be on top of the heap in such a construction is a problem, both socially and politically, and when -=6combined with Donald Trump’s grossest associations and comments, it’s a fast road from “I voted for Donald Trump because he understands I’m the REAL AMERICA in small-town USA” to “raciss small town voter.”

I’m sure that’s true in some instances. What I don’t buy is that reflects a majority of small-town and rural voters, nor do I believe that this sentiment about THE REAL AMERICA is something isolated to small towns. In other words, I suspect that there are raciss voters in metro areas, too. We wouldn’t have gated, lily white suburbs as big as they are if we didn’t.

3. You’re mean and patronizing to Cramer’s hypothetical logger because you assumed he or she is a trifling drunk.

Let’s look at exactly what I said:

Ok, that’s legit. Hard physical work is hard work. I respect that. But um, where were you, hard-working logger, when I was home Saturday nights studying until my eyeballs bled so that I could pass vector calculus and Jay Sa’Adu’s nonlinear optimization class? Having a few beers with your buddies at the local? Sounds easy to me.

How does anybody get “trifling drunk” out of that? People can go to a bar and have a few drinks without getting falling down drunk. It’s a thing that people do for fun in places where it’s possible and they have/make the time to do it. I’m thinking that there is cultural baggage wrapped up the idea of going to a local bar, but I sure didn’t bring that baggage to the discussion.

First of all, the fact that I said anything, anything at all, as a woman with PhD put a target on my back. How dare I speak? Let alone speak up for myself, let alone start from the assumption that I succeeded at something? Those are *ALL* supposed to be determinations made outside of myself, where I, the unworthy female supplicant, make sure everybody knows that they are just as smart, just as accomplished, etc etc lest they feel their status threatened by me in any way, shape or form. Mustn’t be uppity or anything.

Well, screw that. I’m done apologizing and pretending I’m just l’il ole me, who benefited from affirmative action and tons of gummint help, etc etc. I moved 800 miles away my family; I left everything I knew. I did this because I took the terms of the neoliberal social mobility ladder: you either scramble and move, or you get left behind. I scrambled. I moved. I lived and fought out my career in comparative isolation. I had help and support along the way, but I worked my ass off. Andy and I sacrificed, again and again and again, so that I could build a career. I got lucky. An able-bodied logger got lucky in his/her own way, too, being born into the world with a body healthy enough to work at all. I’m grateful for all the luck and help. But those don’t mean I didn’t and don’t work.

If you think it’s easy to get where I’m from to where I’m at, you do it.

Mores to the point…having a few beers with your buddies on Saturday night at the local is not a sin. It’s convivial. It’s social. Sitting down and playing a game of euchre and having a beer or two is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Substance abuse is a different story, but it’s not like rural areas have a monopoly on that problem.

There are all sorts of ways that sitting down and having a beer with a friend at the local makes sense: it’s one of the things that sucks about LA that local bars are very rare. (Scale; no matter the neighborhood, it’s likely to have far too many people to be really intimate.) But the friends you have a beer with are also the friends who will help you harvest your corn if you get sick; their kids might babysit your kids; they will help set out sandbags when the flood comes.

In other words, having a few beers is part of the social life of a place, unless you are a Puritan, and I am not. Community matters, in its various forms and expressions. One of my favorite episodes of House was one where Foreman meets a bright young Traveler boy who loves to read and learn, but makes the decision that he will never leave his family to go to college. Getting an education wasn’t as important to him as staying with his people. At the end of the episode, Foreman watches the boy walk to the parking lot, surrounded by his big, boisterous, happy family…and then the last scene shows Foreman, in a beautiful apartment, eating his dinner all alone.

Those are choices, and the first choice is legitimate, too; so is Foreman’s choice (it was, basically, the choice I made, too). My point in making the contrast between having a few beers (a pleasant activity) versus me studying until my eyeballs bleed is that the two are different ways of being in the world with different consequences and different modalities of investing. I studied; some people hate to study. There are different rewards and sacrifices to those activities. I moved to a place where nobody really cares if I am homeless because of the economic opportunities the place offered; people who stay where they grew up stayed in a place where people are invested in them.

The point of the welfare state, by the way, should be that neither of those two choices should entail such crippling poverty that a ‘choice’ is no longer a viable one.

