Anti-Tax and Law and Order Do Not Mix
There’s a contingent in this country that is very much into law and order. The problem is that they also happen to be anti-tax. The bigger problem is that you can’t have it both ways.
Law enforcement costs money. You need to pay the cops, and provide their families benefits. You need to give them a pension or disability after they have had their bodies and minds used up on the job. And then you need to provide for the family when the cop pays the ultimate price to protect their community. Proper training and resources aren’t free. The tools and infrastructure aren’t cheap either. Not only do you have to pay to purchase, you also have to pay to maintain and replace. And there’s all the support staff that you have to pay as well, not to mention third party vendors. Add it all up, and law enforcement is a costly endeavor. The kicker is that if you’re doing it right and on the up and up, nobody is really getting rich from it.
So there’s basically 2 ways to pay for law enforcement: taxes or revenue generated by law enforcement. If money for law enforcement doesn’t come from taxes, then it has to be generated by law enforcement through fines, seizures, fund raisers, etc. And, that’s a real problem. It’s a big problem because it provides motivation for corruption, tyrannical laws, and infringement on human rights. The police will act in ways to meet budgetary needs instead of the needs of the community. Laws will be passed to meet the budgetary needs of the city instead of the needs of the community. Over time, it will build resentment between the community and the police when the cops become tax collectors for the government. Who isn’t going to be mad because they had to pay a ticket for having their barbecue grill too close to the house? There’s many stupid and unnecessary laws out there, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them are for income generation. Cops may go ‘fishing’ to meet quotas, and could get involved in unnecessary negative interactions and consequences for either the cop or the suspect. There’s laws in some localities that allow the police to seize cash and other property without any proof of guilt, and often force people to waive rights to it. That’s just plain wrong.
Law enforcement should be a non-profit endeavor, otherwise corruption and tyranny will inevitably follow. Law enforcement must be budgeted by taxes, and taxes alone. If the police are doing their job in deterring crime, and the community is law abiding, the police should not go broke because they didn’t have enough tickets to write. And if there is revenue from law enforcement, it should be used to assess future tax needs with the savings passed onto the taxpayer. Another reason why law enforcement budgets must come from taxes alone is so that citizens can be involved in the legislative process behind the taxes and budget. When budgets for departments come from fines and seizures, the citizens do not take an active part in the police budget. If the police force of a town of 1000 wants a SWAT team and an Apache helicopter, let them duke it out in town hall. There, it will get shut down because nobody will pay the tax for it.
The long and short is, if you want real law and order, you have to be willing to pay for it.