Wednesday, March 17, 2010

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Sewage and SWAT teams

Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath ransacks the newspapers for stories on issues affecting our freedom.

This week: Sewage and SWAT teams.

  1. Auckland: Our failing city – A rising population, overloaded infrastructure, bigger houses “putting pressure on city limits”, and increasing amounts of rubbish ending up at the landfills. Doom and gloom merchants warn of problems ahead for the “Super” City (should we call it Hide Park?). One of the main problems seems to be antiquated sewage and stormwater drainage systems with overflow sometimes causing sewage to flow into the sea. City councils have presided over deteriorating services for well over a hundred years. Why do we persist in leaving management of sewage and other infrastructure in the hands of local government, who have thus far done a woefully inadequate job? To protect the environment, I say let’s introduce user pays for sewage disposal – perhaps metered and charged to the household depending on use. Allow private competitors into the urban sewage disposal business; allow people to use septic tanks and on urban properties. In other words, give Aucklanders the choice of opting out of the failing government-provided systems and give them a rate rebate (read: tax refund).
  2. Twelve arrested in drugs busts – Heavily armed police executed home invasions of several Tauranga properties over the past 4 days, to arrest people for possessing and cultivating recreational drugs. The Armed Offenders Squad was used to intimidate the arrested people. Nowhere in the news item is it implied or suggested that the occupants of the properties were brandishing firearms at innocent people. Where will the AOS be deployed next -- at IRD searches of businesses and homes? At public appearances by the Prime Minister? Where will this end? Clearly, use of the AOS is now discretionary –- to be called upon any time there is a possibility that someone somewhere in the vicinity of government activity might own a firearm. And let’s face it, there is a high rate of gun ownership in New Zealand, so the AOS could turn up in your town soon, for any reason the government see fit. Am I being a bit paranoid? Or could New Zealand end up like Maryland, where there are 4.5 SWAT team raids per day?       

When the people fear the government, there is tyranny - when the
government fear the people, there is liberty.
    - Thomas Jefferson  

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Lew said...

Brandishing forearms! Goodness.

Richard, the Herald story mentions that some arrests were made for firearm charges -- suggesting that they had illegal, unlicensed or improperly secured firearms. This clearly justifies deployment of the AOS as security measure.

You might object to those things being illegal, but as ther law stands they are: so your objection is to law, not operational policy.

L

3/17/2010 01:29:00 pm  
Anonymous Richard McGrath said...

Lew, I take your point, and my gripe is with both the law itself and how it is enforced. Sending the AOS out to arrest people who have not initiated force against others is using a sledgehammer to kill a fly.

I would argue that having unorthodox, unlicenced or improperly secured firearms should not amount to an "offence". No victim, no crime.

3/17/2010 02:46:00 pm  
Anonymous Lew said...

But given that NZ's gun culture is such that, in general, the only people in possession of firearms without a license, or in possession of illegal or improperly-secured firearms are those with a propensity to use them against other people (whether in "self defence", which is not a legitimate justification for possessing a firearm) or for criminal purposes; and given also that the cops were raiding criminal drug gangs who also show a tendency toward such use of firearms, it was a sensible call to deploy the AOS, don't you agree?

Taking it in a different context for a moment: in a case where what you would consider actual crimes were being committed, and there was a possibility that firearms would be used in defence of a raid, the AOS deployment would be justified. It's no different in this case, except you disagree that the cause for enforcement ought to be a crime.

The law might be an ass (I disagree, but it's a legitimate point for debate), but if it's going to be enforced it should nevertheless be done with a minimum risk to innocent members of the public and the police force. That's just responsible exercise of the rule of law. If you don't like the laws, then by all means object to them and have them changed; but when it comes to enforcing the laws we have there's no use criticising the enforcement agencies for just acting prudently.

L

3/17/2010 03:12:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

Lew

"...it should nevertheless be done with a minimum risk to innocent members of the public..."

In which case it would be best to leave innocent drug users alone to consume their drugs in peace.

BTW the law as it stands certainly is an ass- worse is that it was created by arses.

LG

3/17/2010 05:11:00 pm  
Anonymous Lew said...

LGM, but again: that's not a matter of policy, it's a matter of law. The coppers can't very well just refuse to undertake drug raids in violation of government directives. Crying "teh cops are terrorising!!1" is aimless. Your quarrel is with parliament, not with the cops.

There's no intimidation taken place here which wasn't anticipated and made necessary by legislation.

It's a minor point really, but the fact that the whole objection to this sort of conduct is (heh) scattershot means that pressure is brought to bear on all sorts of people who have no means to change the policy.

L

3/17/2010 05:35:00 pm  
Anonymous Richard McGrath said...

Lew

If self-medicating for adults was completely rather than selectively legalised, the industry in psychoactive medication would not be run by criminals, and there would be no pressing need for them to carry firearms.

If the definition of a crime involved the initiation of force and a victim, the police could thenm concentrate on catching the real nasties, rather than targetting people who want to peacefully sell a bit of cannabis or heroin or ecstacy.

The trouble with prudent law enforcement is that it steadily escalates into the sort of shoot first ask questions later scenario that seems to happen all too often in the U.S.

3/17/2010 06:45:00 pm  

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