Martha Nussbaum’s beautiful description of Iris Marion Young as a mentor

Iris Marion Young left us far too young, after struggling with cancer. I’ve just been re-reading Responsibility for Justice, and I went to look at the intro written by Martha Nussbaum. Maybe I had read it before and simply forgotten about it, but this time out, it struck me. It’s a portrait of generous and supportive mentor in scholarship:

When I heard that Iris was coming to the University of Chicago, then, I already felt very happy for our graduate students, and it was indeed a happy era. Iris was in political science and I
in philosophy, but we worked with a lot of the same students,
and I came to know on a daily basis Iris’s wonderful capacity
for intellectual empathy. Many students wrote on topics Iris herself had written, but there were also many who cam to Iris just because she was Iris, whether or not they thought she knew
something about their topic. One woman was working on the
“capabilities approach” in the area of environmental policy-making. I went to the prospectus exam wondering whether Irish would really encourage such a project, which focused on a body of work in philosophy and economics that was rather distant from from Iris’s own work, though a major part of my own. I just didn’t know whether she would get inside it. I needn’t have asked the question. Iris was totally inside the nature of the project, had her usual rigorous objections and suggestions, but also her characteristic maternal warmth that let the student know she was going to be all right. Iris was a mother in the best sense, fostering development toward high ideals while conveying a sense of ultimate safety and support, something like unconditional love if that can exist in the relationship between professor and graduate student.

Nobody does anything for rural America because there isn’t much that can be done (Mankiw–Romer–Weil) outside of welfare state measures

There have been 100 gillion posts writing about Trump’s victory as a function of the “disaffected white rural voter” and lots of airing of their grievances. I’m not sure how much I buy that, but the material from Katherine Cramer’s very nice book, on angry Wisconsin voters, I’m sure holds true. It’s very good research. Here is a WashPo interview with Cramer as well, where she talks about both “rural identity” and “economic anxiety” as being combined to make people resentful.

But let’s get some straight talk out of the way first.

No doubt people vote for complicated reasons, and we’ve also heard from the foot-stamping “I voted for Trump and I’m not not not not a racist, sexist, Islamaphobe!” Yes, but you voted for one, and undoubtedly in the Trump coalition there are also old-fashioned, sheet-wearing racists. They are having parades. But sure, it’s likely that single-issue voters (security, abortion, anti-tax warriors, etc) joined in who don’t have sheets and hoods in their closets right along with those who prefer to watch television rather than burn crosses but don’t *really* mind that crosses get burned as long as they maintain their place in the racial hierarchy.

My feelings on “But what are we doing for the poor white rural people?” commentary that has started up after the electoral college once again asserted it odd geographic equity rather than actual parliamentarian function on US federal politics comes here from Kali Holloway: Stop Asking Me To Empathize with the White Working Class. Now, you can ask me to do anything you want me to do, including empathize, but I may or may not do what you ask, and it’s another thing entirely about whether my empathy translates into being able to do anything productive about another’s plight.

In particular, Holloway’s notes on how nobody seems to care about black or latino poverty are spot on, right along here:

Please miss me with all this nonsense. I’m not even going to get into how this is based on an easily refutable economic lie, especially since others have already spent precious time they’ll never get back breaking this down. But even if it was true—and I am well aware of what’s plaguing the white working class, from substance abuse to suicide to a loss of manufacturing jobs—I refuse to take part in the endless privileging of white pain above all others. (Martin Gilens, who has studied this stuff going way back, notes that when the media face of poverty is white, this country suddenly gets a lot more compassionate.) Latinos and African Americans remain worse off than the white working class—which is still the “largest demographic bloc in the workforce”—by pretty much every measurable outcome, from home ownership to life expectancy. Where are these appeals for us when we protest or riot against the systemic inequality we live with? Where are all the calls to recognize and understand our anger?

For hundreds of years, white people have controlled everything in this country: the executive office, Congress, the Supreme Court, the criminal justice system, Wall Street, the lending institutions, the history textbook industry, the false narrative that America cares about liberty and justice for all. But I need to understand white feelings of marginalization because a black man was in the White House for eight years? Because political correctness—a general plea for white people not to be as awful as they have been in the past— asked that white people put more effort into being decent than they felt up to? Because white folks didn’t like that feeling when politicians aren’t singularly focused on the hard times and struggles of their communities? Audre Lorde said (I wonder if that woman ever got sick of being right), “oppressors always expect the oppressed to extend to them the understanding so lacking in themselves.” For a people who have shamed black folks for supposedly always wanting a hand out, for being a problem of the entitlement state, I have never seen people who so firmly believe they are owed something.

Let me pass along some advice black folks have been given for a long time: stop being so angry and seeing yourself as a victim, and try pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. That’s really all I have for you right now, this re-gifting of wisdom.

This ties in nicely with the Cramer piece about rural “identity” and economic anxiety. One of the key points of the WashPo piece is here:

According to her research, white voters feel the American Dream is drifting out of reach for them, and they are angry because they believe minorities and immigrants have butted in line.

This is important, and it doesn’t get picked up anywhere in the rest of the post, as it strikes me a really, really important to navigating the politics of resentment.

First off, there’s a line? Where? We’ve been in Chicago-school, trickle down, rising-tides-lifts-all-boats mode of macro thinking for so long that there is a line for a trickle? Are we so brainwashed that we don’t even consider the possibility that trickle-down does not happen, at all, or very little? That Marx was right about something–that capitalism concentrates wealth rather than distributing it–and that if Marx was right rather than the Chicago school, wealth will concentrate both among individuals and, by necessity, in specific regions?

Rural voters, like everybody else, want opportunity, and when sold the “trickle-down” economics argument of capitalism, the idea that “it’s their turn” makes sense, and it makes sense when their turn never seems to come, they think that immigrants and women and Black people have budged in the line in front of them.

But nobody need get in line ahead of you if Marx is right about about how capitalism works and neoclassical folks are wrong. If Marx is right, people can just keep getting poorer together while other folks just keep getting richer together.

In bareknuckles capitalism, the welfare state is seen as something antithetical to markets rather than what prior generations of smarties, like Karl Polyani and Ralph Milliband said it was: a brokered deal between capital and labor so that the latter does not revolt. Milliband, in particular, noted the welfare state is the grease that spins the wheels of capitalism. By taking a little wealth off the top and redistributing it at the bottom, the welfare state enabled a system whereby people had enough to be invested in the stability of the system so that the democratic mob didn’t go after the economically privileged few, and by extension, that redistribution has spatial consequences.

If Marx was right and Polyani/Milliband were right, then there are three options for moving money into rural America, and they don’t come from bareknuckles capitalism. They come from the state and a willingness to either a) pay rural individuals to stay where they are through welfare payments or b) bribe industries to locate there or c) make it impossible for industries to go where they prefer.

I *think* the average “Trump is gonna get me a better life” thinking assumes (c) is possible. That assumes that nation-states structure global trade rather than the other way around, and I’m not sure I buy that. But hey, I’m willing to try it. It also means a slowdown in economic growth because some activities are just not going to pencil if you force them to stay in the US. I’m not worried about that, but it is worth noting. Every time a plant locates oversees there’s a sense that it could have, and perhaps should have, located here. But there is the possibility that it wouldn’t have lived at all had capital not had the bigger locational choice set.

Otherwise, (b) is a short-term strategy, and there’s little that rural areas can do about it. Think about the auto industry: has there been an industry more thoroughly bribed to stay put than that one? The result has been, like every other industry, increased capitalization vis-a-vis labor.

From what I can tell, “Rural Identity” means homogeneity (“Shared values”), isolation, and small scale. That’s another problem. Capitalism rewards innovation which does not necessarily emerge from homogeneity or isolation; if the work of regional economic geographers is to be believed, innovation is far more likely to occur where there is heterogeneity, scale, and connectivity. This is not an indictment of rural life. It’s a math problem that explains even if Trump Co is able to engage in trade protectionism, anything but resource extraction industries are likely to locate on the metropolitan fringe in the US rather than in small town America.

Mankiw-Romer-Weil is an extension of the Solow growth model. Their extension explains why capital doesn’t immediately relocate to the poorest nations out there. The extension hinges on the notion of human capital: that is, physical capital requires human capital (I hate the term, but it is what it is) to be productive, and it’s possible that while poor nations may have an abundance of cheap land, and productive land at that, they are also likely to have comparatively lower levels of human capital due to education, health, or other differences.

Makiw-Romer-Weil does not just apply to nation states, and it doesn’t do to put blinders on vis-a-vis the real locational disadvantages rural areas have in capitalism.

Rural workers are likely to be less productive than urban workers not because of anything related to the individual but to the context. Think about it this way: in a small, homogeneous location, an industry needs workers to do activity X. Now some people are good at Activity X; others are less good at X, and they are somewhat better at Activity Q. But a small community is only really likely to able to support one activity, and X gives them the nod. Then X is paired with a few folks good at X and others that are much better at Q, so that on average, worker productivity is somewhat lower than if the employer could get his or her labor needs met with all X all-stars (the way they might in a city where there are way more people from which to draw people with X abilities. Oh, and the Q people are better off, in terms of productivity, moving to join up with other Q people (which, in turn, helps the capital owners of Q). IOW, large human settlements enable specialization and scale that rewards labor productivity disproportionately.

Combine that with the market connectivity of major metros and you have a problem.

So rural identity hinges on isolation, small towns, and staying put in an economic system that rewards connectivity, scale, and mobility. I don’t know what you do about that unless you a) have local innovation in artisanal industries or b) return to some welfare state redistributing activities.

One last bit on the WashPo article, just to make myself feel better:

And a lot of racial stereotypes carry this notion of laziness, so when people are making these judgments about who’s working hard, oftentimes people of color don’t fare well in those judgments. But it’s not just people of color. People are like: Are you sitting behind a desk all day? Well that’s not hard work. Hard work is someone like me — I’m a logger, I get up at 4:30 and break my back. For my entire life that’s what I’m doing. I’m wearing my body out in the process of earning a living.

Ok, that’s legit. Hard physical work is hard work. I respect that. But um, where were you, hard-working logger, when I was home Saturday nights studying until my eyeballs bled so that I could pass vector calculus and Jay Sa’Adu’s nonlinear optimization class? Having a few beers with your buddies at the local? Sounds easy to me.

So I guess if this election really was about rural America flexing its political muscles, we’ll see. As I’ve noted before, rural America has disproportionate representation in every scale of US government, from Congress to the electoral college to state assemblies. Why they feel so disenfranchised is a bit beyond me, except for the fact that they are economically disconnected for all the reasons I just noted. I suppose it’s possible that Trump and Co will reinstate Spleenhamland…but not if everybody keeps buying the whole trickle-down idea.

My remarks @theACSP @FWIG_ACSP on protecting those with difference, fighting for what is decent

Hi everybody—I was planning to weasel out of saying anything because these speeches are always boring, but the other week, I was at a Denny’s in Santa Ana, CA—it’s in Orange County—and there were these guys sitting there, wearing tank tops with “Make America Great Again” on the front, and they had swastika tats on their arms. They were just sitting there, eating pancakes and drinking coffee, and nobody was reacting or really even noticing, like somehow, the swastika, one of the most reprehensible political symbols in history, right up there with confederate flag, is ok to have displayed out there among decent people.

Now, I don’t know if Donald Trump is a symptom or a cause; certainly, we have been in a backlash for some time now—the Planning Advisory Board attempts to erase all language about racial justice from our standards was just one instance of how the backlash came to planning long before Donald Trump became the curse of our electoral process and television sets.

I feel like I am watching white America have a giant temper tantrum, like a little kid throwing himself on the floor and bashing his fists around, all because he’s realized that he’s not as important as he thought he was.

That is a somewhat amusing image except that the rage of the powerful is so very dangerous to the vulnerable. This rage kills innocent people, and then blames the victim and exonerates itself again and again and again. Well, he was a thug; he was a big strong scary kid; she was mentally ill; he had a toy that looked like a gun; if the other kids pick on him, maybe he’ll stop being so effeminate and learn to be a man….and on and on, with one excuse after another for why innocent people suffer at the hands of power.

I was reading the other day that children born with noncomforming gender-sex alignment have the same suicide rate as children who have survived torture. If that statistic is true, it should chasten us…make it clear that we must do better in loving and nurturing difference.

And yet instead, we have the largest law enforcement organization endorsing the same presidential ticket as the Klu Klux Klan.

That is messed up, and we can’t let these people win. Not on election day, and not on any other day after that, either. Being a feminist in the 21st century means fighting for immigrants, fighting for Black Lives. fighting against US imperialism, fighting for transgendered people.

Now I am old—I know this because I am getting awards, and that’s some straight up indisputable evidence right there that you’re old. I’m not sure how much use to any fight I am to anybody any more, but I am still a feminist and to me that means fighting until we are all, every single one of us, safe and free.

It has been my honor to serve FWIG. I hope that I am a credit to all of you, particularly Sandi Rosenbloom, Cheryl Contant, Lisa Bates, Anna Hardman, and Gen Guiliano, who have helped me along the way become a better feminist. Thank you for your attention today.